In the darkest depths of winter, an evergreen is comforting. No matter how cold it gets, how much snow covers the ground, or how badly the family dinner turns out, those green branches are always there, offering beauty and reassurance.
Evergreen blog posts are just as valuable. We bookmark and read them over and over again to inspire us, comfort us, and remind us of the basics. We all have half a dozen favorites knocking around somewhere, and the popular blogs helpfully direct you to those posts time and again. They know that on your dark days, what you really want is the friendly comfort of an evergreen.
So why doesn’t your blog have any?
While some evergreen blog posts spring up out of nowhere, most of them require planning, effort, care, trimming, and maintenance. Your regular Tuesday post on freelance writing isn’t going to cut it. Sure, it’s useful, and yeah, it’s probably entertaining. But what makes it one of those posts that becomes an evergreen?
The evergreens we admire for their longevity
The most obvious way is to write about a topic that never gets old. These are cornerstone reference posts, like ’10 Ways to Build a Better Blog.’ These posts are evergreen simply because people always need that information.
The good news is that evergreen reference posts are pretty straightforward to write. Do a step-by-step summary of how to do something from start to finish, and you’ve got yourself an evergreen post.
They’re also good for defining something that’s often mis-defined. For example, I have posts bookmarked in my ‘Evergreens’ folder on “What Marketing Really Is.” And I refer back to them often, because marketing is a slippery subject.
There are downsides to these types of evergreen posts. You’re up against a lot of competition, for one. There are already thousands of evergreen posts on building a better blog or providing better customer service. There’s probably an evergreen post on 10 Ways to Do Absolutely Any Topic Imaginable.
If you want your evergreen post to be the one that gets bookmarked, you’d better make it really, really good.
Which brings us to the second downside: Evergreen posts often require much more work than your standard post. You’ll probably wind up putting in at least 5 hours — and probably more like 15 — making sure everything is well-written, entertaining, compelling, and that you didn’t make any mistakes.
You might also be putting some extra hours into in-depth research if your evergreen post is on a topic that’s difficult to understand.
The evergreens we love for their emotion
When a writer goes off on a topic and comes out with a brilliant essay or a story you can’t take your eyes off of, that’s an evergreen post of emotion.
I’ve read great posts on topics like why writers are poor, why social media sucks, how to avoid destroying your family with your career, how to get things done if you’re a flake, and tons more. They’re usually born from the writer’s personal frustration or difficult experience, and they’re usually magnificently heart-rending.
That’s not enough, though. To write an evergreen post of emotion, you also need to have all your facts straight.
It’s not enough to go off on a huge rant about how writers aren’t paid enough. You need to do the research and see what they really are paid, from all angles, from every direction. You need to tell compelling stories about personal experiences and make reasoned arguments about why it isn’t fair.
You want a person to read your post and feel like you know exactly what they’re going through. You want them to gain insight and new ideas. You want them to come back and read it each time they’re feeling frustrated or upset. When they do, they’re going to feel a little bit better. Someone gets it. Someone has expressed their frustration in compelling, carefully reasoned ways.
The reason emotional evergreen posts are so popular is that when we’re upset, we don’t feel all that coherent. We want to bang our heads on the desk and scream and cry and punch things. But we also want someone else to get it so we don’t feel so alone.
Since we’re not feeling like we can explain ourselves very well, reading someone else’s post on the problem (and possibly the solution) makes us feel a little bit better.
Go grow yourself some evergreen
Try writing one of those two kinds of posts and make it evergreen. Expect to put some serious work into it, and don’t skimp on time. You want this to be the sum of your creativity and writing skills, an entertaining, well-spoken, thoroughly enjoyable piece that inspires.
It’s a hard thing to do, and you may need to re-write that post several times before you’re satisfied.
When you finish, though, you’ll be proud to post it up and send new readers to check out that evergreen post. You could even put a permanent link in your sidebar and keep it visible forever. It’s some of your best writing on a topic you’re passionate about.
And if you’ve done it right, you’ll know that many people will bookmark it and come back to it again and again, just to get that feeling of warmth and comfort that an evergreen always brings.
About the Author: For more feelings of warmth and comfort from someone who cares, head on over to James Chartrand’s blog at Men with Pens, where you’ll find plenty of evergreen posts full of insight for your freelance career. Even better, get free updates to Men with Pens via RSS or email.