Thoroughness always wins the Internet. (Man that’s a hard word to type.)
Especially when it’s awkwardly thorough.
You see it on Reddit, imgur, YouTube and the most successful blogs. There is a fine art to being thorough but when you do it well you see massive increases in traffic, subscribers and engagement.
In today’s post I want to give you a few examples of this phenomenon and how you can implement it in your own blogging strategy.
Let’s get physical.
What do you mean by awkwardly thorough?
Although I have been trying to cut back on the time I spend on imgur I still pop over at least once a day.
And one of the things that always catches my eye is the posts that make it to the front page because they are these step-by-step photographic guides to some really obscure topic.
Here’s an example:
Yesterday the user sheraray posted a series of pictures about how to paint a Nerf bow to look like an authentic wooden bow. In one day it’s hit the front page and had over half a million views.
The result is very cool!
But there is no denying it is a strange topic to post about and it’s done in an extremely comprehensive way. Whenever I see a post like this I always look at them, even if I’m not really interested in the topic.
That extreme attention to detail about an obscure or very specific topic – that’s why I call it awkwardly thorough. Maybe I feel awkward because I get to the end of whatever awesome piece of content I’m looking at and wonder why I’ve spent so long immersed in it!
And I bet I’m not the only one.
Some more examples of thoroughness done well
Let’s take a look at some more examples of this type of ultra-thoroughness done extremely well. Hopefully it’ll give you a sense of the kind of thing I’m on about.
I guess I should mention that a lot of these are not related to blogging and web marketing. I wanted to show you how people get creative with this type of thing which will hopefully give you a few ideas for your own material.
1. Shia LaBeouf is an actual cannibal
A video went around the web a few weeks ago called Shia LaBeouf Live which, to be perfectly honest, is possibly the best video that has ever been made in history. Take a look.
This is such a wonderful example of content.
Rob Cantor could have just recorded a song. He might have even just made it a blog post or a poem. But instead he made an orchestral masterpiece that had ballet dancers, silks acrobats and even an actual Hollywood star in it.
It is a fantastic example of how to go above and beyond and produce something that gets noticed and makes a really big impact.
2. WordPress theme collections
Since people started designing WordPress themes other people have been putting them into collections. The first place I remember these popping up was with Smashing Magazine and their collections of the best WordPress themes for a particular use.
I’ve done a few of these.
This one is about my favorite WordPress theme with full screen photo backgrounds. But there is only 11 choices. Smashing Magazine, on the other hand, usually add about a 100 or so themes to check out. I’ve even seen some other sites that have collections of 300+.
The thing about that is that there is no way anyone could test out that many themes. I think it’s most likely that they just add them for the sake of getting the numbers up.
But it works.
People love to see huge collections of things and are much more likely to share them around, bookmark them or link back in one of their own articles.
3. How to start a blog and dominate your niche
A few weeks ago I published a post that was over 9,000-words long. It took a really, really long time to write. It was called How to Start a Blog and Dominate Your Niche and it was essentially a post that loosely detailed the entire process from starting a new blog to going pro.
When I first started writing this post I wasn’t sure if it was worth the time. After all, I could have broken it down into sub-topics and published 20 smaller posts. I even had people tell me that I should scrap the post and turn it into an eBook or paid book instead.
In the end I’m glad I published it because it’s had over 700 shares and quite a lot of people linking back to it. I’ve also had a lot of people email me to say that it really helped them on their blogging journey and that always means a lot to me.
4. ViperChill testing out marketing and SEO ideas
For the last year or so Glen from ViperChill has been going on a bit of an anti-algorithm tirade where he studies the SEO world and then points out anything dodgy.
Take this example on how to build a billion dollar SEO empire where Glen looks deeply at some of the strategies of some companies that are competing for a very popular keyword set.
The attention to detail is ridiculous.
He’s done a few such posts now and they have a few really positive outcomes for him. Firstly, they position him as an authority on related SEO matters which can help to push people towards using his own SEO products. Secondly, they get the attention of other SEOs who then start to listen to his ideas which can bolster his profile further. Lastly, they sometimes get big companies to stop using unfair SEO tactics.
This is a great example of taking research and content to the next level by really studying what you are writing about over a period of many weeks in order to get some good information to your readers.
5. The list of 12,000 wallpapers that crashed imgur
Think about how long it takes to upload an image to WordPress. Anywhere between three seconds and a minute, right? Now imagine uploading 12,000 full screen HD wallpapers to imgur.
This is exactly what Angus02 did about eight months ago and it crashed their servers for a little while. I still can’t figure out why exactly they did this but it made me laugh and it got a lot of attention.
Imagine going to this kind of length on a property that you actually owned (like your blog!). It could be an impressive way to make an initial splash in a very saturated marketplace.
6. The guy who paints comments
So there is a guy on Reddit called ShittyWatercolour who paints water colour paintings based on things that happen in Reddit threads and comments. It is hilarious!
He has his own Wikipedia page (in the link above) and has had huge successes with things like painting the President when he did an AMA. This is such a strange and creative use of talent and has really helped to promote his artwork by doing something a little bit more difficult than normal.
7. The big beer ad
There was an advert here in Australia a few years ago that was widely regarded as the biggest ad ever made. All the people in it are real – no computer graphics. Have a look:
It’s a perfect example of how something big and over the top, and somewhat irrelevant, can produce big results. People still sing this song when they’re drinking this beer at a party!
How to apply all this to your blog
So after looking at all that you might be wondering how to apply it to your blog or website. Here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Take more time
People often email me to ask about posting frequency. Should I post once a day or once a week? My answer these days is usually along the lines of posting once a fortnight and making it the best darn thing you’ve ever done! Take more time and make sure you really blow people away and see how that affects your progress.
- Find resources
If you’re doing a post that educates a reader about a certain topic then spend a few hours looking up some extra resources that can help them make progress. Even better, put those resources to work and share your experiences with them. People respect content that has extra locations to find more help.
- Link out regularly
This is closely related to the previous one but you want to make sure that you link out to other websites regularly. Think along the lines of at least a dozen external links per post. Of course you can’t always do this but the more you link out to other people the more likely they are to take notice and link back or share it.
- Go offline
Producing something in the offline world for your online audience (like the painting) is something that seems to get a lot of attention now. People are watching videos, listening to podcasts, etc. and this means that you can get out there and way from typed text and do something fun and new.
- Exhaust the topic, but not fully
This is something I used to write a lot. When you want to get the attention of the web you need to exhaust the topic but not so completely that there is nothing left to discuss. Long form content works. And the odd (and annoying) thing is that often the big numbers and long lists will trump a high quality post. That’s just how it seems to work.
The more you play around with this type of super-thorough content the more you will discover what seems to work for your blog and your audience.
As always, be testing.
What have you seen?
Have you encountered any forms of content online where someone has gone above and beyond and got some really good results? Maybe you did it on your blog? Maybe you’ve seen it on a competitor’s site and wished you had thought of it first?
Please let me know in the comments down below as I’d really love to check it out.
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A 9,000 word post? Ramsay, that’s a book!
Ha ha ha.
thanks for a great post.
I think you are hitting the nail on the head when you are using the word awkwardly thorough.
The best way to stand out in the vast internet space today, is to deliver free amazing content that will give REAL value to the readers.
That is why great content marketers, which are good at promoting and networking, will stand out.
Even in these times when more and more people start to focus on content marketing, what should you do to stand out?
Laser focus or becoming “awkwardly thorough” as you mention. You narrow your topic down and give an incredible amount of information on a subtopic.
What is the goal? To write the best post on that topic that has ever been made.
Who uses this type of technique? You, ViperChill and Jon Morrow, to mention a few.
Does it work? Yes.
Thanks mate. Appreciate the awesome comments lately.
My pleasure mate. You reap what you sow. When you post awesome posts, the least I can do is to write some awesome comments 😉
I created a piece of long-form content (10k words) on my site because my short article was no longer sitting at number one. It’s a popular keyword phrase in my niche and I’d dropped to #7 and thus the traffic stopped flowing.
Before throwing a piece together, I studied up on successful long-form content pieces and made sure I did the following.
1. Included youtube videos where appropriate – and not from my own channel.
2. Linked out to other web sites by quoting professionals in the industry.
3. Took my old web pages related to the topic and placed a link at the bottom of each page to the 10k+ post.
4. Added a link to it in my sidebar.
5. Removed the sidebar from the mega-post.
6. Covered the topic thoroughly.
It now dominates the #1 spot. Here’s the link (yeah, I know it’s a small niche).
10,000 words! Absolutely huge!
Thanks for the blogging tips I certainly plan on applying these tips and techniques to my blog.
I totally agree with this–and I think that the more you drill it down, the more people you attract because it’s very clear what you’re offering.
Since my blog is art oriented, I try to offer helpful ways to be a better artist. I do this through sharing my mistakes + also my wins–one of my favorite ways to share is through my ‘art in progress’ series where people can follow the steps through the evolution of one of my paintings. Kind of like the one you shared above about the bow,I have always appreciated other artists sharing their techniques, so I try to do it as well.
I think one of the ways I can expand this is offer some video. I prefer shorter snippets to 20 minute scenarios because I think we generally all learn in short bursts. And as you always say, the more generous you are, the more people respond. Thanks for the inspiration! (loved that beer ad!)
Yeah, that beer ad is pretty wild!
Thank you for reminding us that effort pays. 🙂
It’s really about taking time to craft your post and make it valuable to your readers.
Just like your blog. This is full of epic posts! 🙂
Thanks Jon. Really appreciate it.
I just had to take the time to comment on your excellent post. Everything relevant to encouraging successful blog readership is contained including the examples and link backs. A most enjoyable read!
Thanks for commenting.
I think this is a great post! It goes back to the whole concept, in my opinion, of “shock and awe”. The more you get people’s attention the better it is for you. There are so many ways to do it, regardless of if it’s by posting something obscure as you described with the bow, or by posting a 9,000 word post. If you get people’s attention, they will likely share it. If they share it, you are likely to gain traffic!
Nicely done sir!
Yep, totally agree!
Ramsay, thanks. As a 68 year old who has just started to do the groundwork for serious blogging in a difficult genre (addressing traditional Biblical doctrine and unavoidably raising controversy), this has been my first day on your material. I am impressed.
This post certainly makes good sense (perhaps because it agrees with my lifelong experiences in various fields). I will be applying your thoughts without any doubt. First, however, although I have a general style website with a “blog” page, the latter does not satisfy effective blogging demands and requirements. The blog is also intended to promote my books (in the already noted difficult genre). I have read a considerable measure of your material since I discovered them earlier today, including your views on hosting, WordPress, etc and will have them at hand to and as I decide on a host and getting a decent standalone blog online. Thank you.
Thanks Gerrie. I’m glad my blog could be of some assistance to you. Best of luck!
It’s Monday morning where I am and I was just starting my week thinking that I’d better get a new blog up fast and then I thought I should make some further additions to the one I did last week because upon reading it over and clicking on some other related information I realised I’d left some important info out.
When I saw your post I thought I should read that first because a. It’s always interesting and informative and b. I can put off getting to work for a bit.
When I realised that I had done a sloppy job on the previous post I was thinking to myself that it would probably be a good idea to spend more time editing and researching before I publish but then I thought that maybe getting regular posts out more often might be more important. I was in a quandary. This post of yours was very timely. I would rather spend the time and get it right than do shoddy work. Also, I notice that the blogs I read and bookmark most often are the more informative ones.
So thanks for helping me decide.
Let me now how it goes!
I call this playing to the coliseum and the principles are straightforward. Any content that contains intriguing images or out of the ordinary profile will win…hands down every time. For the same reason the Romans tried to bring more exotic animals and more extreme feats into the coliseum. See the tightrope walk last night in Chicago? Hmmm. Reality shows on steroids…
Using such content parallels what drew people to what used to be known as the “Circus Freak Show” or today’s “Click Bait.” It contains intriguing material, while maintaining some level of intellectualism or artistic value.
I guarantee if I take a Hollywood star’s face put it on the body of an alien and some how involve the issue of sex…you will click on it.
I 100% wouldn’t click on that. 😉
Thanks Ramsay, Your super helpful post came at a time when I was pressuring myself to write more content, but now I realise it’s not the way to go. Niche, focused, links out and super helpful are the things you’ve driven home today.
Thanks Johanna. Nice to see you here, as always.
Thorougher (a word) (now) than similar content idea articles 🙂 Really man, you mentioned some remarkable examples of content done right.
The type of articles that Glen writes as well as some offline preparation for content are my favourite.
Myself, I’ve done extensive, above normal length reviews of fitness products, and they tend to do well. Other than that, mash-up articles featuring bunch of people from a certain industry catch the eye as well.
You can check the type of mash-up articles that Greatist (a fitness site) publish. Or always find great content formats on The Art of Manliness (love this site).
Classic example. Totally forgot that one. Thanks mate!
Those examples really catch attention in weird ways! Definitely inspiration for obtaining audience engagement. The reason they work is because we will never forget them. This is useful to blog content development. Thanks, Ramsay.
This is a good blog post I came back to re read it and get more ideas. The comments you get are also good.
You’re right Bruce, the comments from the community are sometimes as valuable as the content itself 🙂 Few sites have such type of engagement
Greetings from Arizona!
This post really made a difference and inspired me to better writing/research etc vs just posting something mediocre to have another post. It raised the bar in my mind, thanks!
As a new blogger, between the learning (WordPress/widgets etc) and the writing both tend to be a tad overwhelming, but quality will always beat quantity…
All the best,
Hey Ramsay, great piece! I totally agree that being awkwardly thorough is the best way to not only engage your audience, but to be truly authentic.
Along those lines, I’ve noticed individuals succeed by adding in a bit of quirkiness along with the awkwardness. The first examples that come to mind are bloggers who illustrate their own blog posts, star in their own blogging images or only use blogging to supplement their YouTube channels (or, those who name their followers 😉 )
Do you have any advice on how to find this quirkiness X-factor? Especially for someone relatively new to blogging (with no artistic skills to speak of), how can a blogger throw in that little something extra to stand out from the pack?
Yes, the bar for going viral has gone up in recent years…unless you can be there in the right place at the right time and get a once-in-a-lifetime photo/video, a higher-quality, more thorough content piece is a lot more likely to get picked up.