Blogging is evolving, or is it? Blogging is still about publishing content for your audience, but the kind of content we publish is certainly evolving. This is a wonderful thing because it gives us options and can provide more variety for our audiences.
Is long form better for blog posts (in-depth, detailed information/education), or short posts that express a quick idea, insight, or opinion? Text, video, or podcasting? Is it better to post something everyday, twice a day, twice a week, or once a month?
A recent blog post from Chris Brogan got me thinking (notice, I've embedded it via a Tweet, which is another way to create content):
What Does It Take to Make Content All The Time? http://t.co/WMsE7nEu (nice inspiration here)
— Stephanie Sammons (@StephSammons) February 4, 2013
Chris provides some meaningful insights on how to create content all the time. Let's face it, creating content consistently is work, but maybe it doesn't have to be as difficult as we make it out to be. I highly recommend reading his post on what it takes to make content all the time. Chris advocates being responsive, fast, and fearless in terms of getting your ideas out there. I think fear probably stops many of us from posting our ideas more frequently 🙂 I also love how he talks about “picking and scratching” for content. My takeaway from the article is that content creation is an ongoing process. We should always be refining our craft.
Short Posts or Long Posts?
There are short posts that scratch the surface or cause us to think, and there are long, epic posts that provide us with detailed educational information. Check out the blog posts of Social Media Examiner, one of the sites I write for, to understand the anatomy of an epic post. Almost every post is a detailed “how-to” with numerous visual images illustrating the concept. It's been a very successful strategy for Mike Stelzner who runs the social media business blog. These posts are value-packed.
My friend, Michael Kitces, a highly regarded expert in the financial advisory world, also writes epic posts. They are long and very in-depth. This strategy not only fits his style but has worked very well for him in building a following. He is a go-to resource for independent financial advisors and he works hard to reinforce that by being consistent and thorough…every time.
What Works for Your Audience, and for You?
You absolutely have to write about the things that matter to your target audience. It's the quality of the content that counts, and quality is measured by whether or not you are really helping your audience in meaningful ways. Are you really producing quality content? Or are you just filling up space on your blog? Take a hard look at this.
Also, I think you have to create your own style and produce content in the format that is comfortable for you. For some it's writing (long form and/or short form), and for others it may be video, images, presentations, audio podcasts, or any combination of these formats. By all means don't create videos just because you hear they may perform well in searches if you really aren't comfortable on camera!
Always Be Listening
I just returned from a massive financial conference where over 3000 financial professionals were in attendance. (Financial advisors and financial firms are my primary target audience). As I sat in on a number of sessions during the conference, my eyes were opened over and over by the questions and concerns being expressed by the advisors there. I realized that in some ways, I had been living in a content bubble, which means that I had moved too far away from what was really affecting and concerning my audience today regarding technology, social media, the cloud, and digital marketing. I had been making assumptions that my audience was closer behind me than they really are in their thinking. The truth is, I need to hit the rewind button and go back to the basics for them.
That experience alone has given me over one hundred new blog topics to tackle.
I urge you to speak to the members of your target audience. Speak to your current clients. Make the effort to truly understand what they care about and write about it on your blog. Don't be afraid to give your best ideas and commit to doing the hard work if longer in-depth posts are required.
Social media makes it easy to listen today. Follow the members of your target audience and listen to what they say. I now realize this is much more valuable than spending all my time reading blog posts from peers and so-called experts. I think that's what created my content bubble. I needed to remove myself from that world a bit.
Create a Plan and Stick to It
Lastly, there is no hard and fast rule as to what kind of posts to publish and how often to post. Recent business blogging research from Hubspot did reveal that more total posts and more frequent posts on your site do drive more traffic your way from search engines and social media. That's certainly something to consider when you build your content plan. Just build yourself a plan and do your best to stick to it.
My goal from here is going to be to take more of a blended approach to content creation. I'm going to aim to put out more frequent posts as I have the ideas or inspiration instead of waiting for that perfect moment (or perfect post). I will also continue to sprinkle in more of the epic posts that I tend to write (the ones I try to get close to perfect). I'll add to my podcast as well, because the feedback has been wonderful, and I enjoy it.
I'm going to evolve, because I believe it is good for my audience, and good for me. What about you?
It is hard work to create content all the time, but it's also good business for growing a business. Chris said it best…practice, fail, and keep going.
How about you? What are your challenges with content creation? Do you have a specific content development plan, or do you wing it? Share your thoughts in the comments/discussion area.