In 2007, in an interview with Charlie Rose, Steve Martin gave an often-quoted piece of advice. He said, “When people ask me ‘how do you make it in show business or whatever’ …I always say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” The same holds true for success in content marketing. Focus on what you’re doing, instead of how you’re doing it, and your audience will come to you.
Steve also noted that this advice was often not what people wanted to hear. He said, “What they want to hear is ‘here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this’” Anyone looking for the easy way to write content that ranks well, connects with and delivers an audience is going to be equally disappointed.
Simply no shortcuts
That’s because there is no shortcut to being good. It takes practice, it takes hard work, and you don’t get to be “so good they can’t ignore you” overnight. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t learn about writing techniques, SEO basics, and study your craft. These are all ways you get better. It is to say that no single piece of information is going to catapult your content from blah to blammo.
Focus is the key to creating better content
Build your knowledge base, learn about your subject, and focus your time and effort on creating content that’s interesting, that’s valuable, and that your audience will want. A great idea in a wrinkled wrapper will win over a piece of recycled content in a shiny package every day. There’s a big difference in spending time looking for shortcuts and spending your time focused on creating better content.
Shortcuts only work for a short while. It’s virtually guaranteed that if you find some loophole or trick that gets your content to an audience or catapults you up higher in the search rankings, eventually that trick will stop working. And even when it does work, you’re building a reputation for yourself as someone who relies on shortcuts. On the other hand, every time you produce a piece of content that’s good, that’s interesting, that offers something of value, you build a reputation for doing just that. Which will build your audience.
Sometimes content is better than SEO
Consider the success of The Oatmeal. This site gets 5 million visits a month. It’s comics, quizzes, and other funny stuff. And it’s good. It’s really good. The creator of the site was an SEO expert, yet his model for success is not based on his SEO skills. In an interview, he points out that his success is based on the “humor and the insight in those comics and the utility of them.” He focused on the content itself, on making it funny, useful, and valuable.
Take a page from his book and focus on the “what” instead of the “how.” That’s a sure path to getting better.
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