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Original content is key

On Wednesday I wrote about the 9rules Member Agreement, which is a key basis on determining whether 9rules would be a good fit for your site. The next set of articles I will discuss some of the key features we look for in a site. Original content is single-handedly the hardest aspect of a blog to consistently deliver. Let’s talk about that a bit.

News Blogs

News sites (for clarification, a site that “reports” on a topic) has a double-edged sword. If the news site breaks the story their site will be the first to have it. Being the first to report a story is extremely hard work (to consistently deliver breaking stories) but the work pays off in being “the” source people will go to first and you’ll benefit from the links to your article. Most sites do not fall into this category.

Many reporting sites take news found elsewhere and regurgitates it. Let me give you an example. I took a random article on CNet. This is what many blog entries look like (shortened to save space):

Title: Google beats pessimistic predictions!

Google reported on Thursday their net income of 1.31 billion, a 31% increase. This was a surprising result considering their stock plunged to $525, a significant decrease from their all-time high of $724.24 in November:

Excluding $1.49 billion in partner commissions called traffic acquisition costs, Google’s revenue was $3.7 billion. That result was 46 percent greater than the year-earlier amount and about $100 million more than the $3.6 billion analysts expected.

Google increased revenues by showing less but more relevant ads and kept their operating expenses in line. The majority of their revenue comes from advertising. Despite their success they still have hurdles monetizing social media sites due to the sheer amount of inventory social networking sites create. You can read more about Google’s profits here.

We are not looking for sites that publish that type of content. We are looking for the site that will take that article and try to get an interview or will put a different spin on it. Examples: an article on mobile advertising and the challenges faced or the difficulties advertising networks have filling inventory on social media sites. Another route, if the site reports on social media news look at how other social media sites are filling their inventory and research suggestions to aid those sites. There are many ways to spin the article into original content.

**Accuracy plays an important role as well. If you write online long enough an error will happen. I look for how news sites handle corrections, meaning: does the site update their article to inform their audience they screwed up?

Commentary/Opinion sites

These sites have it the easiest so there really isn’t a reason not to have original content. In this niche the pitfall is not clearly defining the writer’s thoughts. Most people have an opinion about things and that’s great. If your blog is based on opinions, back them up with some facts or state why you have the opinions you have. I view sites daily that recap an article and their entry is basically, “that sucks!” without having any basis for the opinions. If you think net neutrality is good/bad state why. If you think Comcast sucks, back it up with some proof.

We do not have a problem with strong opinions. We realize that some niches almost automatically spark strong debate. We are looking for sites that, when they express their opinion, their is a foundation to back those opinions up.

Personal Sites

This is another easy niche that has a pitfall. A blog about you is unique because there is only one you, right? The pitfall (I know, how can there be one when the blog is about you)? You might be boring. Yes, I said it. Sharing your life is fine and we strongly advise against lying but the presentation and delivery of “your life” makes all the difference in whether the content is interesting. A blog entry about you getting up and wanting a cup of coffee isn’t interesting (unless something happened while making coffee). A picture of the cup of coffee you made with the simple description: “It tastes as good as it looks” might cause your readers to stop what they are doing and make a cup of coffee or prompt comments like, “Damn you, now I’m hungry! :)”.

Get the picture?

Hopefully this will give you some ideas on what we are looking for. Original content isn’t easy to consistently deliver but there are ways to inspire original content.