The internet marketing landscape is littered with sets of rules on every aspect of every industry. No matter how niche you go, there will inevitably be someone offering guidelines (or even a formula) to save you time — and promote their brand along the way, of course. And content marketing in particular has collected a huge range of rules about everything from length to structure.
When you’re running a blog and trying to make it a big success, you might look to those rules for assistance. It doesn’t seem unreasonable, after all. Why not learn from people who’ve already managed to do what you’re trying to do?
Well, it’s far more complicated than it seems — and in this piece, I’m going to explain why you need to rip up the content marketing rulebook and chart your own path to success:
Many internet marketing “gurus” haven’t achieved anything
It’s extremely easy to go online and claim that you’re a master marketer with a foolproof technique for getting content seen and products sold, but look at it this way: why would people with all the answers spend so much time trying to give them away through training courses?
This isn’t to say that real experts don’t offer training resources, because they do — they just charge a lot more, and don’t clamor for attention quite so desperately.
Because there’s a lot of money to be made through selling training, there’s an overabundance of fake marketing gurus out there, offering generic courses, ebooks and articles. Whenever you look something up (how to come up with ideas, for instance, or how to frame your content), you might happen upon borderline-useless answers from someone who’s never succeeded at content marketing.
Or check out their case studies. . .
Over-optimization is a common problem
How much time should you be spending on technical SEO? Smoothing out your page titles, setting out alt text, and trying to get your content to the optimal length? It shouldn’t be too much, because while some of these things are genuinely important, they’re not so important that they’re worth taking up hours of your time each week.
We often see bad SEO marketing where sites are overusing and over-optimizing keywords. This ends up hurting their web scores. Keep it simple and produce meaningful content for our industry.
Being different is what makes you memorable
While it isn’t exactly true that there’s no such thing as negative press (not in the social media age, that’s for sure), it remains true that it’s your unique traits that make you memorable (yes, even though that’s a cliche). If everyone follows the exact same rules, then all the content ends up feeling the same — and even if you really like a particular dish, you’ll get bored of it if you eat it every day. You need a niche for your brand, just as you need one for your products.
If you look past the rules and do something interesting, you’ll probably get some flak for it, but it’ll be worth it — because people will be paying attention. And isn’t that the main point of content marketing? I’m not saying you should go exclusively for shock value, because that’s also a bad idea. Instead, create the type of content you think people will want to see, regardless of what conventional wisdom says. The zeitgeist changes far faster than conventional wisdom.
Following the rules isn’t much fun
Lastly, but not insignificantly: following the rules exactly is boring. It’s dreary, uninspiring, motivation-sapping, and passion-killing — and given that it isn’t easy to stick with a punishing content production schedule, the last thing you need is a reduction in passion. A determination to never deviate from the recommended path is a recipe for marketing failure.
Consider that people can tell when you had fun creating content, because you work harder when you believe in what you’re doing. Can it take longer to pick up momentum when you do something rule-breaking? Of course — but if you keep it up, the results will eventually arrive, and they’ll exceed your expectations.
If you followed some of the content marketing rules floating around, you’d produce incredibly bland work. If you tried to follow all of them, you’d get nowhere, because they’re frequently contradictory. So while you should feel free to take inspiration wherever you can find it, remember that you need to develop your own style in the end.
Guest Blog Author: Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer for MicroStartups, a website dedicated to helping charities and microbusinesses. After years working in the sustainability, marketing and creative industries, Kayleigh now loves to devote her time to supporting other businesses to grow and thrive. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @getmicrostarted for the latest news, tips and advice for startups and solopreneurs.