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Even Top Bloggers Think It’s Mainly About Content

Posted by on Mar 30, 2011

I was recently reading a post on a blog called Social Media Examiner called 17 Ways To Grow Your Blog From Top Bloggers. In essence the writer, named Cindy King (it’s one of those sites with multiple writers), asked 17 bloggers of some worth (the site had a contest to determine the top 10 social media blogs) their thoughts on growing their blog.


by Stepan Radibog

Setting up my own criteria in gauging their responses, I came up with 4 categories of responses. Yeah, they’re kind of sketchy, but that’s why we all get to create our own categories of stuff. Anyway, here they are:

Content – 12

Subscriptions – 2

Community – 1

Freebies – 1

As you can see, out of 17 respondents 12 of them, about 71%, believe that one’s content is what determines how much a blog has the opportunity to grow. I find it interesting, not only because I fully agree with that, but because it seems that none of the 17 mentioned marketing, which some bloggers have been writing about recently in saying that it’s more important than content. The one person who wrote about community, Mitch Joel of Twist Image, wrote that he believed it was in building the community, which I also agree a lot with, but overall it does all start with content.

It seems that I only have 6 posts using the tag “content”, but I’ve talked about blog content in around 390 posts. I have always believed that content is king and it drives everything else one might think about doing. With the best marketing in the world, if you get people to your blog and your content stinks you’re one and done and your credibility is gone. If you write things that get the attention of enough people that like to come back on a consistent basis, then everything else falls into place and, oddly enough, they’ll end up doing some of your marketing for you in ways you can’t imagine.

Of course, a few of those commenting about content wrote that thing you know I hate in general, talking about high quality content without defining what it is. At least one person totally got it right, a lady named Gini Dietrich, who writes a blog called Spin Sucks (hate the name but like some of the content) when she said:

“if people begin commenting to one another and you can be graceful about differing opinions, your subscriptions will increase because people will be coming to your blog for their daily brain food.”

Let’s face it; 71% is a pretty nice number if you need one to encourage you to think more about your content than anything else. At least think of it first, then go about the rest of your business.

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29 Comments »

Hi Mitch,

Mark Schaefer nailed it. Although he doesn’t elaborate on what constitute insanely great content, he does hint that he has the ability to spark conversation. In addition, he points out that his blog is not his sole reason for being.

The whole problem with the Social Media Examiner’s question is that casual readers may overlook the premise: “Are you looking for more readers?” In missing this qualifier, someone might erroneously assume that these tips will help them build their non-blogging business.

Your own categorization of the responses point this out. Indeed, the fact that you picked up on the lack of tips on marketing shows that the Social Media Examiner presupposes that its reading audience are wannabe proBloggers.

I make this assertion based on the fact that proBloggers believe in the power of organic traffic – SEO – to, at least initially, propel their blogs into the limelight. Once those blogs reach a critical mass of traffic, then the BUSINESS of blogging kicks in, with marketing as an unspoken focus.

So, where does this leave people like me, who are trying to learn how to use our blogs to bring attention to our products and services? It leaves us cold! We get exactly one great tip from Tom Webster (#11):

“[K]now exactly what you want to accomplish with your blog, and do not waver. I don’t have advertising on my blog, nor do I have any information products or reports to sell. So traffic does little for me.

I get paid when people hire me to ask smart questions and develop insights around the answers.”

We must overlay our own offerings onto this tip. Here is where we may trip up. Because Tom states that he has no information products to sell, traffic means little to him. We can’t let that color our decision to pay heed to his other advice, which is to understand that, by knowing what we want to accomplish – and by DELIVERING IT – the compensation will follow.

Tom’s final sentence is the “secret”. Business bloggers should rewrite it to suit their situations. I would state it like this:

“I get paid when people understand what my products can do for them.”

A final thought. I absolutely love, love, love! your 4 points on High Quality Content. I have been called out on occasion for not clearly teaching a concept. This is why I suck at marketing. As for story-telling, though, I do okay πŸ˜‰ My take-away from your Definitions post is that I should probably teach by telling a story. LOL

Cheers,

Mitch

March 30th, 2011 | 10:35 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Wow, what a great comment Mitch. You’re right, the problem with a question like what Gail asked is that it can go all over the place because it’s not a specific enough question. At the same time it’s a fun question because you never know how people might answer it, and in there might be a nugget for everyone. That the comments slanted so drastically to the topic of content was illuminating to say the least, and yet, even though I believe content is really key, it doesn’t really give any direction as to how to use content to drive people to one’s blog. As you’ve seen, just having content won’t get it done, even if it’s the best content in the world.

I like one of the points Danny makes; looking at that question of value. I don’t think every post has to have “great” value, but for the most part the hope is that a post will get people thinking or doing some kind of action, whether it’s laughing or learning. That’s why I sometimes have those top whatever lists that have absolutely nothing to do with anything except being entertaining; nothing wrong with trying to entertain and have some fun every once in awhile. Is it great value? Probably not, but for the most part I think some people are entertained, and thus it adds its own type of value.

March 30th, 2011 | 10:53 AM

Actually, Mitch, in some of the blogs I’ve read that DO discuss High Quality Content, entertainment is a valid purpose. For whatever reason, people flock to YouTube, ICanHasCheezburger and Failblog. And let’s not forget Real People of Walmart.

Leisure is a slice of life, complete with its own free market economy. The products may be purchased with cash, but the real currency is our time.

Cheers,

Mitch

March 30th, 2011 | 11:23 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Oh no, you said Real People of Walmart; now my mind’s gone there. lol

March 30th, 2011 | 12:44 PM
john Falchetto:

Hi Mitch
Gini is a great lady, not sure why you hate the name?
She taught me a lot about blogging, I like to say I mimic her practice of blogging but I am miles away from her skills.

I think about this a lot but I didn’t know these A-listers put it so high.

Thanks Mitch for pointing this out

March 30th, 2011 | 11:43 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

John, it’s a phrase I’ve never uttered in my life because, well, it just smacks of crass to a degree. You know, there are phrases that most of us probably don’t like, and that’s just one of them. The blog works fine otherwise.

And no problem in the other part; I’m just glad that my saying it all these years doesn’t suddenly disagree with these other folks, although if I had the opinion & others didn’t I’d still say it. lol

March 30th, 2011 | 12:43 PM

Hells bells, John. You’re everywhere! How the heck do you do it?!?

March 30th, 2011 | 9:21 PM
Gabriele Maidecchi:

Content has always had and will always have a very central role, if not the main role as you say. I agree on that, and I notice a change in visitors and engagement when I post content about different topics. Sometimes even I realize the post isn’t that awesome, and in fact the feedback I get is lower than those posts I truly think will rock.
However, I do believe content is essential to bring in a community, and a community will focus around valuable content. Two things that necessarily work together.
Since I always believed one’s blog is the hub for his social media presence, if the content of said blog sucks, the whole social media experience will suck consequentially.

March 30th, 2011 | 12:47 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Gabriele. I believe content keeps people around once you get them to your blog and also keeps them coming back. Marketing without content is being dishonest in a way.

March 30th, 2011 | 9:45 PM

You don’t like the name?! Is this like “moist” is to my mother-in-law?? It’s funny – people either love it or hate it. Wasn’t there a baseball player who said he didn’t care if people loved him or hated him, as long as they knew who he was? Hmmm….now I can’t think who that was.

Anyway.

Totally love that you thought I got it right – thank you! I’m in the Mitch Joel camp on this – community is not about subscriptions and comments. It’s about people commenting to one another on your blog, sometimes even absent of you, because of the conversation you began with your post. And Danny Brown always says the real gold is in the comments.

So yes, content is important, but that’s just the starter.

March 30th, 2011 | 9:19 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’d agree with that Gini. I’m a big guy when it comes to building one’s blogging community and network, but I’m also a big content person; I’d better be with how much I write.

As for the name, I’m not really sure what it is, but I’ve never used it other than the original way it was meant to be used. And this time I can’t even blame it on being an “old guy” since they used to say it on SNL back in the day & they were all older than me. lol

March 30th, 2011 | 9:48 PM

Everything’s related though, at the end of the day. Great content = community = readers = content marketing = marketing and back to great content again.

We just all have different ways of saying the same thing, mate. πŸ™‚

March 30th, 2011 | 9:24 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

True that, Danny. I just say that it has to start with content, then after that there’s a nice little symbiosis when things are going well.

March 30th, 2011 | 9:59 PM
Carl:

Definitely content comes first and I think community comes 2nd, but community/clients growth is slow process and require time.

March 31st, 2011 | 3:57 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s true Carl, building takes time, but I believe most of us are up to the challenge, and it’s kind of fun.

March 31st, 2011 | 9:08 AM
Carl:

May be I can add that quality content have to be “fresh” and trendy, this is the way to maximize the possibility to get more traffic, also syndication to top social networks.

April 1st, 2011 | 6:16 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, I’ll accept “fresh”; not so sure about “trendy”. If I started writing about Justin Bieber, it would be trendy but what the heck do I know about the kid? lol

April 1st, 2011 | 9:44 AM
Rachel:

Hey,

It is all about content on the Internet nowadays, and it has been all about content for quite some time now, especially in Google’s eyes.

All the best,
Rachel

March 31st, 2011 | 4:12 AM
Barry Silver:

Hi Mitch,

I love your conclusion about content as king but the survey sample is small and I’m willing to bet at least 10 of the 12 votes for content are from bloggers that believe their blog is great content. Also (full disclosure: I’m a fan and reader of Spin Sucks) your post is about content and you call a blog on the name?
Thanks for sharing and keep on pushing out good content.
Barry

March 31st, 2011 | 8:10 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Barry, it’s what I do on this blog; I give my opinion on stuff, even if it’s a sidebar, and it can come at any time.

As to the rest, it is a small sample, but that doesn’t negate the results from what was presented. I think almost everyone who actually writes their own blog believes their content is great, and it just might be. That’s not really as much the issue as whether content is important or not.

March 31st, 2011 | 9:11 AM
Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom:

Great content is definitely a plus, but the people will stop coming if you don’t show an interest in them as “people”, not just numbers.

March 31st, 2011 | 8:32 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly Carolee. That’s the part about addressing people who comment on your blog and allowing everyone to have a respectful say in what’s going on. What would be great is to have people who visit one’s blog develop conversations between each other from time to time and really develop a true community.

March 31st, 2011 | 9:12 AM
Alex:

Hello Mitch,

I think that any blog by definition is a journal, a place where your main asset is what your write, that is why the content is and will be the one most important factor of any blog.

But, I also think that marketing your blog in the right way, can sometimes make those little hiccups in your content and articles to be forgiven by your readers.
I think you noticed too, that some may get a lot of praises and shares (eg. tweets, stumbles etc) even when they post sub-par content, just because they knew how to market their blog to appear that their word is the law.

March 31st, 2011 | 11:28 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s all true, Alex. I think people sometimes get confused when I say content is king. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be pretty good, and of course marketing in a way helps bring people to it. If the content is garbage, the marketing will bring people but they won’t stay and they’ll tell others how bad it was and they’ll stay away. That’s always my point.

March 31st, 2011 | 10:58 PM

Mitch,
It may be about content but you must also have the kind of content that is going to generate the followers you’re looking for. It’s all well and good if you drop by and comment on my blogs but if you’re not motivated to keep coming back or you’re just doing it so I will come back and comment on yours, then I think that defeats the purpose.

I have people who read my boomer blogs that don’t read my media blogs because it doesn’t interest them. I understand that.

April 1st, 2011 | 9:37 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

For sure, Bev; that’s a major point of mine. It all starts with content before marketing, but the content has to be compelling enough to keep at least some people coming back.

April 1st, 2011 | 9:48 AM

Before, I used to focus more on the content than joining in the blogging community. But, when I started blog commenting, I discovered that everything is related just like what Danny says. Yes, it starts with your content and your marketing, but from there, you have to turn to your community. Once you get people commenting on your posts, you are definitely on your way. Now, while it might seem that it takes long in coming, I don’t mind…I know I will get there in my own sweet time as I continue learning from others like you, Danny and the others in my blogosphere, Mitch.

April 9th, 2011 | 5:08 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Way to go, Wes. And you’re right, content is still number one because the community at large still won’t come and won’t participate if they’re not interested in what you do or what you have to say. And I guess I can look at this blog and say that it’s growth has been steady enough, even if I’d love to be #1 now! πŸ˜‰

April 9th, 2011 | 9:06 AM
Andri:

Mitch, I always think that content is the best SEO parameters.

September 10th, 2011 | 11:21 PM