Sometimes the best articles or blog entries can be something you have written off the top of your head about a hot topic – something that is trending in your niche and about to hit that tipping point that turns it into a hot topic that everyone is suddenly talking about. However, you need to find these trending topics, because before you know it, a ton of other blogs would have beaten you to the punch and you will be too late to make an impact. And then you need to pull off a great article that makes people want to link to you over anyone else who has written (or will be writing) about the same thing.
Monitor your market
Pay attention to what people are tweeting in your niche. Watch a handful of the busiest forums in your market area to see what people are suddenly talking about. Set up Google alerts & twitter searches on specific topics. Have a contact form so people can easily contact you when they notice something. But the big thing is to pay attention, especially when everyone seems to be asking questions and you know you can supply the answer.
Fact check before you write
Yes, you might think you know the answer off the top of your head, but if you want to make sure you become the relevant source of information for everyone talking about the topic, double check and do your fact checking. Especially if it is a blog, commenters can tear you apart if you present yourself as an authority on the trending topic but make a complete fool of yourself by giving up the wrong information. But even if you are not totally familiar with the topic, some research can often give you the answers everyone is looking for, you just need to pull it together in one place.
When people have a hot topic, they are often in such a hurry to write about it, they don’t think about getting quotes. But quotes can be even more crucial in a hot topic because getting a quote from an authority on the subject, even if you are still trying to establish yourself as an expert, can go a long way in bringing credibility on what you have written about. But yourself in one of those potential reader’s shoes… if you have a quote from an authority on the subject, you can bet you will get the links, even if someone else writing on the topic is better known. So make sure you know who you can contact quickly for quotes or even just a “does this sound right to you?” check.
Answer the questions
If everyone is asking a question about the hot topic, make sure you answer it and provide people with insights and information that no one else has. If you are the first person to answer or to take that angle of a story, you are not only answering the exact questions people have, but people will link to it because you are answering them. If you simply write a lengthy essay on the topic in general, it being a hot topic won’t be enough to make your site be the place to be. But if you are answering the questions that the people have, if you write it, they will come.
Don’t build castle walls
Link out to the many places where the topic is trending from your own article. Many people don’t do this because they want to keep the comments “on their own site”. But the problem with building a wall around your content can have the impact of not only keeping people in but also keeping people out. First, people want proof when you claim “everyone is talking about” your given topic, and sometimes people just want to get a well rounded view of what every one’s opinions are (not that yours won’t be fabulous, of course!) And don’t forget people will be much more generous in promoting you when you are promoting them too, whether it is a link to a forum or to a few tweets to highlighted. Not to mention the fact your links can also help a trending topic hit the tipping point to become the hot topic you want it to be.
Double check before you publish
Treat any blog post, but especially one that has the potential to get huge traffic, as the one entry that could define your career. So check for typos, make sure your grammar is right, the formatting looks good, the links all work, and that it is as polished as you can make it.
Get your social on
These are the types of articles that can go nuts with a little bit of social media prodding. So make sure if you have a blog that you are using something like Sociable so that your readers can quickly and easily submit them to all the relevant social sites. You want to make it as easy for them as possible… people might not think twice to hit the Digg link on your page, but many won’t go to the effort to actually go to Digg and submit it if they have to do it that way.
The most important thing to remember when doing this is that you have to be on top of the trends, not behind them. So as long as you have your eyes and ears open to follow what people are talking about, that is half your battle there… the second half is getting the article done