My belief is that most (not all) successful consumer web products do an excellent job of feeding your ego, saving you money, or saving you time. I was taking a look at some of my most popular posts and noticed a clear trend that is in alignment with this thesis; at a high level, the most popular blog posts are shortcuts. They save readers time.
Originally I noticed that many popular posts contained a personal anecdote as part of a non-obvious, overarching insight. Posts fashioned in this way are like cliffnotes to writers’ lives.
But even these posts can be encapsulated under the more ubiquitous theme of shortcuts:
Stories or Perscriptions that Contain a Personal Anecdote – a shortcut to wisdom forged over the seasons of life.
The Best Way How to Do X – A shortcut to determining best practices again, typically forged through experience.
The Best Examples of Y – A blogger curating the best examples of something takes less time than if I were to do it myself = shortcut.
Sprinklings of inspiration, quantified evidence, numeric prescriptions (10 things I wish…), and humor, amongst other things, all enhance a post. But for aspiring bloggers, the foundation is simple – produce content that saves people time.
In general, making information more easily accessible serves the function of saving us time. Whether that be finding a YellowPages listing through a search bar instead of thumbing through the pages or providing transparency to knowledge in a medium less exclusive than conversation like blogging, people appreciate the value created here.
Does anyone else have observations around popular content themes?