What is EPIC Content? (HINT: It Doesn’t Come From a Template)

Can I be totally honest with you?

I am SICK of the word “epic” when it comes to content marketing.

It seems like every content marketing expert out there has one big tip, and that’s to create EPIC content.  

Well great!  That sounds awesome!

But how do you actually do that?

That’s where these experts get a little thin on the details. 

I’m developing my own program (like a content marketing mastermind) to walk people through this process, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately.

If you’re interested, I’ve distilled this into a simple, one-page Epic Content Checklist. You can download it here.

What is Epic Content?

This is a pretty big question, and it has no clear dictionary definition. (It’s a little like the Supreme Court’s definition of porn: “I know it when I see it.”) Many experts will define it many different ways:

So, great. It’s useful, inspiring, and engaging.  Those are helpful.

But how do you actually write something like that?

And that’s where I think most definitions start to break down.

As you might know, I’m a huge proponent of continuing my own education in my field. I’ve spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars taking many of the web’s top marketing courses from some of the biggest names in the field including Copyblogger, Derek Halpern, Marie Forleo, Ash Ambirge, Jon Morrow, and others — and while I have definitely learned important tools and theories from each of them, the one thing I found was seriously lacking was in the HOW department.

We all understand why we should be creating epic content (I hope).  But HOW exactly do we do that?

You don’t need a template.

The WORST of the content marketing courses will just hand you a template and say, “Go get ’em!” In fact, I got an email sales sequence in my inbox just last week from a pretty famous and successful online marketing guru who is selling a package of seven blog post templates for $7 right now and promising huge results.  In fact, he followed it up with a blog post showing how he got 55,000+ unique page views from a single post by using one of his templates.

Now, let’s be clear: I am not doubting his claims.  In fact, I’m absolutely sure that he got the results he shows with the post template he used.  I don’t think he’s lying about his own results.  In fact, I’m not even doubting the validity or efficacy of the templates; I’m sure you could use them to boost your traffic.  I’m sure of this because I’ve done something very similar on blogs I write for and manage.

What I take issue with is the idea that a micro business owner or solo blogger could achieve the same results; I think it is extremely misleading.  In fact, I think most of you reading this wouldn’t even want that kind of traffic to your blog. 

WHAT?!?  Has Lacy gone cuckoo in la cabeza? Hear me out.

This particular digital marketer makes money from his blogs through advertising (that is not his only revenue stream, I’m sure, but it’s a big one). So, depending on how he is selling those adds, 55,000 sets of unique eyeballs is money in the bank.  

But it’s not for you.

Why? The difference is in your business model.  Most of my readers are product or service based businesses who are blogging to support their business — NOT blogging as their main business model.

But these big digital marketers don’t make that distinction.  Because traffic is traffic, right? 

Wrong. 

When you’re blogging to support your business (as opposed to blogging AS your business) having the RIGHT traffic is more important than having a crap ton of traffic.

It’s the theory that having 1,000 true fans is better than 100,000 unengaged ones. 

So I’m going to go against the grain here and tell you: Your epic content does not have to go viral. It doesn’t have to reach 10,000 people.  It doesn’t have to have a zillion likes and tweets and shares.

It has to connect with your true fans.  That’s it.

How to write epic content for the micro business owner.

OK, so now that I’ve dispelled a few myths here (that templates are what you need to write epic content and that traffic is the ultimate metric of said content), let’s talk about what epic content might look like for you:

  • It’s useful.
    And not just a little bit useful; this is the kind of content that makes your readers wonder what they ever did without you. A lot of business owners are worried about giving too much away for free, but in my experience, this is never a valid fear. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to show how you can get RIDICULOUS results, and people will think, “Wow, if she can get these results for me with a blog post, I can’t wait to see what she can do with her product/service!”
  • It’s detailed and in-depth.
    Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that blog posts should be bite-sized chunks. That’s the old way of blogging. Right now, Google is giving preference to long content — and so are your readers. You might worry that your readers have a short attention span, and you’re right, some will. But as I said above, for you, it’s not necessarily about the quantity of readers, but the quality that counts.
  • It’s emotional.
    There are some of you reading this (especially my product-based business owners) who are probably wondering how you can be useful when your content isn’t necessarily educational or how-to based. That’s where emotion comes in. If you can make yourself laugh, cry, or get worked up about something, chances are you can do that for your readers as well.
  • It’s unique.
    OK, it’s not totally unique. There’s so much content out there that you’d be really hard pressed to find something that nobody’s ever talked about before ever. But what you can do is put a unique spin on it. Maybe you’re demonstrating a new technique for solving an old problem. Maybe you’re laying out information in an infographic that makes it easier to access and understand. Maybe you’re inspiring someone to take action in a new way.
  • It’s better than what’s already out there.
    “Better” is a subjective term, I know. One of the blog traffic suggestions I’ve seen out there is to look up a search term, find a list post, and then double the number of items you have on your list.  While I think that’s a VERY simplistic way of looking at it, the core idea is sound: research what’s already been done, and then take your content one step further. That might mean more content, that might mean more details, that might mean more attractive or easier to read content.
  • It makes your readers’ lives easier or better.
    Whatever you create, it needs to improve the lives of your readers in some way. It solves a problem, saves them time, saves them money — improves their life in some way that they care about. 
  • It has a measurable impact for your business.
    This is really the kicker, the one I think most discussions about epic content miss. Your post must serve some measurable purpose for your business — or what’s the point?

We’ve already decided that the metric isn’t necessarily about how much traffic you got or how many clicks (I’ll be talking about this a bit more in my next couple of posts).

Here’s a great example: For my food blog, my MOST popular content that gets the most likes, shares, links, and traffic is a post called 70 At Home Date Night Ideas {On the Cheap!}. The problem is that my site has little or nothing to do with dating, relationships, or marriage!  It has a little to do with saving money, but mostly it is about food. So while this post gets me lots of traffic, I get almost nothing else from it: the bounce rate is extremely high, people don’t go on to read more of my website, and they certainly don’t opt-in to my list.

That piece of content hits almost all of the elements of a piece of epic content I listed above (it’s not super emotional) EXCEPT the last and most important one.  (Rookie mistake, and hopefully not one I would make again!)

So how CAN you tell if you’ve written epic content?

Anyone can say you should create epic content; only your readers can say if you’ve succeeded.

You have to define what your epic content will do for you.  Will it drive traffic (and what’s a reasonable amount for your business to shoot for)? Will it drive opt-ins?  Get linked-to by thought leaders in your industry? Get shared a certain number of times?  Your metric will be unique based on the goals you’ve set out for your business and your blog

Don’t forget: You can download a simplified one-sheet checklist for your next epic content. Just fill out your info below.

Also, if you want more information about my new content marketing, epic post small-group mastermind program (so new it doesn’t even have a NAME yet!) you can click here to get more information and apply to be part of the initial beta testing group.

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6 thoughts on “What is EPIC Content? (HINT: It Doesn’t Come From a Template)

  1. Love the distinction between blogging to support a business vs blogging AS a business – very well put and something to keep in mind so we don’t get lost in chasing numbers.
    Being in-depth and emotional in my blog posts has served me well, because the length and the vulnerability really helped connect with the readers.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. There seems to be a real distinction between blogging for profit (in a sleazy way) and blogging out of enjoyment (where you happen to make money, but not in a slap you upside the head kind of way.) Thanks for putting this together!

    1. You know, I certainly don’t want to come across like I’m judging people whose business model is advertising. There’s NOTHING wrong with that. It’s valid, even if it’s not what floats my boat. I think some people who blog to support a business can do it in a sleazy way, too!

      The difference is more about WHY you are blogging. If you’re making money from ads, then every single visitor you get to your site is money in the bank — so it makes a lot of sense to go after the big traffic numbers.

      But if you’re blogging to support a product or service that is your money maker, the considerations are a little different. You don’t necessarily JUST need more traffic, but more QUALIFIED traffic.

      Either can be done sleazy or authentically, in my opinion! 🙂

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