The only way to have 100% unique content is to write the content yourself, and write about yourself.
I started my website in 1997. As of today it now has 9,772 articles on it. It has 300,000+ subscribers, and across all of my social networks I have a grand total of 3 million followers. Now, that didn't happen over night. It happened as a result of me daily, every day, writing a new page about me, my life, and random things going on in my town.
I'm an author. So the site was started as an author home page and originally just had an "About Me" page and an "About my books" page. But after a while I started adding more pages, and before long, people (looking to become authors) were emailing me asking how I got started, how I write my books, how I publish them, etc, and soon it became an advice column of me answering people's questions on how to write and publish a novel.
But then, Hurricane Katrina hit... and I told people I would be offline a while...
That's when things changed...
I got back online and people were asking tons of "What happened?" and "Are you okay?"
I started writing daily pages on how the hurricane had changed things for us...
Then the Ku Klux Klan arrived in town and my dad was put in a coma, and all hell broke lose. And I was every day at the hospital with my dad and typing up quick "Here's what's going on with my dad today..."
Months later he came out of the coma and were were in the middle of getting our lives back together...
then October 18, 2006 a bomb blew up our house and the KKK attacks got worse...
I stopped writing novels, I had no time... and no place to live... living under a tarp for the next 9 years, as the KKK attacks on 140 families in our town went out of control, and I chronologies every single one of these monstrous daily hate crimes as these terrorists took over our town.
Suddenly my traffic went through the roof as more and more people were returning daily to my site, filled with horror as they watched (including shoot outs caught on youtube videos) as the terror of the KKK's take over of our town unfolded, growing worse with each passing day. Then the FBI arrived.
People used to visit my site for information on how to write... but hoards of people visited my site to find out.... what was going to happen next? Will EelKat's family still be alive tomorrow Who will die in Old Orchard Beach this week?
I have one article published in 2007, that has now crossed 10 million views and is still going strong.
And it's sister article published in 2010, that is galloping right along with it.
I have recent articles that get tens of thousands of views minutes after publication.
Like, this one that got 400 views in the first 5 minutes and steadily gets views since being published June this year.
Or this one that gets 100+ views a day every day since it's publication 4 months ago.
Or how about my single most visited article of all time that gets thousands of views each week, consistently since it was published in 2013?
Did you notice how each of them is a completely different topic? And for those who didn't look, the topics are:
You will also notice that they are REAL articles, not thin 500 word fillers. Every one of them is over 7,000 words long. The longest of them, being 60,000 words long.
People want to actually READ something. They don't want a page they can read in 5 seconds. They want to sit down with their pizza, and have a nice long relaxing read. Like reading a letter from a friend.
How did I come to write these articles?
The drug dealers are my uncles, I own the car, the injured person was me, the Elf Wizard is the character I play in game sessions, and the Medieval servant one was a rant I had after reading a novel set in the 1600s and featuring a woman who bathed daily.
The connection between those seemingly unconnected topics is me and the fact that each of those topics some how impacted my daily life.
What keeps people coming back, not only to continually traffic my decade old articles, but also my daily new articles as well?
Not theirs. Mine.
I get emails from people (from other content writers looking to figure out how to reach my level of success) who ask:
"So I was reading ___ (one of my articles) and I can't determine, what was the primary keyword?"
They'll explain everything they know about keyword research and ask what I did.
My answer? There was no primary keyword.
I'm not a slave to SEO.
I had something to say, so I said it. Simple as that.
I think too sometimes people forget what the word "blog" even means. Blog means "a daily log of your life". It's an online diary. It's you writing about you. It's you saying: "So here's what happened to me today, and this is how it made me feel." And yet, people try to make blogs about topics and then wonder why they get no traffic.
Who wants to read about a topic? People want to read about YOU the person.
People who spend their time worrying about SEO and keywords and finding topics to keep people reading, are doing it all wrong.
YOU are an interesting Human being, living an interesting daily life. YOU need to talk about YOU. You need to share the daily events of your life. Tell them what you ate today if you can't think of anything else.
Readers do NOT keep returning to my sites because they are interested in any one topic. They keep returning because they are interested in ME. They want to know every detail of my life.
People read my work because it's authentic. It's my opinion on whatever. It's not me thinking "Here's a good keyword, now what can I write about it?"
It's me thinking: "Damn that pissed me off! I'm gonna write exactly how this made me feel."
People like my work because it is transparent, authentic, and full of passionate emotion. It's me being me.
Think of it as watching a soap opera or your favorite sitcom or tv drama. Why do you go back every day/week to see the next episode? Because you are interested in the characters, the people, and want to know what's gonna happen next. Well that's how I keep people coming back to my site, daily, since 1997. They keep coming back because they want to know what happened today in EelKat's life.
And that's what I always advise young newbies just coming into content writing: Don't worry about keywords or SEO, just follow your heart and write about topics that emotionally affect you. Passionate writing is what people want.
So, you can try all the SEO, keyword, trending topic tricks you want, and those may get search bots to spider your site, but if you want REAL PEOPLE to keep coming back, you need to show them that you are a REAL PERSON, whom they can take an interest in.
People follow the daily lives of other people. THAT is what keeps people coming back to my sites day after day, for 2 decades now.
I actually recommend building your own website (I use SBI/Solo Build It, but there are plenty of other hosts as well, check around to see which one has a package/deal/offer/price that fits your goals and budget; I moved to SBI from WordPress in 2013; and had moved to WordPress from FreeWebs in 2003, and had started with FreeWebs in 1997, so that's an example of how you can start a website for free, move up to a cheaper host, then end up on a dedicated server with the high end Rolls Royce of hosts.).
Like you I too had used the content farm sites like Squidoo, Associated Content, etc. And yes, at first the pay was shitty and over time it increased, but...
I started to realize something...
These website I was writing for, were posting my articles on THEIR websites, and while I got a one time payment, they were getting monthly payments continually for years on end from Google AdSense, Affiliates, etc.
I started wondering... if THEY can make a monthly income off my articles... why can't I just start my own website and put my articles on it and keep 100% of all the money? If they can monetize a site with Google and affiliates, why can't I?
The answer was that there was nothing stopping me from having my own site and publishing my articles to it, so I did.
And now, I'm no longer slaving to outside writing assignments that pay pennies. Now I can write whatever topic I WANT to write about it, whenever the heck I want to write it. I don't have to wait for an interesting article topic to come along, while slogging through writing boring articles for chicken feed.
Now instead of me writing topics I'm not interested in, for someone who's gonna pay me $10 today and then make $100 a month off my article, now I'm writing topics I am interested in, and keeping that monthly income for myself.