About a week ago, Olivier Blanchard, one of the few people who pride themselves on working in social media whose posts I actually enjoy reading, wrote a post on his blog. Now you might think that’s not very news worthy, but it was his first post since February 25th. Up until that time he had been a very regular blogger, consistently writing posts with the occasional brilliant one between them. And that’s where the problem lay, as he discloses in his post:
Truth is, sometimes, even someone as outspoken as me just doesn’t have anything really all that pertinent to write about on a blog like this one, and though the discipline to carry on writing “content” day after day anyway is admirable in many ways, I found the exercise pretty much mired in futility.
I know how that feels. I write tutorial type posts all the time, as I do a lot of actual WordPress work and have inspiration for them, but I don’t write about SEO as often as I used to. The reason is simple: I’d be writing “content”. I’d be writing for the sake of writing. I’d be writing because I have loads of readers that want to read and it makes me feel good. To quote Olivier once more, because it’s too good of a quote to not repeat a 1000 times:
You want to feel important, go do something important, something that actually matters ….. Do something. But for fuck’s sake, stop filling empty space with “content.”
I like the idea of content marketing (though I hate the term almost as much as I hate the term “inbound marketing”, but that’s another story). But that type of marketing only works when you have an actual story to tell. Not made up bullshit. A real story with real life experiences and insights. To have those real life experiences, you have to do work. No-one can just “content market” his way through life.
So, before you start blogging about SEO, do some real SEO first. Make sure you know what you’re writing about. It’d really help a lot if people in SEO (and basically every other aspect of online marketing) would practice before they preached. About 95% of the blog posts I see now copy ideas from 5 other sites and call it content. Or they’ll ask 5 UK SEO’s for an opinion about X, because they’re too bloody lazy and/or ignorant to do any real research themselves and call it “Practical Tips for Modern SEO From the Best Minds in Europe”. I hate this new “one question interview” type of post. Do some fucking work and add some beef, or do a real interview (and learn to separate a country from a continent).
That’s the real challenge of content marketing: to tell a story about you or your product that resonates with me, provides me with value and makes me want to become your customer. To be able to tell that story, you or your product should have solved more than a few people’s problems first. You can content market all day long, when the product you sell is shit, it won’t help you much will it? You have to work on that product.
In SEO, the real experts are the people who can honestly say: this worked, that didn’t. Matt said X, but Y was the truth. I tried this, and burned a site, I tried that and the site dropped. Now I’m not saying you should burn your clients sites, but I am saying, instead of writing 5 or 10 crappy blog posts, do some research for yourself, write some code. Try something new, and then write a real good blog post. In fact, I’d rather read about 10 of your failings then about that one “success”.
Olivier probably ran into this issue. You can’t keep hitting repeat and rewrite that same story all the time without getting burned out. You have to do real work and then, when all is well, every once in a while you’ll have inspiration for a really good post, you’ll have a new idea.
If you do have that new idea, write that post and please do share it with me on Twitter, but, please, spare me your “content”.
You can’t content-market your way through life is a post by Joost de Valk on Yoast - The Art & Science of Website Optimization. A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don't want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!