A guide to having your content remain in the spotlight

How great would it be if you could just let your content slowly cumulate to a passive income stream?

It requires a shift in approach to go from the grind of staying relevant and being in touch to creating a unique legacy that remains loved over time.

Even if you will not actively put all of the below into practice, just have it sink in and allow yourself to be aware the next time you’re pushing that publish button.

Evergreen noun ev·er·green: something that retains its freshness, interest, or popularity

Why can people still take important lessons from Shakespeare’s stories and sonnets in this day and age? It’s because he touched all facets of life, all subjects that mankind will encounter and battle throughout its existence. Love, greed, good and evil, depression are universal themes that are as relevant today as they were back in Shakespeare’s time.

The Beatles’ discography is by many considered to be timeless. Behind the right mix of talented musicians is producer and ‘5th Beatle’ George Martin who strived to achieve a clean and universal sound (played on traditional music instruments) above all. Amidst the highly experimental Beatles George Martin avoided sonic gimmickry and trendiness resulting in highly original, accessible music about universal themes.

Create your own universe.

Many classic movies share similar characteristics. Next to being well crafted, a movie like The Lion King could take place ten years ago or ten years into the future because it takes place in its own universe. There’s no distinguishable zeitgeist other than the technology used to craft the movie. Tying in the same themes about human nature, conflict and emotion can have a movie age well.

Breathing extra life into your content

Now this all sounds fair and well but how does this translate to your content? What can you specifically do to future-proof your work?

First, spend as long as you must to make it perfect. This is not about being the first or the fastest. It’s about making the very best content for a particular theme, the final answer to a problem. There should be no rush in doing that. Consider yourself a sculptor laying out a rough foundation first and then slowly chipping away until it’s exactly what you intended it to be.

Perfectionists are exactly the ones creating timeless content.

Just look at a blog like waitbutwhy.com. Never in it to score with quick clickbait, instead almost every article posted has been thoroughly researched, thought out well and gone through several iterations to get to its final result. Produced so well in fact, you can take any handful of related articles and create a book out of it.

Create pages, not posts

Always be aware of the relevancy of the content you’re producing. Slightly adjusting the approach or simply choosing a different title can make a world’s difference for how long your content is loved by people and search engines.

Some examples ranging from short to long term:

  • A social media post only gets a very brief moment (if at all) in the spotlight before being algorithmically pushed away by thousands of similar pieces battling for top of the timeline.
  • Any news-related content is old a day after it’s been posted and can at most generate a healthy, viral spike in your traffic.
  • A product review for a smartphone model is only relevant for as long as the product is relevant.
  • A best of 2017 list is relevant for most of the year.
  • With minor adjustments content about Valentine’s Day gifts or Halloween costumes can be relevant year after year.
  • A video on how to draw the Nike logo is relevant for as long as Nike remains a popular brand in the world.
  • An article breaking down an established, scientific subject into easy to understand language can stay relevant for years.

Now I’m not saying that you should only create long-form content like the latter for the sake of it. People still like their healthy balance of snack-sized pieces and full course articles.

If you were working on that smartphone review article, why not take a few comparable models and make a best-of list?

Take that news article and link it to a well researched background piece on the same subject.

Remove all references of time from that lengthy blog post and turn it into a wiki-page that you’ll keep updating and promoting over time.

The formula for timeless content (or the TL;DR)

Make your work appeal to a wide variety of people by addressing themes that are universal and exist across time. When in doubt, ask yourself if in five years your content will still be relevant. Do not use any trendy, time-sensitive tool or technology that leaves a mark on your work. Instead, master traditional and established tools well enough to become original.

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