Right now, a content manager at Forbes is picking through new article pitches on popular topics, by popular writers they already know will be chosen. Like clockwork, those who were picked, get picked again.
Familiarity can take you places. It's who you know, after all.
Medium articles on how to make $10,000+ a month as a writer are much the same. Everyone wants that, making these topics both safe and popular.
Productivity articles are another popular topic to feature. Everyone wants to be perfectly productive, and writers want their work to be popular.
Especially copywriters, whose careers bank on converting copy; their articles need to shout, so they can twist.
As for SEO teams, listicles are always in demand. People have little time to research, and even less time to read. Best to make it short, sweet, and share-worthy.
All of these choices make sense. We can’t fault people for making sense.
We also can't fault people in creative-tech fields for writing what's popular, so they can content market for products and services.
However, I want to raise you a life-learned truth:
What makes sense, what’s safe, what’s perfect, and what’s popular isn’t what people remember.
It's also not evergreen, because popularity is ephemeral.
Don't write what everyone else does
Evergreen means always relevant, doesn't it?
This may sound like the ravings of a mad man, but write what's sticky, not what's trendy. And what, exactly, is sticky? Realness. Authenticity. Vulnerability.
Write your culture truths, your insane struggles, your actual journey, your passion, your pain, your explorations, in all the colors you know how to phrase them in.
That’s what makes stories remembered, cherished, and admired.
Nobody is going to remember the lukewarm “top 10 tips to a more productive workday” article you wrote for a Startup well into their 70s. It might help with SEO, but it's not going to stay that way for very long.
Articles like that get pumped out by the thousands, daily. Moreover, brands like Hubspot have the cash to make their trendy articles keep trending. Chances are, you probably don't work for them.
This means that if you stick with trendy, you'll be fighting for real estate in the fleeting attention economy forever.
There's no competing with it. And so, that article will be forgotten.
People will remember the time you wrote a heartfelt article about your journey as a rebellious agency founder, if it's real, and really human.
That’s the only way to go about this business of writing evergreen content.
Evergreen means creating timeless, unique content, that can live nowhere else but where you put it. Evergreen is content that can be written by nobody else but who wrote it.
Evergreen means really, really writing.
Write what rings the SEO bell, sure
But don’t not write what makes your soul sing
I should know. I’ve written viral articles that were not my best. I’ve written marketing bollocks that won’t stick in peoples’ minds, but pays the bills.
I’ve written on niche topics almost nobody cared for. They were the most passionate things I’ve ever penned, and my best pieces of work, to date.
I’ve had the clout, I’ve staked the claim, and there is no more greater truth than what I’m telling you now:
People will forget safe, perfect, and popular. Popular is extremely fleeting.
People will not forget writing that came from deep inside of your soul. It sounds new age as heck, but it's earnestly true.
Readers and writers like me will always read the difficult, terrifying, challenging, flawed, passionate, imperfect, powerful works you put out.
That's what will set you, your brand, your campaign, yourself...apart from the rest.
And aren’t we — the ones that will be your brand ambassadors if you put out the real shit— the ones you really want to reach, anyways?