3 lies business owners who write bad blog posts tell themselves
May 18, 2016
Have you written really bad blog posts? Let’s be honest, you guys.
And honestly: I’ve written some really bad blog posts in my day. I knew they were bad when I conceived them. I knew they were bad when I wrote them. I knew they were bad when I published them. And I knew they were bad when I shared them on social media. So, if I knew, at every step along the way, just how bad they were, why did I persist?
I did it because I felt that I had to publish something. I had set a schedule—me, not my audience, me—and I was afraid that if I didn’t stick to that schedule, I would lose something.
Christ on a cracker, y’all, there are an awful lot of first person singular pronouns in those two paragraphs. Lots of “I.” That’s actually where I (whoops, did it again!) went wrong. Let me explain.
Bad content is self-centered content. It exists purely to serve the business’ bottom line. It comes from the place inside all of us that has adopted the “content is king!” mindset, and it repeats that mantra over and over and over again until we begin equating content—any content—with business success.
That’s a false association, friends. Content marketing is great for businesses, particularly online-first small businesses that would otherwise find it difficult to compete for attention against larger, more recognizable companies. But successful content marketing in 2016 relies on great content backed by thoughtful strategy and brand visioning. Here are a few big differences that strategy and visioning help make between great content and bad content.
The first fact of bad content is that everyone knows it when they see it, even its writers and publishers. Humans are great at making value judgments. It’s in our nature. Is badness subjective? Absolutely. What might be horrific to me might be merely miserable to you. When I say, here, that something is “bad,” what I mean is that it is of such low quality that it is not worth the time it would take to read it.
The second fact of bad content is that writing and publishing it is always a choice. Bad content is created because somebody decided to create it. Bad content is written because someone decided to write it. Bad content is published because somebody saw that it was bad and published it anyway. Bad content is shared because someone decided to share it in spite of its poor quality.
Now that we’re clear on those points, let’s dig deeper into the lies we tell ourselves in order to create bad blog posts.
On any given day, my blog reader pulls in four dozen new posts. Very few of those posts are written by people who claim to be professional writers. Many of those posts are written by people who would say they are OK writers, not great ones.
Spoiler alert: I read them anyway. Some of them lack style. Some of them could use a heavier editing hand. Some of them need a run through spell check. These dings all get a pass because there’s some greatness lurking among the problem spots; if there wasn’t, I’d hit “unsubscribe.” Trust me, I would. It’s very easy to do (thank you, Feedly).
You can write great stuff even if you’re not a great writer. Heck, you might even have an advantage because you’re not bogged down by niggling thoughts about syntax and word choice.
Two things here:
One, the lifespan of things on the Internet is incredibly short (fine print: unless it’s exceptional). Case in point: The lifespan of a tweet is something like two minutes. Honestly, folks, if you miss a day of your publishing schedule, most people won’t notice. I know that it can seem like all eyes are on you all the time, but they aren’t. Our eyes are almost always on ourselves most of the time. So let yourself take a breath, OK?
Two, if you’re publishing stuff people genuinely want to read, they will patiently wait for you to publish it (and occasionally, as in the case of my favorite fan fiction writer, send you periodic messages to make sure you didn’t die before finishing the story).
We like our buzzwords and our trending topics, so when a new one crops up, we feel the need to hash that shit out, whether it pertains to our niches or not.
Here’s the thing about that: If you know a lot about that topic—maybe it’s what you studied in school, maybe your partner in crime won’t shut up about it over dinner, maybe it’s your passion project—then OK, chances are good you can talk intelligently about it and add something new to the conversation.
But if you don’t know a lot about that topic, personally, and it isn’t even the least bit relevant to your business and your brand, then it’s really truly not something that belongs on your business blog. Full stop. That’s it.
All of those must be true. No exceptions. Period, y’all.
There’s one final fact about bad blog posts that I want to share with you now:
The third fact of bad content is that nobody wants to write and publish it. When you decided to blog for your business, I guarantee that you did not sit at your desk and write in your business plan, “I will build a loyal audience of potential customers by publishing bad blog posts three times a week.” Bad blog posts are a choice, but they aren’t the original intent of your blog.
I wrote this post because I know you can do better, and that you want to do better. And I want to help.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, I’ll be giving away a blog post critique to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you want to be find out how to write blog posts that will help you develop an audience of crazy loyal fans, hit the subscribe button below.