Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How to Turn Personal Experience into Useful Content

From positive experiences to negative ones and even good old pet peeves, there’s a way to turn a good tale into useful content.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “Content is king”? I’d say that it’s more a case that useful content is actually what’s important.

So what’s the real difference?

Here’s a quick example: I wrote a post a while back about a negative experience I had with my bank.

Here’s what happened: I received a note in the mail on the same day they were scheduled to shut down my savings account and mail me a check for the balance. They had sent the notice out about a week ahead, but it took that long for me to receive it.

If I hadn’t opened that note that day, they would have closed my account, cut a check and mailed it to me and whatever money I had in my savings account would have been temporarily lost to me while I waited for the proverbial check in the mail.

Naturally, I was shocked about what had happened. I didn’t ask them to close my account. I didn’t realize there was even a problem that would make them contemplate doing so.

When I called the bank to ask what was going on, they explained about a law designed to push consumers to save by limiting the number of monthly withdrawls from a savings account that come in the form of automatic transfers to cover your checking account and prevent what could otherwise be an overdraft.

There’s a set number of such drafts that are allowable. Once you reach it, they’re poised to shut down your savings account so they can stay compliant with the law.

I was mad as hell.

And I was ready to write a blog post in which I kvetched about this terrible experience I had with my bank.

But before I got halfway through the post, an important thought occurred to me. Rather than just writing about what happened and how I saved myself the aggravation of temporarily losing my savings balance, I should do more.

I should include all of the why of what happened: Why would any bank do this? Why should anyone assume that you can’t do with your account what you want to do?

But I should also include enough information to make sure anyone who reads the post would know how they can prevent it.

That’s what I set out to do.

I turned what would have been just an angry rant into an informative post with the purpose of helping someone else prevent a similar stressor.

It may seem like a subtle difference, but if you’re out to turn content into useful content, it’s a simple change that can help someone else.

I’m still surprised when I see in my analytics that people are visiting that post in particular. At this point, it was written four years ago, but people are apparently still finding it.

I hope it’s helping them dodge that horrible day I had at the bank!

The next time you’re ready to pour out an angry rant, stop for a minute and think about what you learned from the experience. And then think about what you should have done to have changed the outcome.

That might turn an average post into a helpful one.

If I’m in your audience, I’d thank you.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.