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?
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:
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.
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:
- Create a clear profile of your ideal reader’s needs and wants.
- Write the best possible content you can for that reader.
- 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?
Is this post great content?
Tell us in the comments.
Today’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.