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Why Evergreen Content is the Best Investment of Time for a Blogger
“If you could only write one type of content on your blogs – what would it be?” I was asked this question while on a Q&A panel back in 2007 while at a conference in Las Vegas.
It’s a question that I go back to again and again, and the answer hasn’t changed a bit. I also think writing this type of content is why I have had success over the last 13 years.
One of the most important things I’ve done in my blogging has been to focus on writing one particular form of content above all others – that being evergreen content.
Evergreen content is content that stays fresh for your readers. It’s as relevant years after being written as it was the day it was written.
In Today’s Episode Examples of Evergreen Content
This episode is available to listen to on iTunes here.
ISO Settings in Digital Photography – I wrote this in 2007
10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits – Introductory type guide post
Rule of Thirds – Posts with varying lengths
How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent – Classic step-by-step post
Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples – 15 inspirational images
Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Women – Part of a series and all about images
Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging] – A frequently asked question
The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program – A mega-guide
How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause – Introduction to a 10-part series
How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World – Guest post that doesn’t ‘teach’ it ‘tells’
10 David Ogilvy Quotes that Could Revolutionize Your Blogging – A light topic, but a popular topic when it comes to searches – quotes from David Ogilvy
Examples of Evergreen Content Submitted by Facebook Followers
What is the best age to go to Disneyland?
11 Habits of Successful Women
DIY: Upcycle regular jeans into skinny jeans!
The Ultimate Guide to Airline Baby Bassinets
The Two Types Of Data You Need To Know About
Cleaning Mould off Canvas
Fairy Playdough Recipe
Foods vs. Supplements: The Turmeric vs. Curcumin Edition
All of the Examples Submitted on Facebook
Further Resources on Evergreen Content the Best Investment of Time You’ll Ever Make as a Blogger
Tim Ferriss – Evergreen Content – 78th Episode Snippet
Paleo Salted Choc Caramel Slice Recipe – Content people come back to
10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work – Content I’d go back to
MacRumors Buyer’s Guide – Frequently updated
Lifehacker Pack for Mac: Our List of the Essential Mac Apps – Updated
Bali: Where to Shop – Updated annually
The 19 Most Popular DSLRs Among our Readers – Most Popular on dPS
The 30 Most Popular DSLR Lenses with our Readers – Most Popular on dPS
The 19 Most Popular Compact System and Mirrorless Cameras with Our Readers – Most Popular on dPS
Make Money Blogging
What New (and Old) Bloggers Need to Know about SEO
How to Turn Surfers into Blog Readers by Building a Sticky Blog
Types of Posts That Can Be Evergreen
Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples – Inspirational Content
Choosing a Blog Platform – Advice
Secrets of Making Money Online – YouTube
Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples – Image Collection
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Hey there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger and welcome to Episode 136.
“If you could only write one type of content on your blogs forever, what would it be?” This is the question that I was asked back in 2007 while I was in Las Vegas at a blogging conference. I was in this Q&A Panel and I was asked this question by someone on the floor, I wish I knew who it was because it’s a question that I’ve gone back to time and time again. I’ve particularly gone back to the answer that I gave on that particular day.
The answer I gave that day, I hadn’t really thought a whole heap about. It was just something that came to mind in the moment as I was asked the question. But in answering the question, I unlocked a bit of a secret. I had this realization that a lot of what I’d done over the last three years of my blogging already had set me up and had helped me to grow my blogs to that point.
I’ve been blogging for four or five years at that point and in that moment in answering that question, I realized what I’d been doing. It really shaped the years that have followed. Over the last almost fourteen years of blogging now, I have focused almost 95% of my time creating a certain type of content and that’s what I want to talk about today. What type of content should you be focusing your time upon creating?
If you really want a bang for your buck, if you really want a good return on investment in terms of the time that you put into content, I want to share with you the type of content that I think you should be at least dedicating some time to every week.
You can find today’s show notes and there’s going to be quite a few of them today because this will be a meaty podcast, I’ve got a lot to go through with you today. I want to share with you what this type of content is. I want to tell you why it’s so powerful. I want to give you some examples of this type of content, a variety of different examples both from my blogs and also some of my readers. I also want to share with you some ideas on how to come up with this type of content for your own blog. There’s a variety of different approaches that you can have.
Make yourself comfortable, grab yourself a beverage, and go over to problogger.com/podcast/136 where I will include all the show notes and there will be links to all the examples that I give you today. Thanks for listening and let’s get into this particular episode.
What type of content is the best type of content to focus upon creating for your blog? Whilst there is never a single answer to this type of question because every blog is a little bit different, I want to talk about the approach that I have taken with the vast majority of the content that I’ve created. Over the last thirteen years, I tried to work out the other day how many pieces of content I’ve published on my blogs. I don’t really know because my first blogs do not exist anymore and I can’t actually see how many pieces of content are there, but it’s well over 20,000 pieces of content that I’ve created just on my blogs. You can add into that a whole heap of social media posts as well.
There’s over 8,000 posts alone on ProBlogger, blogpost and podcast added together. There’s over 6,000 on Digital Photography School. Just on my main two blogs, there’s 14,000 pieces of content there and then I’ve got a whole heap of other content on previous blogs that I’ve had as well.
One of the things I’ve done in preparation for today’s podcast is look back over some of the best content that I’ve created in terms of how many people have viewed it. One of the things that I’ve noticed as I look back at the most read content that I’ve created is that the vast majority of it is what I would call evergreen content.
Evergreen content is a terminology that you may have heard before. For those of you who don’t, evergreen content is content that stays fresh for your readers. It’s as relevant today years after being written as it was on the day that it was written. It doesn’t date I guess would be another way to describe it.
I want to say right upfront, I’m sure that there are plenty of examples of blogs that are very successful, that don’t focus upon evergreen content. I’m not saying that this is the only way to create a blog is to create evergreen content. I’ve actually had a blog, one of my first commercial blogs that was very much the opposite. It was very now content, it was about digital cameras and what was being released today. It was all about the new technologies. There’s plenty of examples of blogs that do well with that sort of more now focused content.
As I look at my most successful blogs, the content that has been the basis for those success has been evergreen content. I’m going to share with you a whole heap of different examples of that type of content from both ProBlogger, Digital Photography School. If you’re looking at the show notes, you’ll also see I’m including some links to some of my readers’ evergreen content as well to give you some examples of that, hopefully to stimulate some ideas for your own blog.
I’m not the only one who things that evergreen content is great, there’s been many blog posts written around the web for that and you can do a search for evergreen content and find a whole heap of great advice on it. I want to encourage you to listen to this really short snippet from Tim Ferriss’ Podcast. I’m using this with permission from Tim, thank you Tim for allowing me to share it. This comes from his 78th episode, it’s from May 27, 2015. It’s a really good episode where Tim is asked a whole heap of questions by his readers. In this particular segment, he’s asked how he would build his blog audience again if he was just starting out today.
“If you’re building an audience, the most labor efficient way to build an audience over time is to have evergreen content. I write long pieces that will be more valuable from an SEO real estate standpoint two years from the day I write it compared to the week it launches, if that makes sense.
Were you to look at my back catalog and the stats—I’m on WordPress VIP—or Google Analytics, you would see that my most popular post that each get hundreds of thousands of visits per month were written several years ago. That’s very much by design, I’m not upset by that because I fully expect that some of the articles I write this year, for instance my post on Practical Thoughts on Suicide which is a very intense post, I expect that will continue to gather steam and be spread around and shared and a year from now will be right in the Top 10 rankings which is very important to me.”
Thanks again, Tim, for allowing us to share that snippet. I do recommend that you go and check out Episode 78 of Tim’s podcast. I’ll link to it in today’s show notes as well because Tim does go on to talk a little bit more about long form content which, the two elements for him, evergreen and long form content. That’s certainly a powerful approach.
Today, I just want to really focus in on evergreen content. This is content, as Tim says, it’s going to be as valuable in a couple of years time, perhaps be even more valuable and getting more traffic in a couple of year’s time than perhaps it is on the day that he publishes it.
Why is evergreen content a great investment? I think it should be already seeing it. It continues to serve your readers as much in the future as it does the days that you write it. The value that you’re creating. That is a powerful thing to know that the piece of content that you’re going to publish today is going to have a positive impact upon people in ten year’s time potentially is a pretty amazing thing. That piece of content has the ability to make the world a better place for a longer period of time. That’s purely just from an altruistic kind of perspective, I think that’s a great thing.
In terms of traffic, and that’s what Tim’s really talking about here, it’s something that will continue to be searched for again and again. If you choose the right topics, something that is relevant today but also will continue to be relevant in the future, I’ll give you some examples of these in a moment. That potential lead can bring in as much traffic today. If you pick the right topic in an area that’s growing, you might be spotting a trend within your niche that you think is going to be the next big thing for the next ten years and it’s actually going to grow, then that is even better than something that’s just sort of already plateaued.
Evergreen content is the type of content that you can refer people from future blog posts back to. Many of the examples that I’ll give you a little bit later, pieces of content that I’ve written on Digital Photography School and ProBlogger which are kind of cornerstone pieces of content that I continue to drive traffic back to from my future posts. It’s really useful to have those types of pieces of content in your archives ready to go so that you can link it back to those types of things.
Evergreen content is the type of content that you can link to from your navigation, from your menus, from your side bars. If you go to problogger.net right now, you’ll see in the side bar of our blog post that from those blog posts we actually have sort of little banner ads for some of our evergreen pieces of content.
We have a post that I wrote a few months ago now called How to Start a Blog in Five Easy Steps. That’s linked to from every blog post on ProBlogger, that’s an evergreen piece of content. I know that piece of content isn’t going to date. It may date slightly in terms of some of the technologies, but I can update that.
My How to Make Money Blogging post is an evergreen piece of content. I’ve had that live on ProBlogger now for many, many years. Yes, I do update it from time to time, tweak it a little bit, but it’s an evergreen piece of content that I continue to drive traffic to from blog posts but also from our navigation.
Evergreen content is the type of content that you can continue to share and re-share in social media. This is one of the frustrating things about having a blog that has very much “now” content, that dates very quickly, is that you may have a very short window that you can be sharing the content that you’re creating.
If I do a review of a new camera, I can share that on social media for maybe a couple of months and it will still be relevant. Six months later, that camera has already been superseded by a new one, Canon will release a new one every six or so months so supersede their old ones. I can’t really continue to re-share that review.
But if I have a blog post that is not dated at all, I can share that every month for the next ten years if it’s the right piece of content. Every month might be a little bit overkill but many of the pieces of content that I am sharing on Digital Photography School’s Facebook page were written ten years ago and haven’t been really changed much at all since that point because they’re on topics that are still as relevant today. That gives you a growing library of content that you can continue to re-share. If you use a tool like Meet Edgar, which we use on our Twitter streams, that can become a very automated thing. It can really help you to cut down the work that you’re doing in terms of the sharing of content.
Evergreen content is the type of content that once you have it and it’s working in one format, you can also repurpose into other formats. For example, a couple of the episodes that I’ve done over the last few months here on the podcast started out as blog posts, evergreen pieces of content that I’d already published on the blog. Once you’ve got an evergreen piece of content that’s working, one of the things you should be considering is what other mediums could I be repurposing that content into?
Evergreen content is also the type of content that you’ll find other bloggers will want to link to as well. That’s a good thing for you as well.
There’s a whole heap of reasons as to why evergreen content is well worth investing your time into.
How much of the content in my archives does fit this category? As I look back at the content and look at how it’s performed over time, many times it’s very steady in terms of the graph that we see in Google Analytics. It steadily tends to grow over time. I want to give you a couple of examples of this from Digital Photography School to contrast two types of content, the evergreen versus the now.
Last year on Digital Photography School, we published a post that was all about Adobe announcing that they released a new version of Lightroom, Lightroom CC. We did a blog post on this. This is what I would classify as now content, this was big news in our community, Lightroom is the biggest post processing tool that our readers use. It was massive news. The post did really well for us. In the first week that that post went live, we had twelve-thousand page views. It was really good, it was a successful piece of content. The first day it went live, it had about three thousand page views. Later in the week when we sent our newsletter, it had three-thousand five-hundred, four-thousand page views, all during that week had a lot. Twelve-thousand in the first week. That’s what I would consider a successful post in its first week.
But then, traffic tailed off. As I look back on it, it’s a bit over a year since that post was published. That post yesterday had two readers. One of them was me going back to have a look at the post, so it had really one reader. Since the time it was published, after the first week, it’s had probably a total of about a thousand page views in a year. Really, most of that came in the second and third week after it went live.
That’s an example of a piece of content that dates and that’s pretty typical as I look at reviews of cameras, as I look at posts about breaking news. If you’ve got a blog that has that type of content, you’ll probably see the same trends. You might be able to lengthen the amount of time that people go back to that by re-sharing on social media a few times but it’s the type of content that doesn’t tend to attract much traffic.
I want you to contrast that pattern of traffic with another post that I wrote back in 2007. This post is again on Digital Photography School and I’ll link to both of these in the show notes today. This was a post which was an introduction to a concept in photography called ISO. If you’ve got a film camera back at home, you’ll remember that film used to have ISO over a certain number. This is a blog post which explains what ISO means and what it particularly means for digital photography today.
The day that post went live back in 2007, the blog was a smaller blog back then. It had 100 page views. Then, it tapered off. It actually went down after that first week, after it appeared in the news, it kind of tapered off. I was getting about 40 to 50 visitors a day. Fairly similar pattern to the second and third week to the Lightroom post that I just shared with you.
But then, things began to grow. Twelve months after that blog post was published, in 2008, it was getting two-hundred to three-hundred page views per day. Two years after it was published, it was getting seven-hundred page views a day. Three years after it was published, it was getting one-thousand page views a day. Since that time, it’s remained at about that level between one-thousand and one-thousand five-hundred per day with the exception of a few days where I’ve re-shared it on social media because we do re-share this post at least a couple of times a year on Facebook because it’s as relevant today as it used to be. On those days, it can get up to ten-thousand if things really go well for it in a particular day.
As I look back, since 2007, that blog post has continued to grow. It’s kind of plateaued a little bit now at a thousand to one-thousand five-hundred per day. That’s kind of where it’s still sitting today. As I look back over that time, it’s had over three-million page views to it. I wrote the post in 2007, it’s getting ten to fifteen times the traffic today as it did on the day that I published it. It continues to be valuable for my readers, it continues to drive traffic largely from search engines, but it’s also getting traffic every time I re-share it on social media and other people share it on social media. It’s the type of post that other people link to when they want to explain to their readers what ISO is which only continues to help it to grow.
Both posts probably took me about an hour, maybe two hours to write. The first one, the Lightroom one, was actually one of our authors who wrote it. I don’t know exactly how long they took to write it, but that post was around eleven-hundred words long. My post on ISO, the evergreen one, was seven-hundred words long. They were fairly significant pieces of content but they probably only took a couple of hours to write.
Obviously, the investment of time and effort on the ISO post, the evergreen piece of content, was much, much better than on the Lightroom post, the now piece of content. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with writing about the issues of today, things that will date. We do do those types of posts. The vast majority of what we focus our attention on on both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger is evergreen content. It just does not even compare in terms of the payoff from the investment of time.
What I want to do now is share with you a few examples of evergreen pieces of content because I know every time I bring this topic up, some people say to me, “I just can’t do evergreen content on my blog.” I want to share with you some of the examples of content that I’ve created on both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger partly to give you a bit of an example of some of the types of things that were done and some of them might stimulate some ideas for you.
After I give you the examples, I want to give you some tips on how to identify evergreen opportunities for content particularly on those blogs where it’s not as obvious. Let’s start with some examples.
Yesterday, I spent a bit of time going back into Google Analytics and I pulled up the Top 10 posts on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School in terms of traffic. I pulled out the Top 5 from both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School to share with you. Let’s kind of work back through these from the most popular.
The most popular post that I’ve published on Digital Photography School is a post called Ten Ways To Take Stunning Portraits. I’ll link to all of these in the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/136 where you can take a look at these. This particular post is pretty typical of a lot of the posts that we’ve got over on Digital Photography School. It’s a fairly introductory type guide to a subtopic in Digital Photography School. We talk about Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, but Portrait Photography is probably the biggest category of posts that we have on the blog. This post is an introduction to Portrait Photography.
I have a lot of posts on Portrait Photography but this one kind of gets into some of the basics of that big topic. The post is long-ish, it’s probably around one-thousand four-hundred words. It’s not a massive long-mega post, but it’s meaty enough that there’s some content there. I do find that search engines do tend to like content that is a little bit longer. Anything over a thousand words is going to be treated as sort of a slightly more meaty post.
You look at that post and you’ll see it’s in the list format. It covers ten points and for each point, I only really touch on the idea. I don’t go into great depth for each point. For each point, I link to further reading. This is a technique I like to use, I’ve talked about this on the podcast before. I would classify this as a sneeze post, the idea is that you’re sneezing people deep within your blog in all different directions. For everyone of the ten points that I make in the post, there’s a paragraph or two and then there’s usually a picture to help give it some visual interest and then I sneeze people deep into the archives. Hopefully by the end of reading this post, I might’ve read three or four or maybe all ten of the further pieces of reading which does increase the chance that they will subscribe as well to the blog.
This post really worked really well because it was an introductory type post to a major category on the blog. I’ve done this same thing for Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, Wedding Photography. All of those main things that we find our readers come for, there’s this type of post on the site. It’s a topic that is not going away. People will always continue to take pictures of people and the principles that I talk about are evergreen principles. They’re not current trends in Portrait Photography, these are tips that you can use today and hopefully you’ll still be able to use in ten years.
I think this post worked because it’s got some stuff in it that you can apply immediately after reading it. It’s actionable, it’s practical, and there’s more there if you want to read. There’s a further reading on each of the posts.
Another reason that this one did well is that I followed it up with a second post, so there’s another post and you’ll see it at the bottom of the post as an update, Ten More Tips Or Ways To Take Stunning Photos. The reason that helps its evergreen nature is that that second post drove people back to the first one. People, when they link to my content here, this particular post, they have to link to both of them. That just drives more traffic as well.
I think the last reason that this one particularly worked is because it was written in a fairly accessible style. People like lists, it’s scannable, there’s lots of images, it’s not too heavy. That’s the first post. It’s a teaching post I guess you would say, an introductory teaching post to the topic.
The second one I want to share with you is a little bit different. It is titled The Rule of Thirds. This, I would say, is a little bit different for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s not as long. It’s only about six-hundred words long so it’s getting towards the shorter end of the type of post that we write on the site. You don’t have to write long form content, I know Tim if you listened to the rest of his podcast, you’ll see that he writes fifteen page long articles. His podcasts go for an hour, two hours some of them. He really believes in long form content and I do too but I also think that you can do evergreen content that is shorter form as well. Again, it’s not super short but six-hundred words, we’re getting a bit shorter now.
The other thing that this post is different for is that it’s not a teaching post, really. It does teach you but it’s more of a definition post. It’s not a how to do it type post like the first one, it’s more of a what is a type post. The rule of thirds is a principle of photography, many of you will have been taught it as kids, it’s a rule of composition. It does touch on how to apply the rule, it’s more about defining what this rule is. I find that definition posts are a great way of doing evergreen content in most niches. I would say there are terminologies, there are phrases that we use that an introductory type reader, a beginner reader doesn’t understand.
I would suggest that most of the readers that have come to this post over the years have typed into Google what is the rule of thirds. We come up number one or two depending on how Google’s ranking is on the day for that particular type of term.
On ProBlogger, we do posts like this as well. One of the good pieces of content didn’t make Top 10 but we get a lot of traffic to on ProBlogger is a post that I wrote called What Is A Blog? You might think that’s the most silly post to write but it’s amazing how many people type that into Google.
Other terms that are relevant for your niche that you could write a post defining those words or explaining what those types of things are. This really can drive a lot of traffic. That post, the rule of thirds post, has had over two and a half million people come to it.
I got a third example, another one from Digital Photography School is a post called How To Make An Inexpensive Light Tent. Again, link to it in the show notes. This one’s around eleven-hundred words long. This is a classic step by step post. It’s teaching people how to do something, lots of images at each step along the way.
This post worked for a number of reasons. One, it’s a teaching post. Again, this is what I like to do. I like to teach people how to do things. Anything that’s a step by step guide works very well and these DIY projects really work for us as well.
The other reason that I know this post has worked is a lot of our readers came back to it again. That just drives people back again and again over time. I know a number of our readers bookmarked this particular post. When they first read it, they didn’t want to make it straight away but they came back to it later. It’s the type of thing that they share as well which really does help with that evergreen nature of it.
For some reason, this post really lived on in the minds of a lot of our readers and I continued to today see people sharing this post on Twitter with their friends. I guess if it comes up in conversation that one of their friends is wanting to have a light tent which is just a piece of equipment for photography, I guess it just comes to mind for people. So if you can create something that’s memorable and that people will refer back to again and again, that can work particularly well.
Example number four is a post called Long Exposure Photography, 15 Stunning Examples. I wanted to include this one because it’s only two-hundred words long. This is really short form content here. I guess it is longish in some ways because it’s got images in it. This post is one that I have shared on the podcast before, it’s just fifteen inspirational images that illustrate a particular technique in photography.
Evergreen content doesn’t’ have to be a teaching post, it doesn’t even have to have a lot of words, it can be purely image. I just wanted to include this one because it is an example of something that is a little bit different but it continues to be evergreen. Those images, if you choose the right images, they can live on as being something that inspires people for many years to come. I guess in some ways this is a bit of a case study post. Here’s what other people have done with this technique.
Number five, this is the last one I’ll give you from Digital Photography School. I want to share some ProBlogger ones with you next. This one is called Posing Guide – 21 Samples Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Women. This is nine-hundred words long, getting a little longer here. But again, this one has lots of images. It’s got twenty-one images in it. This was actually part of a series of blog posts. Again, it’s another example where evergreen content within a series, or the links from one post to another, can really work very well. You end up with quite a large collection. I think we had eight or nine different posts in this series. We had Posing Guide – 21 Sample Poses To Help You with photographing women, men, couples, kids, and different situations as well.
Again, this is an example where it’s words and images together. It’s not so much a teaching post, it’s more of a how I did it or a case study type post. The other thing that we found with this post is that it’s one that people save to their iPads and took out with them when they’re photographing women so they can show people the particular poses. If you can create something that people will read more than once, that increases the evergreen nature of it as well and increases the amount of pageviews that that particular post will get. That post had around two-million people hit it. I think it was published back in 2010, so it’s about five or six years old now.
Five more examples, these ones will come from ProBlogger.
The next one I’ll talk about is one called Can You Really Make Money Blogging – 7 Things I Know About Making Money Blogging. Many of you have seen this post over on ProBlogger because it’s one of the most read posts that we’ve ever done. It’s a longish post, it’s about two-thousand words long, fairly long form content there. This is an example of a frequently asked question. I think if you can identify any frequently asked question within your niche, any question that you get from your readers via email or comments or any critique that you have of your particular niche. I saw a lot of people saying you can’t really make money blogging so this was my answer to that statement or to those questions.
It’s a list post so there’s seven things I know about this particular topic. It’s the type of post that I link back to constantly from other posts on ProBlogger. You will see me link to it, you will see me mention it in podcasts. I link back to it and that increases the evergreen nature of it by getting people back to that post again and again. Every time you get people back to the post, it increases the chances that you will be shared again or it might be linked to which then helps your SEO. It’s one of those things that can snowball over time as your post grows.
The other thing I’ll tell you about this one is a bit of a myth busting post. If there’s a myth within your industry that won’t go away, that’s an ideal topic that you should be writing about because it’s evergreen.
The next post I want to talk about briefly is my mega post, one of the longest posts I’ve ever written called The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program. Again, this is one that you will probably have seen if you’ve been reading ProBlogger for a while because it continues to rank really well in Google and it gets shared heaps. I know Amazon actually shared this with a lot of their affiliates because it was such a mega post, it’s seven-thousand seven-hundred words long. As a result of being so long, people bookmark it, they save it for later, they come back to it, they save it in Facebook which must be a signal to Facebook that it ranks well. It’s a type of post that people share like crazy, it’s been linked to a lot from different blogs including Amazon themselves. It’s also something I refer back to time and time again. Those things all come together to make it something that’s quite powerful.
A few of the techniques that I mention in this particular post have slightly dated, I don’t do them anymore. I updated this post and that’s one of the things I’ll talk about in a moment. You can actually link from the evergreen nature of a post by changing it. I’m totally fine with that and I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment.
The eighth one that I want to share with you quickly now is a post called How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause. This was a post that is a little bit different to some of the others because it’s an introduction to a series of posts that I published over several weeks. If you go and look at it, the post itself is just the introduction, it just raises what I’m going to do next. And then, I link to all the other ten posts in the series.
As I release new posts, I would update this post to include the link to it. It’s kind of like the hub of a series. It doesn’t have a heap of content in it of itself, about eight-hundred words, it’s not tiny. It acts more as a central hub for the rest of the series. Again, it’s on a topic that’s evergreen, how to write a blog post. The ten things that I mention are all as relevant today as they were back in 2008 when I published this post. It’s one of those ones that has really steadily grown in terms of the traffic that has come to this post but also to the other ten posts in the series as well.
I’ll link to this one particularly from the portals around ProBloggers as well so I’m not only relying upon Google to send traffic to it but I’m also sending traffic to it from navigation areas and our portals on the blog as well. I think that’s really important to think about not just relying upon Google but actually helping get people to these evergreen posts as well.
The ninth one that I want to share with you is a little bit different again, it’s called How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World. It sounds like a bit of an aspirational post and it is. It’s actually a guest post that John Murrow wrote. I really would recommend that you go back and read it because it’s just a story. This is another example of a different type of content, it doesn’t have to be teaching, it doesn’t have to be a case study, it doesn’t have to be a definition type post. This is a story. If you’ve got a story or you know a good story that’s relevant for all time like this particular one is, that’s a great type of evergreen content that you could be creating for your blog as well. It doesn’t date, it inspires people as much today as it did in 2011 when we first published it on ProBlogger.
The last one I want to give you is kind of one that was a bit of surprise. As I looked at the most read posts on ProBlogger, I didn’t realize this post was getting so much traffic even today. It’s Ten David Ogilvy Quotes that could Revolutionize Your Blogging. It’s a post I wrote back in 2011 and it was just a collection of my favorite quotes from David Ogilvy who’s sort of like the original Ad Man. It’s fifteen-hundred words long so I did add a little bit of my own content. It’s fairly large, it’s not a meaty post at all. I guess people still are searching today many, many years later for quotes from David Ogilvy. I suspect that’s where the traffic is coming in from.
They’re just ten of the examples that I’ve done. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got some examples on the show notes today from some of our readers, some ProBlogger readers. I actually put on my Facebook page a few days ago now that I was doing this podcast and I wanted examples of other evergreen content from other blogs. There’s a whole collection of all kinds of different content there. I wanted to include these probably to drive a little bit of traffic to ProBlogger readers, I love to share traffic with our readers. But two, also because I wanted to show you some examples of evergreen content from different niches. Some of these are teaching type posts and some of them are different styles of content as well.
I know for a fact that some of you are still going, “This doesn’t really work for my niche.” I kind of want to address that a little bit now. Evergreen content can take all kinds of forms. You’ve already seen some of the different styles of content, the different types of posts that I’ve shared. We’ve got how to, instructional guides, that’s where I spend a lot of my time. You’ve got definition type posts, you’ve got inspirational content—some of those image collections that I shared but also the story that we shared—case studies and examples—sometimes, they can date a little bit but sometimes they don’t. Advice, we got a post on ProBlogger, How to Choose a Blog Platform. That’s a piece of content that hasn’t really dated a whole heap although some of the platforms have changed, we’ve updated it a little bit, but it’s a question that people continue to ask. It answers to frequently asked questions. The last type would be swipe files or templates. I’ll share an example in a moment from Copy Blogger that fits into that category.
Again, you can also see this even in the examples I’ve given you. There’s been different styles or formats of posts as well. Step by step, list post, essays, articles, all kinds of image collections. We’ve got different mediums there, evergreen content can be written content, audio, many of the podcasts that I’ve created including this one remain as relevant today as they were when I recorded them and hopefully will live on for a long time to come. Video can be evergreen. Really, you’re not limited to just the written work here.
I’ve got a post on YouTube, a video that I did on my secrets to making money from blogging. I referred to that a couple of episodes ago and it continues to get views even today. Video can work as well. Different styles, different mediums, different types of posts all can work as evergreen content. You’re not limited just to a written content.
How do you identify evergreen content ideas for your particular blog? I want to make a few suggestions for you and hopefully some of these again will stimulate some ideas for you.
The first question is what questions do you get asked today that you’ve been asked for a few years now? What questions do you get asked that just don’t go away. An example of that on ProBlogger was can you really make money blogging? That’s one question. Another one we get asked all the time is how do you make money blogging. Some of the best posts that we’ve got on ProBlogger just answer those frequently asked questions.
What are the key challenges, obstacles, or problems that don’t go away for your readers? Again, on ProBlogger, one of the key challenges is that our readers have and hasn’t gone away is productivity. How do I fit it all in? How do I get it all done? You’ll notice a lot of the content that I’ve created on ProBlogger does take that angle. How do you get it all done? How do you decide which social media network to go on, that was two episodes ago. What are those challenges, obstacles, and problems that your readers have that just haven’t gone away? That type of content that addresses those types of challenges will lend itself to more evergreen content.
What searches are people doing on your site to get to your site? If you can get some of that information from Google Analytics, you want to dig in a little bit too to see what people are searching for when they’re on your site. What searches are people doing on your topic elsewhere? You might want to look at Google Trends as a good tool for that. You can type in a keyword there and it will show you whether that keyword is being searched for on Google and whether that’s trending up or trending down type of topic.
What are the cornerstone things that people need to know in your niche? A good example of that on Digital Photography School was that ISO post. I wrote a series of posts back in 2007 I think it was on Digital Photography School on the topics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Those three concepts are what I would consider to be cornerstone pieces of content. If you want to take a well exposed photo, you need to learn those three things. Those ideas are cornerstone to the topic.
If there are cornerstone things that you constantly are referring to in your articles, then maybe you’ve never even written on those posts because you think they’re so basic for everyone. They’re the type of things that you should be writing content on. You should always link back to those things.
What are the key categories in your niche that you could write an introduction on? What could you create that people will come back to again and again? A good example of this, when I do go on Facebook for people to share examples, Carla and Emma from The Merrymaker Sisters shared a recipe that has sent them heaps of traffic to their particular blog The Merrymaker Sisters. It’s called The Paleo Salted Caramel Slice Recipe. It’s such an amazing slice, I’ve actually tasted it, that I bet people are constantly coming back to it. It’s one that they would live on in their memories that they come back to again and again and again. If they don’t print it out and put it in their most used recipes.
Those types of things that you create that people come back to is really important. Hence, swipe files is another example of this. Copy Blogger is one of my favorite blogs over at copyblogger.com. Brian Clark wrote an article back in 2008 or 2009 on his Ten Surefire Headline Formats that Always Work. These were just sort of little templates of headlines that you could use for blog posts. That post, it’s just become iconic. People constantly refer to it and I constantly go back to it. Every time I’m stuck writing a blog post title or trying to name an ebook or trying to come up with a headline for a landing page, I go back to that post. If you can create something that has some sort of a swipe file element to it that people will keep coming back to, then that’s the type of thing that maybe you should be trying to create on your blog as well.
The last thing I’d say is to try to help you identify evergreen content ideas. What key stories have there been in your life or in your industry, in your niche, that continue to have relevance today, things that continue to teach and inspire your readers today.
I think in most of our lives, there’s moments in our lives that have been turning point moments for us. We often refer back to them in passing. I really would encourage you to identify what were the turning point moments in your own life that you do occasionally refer to on your blog. Write that up as a blog post, write that story up, and then you can link back to that and drive traffic back to that over time. That’s another evergreen idea.
The last question I want to touch on with evergreen content, it’s a question I get quite a bit. “What should I do if my content dates?” There are plenty of blogs as I mentioned before that just purely do now content. On one level, that’s totally okay. I want to say if you got a blog that’s all about now content, maybe you’ve got a news blog or maybe you’ve got a politics blog that’s all about the election that’s happening in the US at the moment, or if you’ve got a blog that’s all about gadgets and you have to just constantly write about now stuff, that’s okay. But, keep your eyes open for opportunities to add some evergreen content. I do think in most niches there’s opportunities to create evergreen content.
What I would say to you is look for opportunities to mix it up. Not every content you write needs to be evergreen and not every content idea that you have needs to be now. Most blogs can create a mix of that. It will differ from blog to blog what that mix is.
Over on Digital Photography School, I would say 90% to 95% is evergreen. We could write a lot more about the new cameras that come out and the new techniques that there are for getting certain styles of post processing and we do do a few of those types of things but we tend to leave that to other blogs that are majoring more upon that.
On ProBlogger, we tend to do a little bit more now content because techniques do change. For example, we’ve written more recently about Snapchat. We’ve written more recently about Facebook Live, some of these emerging trends that are a heat for a while. I would say they’re still reasonably evergreen but they may be not as evergreen as some of the posts that we do on Digital Photography School.
I guess that’s one of the things that we should acknowledge, really evergreen content is a spectrum. Some pieces of content that you write might last ten years, it might last a hundred years really. Some of those principles of life just don’t change but there’s a sliding scale. Some pieces are now and they’re today type content and they will not be relevant tomorrow. And then, a lot of pieces of content, on ProBlogger, posts about Snapchat may only be around for six months or so, that’s more evergreen than just a today type of content. Do consider those types of posts as well, the medium level evergreen.
The last thing I’ll say is that you can update your content to make it more evergreen. I’ve already kind of mentioned this as well. Even the post that are dating, look back at them and ask yourself are there opportunities to go back to some of those olds posts and update them?
A good example of this on ProBlogger is my post How to Make Money Blogging. I think you’ll find it at problogger.net/make-money-blogging. It’s about two-thousand nine-hundred words long. I can’t remember when I wrote that post, I think it must’ve been back in 2007, 2008 when I kind of summarized how I made money blogging. If you go back in the web archives and look at the different versions of that post that have been online, you will notice that they have changed quite a bit. I’ve gone back to that post again and again and again and updated it and changed it. Probably very little of it is still what I actually wrote when I first published that post. Yet, I would still consider that to be an evergreen piece of content because it’s still the same topic.
Whilst the content on it has changed with the times, people still are asking about how to make money blogging. The topic hasn’t changed and the page URL hasn’t’ changed. It continues to rank well in Google as well. You may have some content in your archives that you could tweak and update a little bit and it becomes evergreen again today. Particularly pay attention to content that is doing well in Google or that is getting a lot of traffic from another blog. If you’ve got a hot post like that in your archives, really make it a high priority to continue to update that one.
There are also other things that you might want to do some analysis on. There are things within your niche that readers continue to come looking for. I’ll give you a couple of examples of this. One of my favorite blogs to read is Mac Rumors. It’s a blog about the new things that are rumored to be happening with Apple and Mac, new iPhones that might be coming out, new features that might be on the next MacBook Pro. I would consider most of the content that goes up on Mac Rumors to be very now, it’s all now, it’s all stuff that could be obsolete tomorrow. As that rumor gets proved to be false or as the new iPhone comes out, those posts that are being written about it really become obsolete.
But as I look at Mac Rumors, they have worked out that there are some things that people just come constantly looking for advice on. If you look up in their navigation area, they’ve got a link called Buyer’s Guide. It’s the buyer’s guide to all Apple Products. One of the things I guess they’ve realized is that their readers get really nervous about whether they should buy a product now or whether they should wait a month or two before the new product comes out. If you look at the buyer’s guide, it actually gives you the latest information on that particular product. This is a page that they’ve created that gives you up to date information on an evergreen topic. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make here today is are there things that your readers constantly are asking, I suspect they created that page because people kept asking in their forms. It’s now the right time to buy this particular product.
They created a guide for that and they constantly update it, it gets updated probably everyday almost. It’s an evergreen kind of page because it’s fulfilling a need that is not going away in their readers. You might find that there is just something that all your readers want to be kept up to date on so then you can create a page that’s a little bit evergreen there.
Another example of a blog that I read quite regularly that does this is Life Hacker. If you go to Life Hacker, you will see different versions of Life Hacker depending on where you are in the world. If you go to the US Life Hacker page, you’ll find that they have some links to the most essential apps for Macs. I’ll give you the link to that in today’s show notes. It’s a post that they update constantly with their favorite apps for Macs.
They’ve obviously worked out that there’s high demand that’s not going away for that particular topic. So if you look at that post, you’ll see that some of the comments are from 2013. That post has been live for a long time but it’s been updated in the last few days and they do say when they update it as well. If there’s something that people just keep asking you about, it’s a problem that your readers have that’s just not going away, consider creating a page that you’ll update that really fulfills the evergreen kind of need that people have as well.
Two more quick examples. I’ll shoot you over to Digital Photography School again. We’ve got a couple of posts there that are our most popular Digital SLRs, most popular lenses, most popular compact cameras. I’ve shared the links in the show notes. These are posts that I update probably once a quarter, so three or four times a year. It just shows the current trends in those particular things.
I noticed a few years ago that people are constantly asking what digital SLR should I buy? I could spend all day answering that question or I could create a page that simply answers the question for our readers. Again, it’s an evergreen question but I update the content. That might be something that you can do. If you’ve got a blog that is on one of these sort of now, now, now type topics, maybe there are some things that you can do to create some evergreen content.
Last one I’ll share with you as an example is from Vanessa’s blog, my wife. Stole Shenanigans is her blog. She wrote a post called Where to Shop in Bali after we took a holiday there. I don’t know that she really expected that post to do as well as it has, but it’s one that has ranked pretty well in Google and yet it does date. Where to Shop in Bali does change from month to month, year to year. We’ve been back to Bali several times now, and she’s gone back even by herself on a girl’s kind of holiday for a significant birthday that she had. Every time she goes back, she collects more information on that particular topic and then updates that post.
You might have a post that dates but are there ways that you can continue to update that one?
There are some ideas on how to create evergreen content for your blog. Creating it is half the blog, the next thing you really do need to think about is how do you get people to it. Once you’ve written your evergreen piece of content, think about how you’re going to get your readers to it. Whilst some noble post might have a spike in traffic and then die off very quickly, the goal with evergreen content is to get a steady stream of traffic to it overtime.
A few tips on how to do that. Partly, it’s going to be up to Google, Google does have their way of determining where to rank traffic. I guess the first thing is learn how to do some SEO, how can you optimize your post for SEO. I’ll link in today’s show notes to an episode that we did on search engine optimization that Jim Stewart on that particular topic.
Optimize your post for SEO but then consider how you can get people to it from your blog, your existing blog. Your navigation areas, your menu, your sidebar. If it’s an important piece of evergreen content, you probably want to highlight that post in some way on your blog. On ProBlogger, I mentioned already on our sidebar next to blog post we have linked to some of our important pieces of evergreen content, we have portals, we link to some of our important evergreen pieces of content from the about page, the start here page.
Also, underneath blog posts we have further reading which we recommend certain pieces of content that people should read as well. Go back through your archives and work out are there other relevant pieces of content that you could be linking to your new evergreen content from. Even if it’s just sending a trickle of traffic from ten different blog posts, that adds up over time.
You can regularly re-share that social media content again and again. Build a system where you’re highlighting that type of content. One very simple thing that I do pretty much every day is go back to look at what I published this day last year and this day two years ago. The date today as I’m recording this is July 25. Tonight when I do my social media for Digital Photography School, I curate all the content that goes up onto our Facebook page, I will look at what I published on the 25th of July last year and every year over the last five or six years. I’ll be looking for opportunities as I do that to find evergreen content.
I don’t share every post that we published on the 25th of July because some of it wasn’t evergreen. But if it’s evergreen and it’s still relevant today, I use that as a single to myself to re-share. I know every year, I go through every post on the site. If it’s evergreen, it gets shared at least once a year. Build a system where you can resurface that evergreen content.
Keep in mind as you write future pieces of content that there will be opportunities to link back to your evergreen content in that. Before you publish any new blog post, ask yourself is there something I’ve written before that’s evergreen that I should be linking back to? You should be linking to your evergreen content in any promotional activities you do. If you are guest posting on someone else’s blog, don’t just link back to your front page in your bio. You might want to consider linking back to an evergreen piece of content that relates to what you wrote about in that guest post. If you’re interviewed on a podcast or if you get an interview in the media, try and find a way to mention that piece of content that you’ve created and drive people back from that.
I guess the last thing is if you’ve got a piece of content that’s evergreen, consider who might be interested in that. Is there a social media influencer in your particular niche who might actually like and might share that piece of content as well?
Promote your evergreen content. Don’t just write it, that’s half the battle, but get people to it and work it. It’s really important to continue to do that.
The last thing I’ll say about evergreen content is that once you got people viewing it and once you have that steady stream of traffic to those posts, you’ve got to ask yourself what’s the point of that? If people are seeing that content and then they’re bouncing straight off your site again, that’s kind of a bit of a wasted opportunity so how can you leverage the eyeballs that that evergreen content are getting?
You might want to consider creating an opt-in or lead magnet where you give something away in return for an email address from the people who do come to that. You might want to get people to read a second piece of content. If you’ve got an evergreen piece of content that’s getting lots of eyeballs, you might want to suggest some further reading on that to get a second eyeball on a second piece of content. You might want to call them to follow you on social media.
Really, it’s about trying to make that piece of content that is evergreen, that is getting the traffic, as sticky as possible. I put together an episode purely on that topic of making your blog post sticky. It’s Episode 35 of the ProBlogger podcast and I really would encourage you to go back and listen to that one once this particular episode is finished. If you’ve already got evergreen content that’s ranking in Google, that’s getting traffic from social, that’s getting traffic from other blogs, you really need to take a good look at that piece of content and see how can I leverage that piece of content. You’re going to listen to Episode 35 on that.
Just to sum up, evergreen content is one of the best investments that you’ll ever make in terms of creating content for your blog. Not every piece of content needs to be evergreen and not every piece of evergreen content that you create is going to work. Sometimes, they just don’t attract the traffic that we think. But the more evergreen content you create over time, the better.
I shared with you earlier in this podcast ten pieces of content that have done really well for me on my blogs. Those pieces of content, some of them have had millions of pageviews but none of them have made up any more than 1% or 2% of my overall traffic. The reality is that all of the hundreds of millions of pageviews that I’ve had over the years, most of it has come from all the little pieces of content that I’ve created that have been evergreen. Really, it’s about the accumulation of what’s in your archives that matters with this. It’s not just those big posts that go viral, it’s some of those little posts as well that might attract an extra ten, twenty, thirty visitors a month to your blog; those add up over time.
Every piece of content that you create is an investment that continues to drive the overall traffic that you’re able to drive to your blogs. I really do encourage you this week to make it your goal to create some evergreen content and identify some other topics that you might want to write that are evergreen in nature. Actually, come up with a bit of a schedule to create that content over the coming weeks and months.
Thanks so much for listening to today. I know it’s been a long one. It actually took me forever to prepare this one, there’s so much to say on the topic. You can find today’s show notes with all the further reading, all the examples that I’ve given you, and a full transcription of this whole podcast over at problogger.com/podcast/136. Thanks for listening, I’ll chat with you in a couple of days time in Episode 137.
How did you go with today’s episode?
I hope you are building evergreen content into your weekly or even daily schedule. I would love to know what type of evergreen content you have published and how it is working for you. Share your experiences below.
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"It’s not about being eight hours in an office. It’s about increasing the quality of the hours that you spend." - David "DHH" Heinemeier Hansson David "DHH" Heinemeier Hansson (@dhh) is the creator of Ruby on Rails, founder and CTO at Basecamp (formerly 37signals), and the best-selling co-autho…
SE-Radio Episode 261: David Heinemeier Hansson on the State of Rails, Monoliths, and More : Software Engineering Radio
SE-Radio Episode 261: David Heinemeier Hansson on the State of Rails, Monoliths, and More
Filed in Episodes
on June 28, 2016
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David’s Twitter: @dhh
David’s website, http://david.heinemeierhansson.com/
Ruby on Rails website, http://rubyonrails.org/
Basecamp website, https://basecamp.com/
Rails 5.0 Beta announcement, http://weblog.rubyonrails.org/2015/12/18/Rails-5-0-beta1/
ActionCable (Websocket support for Rails), https://github.com/rails/rails/tree/master/actioncableTurboLinks 5 application, https://github.com/turbolinks/turbolinks
The Majestic Monolith blog post, https://m.signalvnoise.com/the-majestic-monolith-29166d022228?gi=fd9f11cc91c9
http://traffic.libsyn.com/seradio/SE-Radio-Episode-261-David-Heinemeier-Hansson-on-the-State-of-Rails-Monoliths-and-More.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS
This talk by the late David Foster Wallace might just change the way you see the tiny, sometimes annoying, details of life. This was the commencement speech he gave at Kenyon College in 2005. The speech is published in a short book called This is Water.
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