How many times have you faced a situation that your amazing blog idea generated no interaction? Quite a lot of times, right? Now let’s picture that situation again:
You think you have an amazing idea for your next blog post that will go viral and be read by hundreds of people.
With this motivation, you start spending 4-5 hour per day for the next couple of days writing the blog post. After finishing, you review the article couple of times, then you send it to your friend for a final review. Because you want your amazing idea in perfect format. Then, you choose the best images that are coherent with your content. Finally, you’re ready to share your amazing blog post with the rest of the world.
It’s time to hit the publish button, and your blog post is online. After a while, you encounter a problem: the piece generates almost no interaction. Only a few people have read the content that you have worked hard on hours and days.
Well, you might say that flops are a part of the content creation journey. After all, there is no rule that all content will be successful and go viral.
But what if there is a method to reduce the number of failed content?
The method is: Minimum Viable Content. With minimum viable content, you can conduct small experiments by spending 10 hours on 10 different content ideas to see which one performs better instead of spending 10 hours writing one content.
As Andrea Fryrear explains, “minimum viable content enables you to learn what your audience is interested in and then use what you’ve learned to create big, high-effort pieces that perform well.”
By conducting many small experiments, you don’t need to waste your resources. You don’t have to shoot all your bullets at one target. All you need to do is creating risk-free, small pieces of content to see which ones perform better. Then you can build your content strategy only on the successful ones.
This method saves time and effort while increasing the likelihood that each piece of content you produce will attract more audience.
What is minimum viable content
So far, we understand that how minimum viable content improves the content creation journey, but what is minimum viable content. The minimum viable content framework comes from an agile concept: MVP, minimum viable product.
According to the Product Plan, a minimum viable product, or MVP, is a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle.
Moreover, Agile Alliance describes the purpose of an MVP this way:
It is the version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort.
In short, the key benefits of a minimum viable product are:
- maximum amount of validated learning
- least amount of effort
Just like MVP, MVC is content with enough context to influence the audience, validate the content idea before creating the long-form, and learn preferences about your audience.
Example of a minimum viable content
Before diving into the detailed process, let’s picture how the minimum viable content works in general.
Let’s say you believe that your audience wants to read articles about user experience. You hypothesize that by creating a content cluster about user experience, designers want to read it, resulting in generating more traffic and making more money for you.
To understand if your target audience wants to read about the user experience, you need to create iterations, which will be delivered one at a time. In your case, iterations would look like this:
- Iteration 1: social media post
- Iteration 2: atomic essay (~200-word essay)
- Iteration 3: long-form article (1,000+ words)
- Iteration 4: content cluster
The main goal with iterations is that each step has to feed the next one. Although iterations one and two don’t delight the audience completely, they provide feedback from the audience to shape subsequent iterations.
This framework will help you to find out whether your audience wants to read about user experience or not. If they don’t like something at some point, you can reiterate the step with different content until you find the content-market fit.
The process: How minimum viable content works in reality
Visual Created via Canva
The first step of the framework is planning, in other words, deciding on 5–6 content ideas to test.
In my case, I’m choosing my ideas from my idea funnel. Idea funnel is a tool (a notion page that I created to organize my ideas) that helps me to track my content ideas from the very beginning of the content creation process, ideation, to the end of the process, promotion:
In the first stage of the idea funnel, I jot down all of the ideas that come to my mind. If I think I can create content from an idea, I move it to the next stage, thinking about writing stage. Then, when I decide to create minimum viable content for the ideas, I move them under shortlist section.
In short, shortlist ideas are the ones that I create minimum viable content to test. To see if they’re worth investing my resources. Once I decide on the ideas, I move to the next step, prototyping.
Step 2. Prototype — create a minimum viable content
The second step is prototyping the ideas or creating the minimum viable content for each idea.
The minimum viable content can be as an atomic essay (200-word essay), Twitter thread, short-form LinkedIn post, or some other quick and short-form content depending on the platform.
For this article I created two types of minimum viable content:
- short-form LinkedIn post
- 2-min long atomic essay
In these visuals, you can see my minimum viable contents: a short-form LinkedIn post and an atomic essay for Medium and Twitter:
Once the minimum viable contents are ready, it’s time to test them on social media. In my case, I needed to share them on Medium, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Then, all I need to do is observing interactions.
If the minimum viable contents don’t perform well, there are two options:
- Changing the idea, which is going back to step 1. Or,
- Creating new minimum viable contents to test them again, which is going back to step 2.
In my case, the minimum viable content I wrote for this article performed well enough to create a long-form post. Here, in this visual, you can see that, in a couple of days, a 2 line post with a visual viewed by nearly 1,800 people, received six comments and 34 reactions:
Visual Created via Canva
Moreover, the atomic essay was also read by approximately 100 people in less than 10 days, although it’s not chosen for further distribution. More importantly, 69% of the people completed reading the piece with an average reading time of 1 min 17 sec. For comparison’s sake, a 250-word essay takes about 90 seconds to read on average.
Visual Created via Canva
Step 4. Implement — create a long-form content
After the minimum viable content is validated with the tests, it’s time to create the long-form content.
Since you already tested the general idea, outline, and similar title, creating long-form content would take less time than the standard content creation procedure.
Once you finish creating your content, find the best suitable home for it. Testing your idea would also increase your chance of acceptance from bigger publications. Because you’re not submitting any piece, but you’re submitting a validated work that has demand from the market.
One last thing, once the long-form piece is ready, you can also add links to social media posts where you tested your minimum viable content to let interested people know that the long-form article is ready.
Step 5. Scale — create more long-form content around the same topic
Once the validated long-form content is published, it’s time to bui