Why “Write Great Content” Is Useless Blogging Advice

Popular is not the same as great.

In the sea of blogging advice, it’s easy to default to your traffic statistics and believe that you are doing a terrible job if you don’t have one of the most popular blogs on the internet.

When you search for advice, you are hit with the popular “wisdom” of the day:

“Write Great Content”  (quote attributed to 1000+ bloggers)

Thank you for nothing wise, popular bloggers.

The concept of great content is subjective. Content is great to some people and not to others so using “great content” as a standard is not particularly helpful. And popularity does not necessarily mean that great content is being produced (although the popular blogs would like you to think so).

So are all of these popular blogs writing great content?

No.

Here are three that are missing the mark:

Popular Blog #1 Mr. Obvious Is Not Helping

Recently, I unsubscribed to a popular blog because they were continuously pounding my inbox with the most obvious information you could imagine. Every post was three points, about 400 words and left me with the same thought every time:

No kidding.

To some people, that kind of information might have been helpful. It was a waste of my time because you could find that kind of information easily, it wasn’t particularly well-written and it didn’t have a unique slant.

Maybe I’m not the target audience but I’m not sure where the “great” is hiding.

Popular Blog #2 Come To My Event…And My Other Event

Popular marketing blog number two recently decided that promoting their events was just as important as writing informative content. They might produce great events but, at best, I might attend one of them. I do not intend on being a groupie and following them around to every event they host. That makes every post about an event that I won’t attend useless.

In fact, the continuous promotion of events seemed to drown out the otherwise useful content. Maybe it fits their business model but it doesn’t fit what I want delivered to my inbox.

Unsubscribe.

Popular Blog #3 If You Were A Little Smarter, You Would Understand Our Blog

Popular blog number three had decided they are the smartest people in the room. They are the kind of folks that seem to think that the only people with something valuable to say come from one area of the country and they likely know who they are already. Although their design is beautiful, an air of pretentiousness clouds their often interesting theoretical discussions.

Great content? Interesting content. But it doesn’t make you feel great.

Beyond the Critique

So how does any of this help you improve your blog?

When advice makes you feel inferior or powerless and doesn’t help you improve, we need to call it out. If you can recognize that even some extremely popular blogs don’t meet the standard of “great content” (at least to some), you will be able to relax and understand that great and popular are not the same standard.

Instead of oversimplifying a complicated process with something subjective (like “write great content”), you are better off oversimplifying with actionable steps. Don’t wallow in fear that your content isn’t great, be confident that even the most popular blogs struggle with being great.

Try this framework instead:

  1. Create a clear profile of your ideal reader’s needs and wants.
  2. Write the best possible content you can for that reader.
  3. Within your posts, link to your favourite blogs and simply notify those folks that you love their blog and have linked to their content.

While this is not comprehensive advice on building a great blog, it gives you some idea of how to write content that is meaningful to your audience while increasing the size of your audience through subtle promotion.

Is this simple framework better than telling you to write great content?

Absolutely

Is this post great content?

Tell us in the comments.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Brainstorm an outline for two new blogs that follow the 3-step formula above. Write the blogs, schedule them and watch to see the response they generate amongst your audience.

Vince Robisch

Vince Robisch is the founder and Chief Content Officer of ModernCopyStudio. The trusted choice of marketing directors, business owners and web design companies worldwide, he helps clients create and market premium website content with business results.

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Comments

  1. Some good points here Vince & as you point out create a clear understanding of your audience. I also like to perform a SWOT Analysis before starting to create a content strategy to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of my competitors’ content.

    Once you understand your audience, design content that fits with your brand’s strategy. Look beyond writing content on your blog it’s important for businesses to have a strategy including social media. And remember Content doesn’t have to be static it can be interactive.

    This could include unique high quality images (Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram) , videos (Youtube), upload presentations to Slideshare, convert your popular blog posts into new formats e.g. infographics, white papers, email courses or webinars.

  2. I completely agree with this, there are many popular blogs out there which I just bypass now as they say the same things over and over. I don’t spend enough time on my own blog, but when I do post I always try to be helpful and provide content which people will find useful rather than just repeating myself.
    Jo Harrison recently posted..Review: 31 Days of Twitter TipsMy Profile

  3. Vince:

    I got a kick out of this post. I wish you would have revealed the popular blogs you were talking about…lol. I like the overall point of your post – know your audience and write accordingly.

    Travis Van Slooten
    Travis Van Slooten recently posted..How To Write An About Us Page (The Right Way)My Profile

    • Thanks Travis. I agree on the knowing your audience point. The more subtle point is for any popular blogger to stop acting like they have all of the answers or somehow hold the key to great content. They might just be popular. Some do a great job teaching and all have clearly accomplished the traffic side of things. However, there is a point where self-promotion or arrogance drowns out any valuable content.
      Vince Robisch recently posted..Can You Really Tell Your Brand Story Through Email?My Profile

  4. Hi Vince. I so enjoyed reading this article. It’s very refreshing to read a more detailed account of what “great content” looks like. After all, there is just so much stuff online that you need to do so much more now to stand out and get noticed by your target audience. And your three examples of “popular bloggers” goes to show you cannot afford to rest on your laurels. Even if you’ve achieved a strong following you can’t afford to get complacent. Do that and you risk losing your influence. Instead you need to be consistent, respect your audience and continue to delight them.

    It’s so great to see you on the Hub today and thanks for writing this post :-)
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..7 Hot Reasons A Business Blog Will Help You Find Your Next CustomerMy Profile

  5. I’m so glad you have said this! It is what we tell our clients all the time but unfortunately there’s a perception out there that creating oodles of ‘content’ with key words and links is enough. It’s simple really. Think about what you like to read and which websites you go back to. The more time you spend on a website, you create a relationship that just keeps on growing.

  6. Hello! I like a good debate on content :)

    In your framework, point 2 is (lets be honest) still ‘write great content’, just phrased slightly differently – the internet is vast and we all read blogs for different reasons and at different times for entirely different purposes on any given day. In my opinion, unless your blog is simply a hobby and you want to write whatever you feel like (possibly the most interesting blogs!), when you write a blog post you should have just one thing in mind – the goal of the post. Is it to bring new readers through search or to engage existing readers or to incite people to share or take a particular action. That goal could change on a post to post basis, but as long as you have a goal then you can measure it’s success and improve on it.

    I still say ‘write great content’ is a good mantra to go by to have a great blog – it’s up to you what your definition of great content is and that can only be measured by your specific objectives.

    Popular blogs 1, 2 and 3 from your examples probably have done their homework and that’s why they are popular (in your terms), just because you aren’t keen doesn’t mean their content is not great for their own objectives…

    x Hilary :)
    Hilary Haptree recently posted..#cbuk Tweet Chat Updates and blogtober 10th question!My Profile

    • Hilary,

      Glad to find someone that likes a good debate!

      I see what you are saying about point 2. However, it is within a framework and not a standalone piece of advice. Within a framework, obviously it is preferable that your content be great rather than mediocre. The difference is, it is like telling someone at a track meet to “run fast”. You would be better off telling them to keep their head still or pump their arms faster. See what I mean?

      So, my point is not that the 3 blog examples don’t have an audience. It’s not even that their advice is always bad. But bad advice can get an audience and that doesn’t make it good advice.

      If “run faster” is useful to someone, good for them. But if all you say is “run faster” or “run smarter”, that doesn’t make you a great track coach.
      Vince Robisch recently posted..How Experts Blend SEO With Their Content StrategyMy Profile

  7. Hey Vince, finally some “original” blogging advice. I can tell that you actually take the time to write your articles, unlike some bloggers out there. I also like your tone, when I read your post it feels like I’m having a conversation with you, and not just reading some information. If you get a chance check out my mens hair blog. Your expert advice would be greatly appreciated!
    GLH recently posted..Long Haired Men and the BibleMy Profile

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