While browsing the homepage of my preferred sports site the other day, I saw an ad for a “content engine”, to help with blog post ideas.
Given that I’ve had a little bit of a battle in the past with companies and consultants that offer a quick-fix “this will change your life/business!” promise, I thought I’d check this solution out.
I wasn’t disappointed.
From the blurb of the sales pitch, this “content engine” would help you…
…to quickly crank out share-worthy, clickable blog content that gets you traffic and converts that traffic into sales.
Okay. Sounds great. Traffic and conversions is every business’s goal (and bloggers – after all, conversions can be email sign ups, comments, downloads of ebooks, etc.).
Continuing down the sales page, though, quickly shows the flaw that this “content engine”, and other automated solutions like it, run into.
Your Audience is Not Their Audience
As part of the solution, buyers of the “content engine” are provided with seven “fill-in-the-blank” blog post templates.
These templates are the ones that will get your content shared, clicked, and lead to sales (from the earlier blurb).
Using them will help you create the seven types of content that get the most traction, regardless of niche, topic or industry.
This all sounds great – but is it really? Looking at the templates reveals another “flaw”:
- The Content Aggregator (use content from others to collate a post of your own)
- The Embed Reactor (create content you’re proud of)
- The YouTube Cut Up (use YouTube videos from others to create your content)
- The Stat Round Up (this is viral gold, seemingly)
- The Crowd-Sourced Post (get content from the ideas of others)
- The Interview Post (grow your authority by using someone else’s)
- The Quote Post (borrow ideas from others, even without their permission).
Take a look at the bracketed additions – notice anything consistent? Yep – every single one is using ideas, content and authority from someone other than you.
Which, as a tactic, is kinda lazy, in the long run.
- Instead of building your authority, you’re simply showing others are more authoritative.
- Instead of creating original content, you’re rehashing what already exists.
- Instead of promoting the strength of your brand or content, you’re highlighting the very areas you’re lacking in.
- Instead of bringing your own breakdown of analysis and statistics, you’re simply pushing those of others (which may or may not be factual).
Start to see the picture?
Yes, we sometimes have content blocks, where we can’t think of anything to say, or publish.
Yes, we want to drive more traffic and eyeballs to our content, especially if we’re just getting started.
But at what cost?
If you want the long-term appeal that blogging and content can bring, you need to start building for the long-term from the start.
Quick buzz traffic from folks whose egos dictate what they participate in is not the way to go. Nor is repurposing already frequently shared and frequently quoted data.
Instead, think of your traffic. Your audience. Your goals.
Everything Around You is an Idea
A little while back, my wife was talking to me about her blog.
She’s an independent author and, as such, uses her blog a lot to talk about her books, her characters, events, etc.
One of the things she said was she found it hard to come up with ideas, given that there’s only so much you can talk about plot and print.
I asked her if she’d ever considered being more personal. Let readers get to know the real person behind the author.
What inspires her; what she’s afraid of; what her goals are beyond sales and recognition.
As a result, she started to publish more personal posts, with one in particular getting over 800 shares on Facebook and more than 40 comments.
From my own experience, even though I stopped writing directly about business on here in 2014, I still get business inquiries, along with emails and comments on how certain posts aren’t restricted to the personal topic I’ve written about.
Which makes sense – because our whole lives are one big blog post idea.
- The beauty of the sunset, and how that can inspire a new beginning in business when the next dawn rises;
- The innocence of children, and how that can make us better business leaders without ego or ignorance fuelling us;
- The friendly neighbour who’ll do anything for another human, and how that can make us more accountable as colleagues;
- The love of our pets, and how that can instill the importance of loyalty and reward when it comes to our customers.
These are just some ways that everyday occurrences can result in a business lesson. Which can then be turned into a piece of content.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve found to be true, both in business and in life, it’s this – people relate to real life.
If your people (your customers, your colleagues, your clients) can relate to your life and all you learn from it, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the goals you have will be easier to meet.
Try it – you might just find out it’s all you needed to do to begin with.