You're certainly not alone, Don. But honestly, what do we expect? We're an industry that rabidly promotes "create create create", so everybody is clamouring to have their two cents be heard, regardless of how useful it may actually be. It's a ton of posturing. The fact that so many thought leaders feel they "MUST" write pretty much tells the whole story. This is a quantity game masquerading as a crusade for quality, and it's leaving a lot of people jaded in its wake. When everybody is a content producer, you're inevitably going to have to learn to surf on the deluge of crap that comes with that.
Information. I used to crave it. Always wanted to know more. Lately, though, I'm feeling like the kid who got locked in the candy store. I've had enough.
I'm tired of Titles that promise much and deliver little, Experts who simply regurgitate everything they've read (but seldom used), and the constant bombardment of Marketing messages not-so-cleverly concealed within articles of no real consequence.
Anyone else feeling that way, or have I been at the wheel too long? Right now, I'd trade my computer for a fishing pole.
Yeah, that's one of the reasons I write less often and only when I have a real unique idea or something really important to express. No one can cope with the enormous onslaught of articles we face every day so that by now less is more. The difficulty is to focus on the a few signals and to block all the noise, both as a sender and a receiver of messages.
The same has stuck me Don, for the past few days. Just getting overstocked sometime, whereas craving for more other times. I have gone through many posts which talks the quality stuff so much but have not find so much content in respect to that. Well, I'd love to trade your computer for my fishing pole, to try my hand at multi-gaming. period.
It's more about cults of personality than anything. Those who have fostered a cult of personality will get the upvotes, the tweets, the likes. Rarely do you see a piece by a complete unknown grace the #1 spot on Inbound or get all kinds of viral sharing - UNLESS someone else with a cult of personality endorsed it, causing everyone to go hog wild.
In a cruel twist, it seems the best way to build that cult of personality is by publishing things. And on the wheel spins.
But the bottom line is that we have more producers than we ever have, especially given the immense push for everyone and anyone to start blogging, posting ,writing their thoughts down, creating things. It just sort of comes with the territory.
Ultimately we are an industry that encourages people to create blogs and write content, which means if we are complaining there is too much content we're actually looking at a problem we created. This is exactly what the web is designed to do, if we want to go back to just a few elite voices we should go back to the newspaper industry.
I see no problem in lots of people writing and trying to find their voices. It takes a long time to be able to reach a point where you hit a home run with every piece of content (if such a thing is even possible). Yes it means some people will write bad posts before they write something amazing but I can guarantee every great post you've read in the last year was written by someone who wrote awful content at some point.
So whilst I have to agree with some of the points - e.g. don't write about something unless you've actually done it yourself, only cover topics you feel passionate about, try and add something new to a debate - I don't feel we should suppress new voices who are trying to find their way in the messy world of content.
Though I agree with Mikes point (hell, I'm still trying to find my own writing style/gain some skill) I have a different issue.
Uniqueness. New writers will get nothing out of mimicing others content. You only set yourself up to be average.
Writing is a skill that takes a long time to hone and perfect but anyone who says they can't create a unique and useful content idea should reassess the point of thir blog.
Great conversation and I love where this thread is going. What Kieran says about authenticity and Rick says about curation and trust and Tad says about passion and Joel says about critical analysis is all spot-on. Maybe we should collect those sorts of descriptive terms together and create a manifesto of sorts on the nature of Quality. Then again, it's been done before.
Anyhow, I think y'all know how I feel about this, and what I think the answer is: each individual practitioner needs to hold themselves accountable to constantly achieving an ever-higher standard of quality in order to build a better community. The notion of personal accountability is what (for me) makes this an interesting discussion - we can all play a role in improving the state of content/community by refusing to settle for anything less than a constant evolution toward Awesome.
Not in an attempt to be perfect (because there's not such thing), but more for the sake of honing your craft and getting closer and closer to meeting the needs of your audience with higher and higher-quality work.
I too am finding less and less to share as I curate each morning. Sadly, the line by Joel resonates with me most.
This is a quantity game masquerading as a crusade for quality, and it's leaving a lot of people jaded in its wake.
Of course there's also a problem where too many people are blogging in the same vertical. We in the SEO - er, Inbound - industry all feel compelled to produce content. Practice what you preach, right? So everyone is cranking out content and I'm sure some feel they must cover certain topics or adhere to a content calendar. (OMG it's been 7 days since I've blogged!?!)
My gut tells me that the content must be authentic, differentiated and valuable. Authenticity has to deal both with passion and voice. Differentiated means that you have to bring something new to the table. Even if what you write is valuable, if someone else has delivered that value previously then ... you have to put a different spin on it, bring a different perspective.
That's what I don't see a lot of these days. I'm not saying you shouldn't write something if someone else has already but ... if someone has, you should look at that piece of content and ask yourself if you see an opportunity to talk about it in a different way.
In my most jaded moments I think most are just regurgitating or paraphrasing content that already exists and are simply trying to produce content on a schedule because that's what you're supposed to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm very passionate about content and blogging but I try to contribute only when I have something interesting to say, and when I say it I want it to be readable and memorable.
My 17 cents (adjusted for potential hyper-inflation).
Good discussion, I don't necessarily agree with Mike's line "don't write about something unless you've actually done it yourself", yes if we are talking tactics, but to be honest, it's nice to just read someone's thoughts on the industry, rather than 5 ways to do outreach. That's what real thought leaders do, they can give theoretical views on the industry and help shape it. I don't think they necessarily need to be at the cold face, implementing tactics.
I think it's going to be an interesting couple of years for content as companies reinvest money they may be spending in areas such as link building, into producing content instead. Marcus Sheridan recently wrote a great post http://www.thesaleslion.com/content-arms-race-single-author-blogs/ in which he says it's going to be a lot more difficult for smaller blogs to keep up. I also feel that being first is a huge advantage (http://www.searchbrat.com/content-marketing-isnt-your-silver-bullet/) in the content arms race. It's going to be increasingly difficult for sites to catch up to big competitors in their market with a content strategy due to the way this all works.
I feel people will just become better at how they find their content. There will no doubt be a lot more crap to wade through (great slideshare on this - http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/featured-post/crap-the-biggest-threat-to-b2b-content-marketing/), but encouraging businesses to produce great content will create a far better web vs encouraging them to sign up to cheap blog networks, submit their sites to directories or whatever other tactics they were previously spending money on.
Ultimately the influx of new content producers will mean people will need to step their game up to get attention, some will succeed and lots will fail, pretty much the same with most tactics.
On most days I can barely stand hearing the word content. I try not to even use it with clients I'm working with. Context sounds more intriguing to me. So does business. I'd like more people in our SEO/digital marketing community to talk about business -- business lessons they've learned, failures they've had, effective practices they use to be profitable in business.I'm writing a post about Google and business. It's a work in progress for me to tell the right story in this post, and to give people something they can actually use. But if you're an SEO or an agency-side marketer, could you publish something about business? Last point -- I think if more of us (me included) wrote about business and added that kind of value, maybe more traditional marketing and PR people would think more highly of the search industry and want to collaborate closer to solve business problems.
I think, too, that it's a game of virality, just as in other content niches. It's not the scientific study that goes viral and gets on your radar, it's the HuffPo-owned post that misquotes everything in a way that actually grabs your interest. So goes it for all niches.
I think this is happening to all of us who used to be hungry for "great" content. That's why content curation is so important from people you trust. Whenever I see an article promoted from someone I trust (independent of the medium), I know I can rely on that recommendation.
With that being said, I think "content fatigue" will continue being an issue for a lot of people so when you figure out the panacea please let know :)
A couple thoughts here:1. "I don't feel we should suppress new voices who are trying to find their way in the messy world of content. " - No, I don't think we should either, in the same way we shouldn't silence every garage band out there before they find their step and turn into Radiohead. At the same time, it's tough because we're demanding that literally EVERY business have the same competency online: Publishing. When you set the standard at "You must be producing content or you will be left behind", now you've created more noise than EVER to try and wade through. It's inevitable, but it still sucks.
2. "but encouraging businesses to produce great content will create a
far better web vs encouraging them to sign up to cheap blog networks,
submit their sites to directories or whatever other tactics they were
previously spending money on."I like this statement because it is user-facing. "Creating a better web". And yet, so much of what we talk about when we talk content production, if you REALLY read into it, is business facing! "Create this great content so that YOU benefit. Create a content calendar so that YOU benefit." - if we want this whole content thing to fly, we need to place emphasis on the fact that you shouldn't hit "publish" unless somebody OTHER THAN YOU stands to benefit from that piece of content existing online.
3. "each individual practitioner needs to hold themselves accountable" - And that's really what it comes down to. We need to demand more of ourselves. I know I get a rap as cynical (which is justified, I won't argue), but while I totally agree with Jon Coleman here, I just don't see it happening for the majority.
But maybe it doesn't need to - again, the consumer of the content should get a bigger nod. Consumers will decide what to consume. They will need to get better at sifting out the crap from the gold and develop elephant-like memories for who produces pieces THEY want.
That speaks nothing to the issue of the fact that blog owners are being pulverized by guest post requests or that content is being treated like a commodity in our industry (I'll take 5 great contents, please!), but it's a start.
sheesh yes Don.
I therapeutically and somewhat self-indulgently revisit my own post about If Mr Maguire spoke today because if you do try to gorge on it all, you drive yourself crazy. I'm more keen these days to focus the effort on working the relationships with a Dunbarish amount of like minds to prevent my content insanity.
Good discussion. I would just add that "Tastemakers" may be a better term to use that cult of personality.
Fair point; "cult" is a too antagonistic, it was just the first phrase I could think of!
I agree with Mike, but I have the sensation that recently a lot of articles that get a lot of upvotes and social shares are just full of fluff, and rarely teach you something new. I personally really hate those broad posts about developing relationships in content outreach: a whole article could be reduced to ONE sentence!
Yep I was just reading http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/featured-post/crap-the-biggest-threat-to-b2b-content-marketing/ and it hits the nail on the head.
I like this conversation. My $.02...
Anyone who writes without caring, or emphasizes quantity over quality will burn out. They'll get blocked and eventually, cynical. Results will be flat and they'll start to hate their job.
But for anyone who writes something really useful, something they truly believe in, they'll be rewarded (eventually) by their readers. I strongly believe this. Even if your audience is small, focus on interacting with the people who care about what you wrote.
I'm sure some people here will have read Bill Sebalds criteria for blogging: “I urge you to start writing content that actually is either
1) actionable, 2) a strong opinion, or 3) proven to some degree." I wrote more about this here.
Not inspired? Don't write! Do yourself and your readers a favor and keep reading and researching...
I think the problem most people have is all about intentions. Anyone can sniff out someone with self-centered / self-serving intentions a mile away. We know when someone is just something just to get links, an ego-boost or whatever.
Yet we can tell when someone posts something because they truly believe they're doing something self-less and rather it being "all about them" their intensions are more about given than receiving.
Yes, absolutely. I rarely see a compelling headline in my newsreader anymore - I either read it four years ago as an info-hungry industry newbie, or it's jumping on the latest fad, or it's blowing something Matt Cutts said completely out of proportion.
I want to hug this thread. I get it and I'll buy the t-shirt. But at the same time, there's a market for crap too. I'm not saying we cater to the market demand. But has anyone else gotten pissed off by the barrage of headlines from a certain site that read: 46 sites/tools/tips you may have missed. REALLY?! How is that list useful? And yet they're passed around like the flu. The same site puts out short lists. And those lists look something like this. 5 steps to a better powerpoint deck. 1) Open the application ...... 5) Save the file. Seriously?
No, we should NOT cater to low quality. We are bombarded by low quality. But there is a beginner, intermediate and advanced crowd of readers. And I DO think we need to respect that none of them are on the same timeline when it comes to when they started learning. So while we may know all there is to know about something, we shouldn't bash someone that makes a real effort at helping someone learn about a topic that seems older than Clint Eastwood.OK, I covered a lot of ground in that rant. I'm not saying the folks we bash for writing 101 content are the same ones writing about the 46 sites you may have missed. Just to be clear. Thanks!
One of the key aspects of this post is that new writers can struggle to find their voice for quite some time. I think that is an interesting topic to explore in itself so I've made another discussion to cover it:
I want us to find ways to help people new to writing (or any project) find their way and I hope we can have an equally strong discussion on the topic also.
Yes for content which is the same and has been used over and over. that is why its good to read something new, the problem is when you have been doing SEO for 8 years most of the best information people are not going to write about it, or if they do its rarley.
Good content always sticks. Unfortunately no human can write good/great content every time.
But as with everything in life ... "too much" can't do any good ... it always hurts. ... one way or the other.
Content as it is today, is created to be quickly consumed and it is highly unlikely to be consumed again by the same individual.
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