I REALLY like this and believe in it wholeheartedly. Yet ... I'm concerned that the industry will take the idea and run with it in the wrong direction.
By that I mean that big content, or long content, or content that you spent a ton of time on doesn't necessarily mean it's good. I'm seeing a trend lately of 'I write lots of words so it must be awesome' type of posts.
I know I write rather long posts but I actually work at editing them down. I usually chop at least a third to a half of what i write and am always looking for ways to communicate what I want to say with fewer words. Maybe I don't always succeed but the crux of it is that I'm not trying to write long posts.
So do the work, spend the time. But none of that matters if you aren't delivering value. Don't substitute being busy for being productive.
This is something I found myself to be notorious for back in college. If you go back and read my college blog (please don't) it's full of bloated sentences and run-ons. One guiding principle I use now, especially as my stuff tends to be pretty long, is never use 4 words when 2 will do; or in other words, succint writing makes for the best reading experience.
Great argument that good content takes time, but is worth our investment. And I love how John backs up his thoughts with data on links and domains.
What are some more examples of Big Content that took a lot of time, but that performed exceptionally well?
For us at Distilled, DistilledU is an example. I think TechStars is doing interesting stuff with video that is great marketing, and is helping to further establish them as reputable and thought leaders.
How about Oli Gardner's legendary guest post to end all guest posts? http://www.seomoz.org/blog/the-noob-guide-to-online-marketing-with-giant-infographic-11928
Totally. I thought about including that one.
I have to say, I have seen total direct correlation between time/effort and results with my own posts. I poured so much into this one (on purpose) and it did exceptionally well - http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seventeen-ways-to-improve-your-blog-case-study
At the same time though, I think you can also nail a topic or sentiment that just hits people in the right place at the right time. It doesn't have to be long, and that can do remarkably well too. I also use my posts as examples because I know what went into them... but the Ben Folds / Followerwonk took very little time but did perhaps the best out of all posts on my personal blog http://www.evolvingseo.com/2012/10/22/ben-folds-twitter-analytics-with-followerwonk/
Good examples. I think the point is well taken. This can be hard if the budget is not there though
Echoing what Jon said, I testify you can do this on just sweat.
The linkbait guide was two weeks solid of just focusing on that project. The only "resources" were design resources. I interviewed Distilled SEOs in their spare moments and pulled together the document without any excessive.
One bit which did take a lot of fixing was making the damn thing format properly in Wordpress, but if you're using a CMS that doesn't scrap your formatting on a 17,000 word piece every time you save I reckon you could do it much easier!
Not true! We did all the Distilled stuff bootstrapped. The "budget not there" is such a lame excuse, in my book. You just have to put in a different type of equity - in this case, sweat equity.
EVERYTHING requires some sort of equity. Time (sweat), skill (talents to do it), or money, and often a combination. But notice that skill/time combined don't need a budget.
"I’d love to see other examples y’all have of content that took forever, but paid off! I’d also love to see examples where it did not!"I think that second part is really important. It's awesome to review huge wins, but knowing how often this mammoth effort will pay off (and not pay off) is essential to strategic planning.
I read the title and thought you were going to reference Stephen Pressfield's book... http://www.stevenpressfield.com/do-the-work/
If you haven't read it, you're seriously missing out. For that moment when you're thrashing, delaying shipping and about to throw in the towel on a project you know deep down you shouldn't you need this book. It's short. It's a Domino Project publication. Every word has impact. It's Stephen Pressfield. It's awesome.
... and it's essential reading if you want to crack "big content" IMHO :)
Will add to my (ever growing) list. I wonder if that happens to everyone who hangs out with the Critchlows?
LOL. Remember this? => http://www.7bks.com/ #ReadALLtheThings
Haha I never saw that! I mean, I've seen 7bks obviously, but not that specific URL.
I really liked this post by John. However, both the post and these comments refer to content examples like Excel for SEOs, Jon's Link Building Strategies post, DistilledU, Noob Guide all of which belong to our tweet/link happy industry bubble. They don't help that many of us with our clients. Much, much harder to create content to help a "boring niche SEM."
I'm not trying to play into the "it's impossible to make content for this client" excuse. Just pointing out that we need to continue to focus on pointing out sites that produce successful content outside our niche. Let's try to find non web/tech related content that is thriving.
Great content marketing is so hard, that we still see people talking about Will it Blend in their decks. Or Old Spice. Can we really only find a few good examples?
I want to see more examples of good content marketing, beyond a well designed infographic. I'm out there looking for them. If you find them, be sure to share.
I'm a big fan of this approach. Not only is it potentially good for the companies doing it in terms of links, awareness, interest, etc., it also means we get to see more great things on the web as more people take this option.
John, great article. It has taken me some time, but once I finally got around to putting some solid effort into my own posts I started to notice a really big difference. People can tell if you type something up quickly, and if you didn't. The response I get with something I really worked hard to write is tremendously better.
I guess that is with anything in life though. Generally speaking, if you work hard, you will get results.
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