The second article in the Gain Steem Power! Series, giving you tips on how to create money-making content on Steemit
This article is designed to get you thinking about, and focused on, what kind of content makes money on Steemit.com. As well as teaching you a few basic writing techniques to help you once you have decided which direction to go in.
In it you will learn:
- How to categorise and choose your subject matter.
- How to write about your chosen subject matter.
- What type of article to write.
- What to avoid when writing articles on Steemit.
I realised at the time of writing Format Your Article And Gain Steem Power!, that it's all very well and good knowing how to create a beautifully formatted article. But if you don't have anything to write about, or your subject matter revolves around the drying rates of emulsion paints, specifically in the late 1960s and early 1970s, no amount of formatting is going to save you from complete Steemit anonymity.
So I'm assuming if you're reading this article, you want to know how to create great content for your Steemit articles. I'm also guessing that you have not got much, if any, experience creating content for a blog or website, or if you do, it is on a subject similar to the previously mentioned, paint-drying one and you need to widen your scope, but aren't sure how to do it.
Choosing Subject Matter
The first and most important element to creating engaging blog content, is choosing the correct subject matter; so how do you go about doing that?
Well there are a few options for that and some considerations that come with each option; let's look at them below.
Write About What You Know:
This is not always as easy as it seems; if for instance what you know, is a particular mobile app technology or base-jumping, you will have a wealth of material to draw from. Add to that, the fact that one of those areas is current and the other timeless.
But what do you do if what you know isn't currently in-vogue like mobile applications, or isn't a timeless activity like skydiving?
Firstly you have to analyse the thing you know, ask yourself these questions:
What type of category is my subject matter in?
- Mainstream - Example: Celebrity entertainment news
- Niche - Example: Formula One, motoracing.
- Sub-Niche - Example: Dogecoin
- Special Interest - Example: Living Dolls
So which category does your "what you know" subject fall into?
A mainstream subject is one that, millions, hundreds of millions, even billions of people are aware of, whether they are personally interested in the subject or not. If you're writing articles in this category, then clearly you have a lot of competition, the clue is in the name; mainstream.
So the advice here is to try and further subdivide the area, so for example; if you decide what you know, is Khloe Kardashian. Then perhaps you could focus on her lesser known, existential poetry, or her erotic literature. Or maybe you could do a breakdown of her treatise on Dostoevsky's War & Peace. However after tirelessly searching the internet, you realise that Khloe doesn't have any hidden talents, so perhaps then you realise that she always wears a pair of green shoes on a Wednesday and that's something to write about. Or the better option, of finding something else to write about.
You get the picture, find something in your mainstream subject that you can comment on that nobody or hardly anybody has commented on before, or take a new angle on something that has already been talked about. If you're struggling to find a fresh approach, try another subject.
Another great way to write about a mainstream subject is to parody it, some of the parody accounts on Twitter have millions of followers. The great thing about a parody is that you can make anything up, as that is the point of a parody account.
For instance, you may decide to blog as Donald Trump's hair, this gives you scope to pepper your articles with lots of hair and wig jokes, whilst at the same time giving insightful political commentary. This is the essence of satire and good satirical comedy, is always appreciated.
Parody is particularly a good option if you're a witty person and comedy comes naturally to you. If you're not, stay away from parody, thinking of twenty funny things to say about something, is not as hard as coming up with funny stuff week after week, month after month. Instead if you have a witty idea for an article, leave it as a one off, rather than trying to make it a series or theme.
You may also want to consider aggregation; that means simply, gathering all the popular stories, from the existing sites for your mainstream subject and putting them all on one site for your readers to browse. You will still need to supplement the links you post with paragraphs of your own, although this is obviously a lot less labour intensive than writing entire articles yourself.
The only downside to aggregation, is that you may find it is not that lucrative on Steemit, articles with individually linked articles can do quite well, if the articles are liked, however multiple links may not have the same affect.
A niche subject may still be popular with millions of people, however the general public can easily avoid the subject with little effort. So like Formula 1 racing, most people are aware of what it is, but you have to be into it, to know the names of more than one or two drivers and who won the last race.
Unlike mainstream stories concerning Kim Kardashian's arse, or her husband's equally huge ego, you can live on planet earth and not be aware of what is happening in a niche subject at any given time.
The trick to writing about a particular niche, is working out what is missing from the present discourse and try to add to that, after making sure that people are actually interested.
For example, one of my sites is called Betfair Trading Tips, there I talk about trading sports on Betfair. Sports trading is a niche and in fact could be argued to be a sub-niche of sports gambling in general. Anyway, within that niche there are a lot of blogs and websites competing for traffic and saying very similar things.
I realised that I wanted to stand out from all these other sites, but I couldn't do what they did as I'm only one person and some of what they do is extremely time consuming. So I combined two things that I knew, trading sports and cognitive behaviour. So while Betfair Trading Tips does still comment on the main issues for that niche, it mainly talks about the cognitive effects that sports trading has on the brain. This tactic gets me more readers than if I had tried to emulate the content of already established sites in the niche.
A good example of a sub-nice would be if you wrote about a particular digital currency like Dogecoin, where cryptocurrency is the niche and Dogecoin is the sub-niche. The general public has little or no idea about sub-niches and sometimes even people in the parent niche may not even be aware of particular sub-niches.
The main thing to remember if you're writing about a sub-niche, is to make sure that the parent niche has enough interest in it to warrant having a sub-niche. For instance, writing about a particular Formula 1 racing driver is a much better idea than writing about a particular earwax, carving technique that you know about.
If you're not sure how popular something is, you can use the Google adwords tool to find out how many searches there have been for the niche over the past 12 months. Or you can do a search for the niche subject you're investigating and then use the Alexa toolbar extension to see how popular the site is. You can of course combine these two methods.
These subjects are ones whereby only the participants are aware of the subject's existence, that is, until somebody decides to make a documentary about it. Like the living dolls example I put above; a community of men from all over the world, who like to dress in full latex, female, bodysuits. Without the documentary, I would never have been aware of this bizarre practice and I'll bet that unless you saw the same doc or you are into this scene, it is the first you're hearing about it as well.
To give one more example of a special interest subject; I recently saw an ad for a particularly disturbing documentary called; The Secret Lives of Human Pups, whereby men (why is it always men?) dress as dogs, in full on elaborate dog costumes and pretended to be puppies, some of them even had wives and girlfriends!
The thing about special interest subjects, is that there are so few participants in the world, that without the internet, they wouldn't even be aware of each other, every individual thinking that they were the only ones who had these strange predilections.
This is where the formula reverses; if you notice as we have gone down the list, from mainstream through to sub-niche, we have been dealing with an ever diminishing, potential audience, meaning potentially less readers for our articles. However, even though there may only be 50 world-wide participants of a special interest subject, you will find that the less participants and the stranger the subject, the more people will be interested.
You can still apply the rules of specialisation by looking at a particular part of the special interest subject, for instance you might want to explore how a fully grown man who dresses as a puppy at the weekend can maintain, what appears to be a normal relationship. Or maybe even you could combine the knowledge you have of Freudian analysis and the implications of dressing like a dog.
The great thing about special interest subjects, is you can write broadly about them with less competition. You will have far fewer people writing about men who dress up in rubber female suits than you will about the American presidential election.
Writing About What You Don't Know:
As far as choosing a subject to write about that you aren't familiar with, the rules are exactly the same as above, choose the subject, identify what category it's in, establish what angle you are going take and off you go.
Just remember that when you're writing about what you don't know, your research has to be that much better, for obvious reasons. If you are a skydiver and you're writing about skydiving, then most of your research is probably going to be a kind of reminding research, whereby you are trying to ascertain half-remembered facts and figures.
If you are trying to write a History of Cryptocurrency article and Steemit is your first experience of cryptocurrency, then you're going to have to do a lot of work researching your facts.
A good trick when thinking of writing about an unfamiliar subject, is to try combining it with a subject that you do know about.
So for instance, in your History of Crypotocurrency article, you may want to link that to the facts you know about the history of the Yen and the Dollar. Or maybe you know something about agriculture and economics. Or maybe you can link an abstract thing you know, like snowboarding. You may have realised that your favourite ski-resort has brought in the ability to pay by Bitcoin and you believe this will change the face of snowboarding and skiing forever.
The advantage of linking what you know, with what you don't know, is the majority of the article can be about the subject you are more comfortable with, as long as you make enough links and references to the subject you don't know. If you do this well, it will come across as a well thought out article, do it badly and it will come across as two half articles in one.
The key to writing about what you are not familiar with, is research, of course a well researched article, whether it is something you know, or something you don't, is always preferable to one that isn't.
Choosing A Category
There are three main categories of article:
- Opinion Peace
For our purposes, we are going to ignore reportage and concentrate on the other two, so first let's take a look at;
This type of article is just as it sounds, you are giving your opinion on a subject, but there are ways of doing it so that you remain readable. There is nothing worse than reading an opinion piece that is so obviously biased towards the author's opinion.
You may think to yourself, "but that's the point isn't it? To give your opinion on a subject, so of course it will be biased."
Well you are right in thinking that, but the key here is not to be too obviously biased, as that comes across like ranting.
For instance, you might be a fan of a certain band, for argument sake, let's say it's The Killers; now you want to write about their new album, which you believe is absolutely awful and you're going to tell everyone about it. In that case, it is much better to present your prejudices in a passive manor.
The Killers latest album; Smell The Glove, is the worst load of tripe I have ever heard, from the first song; 'Too Many Heathens' to the last; 'Smile When You're Crying'. The lyrics are asinine at best and insulting at worst, if this is what they have to offer from now on, they should just give up.
The Killers latest album; Smell The Glove, does not reach the heights of their first album 'Nowhere To Hide' and doesn't come close to the lyrical intricacies of 'Shut Up And Dance'. Although there are hints of their usual, winding and writhing melodies in songs such as 'Eat My Kitten', I feel this album will fall short for their hardcore fans and they may need to get back to basics or lose loyal listeners.
In the first example, a fan of the band (your primary audience) will most likely be put off by your direct approach. Especially in this case when you're talking about a popular subject, the reader is more likely to shun what you're saying because they are fans and they like the band.
When people are disparaging about stuff you like, you will take a dislike to them, because they are putting down something you are in to, so it feels like they are putting you down.
In the second example, you are still saying you don't like the album, but you are making it clear that you are a fan, by referencing the genius of their previous albums. You are also being a lot less confrontational in the last line of the paragraph.
Don't confuse presenting your prejudices in a passive way, with being uncontroversial. That Killers album, may have been released to critical acclaim, with all the experts saying it is great, whilst you are not, it's just that you are saying it, in an easy to digest way.
Articles that teach you how to use something, like a website or a piece of a equipment. Or how to perform a certain task, fall into the tutorials category.
You can even split this category into two, the Opinion Tutorial and the Instructional Tutorial.
Instructional Tutorials are ones that tell you how to use things, like how to use a particular website, like Steemit.com. Or how to use a piece of equipment or software, like a cordless drill or Microsoft Windows.
The reason we make a distinction, is the instructional tutorial has to be full of absolute facts and whilst you might still add your own voice to the tutorial, there will be a set way to do tasks that you have to explain properly.
The opinion tutorial, is what this article is, whereby I am giving you instructions and advice, the advice I give you is in part, my own opinion and has been gleaned from experience. Opinion tutorials will contain absolute truths like; always use a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. But they will also use opinions, like, always use double spacing after full stops.
The main thing to remember when writing tutorials is, if you're giving an opinion tutorial, make sure you know the subject well. However if you're giving an instructional tutorial, you just have to know the process, which you can learn by going through it yourself.
The other tip to keep in mind is to remember who the tutorial is for, this will determine the information you put into your tutorial.
If for example you are giving a tutorial about how to use ebay, then your readers' level of proficency at using ebay comes into play. If you are doing a basic beginners' tutorial, you won't put advanced instructions on how to set up Visa, vendor payments. By the same token, you can skip the basic stuff about signing up if you are talking to a more advanced ebay user.
It is important to always categorise your tutorials as basic, intermediate or advanced, if you don't, then you run the risk of your article being too long.
Choose your subject - Browse Steemit.com to see the types of articles that have been posted and which ones have done well.
Identify the area - Once you've chosen what you want to write about, identify what type of subject it is; is it mainstream, niche, sub-niche or special interest?
Research - After you've chosen and identified what topic or topics you are going to cover, decide on what angle you are going to take on the story and do your research accordingly. If it's a subject you don't know, make sure you are doing your research from multiple sources, for the sake of accuracy.
Take the lesser known route - Try and write about lesser known facts surrounding popular subjects.
Combine - Put together what you know, with what you don't know, to give the impression that you are more knowledgeable than you actually are. Or alternatively combine two or more subjects you know about to create a new subject.
Opinion pieces - If you are writing an opinion piece, make sure you give your opinion passively, whilst identifying with your audience. However don't shy away from controversy, polarising opinion is much better than leaving your audience lukewarm.
Tutorials - If you are giving an opinion tutorial, make sure it is on a subject you know or have at least recently studied well and make sure your facts are correct for instructional tutorials. Always ensure that you know who you're aiming your tutorials at.
In the next article in the #GainSteemPower! series I will talk about how to increase your money-making potential by developing a distinctive style that will set you apart from your fellow Steemit writers.
Till Next Time