Let’s just get this out of the way. You’re boring people. Me in particular. When it comes to writing, you’re doing that annoying thing: you’re settling. You’re being average. You’re rushing the process and instead of coming up daisies, you’re coming up dull. Or worse: desperate. But don’t worry; it’s not just you. It’s a lot of people. In fact, it’s practically the whole Internet. It’s so easy to just throw content out there now that hardly anyone takes their time to do it well.
Case in point: Right now I could write a blog post about cross-dressing baby hippos. Then I could write one about why basketball should be illegal in Nebraska.
I could, but I’m not going to. Why? Because the first rule of content marketing is: just because you can say it doesn’t mean you should.
At Onboardly we have an internal rule. We call it the ‘fuck yeah’ filter. If a draft—or outline for that matter—doesn’t make us want to scream ‘fuck yeah’ and want to share it with the world, then we have to take it back to the drawing board. The point of content marketing isn’t just to say stuff, but to say great stuff. Stuff that really moves an idea forward.
If you’re not already living by this maxim, write it down in Sharpie or tattoo it to your forehead. Just put it someplace where you won’t lose sight of it. Because simple as it may be, it’s the golden goose. MAKE GREAT CONTENT!
If you’re not willing to, or can’t, create great content, you shouldn’t really be doing it at all.
Don’t believe me? Here’s three indisputable reasons:
*Note: This post is not going to argue for SEO, or any fancy analytical reasons why you need to make good shit. That’s just a given. So below we discuss the qualitative reasons to never half-ass it.
1. You Will Be Judged
And quickly. 80% of people will read your headlines, but only 20% of those people will read the rest of your content. Why? Because what you’re saying in bold is either boring or they won’t invest the time to read the post. Because, well, you’re boring.
Window shoppers might be pretty, but they’re pointless. The purpose of headers and subheads is to convert browsers into buyers. If you want people to read what you have to say—and I mean all of it—you have to start saying things that stand out. Make those beauties a mix of informative and intriguing so people a) know what they’re dealing with, and b) want to deal with more of it.
To help pull people in and get them reading, at least 50% of what you wrote, put your good stuff first. Don’t draw out an idea or argument for the sake of making a post long a-la-long-form-post-is-the-future-of-content. If you read anything Seth Godin writes, then you know short and quick to the point snippets of an idea are just as powerful, if not more.
Again, you will be judged whether this is your first post, or your last. So take the time to do the necessary preparation and make it all Fuck Yeah!
2. It’s Always Thanksgiving
Working up great headlines is awesome, but inevitably it’s pointless if the meat is puny.
In other words: you aren’t fooling anyone with those microwave meals. Pop some instant mashed potatoes in a Le Creuset dish and it might look like the real deal, but it tastes more like a buttered sock than Grandma’s Idaho potatoes.
It’s the same way with writing. Readers know when you’re trying to pull a fast one. Arrange some sentences on a page, throw in a few buzz words, add a cute picture of a kitten, and voila! Original content, right?
You are being the cheap, instant mashed potato cook of the content world. You are taking the easy way out instead of investing your time and energy into saying something that’s actually worth reading.
Real content marketers are people who treat every word, every post, every pitch like Thanksgiving dinner. They use fresh ingredients, they spend time in the kitchen, they fuss over presentation. They are the Top Chefs in a world of short-order cooks. So if you aren’t going to do all of it right and all of it well, don’t bother doing it at all. People can spot an imposter a mile away and, trust me: they won’t stick around for the full meal.
Pay attention to the comments you get on your posts. Those that comment either 1) Know you personally 2) are incredibly opinionated and often negative 3) raving fans that want to say ‘good job’ 4) SEO douche-bags that want links 5) all of the above. It’s rare to get quality comments, but they do show up. My point: Those negative, opinionated people often say it as it is – “This is just click bait,” “There is NO meat in this post,” “What a shitty read. I am unsubscribing.” No, you can’t please everyone. They don’t all love homemade stuffing and gravy. But they may provide some insight into how you’re doing content-wise.
So bring out the cranberry sauce and let’s feast!
3. It’s Your Ass On the Line
I know, I know. You’re thinking: but I just need to get something out there. I need to attract attention. If people notice me …
And that’s where you just need to stop. Because making noise just to make noise is a very stupid idea. When you do that, you’re picking quantity over quality. You’re assuming that more average content is better than less great content. And that’s an old wives tale only suckers fall for. In reality, the more crap you publish, the less credibility you have. Everything you write is building your reputation. So be careful with it. Don’t just throw on a Mickey Mouse suit, stick out your tongue, and call it a day. You’re better than that. So prove it.
Consistency (persistence) and promotion do matter, but GREAT content is the foundation for any successful content marketing strategy. What’s your Fuck Yeah filter? Let us know in the comments below or tweet at us @onboardly