By guest writer, Sharon Ritchey

Blogs, whitepapers, online articles, press releases, news, wikis – everywhere you look you are flooded with content on any subject you can imagine. Add in video, audio, podcasts, infographics, animation, online surveys, shopping, and the constant pull of social media, and your attention is pulled faster than a dog chasing a group of squirrels – which according to a quick web search I learned is called a drey.

Content is filling. Three-day-old pizza can be filling too. What you want is for your content to be hot and fresh and crave-worthy. Here are six of my secret sauce writing guidelines that apply to most industries and will engage readers to want more of what you are offering.

1. Say Something Fresh Even if it’s about Something Trending
One of the hottest content creation trends is called newsjacking. This term refers to taking a trending news story that everyone is talking about and using it to create new content.

The world was recently shocked to learn about the tragic suicide of Robin Williams. Are you feeling a little uncomfortable that I’m using this as an example in a content creation piece? Good. I’ve got your attention. The social media juggernaut is hungry for information about this sad event. You can catch the trending buzz and create content about depression, Parkinson’s, the evils of spreading rumors, how financial security may play into a person’s well-being, the effects of comedy on health and how the loss of a true comedic icon will change our views. This death, in addition to being a Hollywood story, is a human story that millions of families across the globe can relate too. Can you use this event to say something important to your desired audience?

2. Make Sure you are Trustworthy
Maybe newsjacking isn’t your style or just not applicable to your content creation goals. You just want to create straight-up content. That’s o.k. Your content always needs to be real. You need to deliver trust. Never plagiarize from anyone. Cite your sources, quote people you interview, and check facts. Sadly you can’t believe everything that’s printed online. When you deliver trustworthy content you become an authoritative source and that makes you and your site hot and fresh.

3. Share Data
Be generous with what you know and share your findings. Even a small observation about a market event, sales trends, or social media analytics that you can illustrate with a data set can create a fresh conversation that leads to education and sales.

4. Put Me on Your Do Not Sell List
If you reach out to me, and I didn’t request it, don’t overtly sell your products, services, or membership to me. Build trust and share data about something new or trending before you ask me to open my wallet or even just take up my time with an online demo. Always answer the question, what’s in it for the reader?

5. Add Some Spice with Visuals and Multimedia
Before this article was jazzed up with an interesting graphic, it was plain text and a wall of words. A piece of content that only a mother would love. Find ways to educate, persuade, and engage your reader with visuals, infographics, video, even simple bar graphs and charts. Add relevant links to sites or videos to expand the conversation. Use subheads and short paragraphs to break up text and guide the reader through the material. Help ‘em out.

6. Care about the Quality of your Content
I shake my head in disbelief when I read articles announcing that SEO isn’t as important as great content (here’s a link from Forbes, a trusted news source, about it: Show me!) when it comes to creating engaging websites or social media feeds. I’ve known this for twenty-five year – yes, that predates social media and the web as we know it today. (Hmm…maybe I can newsjack that.) The elements of strong storytelling, provocative opinions, research studies, and connecting with your reader are as old as written communication. If you care about the quality of the content you are producing your readers will too.

Sharon Ritchey is Owner and Chief Content Developer of Home Row Editorial, LLC, a content development, branding, and idea generating juggernaut.