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Content Creation vs Content Promotion: Where is the Balance?

A few days ago we published a post on ProBlogger titled ‘Forget about Marketing: Concentrate on Blogging‘, which led to some interesting discussion on Twitter and in the comments.

I love the points author Nicholas Whitmore made in the post but I wanted to give a few thoughts, based on my own experience, on developing great content and promoting your blog.

Nicholas wrote some great arguments for focusing your energy on writing great content as the central way of growing your blog. He writes:

“When you write and publish awesome content on your blog, good things will come your way.”

I completely agree with this sentiment. As a blogger your #1 focus needs to be on producing content that is useful, engaging and of as high a quality as possible. Without it, all the marketing you might do will be wasted as you’ll just be directing people to something that is of no value to them.

As Nicholas goes on to write:

“When you write and publish boring content then spend hours on end building links to it, trying to force people to your website, good things will never come.”

Again, I agree with the sentiment expressed here.

However, on Twitter a discussion among some of my followers highlighted that some bloggers differ quite a bit on how much effort should be put into promoting a blog vs developing content for it.

  • On one hand, there were certainly people who felt that if you build a great blog that it markets itself.
  • On the other hand, there were people who felt that if you didn’t get out there and market your blog you ran the risk of all your hard work in developing great content going completely unseen.

While I think we all agree that the content on your blog needs to be of a very high focus, I’m also of the belief that if a blogger wants to grow their readership they also need to put effort into promoting that blog.

I like the idea of the marketing being taken care of by your visitors, if you have good enough blog post. In my experience, there are things you can do to promote your blog to help speed the process up, without compromising the quality of your posts.

In the early days of my own current blogs (here on ProBlogger and at dPS) I estimate I probably spent almost as much time writing content as I did working on growing the readership. In fact, I’m sure there were some weeks where I did spend considerably more time promoting my blog than writing content!

In short, I don’t see marketing and creating content as mutually exclusive – both are really important to me.

How did I grow my readership (or market my blogs)?

I recorded a webinar last year on this very topic with a load of tips in it. You can listen to it and see the slides here so I won’t rehash all of that but here’s a summary slide of the points I talked through.

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 1.53.20 PM.png

You can see that my process actually talks about the content that you develop as being a part of finding readers for your blog (both in points 2 and 8). But by getting off your blog to promote what you do you are certainly able to significantly grow your blog.

Point #9 shows that this is an ongoing thing.

For me, I’d say that the balance of creating content and promoting has changed over the life of my blogs over the years. This is probably partly because the life cycle of a blog but also due to my own personal circumstances and how much time I have available to work.

That said , I would always prioritise both on a daily basis… and would probably also add in that I prioritise other things too such as ‘engaging with readers/building community’ and also a focus upon ‘monetization’ (without which I can’t sustain what I do).

Where is the Balance of Promotion and Content Creation for You?

I’d love to hear how others get this balance right in your blogging?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Your nine steps seems to be the tried and tested method that most bloggers are using. Kudos to you Darren for encapsulating the process for all of us – veterans and newbies alike.

    • Had a look at your website George. I have always believed in the power of ancient wisdom and it is nice to see someone taking it seriously. :)

  2. sanam says:

    That’s a really interesting point! I’m in the middle of launching my own blog at the moment and am spending a LOT more time on content creation as opposed to marketing.

    The reason being is that with my previous blogs (which failed, big time) I did the exact opposite.

    I was spending (pointless!) hours on end promoting promoting promoting, and yet producing shoddy content that even I hated (picture this: one image, with a few lines of writing. Yes. That awful).

    So what I’ve been doing these last few weeks is identifying who EXACTLY my reader will be (you know, my ‘one person’) which has really effectively generated a ton of ideas for posts and content, which I am currently in the process of writing and getting feedback on to improve!

    So at the moment my ‘balance’ is in huge favour of the content, and I expect that this will shift the other way once the blog is launched and I have got a big bank of posts simply waiting for me to publish!

  3. Darren

    In one of his recent Tweets, Jon Morrow of Copyblogger said “Dedicate 25% of your time to writing great content and 75% to promoting it. Not the other way around.”

    I would say that’s not far off what I currently do right now.

  4. Andrew Grant says:

    Hi Darren – thanks for another thought provoking post.
    The thing that’s often overlooked with blogging, is the sheer amount of hard work that is required to make even a single post happen.
    If I say to someone I write a blog, they think that it’s about as time consuming as writing a letter every couple of days. If I tell someone, I rau a magazine – which is the closest analogy I can think of. They’d say, “Wow, how do you manage to do that?”
    A blogger has to be the researcher, chief writer, editor, layout artist, typesetter, graphic designer, picture manager, ad sales guy, marketing manager, IT manager and chief executive all in one. They’re all important at different times and they all need attention.
    But, the two most important are the editor and the marketing manager.
    My role as editor is to source great content which will win followers, but it’s a slow burn – my job as marketing manager is to speed up the burn rate, before the content goes cold.

  5. Shana Norris says:

    Thanks for the link to the webinar, Darren. Can’t wait to check it out.

  6. I think promotion is fine. Unfortunately, and I see it more with writers than bloggers, some people tweet their work 50 to 60 times a day. I lean towards content but I do pin articles, tweet a new post once or twice a day. I am new to blogging, so my ideas may change over time but if you can only do one thing well, hopefully it is content creation.

  7. Aggressively creating content, and promoting your content, and promoting other people’s content seems to work best for me, Darren. If I do not create, I bring no value to the table. Bad.

    If I do not promote myself aggressively few people know I exist. Bad. If I do not promote other people aggressively, I build no network because few people become friends with a self-centered, greedy, selfish person.

    If I create freely, promote myself, and others, and hang out in Facebook Groups, and G Plus communities, leaving helpful comments in targeted groups, and promoting the stuffing out of my friends, well, good things seem to happen.

    Create valuable content. Help people like mad by promoting them and all the help you put out there comes back to you multiplied. Call it karma, LOA, whatever, it works quite well, and is the cornerstone of my blogging campaign.

    Oh yeah, commenting on authority blogs like yours never hurts, Darren ;)

    Thanks for sharing your insight with us!

    Ryan

  8. There’s an additional area to focus on between points 3 & 4 in your slide – engaging in the conversation that already exists in the spaces your potential audience meets. Commenting on other blogs, responding to questions on Twitter, getting involved in a LinkedIn group conversation – building up a web presence beyond your blog is about more than just promoting your blog. (Perhaps this is covered in your longer presentation.)

    I’d say these things are important even if you’re blogging for a very well-recognized brand. As you pointed out, community engagement, both on your own site and throughout the internet, is key to deepening and expanding your readership.

    Thanks for the reminder that a balanced approach is best!

    • True. I’ve build a lot of relationships through the comment sections of both my blog and others. Commenting is more than just getting people to click the link in your comment and visit your blog. I think long term the relationships you potentially build through commenting are much more valuable than the small amount of short term traffic they may bring.

  9. bbrian017 says:

    For the most part today content marketing has been extremely automated, including my own syndication services. Sending contest and distributing content is really really easy! Creating content however is still difficult therefore we have more time invested and spent into the creative process. I like the discussion however it’s a good one for us all to read over. I tend to spend too much time on the promotion stand point but here, I’m a marketer by trade! I loved the points Ryan made as well nice stuff Ryan!

  10. These nine tips would be more than enough to gather enough exposure to our content. This is the basic marketing i’ve mentioned in previous post’s comments. Be more engaging and promote.

  11. Anirudh says:

    I knew both the terms: Content Creation and Content Promotion. But my mind hasn’t even striked a single time to differentiate these things. Well, a great comparison indeed! Thanks Darren :)

  12. NICK says:

    50 – 50!
    Great content without promotion is 0
    Great promotion with no content is almost 0 :)

  13. Rina says:

    I think not only about the content and promotion of a blog, but also monetasi and our consistency, must also be in balance so that blogs can be more advanced and successful
    hopefully we can make it happen

  14. jerrylewis says:

    Thanks for sharing the 9 points above. These are the basics in blogging and I have been doing this as far as my blogging years are concerned. Thanks for reminding me once again, and would like to take the opportunity to thank you in behalf of the newbies who wanted to engage into writing….

  15. Vivek says:

    Hi Darren,
    This suck a wonderful article Content Creation vs Content Promotion. Darren, this is wonderful lesson to learn for Balance of Content Creation vs Content Promotion.

  16. karen says:

    The answer to this question is different for everyone. A big site, like PB, with a huge community and loyal followers, they do the promotion for you. If content requires people to promote (like a giveaway), then, you’ll need to do less promotion. If content is of great quality, compelling, controversial, or educational, then, you won’t need as much promotion. It’ll promote itself.

    However, if you are writing about what your kids did yesterday (have nothing against kids; I have a couple) or how to boil water (although, there is science behind this too but you get my drift), then you might have to pedal that post a lot more.

    So the bottom line is, blog to teach your readers about topics that they can’t Google – like my post on how to wash your front loading washing machine that got over 500K pins on Pinterest (http://www.problogger.net/archives/2013/03/07/how-my-old-blog-post-got-half-a-million-pinterest-views-case-study/). Be salty. Be daring. And have fun!

  17. Even great content needs to be shared and spread. The best form of marketing, I agree, is people talking and sharing for you as it creates value and worth. But so many bloggers and businesses forget to market!

  18. Gjivan says:

    A worthy read indeed. Thankx for the link to that webinar. First and foremost, as commented in previous post also, high quality content creation is like “planting a healthy plant and promotion or marketing is nurturing it with fresh water everyday”. Normally, i segmented this two aspects proportionately as 70, 30. 70% for creating content and 30% for promotion.

  19. Edson Hale says:

    When you keep human aspect and commercial aspect equally well in your content it means you have created content that will obviously promote your business

  20. I read the other article and didn’t quite disagree with it, but that’s only when considering my own experience. Not everyone has the same experience. I post 3-4 days a week on one blog, 2-3 days a week on another. I try to have my blogging scheduled out by 2 weeks so that I can focus on marketing and content promotion.

    I write about dogs and in my niche, community is a big deal and if I just wrote great content, no one will find me. I see blogs that are getting 50 comments on content that I don’t think is interesting; the reason why is because they built a community so instead of people commenting on their blog, they’re having a discussion about dogs.

    I try to look at all my content marketing like I’m at a party full of dog lovers and we’re having a blast talking about our favorite subject, telling stories, and sharing tips. This is where the traffic and comments come from.

    I’m curious to know if this is unique to certain niches or something that is seen across all niches.

    Kim

  21. Thank you for all the information you provide. I think you are right on about having to create great content AND promote. The webs a massive place now days so both are important. I cater to women – their health, body and soul, so fine tuning #1 is a work in progress. It is so easy to get into trying to market to the world that you lose focus of your main group. Going through the steps one by one makes it easier. I’ve also found that doing steps 3 and 4 helps me with discovering what topics interest people and gives me ideas for coming up with content.

  22. Liton Biswas says:

    Dear darren,
    I found some blogs on civil engineering. I also blog on same subject. My content quality is far better than them. Post quantity of my blog is more than them. But they get more visitors than me. Why? Please share your valuable idea.

  23. primera says:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. I read your post no doubt your post is very important for all of us. Thank you a lot for giving everyone such a spectacular possibility to read articles and blog posts from this site.

  24. I’m the publisher at a small press (www.waterstreetpressbooks.com), trying to help my authors understand the difference between using social media to frequently promote their books and consistently creating content that will entertain, educate and inspire their readers and potential readers. Your posts help to do that. Thank you.

  25. Darren, it is absolutely true that there should be a fine balance between Content creation and promotion to develop a successful blog and I think that initially every blogger should start with 3 important things suggested by you -

    1) Identify who you want to reach.
    2) Create content that meet their needs.
    3) Build presence where your readers gather.

    Though all the 9 points suggested by you are interconnected but remembering the above 3 points to focus on will be simple and gradually over course of time all the 9 points can be bring to practice.

  26. This was a very good post and it has a very important topic for anyone who wants to become successful as a blogger. The balance between content creation / promotion is a must!

  27. Louis says:

    I agree that they’re both important. So how to balance promotion and writing?

    Simple. If there’s only small (or no) traffic to your great content (or so you thought), start promoting for some time. When there’s still no increase in traffic (or there is but your bounce rate also increases), make better articles and do less promoting. When you start seeing good traffic, balance between both.

  28. Bogdan says:

    First I would like to say thank you for all the great info this site has to offer.
    Related to this particular post, this days we need to focus more on writing great content for our visitors and to provide useful information. The days when all the content was mostly for SE is gone. If your content brings value it will get the promotion from it’s readers that will share it out on the web.

  29. Nrupen says:

    Actually I was the one who commented that your efforts should stay balanced,

    ==> http://www.problogger.net/archives/2013/06/15/forget-about-marketing-concentrate-on-blogging/comment-page-1/#comment-5205554

    It really makes me feel good that you supported me.