Why your web content production needs to establish an Edginess Index

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I create a lot of content for clients and run into the same issues over and over. One problem is that the kind of content that gets results has an edge to it, but the client usually does not want content that has an edge to it, they just want to sell stuff.

Nothing wrong with wanting to just sell stuff.

However, magnetic content, content that attracts tends to be edgy content.

For example, if you are a client in the niche of “home lighting”, I may suggest an article along the lines of “Top ten lighting rigs to power your Cannabis Farm“.

I probably wont, but I am using this extreme example to illustrate the point. Of course the article still has to be written in a certain style which attracts the social movers and shakers and linkerati, to be deemed a winner.

Most business people do not live in my weird and wonderful world of online content creation, and so do not understand why approaching content in a counter intuitive way is sometimes essential.

So, it’s useful if we have an Edginess Index.

This is to gauge how edgy to make the content on a scale of 1 to 10.

Here is my Edginess Index:

1 = Local Govt publications
2 = Local newspaper
3 = Beano
4 = 2000AD
5 = TV Quick
6 = Top Gear
7 = FHM
8 = Sun/ Daily Mail
9 = Nuts
10 = XXXXXXXXXXX

Note: This is for the UK market specifically.

1. The most anodyne, mundane, safe copy I have ever read is that of local government publications. The stuff that tells you how to put your rubbish out etc. Useful if you need to know how to put rubbish out.

2. Local newspapers tend to be written by numbers, local jumble sale info, cat stuck in tree, man buys pork pie etc. It’s safe, useful as it tells you what’s going on and interesting if your in your area someone who kidnaps cats and sells them to the local butcher to kill and put into sausages has just been arrested.

3. The Beano is a comic for 6 to 12 year olds, although I still read it occasionally and enjoy it. The tone of the content is child friendly but fun. It’s a little mischievous with kids getting into scrapes and high jinx, it’s no Horrid Henry but it definitely appeals to the rebel in every child. In a way, it resonates wrong doing but in a way that a child can understand.

Most web content tries to get to this tone, but fails becoming more boring than a house brick.

4. 2000AD is the comic for 13 upwards, at least it was when I would read it religiously. It’s a lot more gritty than the Beano and deals with more grown up concepts, but no swearing, nudity or sex, but plenty of aliens getting fragged and Judge Dredd going around saying “I am the law”. Yes I am a fan.

5. TV Quick or any of those “by the counter tabloids”, is safe enough to sell at the supermarket checkout, but edgy enough to attract the attention and initiate the impulse part of the brain of an interested reader. It does sometimes contain articles like, “I was so fat I even ate the sofa”, kind of articles, but mostly it’s stuff that tickles your gran. There are about ten of these types of publications on the supermarket shelf and so a fair sized market.

If you took out the headlines and put them on a plain white page, they would seem shocking, but by making the colours of the mag soft and pleasing with pretty people and no gore, they are able to sell the, “I ate my neighbours dog baby”, type stories.

6. Now we are starting to get into the, “it may offend someone” category. Although not as offensive as the raw throat pipe of Mr Jeremy Clarkson, but it still does have that frisson of excitement. For example, “The first car I had sex in”, may be an article. Not talking about the bits and bobs you understand, but more the automotive angle, and so is less edgy than it seems.

7. FHM however, is as edgy as it seems. Offending a good portion of people, and yet attracting a sizable audience. Does not shy away from a bit of raw, bodily fluid type humour, but pulls back before you feel all dirty. I’m really talking about the articles, not the pictures.

In all of these content producers I am talking about the “tone” of the content, not the specific content itself, but what it represents and how many people it may offend.

8. Sun/Daily Mail website. These are British content producers, not sure what it would be in your locale. These contain highly offensive material, so much so that they regularly arouse the anger of a lot of people. These are at number 8 because of the amount of people that find them offensive, conversely they are insanely successful.
Very few of my business clients would want to be associated with articles such as “Freddie Star ate my hamster”. But this is what more people like to read and consume than most other publications.
The point is, these publications go out to offend and to bait people into a response. One only has to observe how the Mail handled the Samantha Brick situation. Which is a fascinating case to analyse and one we had a lot of fun with on Linkbait Coaching

9. Nuts. These porn dressed as “lads mags” are able to get into a lot of UK supermarkets. It’s mix of raucous humor and sexual objectification of women would rate it extremely objectionable. Few mainstream linkbaiters would go to this level, but those who do still get links, but find they get a label they just can’t shake.

10. XXXXXXXXXXX is just too hot to handle. So offensive I can’t even repeat it here. Not a level I have ever gone up to, but it’s important to know it’s here and that it exists.

This stuff does get links, but from a more smaller bag of link possibilities.

So there we have it, the more edgy we go the less likely a client is going to want it on their website or used as a guest post on someone else’s. The ideal is probably somewhere in the middle. It is very useful to use an edginess index, I would advise creating your own, relative to clients understanding.

Most content stays safe, not because the publishers want to protect our morals, but it’s the cheapest, safest and quickest to publish. It is not the most effective though, a higher level of edginess works better and I am not just talking sexual edginess or even violent, sometimes it can be something that challenged the current consensus.

Linkbait tends to naturally have an edge, or at least it should do. Attractive can sometimes disrupt and unsettle, but it can also challenge.

When directing those to create content for you it’s important you establish a way to communicate just how far you want to go with the content.

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