You’ve all heard the expression that when it comes to websites and blogging, “content is king.” For a while, it was true.
Sites stuffed their pages with junk content — much of it almost unreadable, robot-generated SEO garbage — and were rewarded with better rankings in Google searches, and more traffic and sales.
Lots of bloggers went nuts, throwing up any old error-filled, half-baked, two-paragraph post, just to have a post every day of the week. Having boatloads of content was important!
This ushered in the era about 2-3 years back when it seemed like every job ad you saw was to write three posts a day for $5 each, accompanied by threats of employing Copyscape for plagiarism checking. A lot of content was really about content-stuffing, not creating anything useful for readers.
Or as I liked to say, “You want someone to write posts for robots to read. I only write pieces for people to read.”
People warned me that this was the new reality, and in the future it would be all cheap junk and low rates. But I never believed it. I knew the pendulum would swing back.
It’s already happening. Many sites I know have raised their rates and changed their standards because they’ve tried the low-rent approach and it didn’t work.
Eventually, so many sites did the junk-content thing, website readers got hip to it and stopped visiting these sites. The sites quickly lost their credibility. Rankings for junk-post sites went down.
The days when blogs could be sloppy, half-thought-out pieces written in 10 minutes and still succeed are over.
Which brings us to the new era. Know what the watchword is now?
Great content is king.
That’s right — it’s not about quantity any more. It’s all about quality.
Over time, readers ignored the junk-stuffed sites and became enthusiastic, loyal fans of sites with terrific content. I know some of the ones I read may only post once a week. Those sites still became the real money-makers.
That’s because what they post is amazing, enlightening, terrifically useful information.
As my Webinar partner Judy Dunn said earlier this week, bloggers who want to succeed today should write like they already have 1,000 subscribers. Or take the attitude I always did — that each blog post I wrote was as important to me as a $1-a-word article I would write for a national magazine or major corporation.
I always thought of the time spent on posts as an investment in my future earnings.That turned out to be a good approach.
There’s two ways to play it in freelance writing today — you can pitch companies and publications and get assignments like always. Or you can create your own blog, which in essence is like your own rolling magazine, and use it as a tool for earning. If you build a successful blog, you can use it to get gigs, sell ebooks, get consulting work, or sell products for others. This is the unique, new opportunity of the 21st Century for writers.
But it’s not easy, or we’d all already be millionaires.
It’s about really thinking about what readers want to know, and delivering it every single time. Sharing generously from your own experiences, while offering concrete tips on what others can learn from them. It’s about writing irresistible headlines that draw readers to come visit.
The days when just great content alone could make the blog-success magic happen are also gone.
The new era of blogging is also about great design and usability — making your site look inviting and uncluttered, and easy for readers to navigate and find what they want. It’s about committing to constantly learning more about this emerging, evolving art of blogging, and making your blog better and better. If you have no natural aptitude for design (which I certainly don’t!), you still can’t ignore this critical element.
In other words, your great blog posts are like pretty pictures. Put them in a hideous frame, and people won’t want to look. You have to bring it all together — the great content and smart design — to have all the ingredients for blogging success. That’s why, on March 15, Judy and I will be talking about both design and content strategies to help your blog find its audience.