I’ve been a blogger, editor, content manager and (now) a director of content. In other words, I’ve made a living from content marketing. I know it works.
But, there’s a problem with the industry…
This won’t come as a huge surprise to many of you. In fact, any content marketers reading this will most likely greet the points in this article with a wry grin and a nod of the head.
But, for anybody who’s starting out, has an interest in blogging, or has hit a content marketing plateau, there are some serious lessons to learn within this article.
Today, I’m going to show you how to separate the truth from the phoney, the expert from the ‘ninja’ and the credible from the incredulous.
If you’ve ever seen a post titled, ‘How to Make $1,000,000 From Blogging in Just 4 Weeks’ or ‘The Secret to Gaining 10,000 Followers Every Day!’, stick around because I’m about to step all over their claims…
…and whatever you do, don’t click on those links until you’ve been through these 7 big lies in content marketing.
Content Marketing Lie #1: A Huge Following Can Happen Overnight
You’ve poured a pint of blood into your first piece of content. Your life is going to change forever now, isn’t it? You’ll bathe in fan mail, delight in copious spare time and fuel your car with the ashes of £50 notes.
Sorry, that just isn’t going to happen.
Content Marketing takes time, effort and a hell of a lot of patience, especially if you’re (relatively) unknown in the digital sphere. Brands and individuals who are starting out with zero positioning and very small followings will have to consistently fight hard to grow their profiles.
There are huge rewards to gain from content marketing, but it won’t be until you’ve broken from the crowd that you’ll see them. Growth takes time, and you must be prepared to execute your content strategy over an extended period.
As the weeks and months go by, you’ll notice others (who started at the same time as you) down tools and fade away. These are the content marketers who are in the industry for the wrong reason (probably because they read one of those articles about making serious $$$ in no time at all)…
…if you CARE about your topic, audience and content and are prepared to keep working no matter how tough it gets, things will start to snowball. It’s just a matter of persistently doing things the right way!
Content Marketing Lie #2: Only Writers Should Produce Content
So, you’ve read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace? Won a poetry competition at school? Received an A* for an English essay? You’re going to smash it as a content marketer then, right?
Not necessarily. In fact, the ability to write is a very small part of being a content marketer.
It definitely helps if you have an affinity with writing, but what matters more is your expertise, experience and knowledge within your chosen industry.
The best thing anybody can do (especially those of you on the fence) is to put all your fears behind you and just start.
Look at it like this, do you think Jimi Hendrix wrote Voodoo Child the first time he picked up a guitar?
Everybody has to start somewhere and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll improve.
More than anything, writing quality content is about voice and value. As long as you can present valuable ideas to your audience in your own style, you’ll get where you want to be.
Content isn’t just written articles or blogs either, it’s audio, images and video too. If you really don’t think you can write, try one of the other formats. Audio and video are growing like crazy at the moment, look at the recent success of podcasts and the flood of videos on social media.
Content Marketing Lie #3: Quantity, Quantity, Quantity
There was a time when a winning content marketing strategy was based around creating as much content as physically possible. This meant bashing out articles, videos and audio as quickly as possible, effectively sacrificing quality for quantity.
This quantity, quantity, quantity strategy has had its day. Articles containing 200-600 words are considered ‘thin’ by search engines, provide very few take-away’s and come across as rushed (and poorly researched) to readers.
Your most important aim as a content marketer is to always provide your audience with quality, credible knowledge, so they enjoy your content, tell others (via social sharing) and return in future.
Putting quality at the centre of your strategy is a sure-fire way to grow your content marketing rewards, as well as snowballing a ton of other super-valuable side effects.
For example, Google knows when readers enjoy your content. They track on-page metrics like bounce and exit rate, average session durations and behavioural flows. If your content returns poor results on these metrics, Google will not show your website high in their search rankings.
Visitors from organic are insanely valuable because they’re all qualified prospects (and readers). This means they hold a strong interest in your content, demonstrated by the fact that they’re making searches around it! Strong interest = potential return reader/follower/lead/buyer.
Forget about rushing out your content as often as possible. Ensure that quality sits at the heart of everything you do in the content world and your readers will recognise it!
If you’d like to learn more about Google’s most recent algorithm update (that massively leans towards quality over quantity), check out the Google E-A-T Algorithm Update, Everything You Need to Know for 2019.
Content Marketing Lie #4: You Can’t Compete
OMG! There’s somebody in your industry with 8 gazillion followers, who literally farts and the world smiles. How will you ever compete?
Don’t sweat it, there’s one of those in every industry. What difference does it make?
That person would’ve reached the summit in one of two ways:
- Getting lucky with their timing. The interest in their niche grew quickly when they started and there was very little competition.
- They put in years of consistent hard work.
I’d guess that about 95% of successful content marketers are in that 2nd bracket (me included!). The fact that content marketing takes time and effort, makes the metrics of success all the sweeter!
And…if anything, a business, brand or individual who is killing it at content marketing (in your niche) proves that there’s a demand for this type of content. They’re great people to track, analyse and learn from, providing you with a goldmine of knowledge.
I’d even advise following them on all their channels and engaging with their content as often as possible. If you are able to write comments that demonstrate your expertise, add value and contribute to the discussion, you’ll gain clicks and discover more about your target audience.
You never know, the leaders in your industry might just provide you with the creative spark that stirs your next winning content idea.
Content Marketing Lie #5: Great Content Promotes Itself
Content marketing requires…marketing.
Do you seriously believe that people are going to find your content just because you’ve published it?
If you’re new to this stuff, don’t start pinning your hopes on Google (search engines will not rank new sites! Getting to the top of the search results takes time!).
The easiest place to start is social media. Create profiles on all the biggest networks and use them to drive traffic to your content source (your website). We promote everything we publish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, Tumblr and LinkedIn.
This might be too much work for one-man-bands or solopreneurs. If you fall into this bracket, pick Facebook (it’s too enormous to ignore and often used as a research tool by readers/leads/customers) and 1 or 2 other networks.
The additional 1 or 2 platforms you select will depend on your target audience, niche and platform knowledge.
If you’re stuck for ideas take our Social Media Quiz: Which Social Network is Most Suited to Your Brand? This test asks a series of questions about your audience and provides you with their most used platform!
Social Media is also a great place to supercharge your content promotion with ads. Platforms like Facebook provide advertisers with the opportunity to target their desired audience down to the tiniest detail. This means you can always find your desired audience, and significantly reduces advertising costs.
If you want to go ahead with content advertising, make sure you’ve set up a Facebook Business Manager account and read our Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ad Campaign Objectives (as a starting point).
Other great ways to market your content include:
- Discovering congregation spots: these are digital places that hold a high concentration of your target audience, e.g. a thread devoted to your niche. These can be more difficult to find, but are super valuable places to market your content.
- Niche relevant content distribution sites: there are many websites out there that actually help connect content marketers with their readers. These are built as curation spots, where the hottest topics (from a particular industry) are rounded up. We use Zest.is to reach more of our target market.
- Reddit, Quora (and other similar sites): whilst these aren’t quite social networks, they contain high volumes of repeat traffic and can provide you with extremely engaged users. However, if you’re going to use these sites, do not be promotional with your content. Use these sites to share your knowledge and expertise, and you’ll benefit from success in the long-term.
Content Marketing Lie #6: Content Marketing is a Fad
Content Marketing is the new yo-yo. It’s the VHS of the marketing world. The Tamagotchi of the 21st century.
Over my years of working in this industry, I’ve read a lot of articles stating that the end of content marketing is nigh but then…
…nothing changes. Our clients’ content continues to grow their profile and our own content does the same for us.
In fact, I’d argue that content marketing has ONLY ever increased in importance, especially during the 21st century.
The age of digital has opened up a world of possibilities for marketers. More people than ever before are completely reliant on the internet. Sales processes have transformed for many businesses from calling cold leads, to generating hot, inbound enquiries.
Content marketing provides businesses with the opportunity to do this and it can do the same for you (after you’ve put the work in!).
To anybody who says that content marketing is dying, ask them this:
Is internet usage dropping off? Are less people using social media platforms? Is Google dying?
The answer is NO (to all of them!). In fact, it’s actually the reverse. They’re all growing!
People are going online, to their social newsfeeds and to Google to discover images, blogs, videos, podcasts, guides, templates, answers, conversations…
…in other words, CONTENT!
Content Marketing Lie #7: Only Publish Content on Your Platforms
The only people that matter are visitors to your website, blog and social media profiles.
The world is full of internet users. And some, not all, but some, will be super keen to learn more about your subject.
So, show it to them! Publish your best content on sites that you don’t own or control. In fact, publishing content on non-native platforms can bring a whole new flock of loyal followers to your blog.
For example, (as well as publishing on our website) we also publish all our content on Medium and LinkedIn.
In addition to this, we also write guest posts for other websites. Publishing content on other blogs (within our niche) is a great way to increase our authority, expertise, drive new visitors to our blog, AND it helps Google see us as a respected resource in our industry.
Enough Lies, Here’s Some Truth
Hopefully, I’ve just squashed 7 of the biggest myths floating around the content marketing industry and provided you with a neat little piece of content in the meantime.
You see, just because we’re an established marketing agency and an authority in the content marketing world, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to put the hard work in. Content Marketing takes time and patience. It means continually providing your audience with quality, valuable content.
Of course, there are ways to speed it up (like the ads we spoke about earlier), but ultimately, you’ve got to be prepared for the long-haul.
Stick at it and we’ll see you soon.
If you’d like to learn more about content marketing, check out What We Learnt From a Year of Blogging.