It’s your business to make life more beautiful, bearable, or bold for a select group of people. You want to be more visible, telling your brand’s story and your own stories. Launching a blog or devoting yourself to a regular business writing process on your current website is the right decision.
Here’s the first thing to do: stop listening to advice for bloggers.
Tune out the smart, reputable marketing experts with their experience and convincing facts and figures.
They’re not talking to you.
(And, of course, you also want to stop listening to the “get rich quick” business gurus, but you already knew that.)
But back to those intelligent, compelling marketing marketing minds and what elements of their advice you can ignore...
You’re Not the Every(wo)man Blogger
About 15 - 20% of Americans are involved in entrepreneurial ventures.
A large proportion of those individuals make utilitarian products and sell everyday services like septic tank maintenance. Most of those companies rely on old fashioned advertising to find new buyers.
There’s a smaller slice of the self-employed population that will experiment with content marketing and launch a blog or develop other types of media to educate and entertain and entice new business.
Though they’re surely speaking to marketing officers at larger corporations too, the majority of the blogging and marketing experts are pitching their message at this group of "traditional" business folks.
Since you’re an entrepreneur interested in creating content, you’ll want to listen to the same podcasts and consume the same articles as the car salesmen and the electricians, right? After all, there are business fundamentals that apply to everyone, don't they? You can just filter out the bits that don’t fit your ideal clients.
Move on immediately when you realize the speaker isn't talking to you. Find someone who is. They're out there and they want to address exactly what you're concerned about.
Good Marketing Advice That’s Not For You
Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger’s Chief Content Writer. As part of the company’s brand new podcast network, Demian hosts a show called Rough Draft. Here’s the pitch: “ If you’re a pure writer, and you wonder how you’ll be able to build your own online platform that actually gets seen, this show is your shortcut.”
I’m not exactly sure what a “pure writer” is, but I guess I’m not one of them and I don’t believe the creative entrepreneurs in my circle are either based on the recent episode, “An Idiot-Proof Guide to Writing Blog Posts That Google Loves.”
Demian is doing his listeners a great service as he describes the current state of SEO and debunks some of the myths around what’s often seen as a secretive world - if not a downright dark art.
He uses some well-known examples like eHow.com (hint: when the examples someone uses have absolutely nothing in common with your goals, approach, or audience it’s often a sign the advice is not for you).
And then he describes a Google’s engineer’s description of a high quality site comprised of more than twenty questions including:
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
I know your answer to every one of these questions.
I also know that you wouldn’t consider any answer other than your own to be acceptable - not of you’re going to put your good name on it and expect it to draw in the high caliber prospects that you’ve created a business to serve.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this advice. Until recently, the Web was a Wild West where tricks and gimmicks were just part of doing business. There are many people who need to hear Demian's info - including some conscientious, hard-working business people led astray by nefarious SEO “experts” who profited off of link farms and other low quality sites.
But since you’ve never considered buying content from a low value, low cost supplier and since you always strive to write pieces that are worthy of publication in a magazine your audience loves and trusts, why would you listen to this kind of advice (other than to feel superior to the swindlers and the nice guys who were duped)?
What Sort of Marketing & Business Advice Does Apply to the Creative Entrepreneur?
Who is your ideal marketing and business resource? The cop out answer is also the truest answer: “you’ll know 'em when you hear 'em.”
Develop your own powers of discernment and perfect your own filters so you can identify when an expert deserves your time and attention.
In order to have that kind of discernment you need to be clear on your own identity in the marketplace as well your own goals and needs. Know your own creative entrepreneur’s autobiography and what brought you to where you are now as a business owner and as an individual.
If you’ve never done business as usual, don’t judge your past or plot your future with one size fits all business advice.
If you were a vegetarian you wouldn't buy the #1 best selling guide to cooking spare ribs. As a creative entrepreneur with a storyteller's soul, don't get bogged down by advice for people who've tried to scam their way onto their audience's computer screens.
When you know and own your own entrepreneurial story you’ll become more comfortable with clicking away and searching out a more relevant resource when someone is blazing a path through “doesn’t apply to me" territory.
Don't Judge an Expert By One Piece of Content
Even if there's a seemingly limitless supply of marketing resources out there, you don't want to abandon relevant thought leaders because every statement isn't customized to your exact interests.
Without singling out Demian Farnworth too much, I want to be clear that I have listened to each episode of his new show and have found some great information mixed in with the stuff that doesn't need to be on my radar. In a previous Rough Draft episode on keyword research, Demian asks:
Will anyone read the online content you produce?
It’s a terrifying question, but an important one. If you’re committed to building a popular and profitable site, you’ll have to write, read, and talk about your topic almost every day for the next several years. You’ll invest thousands of hours, quite literally gambling with your time.
The question is, how will you approach it? Will you start writing and hope someone notices you? Or will you carefully research your niche, looking for the precise angle and language that will make your content irresistible?
I recommend the latter.
This statement - though yes, terrifying - speaks to the creative entrepreneur because it’s true of everyone on a quest to build a business through content marketing.
And yet, he also reminds us of the importance “niche.” Just as you want to be sure to identify your own niche so you know how to speak to your audience, you want to be just as clear about whether you fit in a content producer's tribe.
Be a magpie, pulling inspiration from across the web, but also be choosy. Be willing to abandon any bit of information that doesn’t contribute to the knowledge base you’re seeking to build.
The Sovereign Standard is a publication that collects multiple perspectives on topics that are relevant to the creative entrepreneur. Subscribe for free here.
And if you're looking for writing help that is honed specifically for the needs of the creative entrepreneur with a storyteller's soul, I invite you to think about how I can help you get your ideas into a post that speaks to your ideal reader and client.