Shelf Life

Creation of content is hard.

Whether you are simply writing down your thoughts or trying to capture them on camera or by microphone, the creation of any form of content requires great effort.

For those who consistently write, record audio, or produce video, you know how much effort it requires to create a good and engaging piece of content. So knowing how hard it is, it always amazes me how many torpedo their efforts by introducing elements that shorten their content’s lifespan.

Here are some things to consider:

Don’t Date Yourself

When I see content that dates itself for no particular reason, it frustrates me. Writing ‘temporally’ shortens the life of your content considerably. Trust me, I know this not because I sat at the feet of some of the worlds greatest writers and learned, but because of many of my own mistakes.

  • glass-time-watch-businessWhen writing for bios, avoid the use of specific time frames like ‘for 12 years’ and instead use ‘since 2003.’ The former statement will become inaccurate in 12 months, while the latter will stay accurate forever.
  • When discussing concepts, avoid dates as much as possible. The need for advocacy, in whatever industry, is timeless and thus a piece on advocacy should never go out of style — don’t make seem old by giving it a date!
  • When discussing specific dynamic market metrics like interest rates or pricing, use either multiple examples (like showing a chart with rates at 4, 6 and 8%) or try to at least anticipate where the metrics are headed, especially if you think that change is imminent.

When you are done with any form of content creation, imagine yourself 3 years in the future and see how it reads. If you spend time writing in such a way that extends the life of your content for as long as possible (or as long as possible without requiring edits), your content will live a long and healthy life.

Remove Time Stamps

Most of today’s better blogging platforms give the author great latitude in how their content is displayed — including the date and time stamps associated with published articles. In other words, you can tell the blogging platform to NOT display the date the article was published.

Why would you NOT want to tell the audience when it was published? Well, if you are fairly certain that you are going to be very inconsistent in contributing to the blog — turn off the time stamps. You never want to give your audience the sense that your page is being ignored. Showing a blog that has dates from 2-3 years ago and no contributions since gives your reader a sense that your page is no longer active and the reader will be far less likely to engage.

Imagine walking up to a home with mail stuffed in the mailbox and grass up to your waist… It looks as if no one is home and gives you a less than wonderful feeling. Blogs with 2011 dates for the last contribution feel the same way to a reader.

But the converse is also true — if you are a serial blogger and contribute regularly, you SHOULD have time stamps on your articles as it shows new content is consistently being added to the page. By allowing the user to see the dates of the articles, it sends the user a clue that this page is active, alive and valuable and suggests that reader engagement will be met with a genuine and timely response.

Correctly Apply the Medium

Of all of the forms of content, the creation of video is the most difficult.

Creating good video requires multiple people, all of whom need some form of formal training in the art, along with some fairly expensive equipment, lighting, audio, a set that provides peace and quiet and generally a great deal of editing after the filming is done. Video, even in its most basic form, is time and money intensive.

So if you are going to tackle a subject that is extremely short lived, be very cautious using video.

I have seen numerous times where video is employed to communicate market updates or to promote an individual listing for a Realtor — I see it as a poor investment in time, even when the videos are well done. Effectively, the time that was spent to capture and edit the video all goes for naught once the market period ends or the listing sells. Imagine if the video time was used to capture a neighborhood narrative (instead of an single listing) or to explain how to interpret market reports? How long would those videos live? They would live far longer and pay back the creator many times over.

And while sometimes short-lived video is necessary, every attempt should be made to tackle topics with longer life spans.


Content matters so make it last.

If you are going to play in the content arena, spend some time thinking about how long it will live, relative to the effort required to create it. The more expensive and time consuming the content is to create, the longer it needs to live to justify the investment.