I’m rather liking this theme of content marketing for our Two for Tuesdays posts, so we’re going to be sticking with that for a while!
Since the post I linked to last week offered us four mistakes to avoid when doing content marketing, and we touched on two of them, it only makes sense to revisit it to look at the final two in this week’s post. As a reminder, the post was by Amanda Jesnoewski, owner of Velocity Media + Communications, on Startup Smart, who discusses "Four content marketing mistakes you need to avoid." Let’s dive in.
Tip One: Write Your Own Content…But Use Others for Inspiration
This is a fine line – the best bloggers out there are the ones who are able to find inspiration in someone else’s content and put their own spin on it (and subsequently create relationships with those amplifiers and influencers whose content they’re linking to).
But it’s a delicate balance.
On one hand, your audience wants to hear from YOU. The idea of blogging is to give people a sense of who you are, and what you think of the topics that you’re writing about. But, that being said, no one is successful if all they do is toot their own horn. Even if you’re someone who regularly writes great original content, people will start to wonder after a fashion why you never reference anyone else in the industry. It calls into question how tied in you are with the real players (true or not true; it’s human nature).
But on the other hand, you don’t want to be writing a post that is mostly someone else’s words either, even if you are properly citing and giving credit, with only a sentence or two from you. In that case, you should just be sharing those posts or articles through your social media channels with your reasons for why your audience should be reading them. It’s a waste of time to "blog" about it, and in my book, it doesn’t count as blogging.
There are huge benefits to sharing others’ work through your social media channels (it’s great for engagement, it helps to position you as a thought leader, etc). And once in a while, you *may* be able to get away with a blog post that’s mostly quotes. But in general, it just looks like you couldn’t be bothered to come up with your own take on things.
So it’s a balance – find inspiration elsewhere and share that with your audience, but make sure that you put your own words along with it.
Tip Two: Don’t Publish for the Sake of Publishing
This is a huge pet peeve of mine, and one I’ve had to police myself on from time to time as well. There’s a difference between me needing to use an editorial calendar to spark some inspiration so that I can get past writer’s block and using it to write for the sake of writing.
Last week, we talked again about the importance of your audience when you’re writing, and this is another time when considering them will help YOU. If you’re constantly asking yourself "why am I writing this?" "Who am I writing this for?" then there will be times when you realize that the only reason you’re writing a post is because you think you *should* or it’s been a while since you’ve written, or you wanted to have something to share on Twitter, etc.
But, maybe you’re asking yourself "isn’t writing something better than nothing, even if I am just publishing for the sake of it?"
Let’s look at what Jesnoewski says, which I really like:
We’re all told about the importance of regular content. In fact, it’s drummed into us so much that it often gets prioritised over quality."
The result? We publish content we know isn’t our best, prescribing to the theory that something is better than nothing. But it’s not."
You can lose credibility and followers if your content isn’t valuable to your readers. Missing a blog because you can’t think of anything to write is far better than publishing something that is irrelevant or of a lower standard."
The most important part of what she says here is this – "you can lose credibility." That’s the key. If you’re just writing because you think you should, or you have the idea that something is better than nothing, you’re going to lose traction with your audience.
Here’s a perfect corollary – we all know people who love to talk. No matter what the subject of the conversation is, they’re filling the silence, often talking over others to share a story, get their point across, etc. They are never at a loss for words.
And we all know people who are quieter. And yet, when that person chooses to speak, people will stop talking and listen, because they know that if he or she is saying something, it must be important.
Writing is the same way – if you’re writing all the time, people may or may not tune you out. But if you are purposeful in your writing, people will drop what they’re doing to read what you have to say. And share it, because they know it’s valuable. (Lawyers, that is NOT an excuse to never blog; it’s just a caution to be deliberate in your writing!
We’ll be back next week with more Two for Tuesdays – in the meantime, add your content marketing mistakes to avoid in the comments below!