2012 was the year of content. Sure, it was also the year of Pinterest and pictures and cat memes, but this was the year when we learned that the Internet–by which we mean Google–is really run on the back of great  information. We learned it wasn’t going to be enough to chuck up some thin blogs and call it a day and it wasn’t okay to rely purely on back-linking for SEO. No, 2012 was the year when we all had to get serious and write.

We all churned out blog posts by the score, didn’t we? “How Content Marketing Is Like a Pack of Rabid Baboons,” we screamed. “637 Ways to Bedazzle Your Website.” I’m picking on marketers (with love!), but we saw it in every industry. Stock content. Content for the sake of content, all of it shrieking at in an endless cacophony.

We wound up with massive amounts of content which meant nothing, because it was all the same. We all tried to claw our way up the search rankings in the identical way; we all tried to convince our prospects to buy, buy, please God buy from us. The problem was, how can a customer make a choice when all his choices are homogeneous?

2013 needs to be the year of content only you could write.

What does that mean? After all, there are only so many ways to explain how to set up your Google Author Rank or how to cook a coq au vin. That’s entirely true. But look at these two recipes for coq au vin:

The first is simple. It focuses mostly on the steps of cooking this classic French dish, with step-by-step photos of every last diced carrot. It adequately teaches you how to make coq au vin (though I’m not sure about serving it over spaghetti).

Then take a look at this recipe. The recipe isn’t even new: It’s Julia Child’s. But the way she writes about the recipe, the way she writes about boiling the darn bacon and how the flavors “snuggle” together, makes this blog post unique. It couldn’t have been written by anyone else.

That’s what you need to do with your content. You need to find what it is that makes you, you. Something that’s not price, not “the best service.” Everyone claims to offer these things. You need to find out what makes your business different from any other, and create content which feels and sounds like you, that draws customers into your world so deeply they can’t help but share, click, buy.

There are three true ways to create content that stands out in a crowd:

  • Voice. There are people who we read because of how they say something more than what they say. They have a flair that’s unmistakable. You’d read them if they rewrote the phone book, though that’d be stupid. Ask yourself, are you playing it safe with your content? Going for Bland Stock Corporate Voice #3? Or are you writing like you, the way you really talk to customers?
  • Expertise. This is the only time I will tell you this without irony: You are a unique and delicate snowflake. There is no one else like you, and you have knowledge that reflects your innate specialness. Instead of going for big, bland blog topics, focus on topics no one else knows about, even share a few of your tricks and secrets. Get specific and really show your stuff. You’ll still build rank for longtail keywords while presenting content that’s really going to win hearts and minds.
  • Angle. Maybe the topic isn’t new, but your approach to it is. Maybe you’ve got a unique personal angle that’s going to make it sing. Maybe you’re speaking to a very small niche. Maybe you’re going to completely disagree with the conventional wisdom. Whatever it is, you’re taking a cockeyed look at the world, and helping us see it with new eyes. Note: This is not an excuse for “What X Teaches Us About Unrelated Subject Y!” posts. You’re better than that.

2013 is the year to stop taking the easy way out. It’s the year to start achieving your potential and creating content which gets those critical social shares and motivates your customers to buy from you, and only you.

Content Only You Can Write