I’m gonna cut straight to the chase here:

Successful content is content that works for your customer and for you.

Is your content successful?

Before you answer, pause for a second and consider what “successful” really means.

There’s a lot of chatter out there about what makes “great content.” Epic! 10x! Authentic! Viral! That’s not what I’m asking about.

Let me let you in a dirty little secret: there’s a difference between “great” (an innate quality) and “successful” (an award won when goals are met). You can write the most beautifully perfect essays in the history of the world, but if nobody signs up at the end — or worse, nobody reads them — then your content may be great, but it’s not successful.

That’s just fine and dandy if what you want to produce is art. DO NOT TAKE THIS AS A DISCOURAGEMENT… I FREAKING LOOOOOVE ART. If art is your goal, then by all means, skip the rest of this.

But if you do want clicks… traffic… shares… signups… and (gasp) (dare I say it?) SALES…

You can herniate your forebrain trying to be epic! or viral! or ~AuTHENtIC~ and… it still might not work.

Because that’s not why content succeeds. Those are adjectives, not traits you can check off and say “Yes, my infographic does this” or “Yes, this screencast does that.”

Weird fact: Your content can be somewhat less than “great” and still be successful.

Soooo… IS your content successful?

Here’s a little evaluation tool to help you find out…

The Content Success Gradient:

  1. You’re droppin’ ebombs, ✨ generating traffic and ✨ results (conversions!) woop woop!
  2. You’re getting traffic, but not conversions (signups, shares, etc)
  3. You’re droppin’ content, but you’re not getting traffic
  4. You’re not putting out content — even though you know you “should” — because you don’t see a clear answer to what kind, which topics, and how to make it deliver results

If you’re firmly ensconced in #1, fantastic! Great work!

If you place your content on the map anywhere from 2 to 4, I’m here to help.

First, start with the right ingredients

These are the ingredients that do the work that creates success: hooking your reader, helping your reader, building trust and then, after all that, giving them a good reason to share, sign up, or even buy:

  1. Reader pain +
  2. Solution +
  3. Call to Action

There’s more detail to it than that, of course, but those are the base ingredients. And because they’re concrete ingredients, you don’t have to waffle over the exact definition of “epic” or “authentic”. You can straight-up ask yourself:

Does my essay include a reader pain? And a solution? What about a call to action?

Yes: hooray! you’ve got a solid piece of content that will help readers and help your business

No: then your content is likely not destined for success


Obviously, content with the 3 ingredients could be boring, or not very impactful, or not painful enough, or not helpful enough, or simply not well-produced enough to make a big impact. But, then again, if you look around at people who’ve built real six- and seven-figure businesses off content like this… they’re not all Shakespeare, iykwim?

Then (if you want!), turn up the spice

There are lots of ways you can ratchet up the success of your content, but only if the core is there: Pain + Solution + CTA.

You can spice up your actual words and sentences. You can work with more vivid, immediate, or painful reader pains. You can provide solutions that are theoretical, or argumentative, or supportive… you can get more concrete with step-by-step instructions, implementation workbooks, working examples to copy & paste… or you can go all the way and build a little thing that’ll get your reader (or listener, or viewer, or click-er) over the hump directly.

There’s so much you can do within the framework.

But the magic is, you don’t have to do it all. Especially not at the beginning.

You can start small, start simple, and see results.

Ready to put my framework into action on your own site?

My latest workshop, Landing Pages That Sell, takes you on a dive deep into my four-part copywriting formula and landing page design rules.

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