No matter what other marketers say about content, it is still an integral part of a blog.
People who argue about the importance of content, in my opinion, is complicating the issue. My argument is simple. Blogging is writing and writing produces content. People always go online to peruse some kind of contents. What I agree on is that, content by itself worth nothing. It needs consumers as much as a blog needs readers.
Currently contents are not only limited to text and image, but also audio and video. Consumers have more options to choose from. Not only they may choose which content to consume, but also the channel they prefer it to be delivered. This is a huge opportunity for bloggers, which should now label themselves as content producers or information publishers.
Content Production and the Success of Your Blog
Content production is so important that you should spend quite a significant portion of your time for it. By content, it doesn’t mean random page of text that lure the search engines and visitors to come to your site. That may work in the past as people who want to click away choose to click on ads, resulting in revenue for the site owners.
As search engines become smarter, and if you want to build long term readership, you should focus on creating strong, interesting and engaging content so not only the consumers are eager to read, listen or watch it, but also looking forward for more.
RSS and email play a significant role in building your audience. In fact, this may be your major goal when it comes to content promotion. More about this later.
Again, with so many blogs nowadays, the last thing people want is just another blog. On the other hand, people are always looking for fresh and unique content. As a blogger, you should create content that people look forward to consume. That’s the first step to building a successful blog.
In my experience, content creation accounts for 40-50 percent of total time spent on the blogging business. That includes writing content for the blog and producing various articles as a guest blogger on other people’s blogs.
Bloggers who extend their content beyond text to include audio and video spend about the same amount of time doing so. Your experience may be different, but the point is that content production should not be overlooked. Spend as much time as you need to produce really solid content.
Remember that for a blog, content is conversation. The quality of your conversation depends on the content and people you attract to your blog.
The Role of Content
During hard times when people tend to cut down cost, content remains a solid strategy for bloggers because anyone with even no budget can afford to create content.
One of the latest buzzwords is content marketing. There really is nothing new about it but strategically put content into use is one of the evolution I was talking about in previous post.
Your content strategy should be tightly integrated to every move you take. That way, you already make a focused effort with your content. By targeting on one or a handful of goals, you are more likely to gain results.
Scattered effort on contents yield random result. While that still works to certain extent, in the long run, that will be more of a noise rather than signal.
Let me elaborate a bit about integrated content strategy. An Indonesian idiom goes as “Rowing once to surpass two or three islands at a time.”
Integrated content strategy is like rowing smart. It allows you to gain the following benefits at the same time:
- Drive traffic. From returning RSS subscribers to referral traffic from other blogs or sites, social media, search engines and others.
- Extend search engine visibility. Optimized content for specific keyword helps you get found in search engines.
- Engage with your audience. Each new content is potential communication with your audience, which in turn is good for you, whether you are selling products or providing ad space.
- Build community. By providing a platform to interact with each other and give feedback — a blog is perfect for this — new content drives the audience back. Regularity turns them into a community.
- Extend your brand. For a blog, the blogger’s identity is the brand. By getting in front of the readers regularly, you are extending your brand recognition.
One big thing about integrated content strategy is that it is an orchestration to achieve a purpose. At the end of the day, your content needs to cater to your target market and grow your business.
Diversify Content for Your Blog
As said before, nowadays, consumers have choices. If they prefer to listen rather than read, not having audio content (podcast) sometimes means you are losing audience.
Diversifying your content formats is necessary if you want to capture a wide spectrum of audience. Also remember most people don’t stick with one format or channel. For example, personally, I subscribe to RSS feeds and browse web sites and blogs, but also watch online videos regularly, visit discussion boards and am active in Twitter. For audio, I still listen to a few, carefully selected, audio podcast during weekend.
What does the above scenario show? Two things:
- If your message is all over those places and I am your ideal client, you have more opportunities to reach me and deliver your message.
- Quality is no longer a unique value proposition. It is compulsory. With so much content and so little time, I become very choosy about what I consume. For me, this is especially true for audio podcast. I only choose to listen to two or three shows per week. Unless your podcast is really good, it will be deleted from my iTunes subscription faster than you can say, “Opps!”
With that said, here is a list of content formats and channels you should consider. Note that you don’t have to adopt all formats / channels for your content distribution to be effective. In fact, you should not try to put too much on your plate when you are just getting started unless you have the resources to do so.
- Web site content. This includes articles, blog posts, tools and resources you create and publish to your web site or blog.
- Image galleries. The sky is the limit when it comes to using images to convey your message. Flickr and other image hosting make it very easy to host images.
- Audio podcasts. Podcasting isn’t dead. People want the candy, they don’t care about the vending machine.
- Online video. Most people find it hard to believe that 60% of online video viewers are over the age of 35, according to Nielsen Online. One in two Americans, or 154 million people, watch a video at least once a month in 2008. The number is still expected to grow. A personal note to myself: you’re crazy if you don’t tap into this opportunity.
- Micro-blogging. Nowadays, Twitter is the de facto standard for micro blogging. Like blogging, it is not the proper place to solely distribute promotional messages. Become resourceful and your followers will just grow faster than the number who decides to leave.
Some bloggers find that they prefer to record their voice because writing simply is not their cup of tea. That’s fine. There are ways to work around the diversification. Whichever formats you choose, ensure that you weigh in your resources and time commitment to content production.
It is better to do one thing very well than scattering your effort into multiple formats with little result. I know I’ve said it before but it is worth repeating because of its importance.
How can you shoot different content formats down different distribution channels? The next post in the series tells you how, including tips and strategies to leverage your content for online marketing.
Hendry Lee helps bloggers overcome strategic and technological challenges in starting and growing their blogs. He also writes about make money blogging on his blog Blog Tips for a Better Blog – Blog Building University. While you are there, download your free eBook and subscribe to his blogging e-course where he reveals his secret about blogging and content writing!
Follow Hendry on Twitter (@hendrylee).