When Time Sensitive Content Becomes Evergreen
Dissecting an article that should have swiftly dropped off the radar reveals some truths about content creation
Look online at any content marketing website and you’ll see the same thing repeated. If you want to succeed in this blogging game, you need to write evergreen content. Evergreen content are articles that stand the test of time and are still relevant today even if they were written three weeks, three months or even three years ago.
One of the most famous examples that come to mind is former Wired editor Kevin Kelly’s “1000 Fans” essay. This essay is continually cited as a way to carve out your place on the internet and make a living from it. It was written almost a decade ago but it is continually cited as the basis of what the internet should and could be. Its basic premise is that once you have 1000 true fans who are willing to shell out money for your creations, you’ll be able to make a living off the internet whether you are a musician, writer, or entrepreneur.
Most recently it was cited by venture capital firm Andressen Horowitz’s influential newsletter a16z and it was even republished in a book by Tim Ferris of The Four-Hour Work Week fame. It is the kind of essay that many writers would dream of writing with its pertinence still felt today despite being written in 2008.
It is this kind of influence that I aim to achieve with my writing and whilst I have not accomplished anything near that level of influence, I have a few articles that keep receiving attention. Whilst the majority are examples of evergreen content, there is one article that surprises me.
Evergreen content cannot be engineered, it naturally occurs through writing what you are passionate about.
One of the very first articles I wrote was about Kim Kardashian’s co-opting of the Japanese garment kimono for her Spanx-like underwear brand. It was a year ago now but the situation caused such an uproar in Japan that the Mayor of Kyoto wrote to Kardashian herself urging her to re-think the name. She eventually did.
It’s this kind of article that actually goes against the well-trodden guidance of creating evergreen content. Although the brief yet bitter outrage that Kardashian’s actions caused was justified, is it just another example of the today’s Twitter-induced news cycle. In other words, it was swiftly forgotten after she renamed the brand to a less offensive name.
However, this is one of the articles that has proved not only a consistent earner for me but also still regularly gets viewed. Yet really it should be forgotten much like this scandal has. This leads me to take a further look into what we really mean by evergreen content and whether this piece really is as time-sensitive as it seems.
For starters, the piece is about the Kardashians, a topic that is in some ways is inherently evergreen. Whatever your opinion on them, the internet cannot stop talking about this family with this article being included in the Kardashian echo chamber. They are also controversial, which lends to its unexpected evergreen status.
Moreover, this is an article that came out of genuine anger and frustration at what Kardashian was attempting to do. As someone of Japanese descent, I needed to get my thoughts out on (virutal) paper. In doing this, I inadvertently injected raw emotion into my writing, which is something that never gets old.
As a writer, your unfiltered emotion is what makes your content stand the test of time.
What I mean to say is evergreen content cannot be engineered, it naturally occurs through writing what you are passionate about. Those that are preaching to writers to focus on evergreen content are not wrong but by constricting your writing to the traditional meaning of evergreen you are unlikely to achieve the desired results.
Concentrate on writing what angers you, upsets you or even what makes you laugh. It might be something that is happening today and gone tomorrow, it might be something that has plagued your entire life. Either way, evergreen content is not something to get hung up on.
As a writer, your unfiltered emotion is what makes your content stand the test of time. Your ability to tap into your emotions is what creates content that gets repeated reads.
Next time you write, rather than following content marketing guides use that instead. Master the ability to be vulnerable in your writing and you’ll find that no matter the topic, readers will come back time and time again.