This project will be “easy as pie”, or “this should be a cake walk” or “wouldn’t that just be the icing on the cake?”
How many times have you heard a process or a task compared to baking?
As an avid baker myself, I love these cliché analogies (as awful as they are), so it was only a matter of time before I recognized the similarities between baking a cake and creating valuable, share-worthy content.
Anyone who has followed a homemade cake or cookie recipe before knows that everything starts with your ingredients. If you don’t have all of the ingredients, you won’t get the anticipated end product. Baking is a concise chemistry, and the ingredients (and the intensity/quantity of each) have a specific purpose in the recipe.
- A content strategy
- this is your pan. Your content strategy will determine the shape and “size” of your content cake.
- A style guide
- this is your egg, holding everything together and keeping it from “drying out”
- Data & research
- this is your sugar. It will make the cake delectable and worth reading.
- An experienced, skilled writer (or writing team)
- this is your flour, giving body and structure to the cake
- An efficient editor (or editing team)
- this is the butter of the content cake. The editor makes the cake smooth and eliminates lumps in the batter.
- Images (optional)
- this is your frosting/icing/glaze
Create and decide on your content strategy. Your content should fit within your content strategy pan, not vice versa. You will want to form a solid well-developed strategy, because this will dictate the shape and size of your content cake. Having a content strategy pan that is “full of holes” will result in a big mess for you to clean up later.
A style guide is another ingredient that you cannot be omitted. Have you ever tried to make a cake and accidentally forgot to add the eggs? You probably ended up with a very dry, crumbly excuse of a cake. The style guide will bond everything together and keep the content from falling apart. Style guide eggs are needed to give the content cake its proper consistency (moist and fluffy). This will ensure that all client specifications are met and all guidelines are followed correctly.
Finding the perfect mix of the content cake ingredients is the next step. Depending on your scale, your workload, and/or your company size, you will need to vary the quantities of writers & editors. Too many writers and not enough editors will produce a heavy, dense cake. Sure, there will be a lot of cake for your readers to chew, but it will be so dense and dry making it difficult to swallow. The same situation will occur with too many editors and not enough writers; the cake will be weighed down by the excess, and will not rise properly. This is a waste of your resources.
The sugar is the magic ingredient that is often forgotten. Accurate data and sufficient research are essential ingredients needed to grow and retain your audience. If you don’t have this ingredient, your content cake will be bitter and pointless. As soon as readers sample your content, they will be disgusted and will not come back for more. Referrals and natural, organic promotion can do amazing things for your company and your blog, so you’ll want to create something sweet and savory (and with substance) for your readers.
As with baked goods, your content cake will need something to lure your readers. Typically, the smell of a decadent, chocolaty cake fresh and warm from the oven will draw a crowd. People salivate as soon as they catch a whiff. For our content cake analogy, this delicious luring smell of warm cake is synonymous with a well-written title for your content. Capture the attention of your readers with a title that begs to be clicked. While it’s important to have an interesting, attractive title to attract readers, it’s also important to accurately convey the true subject of your content. The disappointment of smelling a delicious cake and then tasting it only to discover that it’s dry and salty will quickly turn away your readers. Once you’ve made a disgusting cake, it’s going to be difficult to have anyone willing to taste the next cake you attempt.
A well-written piece of content cake is what makes your readers share it with their friends & social followers. When you get a taste of something delicious and fresh, you can’t help but say, “you’ve got to try this.”
Share your content cake with your friends, colleagues, and industry professionals. Encourage feedback. Learn from their feedback. Adjust your ingredients as necessary, and then repeat the process to continue improving your results.
Creating content that allows readers to indulge in a delicious mix of data and fresh perspective will have them coming back for more time and time again.