One of the most important parts of a solid content strategy is creating content that can last. Content that isn’t necessarily tied to a specific fad or trend, and that will be as meaningful if someone reads it in a year as when they read it today. (No pressure.) We call that stuff “evergreen content,” and it’s an extremely powerful tool for bringing traffic to your page.
From the description, you might think that evergreen content is more difficult to create than other types of content. After all, it has to be built to last, right?
Well, good news: creating evergreen content is no different than creating any other kind of quality content. It’s just much more valuable once you actually create it.
Ever hear the old chestnut, “write what you know?” It’s a pretty common piece of advice for writers, although there seem to be more articles out there rallying it than in favor of it – especially in fiction circles (for obvious reasons). But for our purposes, it makes a very good rule to follow. When you’re creating educational or informative content it’s best to have a solid understanding of what you’re talking about.
Start your brainstorming by asking yourself “What am I an expert in?”
Answer this question in regards to your online presence – you may happen to be an expert in exotic cats, but that’s (likely) irrelevant if you’re writing posts for a real estate blog. Try to find the biggest possible umbrella topic for this answer, then think of more specific areas of expertise within that.
For example, at Team Edgar we’re experts in digital marketing. That includes social media strategy, online advertising, small business strategies, content creation… you get the idea. Think big, then figure out all the other pieces that connect to that.
You may want to answer these questions in a list, or you may find it helpful to do a more visual approach, like an idea web. Start by putting your top area of expertise in a circle at the center, then connecting it to smaller, more specific topics. This is a great activity for an ol’ fashioned notebook, or you can get digital and use tools like MindMeister (which we love).
Here’s what ours looks like to start:
As you go through this exercise, don’t worry about evergreen topics yet! Just perform a brain dump – come up with as many topic ideas as you possibly can. All of them are fodder for future posts.
Once you feel like you’ve drilled down into as many specific areas of expertise as possible, it’s time to start brainstorming specific post ideas.
Now, before we talk about this, let’s just clarify that timely, topical, non-evergreen posts are important too! Some of our best blog traffic comes when Facebook changes their algorithm or Twitter introduces a new feature. Even though those aren’t evergreen topics, they’re highly relevant to our audience.
And you know what? If you happen to come up with some non-evergreen topics while brainstorming, that just means you’ll have even more to write about. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming!
So take a look at your first brainstorming exercise and write down at least three ideas for blog posts for each item on your list. Yes, that’s a lot of posts! But don’t overthink it! Just write the first three things that come to mind for each. Remember, you’re writing topics, not headlines, so don’t worry about whether or not they sound catchy. And don’t worry about whether they’re evergreen or not – as we said above, non-evergreen posts can be just as important for your site. Again, the goal here is to generate as many ideas as possible and sort ’em out later.
Okay, now that you’re done writing down all of those potential blog topics, it’s time to start identifying the evergreens. The key to evergreen content is that it doesn’t rely on a particular time or place. So think big-picture things, like 101-type content, “rules for success,” top tools for a job, and personal strategies that have proven successful for you.
And also remember that even evergreen content still needs to be updated once in a while!
Yes, it’s true – even the things that don’t change that often still change sometimes. For example, say you make a list of the top five web tools that help you work more efficiently. (Hey that’s a pretty good idea for a post!) But in a year, you switch from one anti-distraction tool to another. It doesn’t mean that your post is suddenly outdated or no longer evergreen. It just means that you need to do a little bit of maintenance to it.
Evergreen plants still need to be watered. Evergreen content still needs to be updated. Just don’t get the two confused and try to water your content, that would be terrible. Evergreen does not mean unchanging. And it’s a whole lot easier to make a few updates to keep a post relevant than it is to write a whole new one.
So with that caveat in mind, go through your shiny new list of future blog posts and ask yourself “if I read this post a year from now, will it still make sense?” If the answer is yes, mark that topic as a potential evergreen. Whether that means circling it, moving it to its own list, highlighting it… you do you. Just be sure you can find your list of potential evergreens for the next step.
At this point, you should have an initial brainstorming of topics in which you are an expert, a massive list of ideas for future blog posts, and a smaller list of potential evergreen topics from within those ideas. So now it’s time for one of the most important steps in the writing process… take a break and let your brain cool down! Maybe that’s just what you were hoping for. Maybe you’re feeling revved up and ready to go. Either way, take at least a few minutes – go get a glass of water, take a walk, or even put it away altogether until tomorrow. It’s important to step away for a little bit so you can start the next step with a fresh mind.
In our next post, we’ll look at how to take an item from that list of evergreen ideas and turn it into a verified (and verdant) evergreen post. Until then, happy brainstorming!
This post is part of our Edgar Learn series, where we share the strategies that helped us find success! For more from Edgar Learn, click here!