Leaving Work Behind

The Content Dilemma: Quality vs Quantity

Written by Tom Ewer on July 29, 2011. 6 Comments

The Content Dilemma: Quality vs QuantityWhen it comes to writing, you are likely to be hit with a different opinion for every article you read. Your content should be short and to the point. Or it should be long and cover all bases. The mass of conflicting advice on the internet is a headache in the making for any aspiring content writer.

I am here to add my two penneth, but hopefully it will create no headaches. I am not here to tell you that your articles should be x or y. I am here just to deliver a very simple message.

Write

That’s all. Just write. Don’t worry about what you are writing, or how you are writing it. Don’t worry if your spelling is poor. Don’t fret if your grammar leaves little to be desired.

Once you have finished writing, you can then go back and check. You can read over your words and decide whether or not they are worth the virtual paper they were written on.

The key to writing is so bloody simple, and yet so many people out there want to overcomplicate it. They often forget one simple fact – content cannot be good or bad until it is in existence, and even then, the judgement of it is wholly subjective.

Don’t worry about how you should deliver your message; just write what comes naturally and judge it by your own standards. If you do this, your writing will be distinctive and unique. It may not be a work of art, but improvement will only come through more writing.

Quality Follows Quantity

As far as I am considered, quantity and quality are not enemies. They are simply two steps in a process. As I have already stated above, you should be writing as it comes naturally, without fear for the quality of what you are creating.

When you have exhausted your immediate mental capacity for content creation, you can then consider the quality of your writing. If you have just created a work of art, congratulations. If however there is nothing worth saving in what you have written, then push it aside and move on.

In writing bad content, you will understand how not to in the future.

Write Me A Song

Song writing is a great analogy for content creation. You should write as many songs as possible. Don’t worry about whether they are good or bad, just get them out of your head and onto paper (or recorded). Come back to tweak them later, or dump them if they are poor. But when it comes to your album, only the cream of the crop should make it.

Content creation follows a similar line. Your published content is your music album. Only the cream of the crop makes it. No one needs to know about the rest, but that is not to say that it hasn’t helped you – all of that bad content took you towards creating the good.

Photo courtesy of Julia Manzerova

Information Overload

Written by Tom Ewer on July 27, 2011. 3 Comments

Information OverloadMy enthusiasm to succeed in my online efforts has led me to read an enormous amount of information. I am sure that the same can be said for many of you.

I would like you step back for a moment and consider how much of that information has actually been helpful to you. I would personally estimate perhaps 10%.

Now, you might argue that you have to read a lot of rubbish to uncover the rough diamonds, and that is true to an extent. But I do not believe for a second that we need to read as much as we do in order to be successful. In fact, I believe it can be to your detriment, and I’ll tell you why.

The Three Types Of Internet Marketing Content

Any article you digest relating to internet marketing is likely to do one of three things:

1. Introduce you to a new concept
2. Reinforce your knowledge of an existing concept
3. Provide you with a “micro-strategy” inside of an existing concept

If you are already up and running with your online business, and have a good idea of what you are trying to achieve, then all three of these article types carry little value compared to what you could be doing instead. Let’s look at them each in turn.

A New Concept

Let’s say you have set up a niche site for dog training (yes, that old nugget). You have created content, carried out on site SEO, and are busy building up backlinks. Then you read an article called “Affiliate Marketing Made Easy”. You have never really looked into affiliate marketing before, so this is all new to you and sounds exciting.

How does that help you in your current efforts? It doesn’t. Not only that, it can distract you. If progress on your dog training site has not lived up to your expectations to date, then your enthusiasm may be dropping. Reading about how you can easily make money elsewhere is not going to help you in focusing on your efforts.

Success takes time. If your efforts are constantly distracted by the promise of greener grass on other side, then your chances of hitting your targets will decrease rapidly.

Knowledge Reinforcement

Let’s say your backlinking strategy is going along quite well. You are leaving relevant comments on blogs. You are establishing yourself as a helpful source on a couple of related forums. You are submitting your published content to article directories in the hope of getting it syndicated. You have set up a complex linkwheel that is drip feeding SEO juice to your main site.

It seems like you have got a really good strategy going on. So why do you need to read about how to do something you already know all about? You’re probably hoping that there will be a little nugget of additional information in there that can help you further. But I’ll tell you what can help you – doing more backlinking. You will gain far more knowledge and experience in doing, rather than reading up on something you already have a good familiarity with.

Micro-Strategies

I’ll give you an example of a micro-strategy. Let’s say you have your backlinking strategy down pretty good. You’ve got it all laid out – all you need to do is execute. Then you come across an article with an all-new way of backlinking that is just guaranteed to work.

The natural temptation is to try the new strategy, but that would be entirely the wrong thing to do. The only you way you are going to find out what truly works is through your own experience. If you are going to be successful, you are going to try many things, and the majority of those efforts will result in failure. But it is only in experiencing the failures that you learn enough to lead you to success.

Flitting from one idea or strategy to the next without committing enough time and energy to each will never get you anywhere. If you are constantly reading articles about the new and exciting strategy, then you will struggle to remained focussed on your current efforts.

Having Said All That…

I should include a caveat before I leave you to give me your thoughts in the comments section below – I still think you should read. You should never stop reading, and you should never stop learning. However, I think everyone can gain value in considering how valuable doing is. In my opinion, learning by doing beats learning by reading every single time in the long run.

Of course, if you have no idea what to do to achieve your goals, you will need to establish a solid base of knowledge – and this will require reading. However, once you are past that point, you should be pouring the vast majority of your efforts into advancing your knowledge and experience through action.

One final thing – yes, it is rather ironic that I am arguing that you should read less, as I am producing a blog. There is quality content available on the internet, and you should still be digesting that as part of your overall workload. And I would of course like to think that my content is amongst that quality. Therefore, I still think you should read my blog. However, if you only had say an hour a day to commit to your online business, then I would say that you shouldn’t be reading any blog, including mine. I am not afraid to say that, because ultimately my aim is to help you, not myself!

Graphic courtesy of My Melting Brain

Is Guest Posting Dead?

Written by Tom Ewer on July 25, 2011. 8 Comments

Is Guest Posting Dead?I recently had a guest post published over at Feel Gooder. You can read the article here: 6 Reasons Why You’ll Never Succeed.

The article was published on Wednesday, and to date there have been a grand total of 12 clicks through to Leaving Work Behind from it.

A lot has been said about “the death of guest posting”, and I tend to believe that it is far less powerful than it once was.

The problem is, if you look around many popular blogs, guest posting is now (and has been for some time) a regular occurence. My theory is that people have become accustomed to them, and as such, are more likely to ignore any outgoing links in the article, much like they would ignore advertising.

Having said that, I do think that guest posting serves a purpose – I am just not convinced that it offers great benefits in terms of promoting your blog.

How about you? What are your thoughts on guest posting?

My First Niche Site: Update #3 – Failure! Failure?

Written by Tom Ewer on July 22, 2011. 12 Comments

This is Part #3 of a series. A list of all the other updates can be found at the bottom of this post.

Please note that Modeling For Kids is no longer an active site. If you’d like to know why I shut down the site and started up a new one, click here.

My First Niche SiteWhen it comes to internet marketing, a decrease in morale is often caused by two things – not hitting, or losing sight of, your perceived goals.

Take my niche site for example – Modeling For Kids. If you have been following the updates on my progress (Update #1 | Update #2) then you will know that most recently, a period of frustration was alleviated by the site moving up two spots in the Google rankings – from #13 to #11. This was just enough to take the edge off my growing frustration.

However, since then, the site has fallen back down to #13 in the rankings.

Failure! Failure?

It is at this point that I could throw my hands up in despair, moan about how unfair Google is, and generally carry on in a very unhelpful manner.

But hang on – what was my original goal when I first started out? To reach the number 1 spot in Google within 90 days. How many days in am I? 60. So what is the problem? I still have 3o days to reach my goal.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I can just sit back on my haunches and simply wait for my site to climb the rankings. However, my reality check does provide me with a fresh perspective so that I can kick start a new effort.

First Reevaluate, Then Strategize

So, at this point I have decided to step back and analyse what I can do to better my chances. It is at this stage that you should be realistic with yourself. It is so easy to simply claim that Google is out to get you, and that no amount of work will move your site up the rankings. Logically speaking however, this is simply not the case.

As I revealed in my recent article, “The Ultimate SEO Strategy”, the theory behind ranking well for Google is not rocket science. Provide quality content, and obtain plenty of backlinks.

The Power Of Reevaluation

It is very easy to consider that you have done everything that you can, and that you are at a loss. However, if you step back and objectively analyse your efforts, you may see a different story.

I have recently been doing very little in terms of backlinking for my niche site. Quite frankly, I thought that I had done enough. I foolishly thought that if I just waited long enough, the site would climb up to the top spot, where it deserves to be.

But that has of course not happened yet, and I need to figure out why. Now it may just be a waiting game, but I am not just going to sit back and wait for something to happen. The site has been pretty stagnant in terms of rankings for several weeks, so as far as I am concerned, I need to reevaluate what I am doing and press on with more backlinking.

A Fresh Approach

So, in terms of besting my chances, I am simply going to proceed as if I had done nothing to date. Nothing at all. I will start from scratch, and see where it takes me.

I have been far too lazy in my backlinking strategy recently, and that changes right now.

The simple fact is, I shouldn’t be even worrying about my ranking until my 90 days are up. I just need to worry about giving myself the best possible chance to rank. The rest is largely irrelevant.

Read The Whole Series

How To Stop Boring Your Audience

Written by Tom Ewer on July 20, 2011. 2 Comments

How To Stop Boring Your AudienceYour content is boring. Just thinking about it is sending me to sleep.

I do not know this of course – your content may be breathtaking. My life may be worse for not being aware of its existence.

But even the most brilliant of bloggers should periodically ask the question, “Am I boring my audience?” If you are publishing a few articles a week, then it is all too easy to fall into the trap of writing tedious, monotonous, bog-standard tripe (please forgive my British vernacular).

It is easier to spend money than make it. It is easier to fail than to succeed. And it is easier to write rubbish than inspirational content. So, how do you stop yourself from doing what is so easy? Consider the following.

Be Good At What You Do

In order to produce great content, you need to be a good writer. I use the word “good” very deliberately, as you do not need to be a great writer. If you can string a sentence together with good grammar, spelling and punctuation, but Shakespeare of our age you are not, you do not need to worry unduly.

If your audience can understand your message, you are half way there. You then need to make your message compelling. That topic deserves an article all to itself, which it will get in the future.

Be Ruthless With Your Writing

Seth Godin writes rubbish. It is what he does next that is the key to his success – he discards it, and keeps going until he produces something brilliant. Trust me, he doesn’t sit down and simply allow his daily nuggets of wisdom to flow unconsciously onto the page. He considers the quality of what he is writing, and separates the wheat from the chaff. You need to relinquish the emotional attachment you have to your content, and publish only what is worthwhile.

Produce Quality Through Endeavour

Ask any experienced writer for advice. They will tell you to do two things – read, and write. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is. No matter your talent, the more you read, and the more you write, the more you will improve. So just start writing. Don’t worry about subject matter, just go for it. You never know, you might uncover a new niche for yourself.

Be Astonishing

If your readers want anything from you, it is uniqueness. There has to be a reason why you are compelling. So, you either need to have something astonishing to say, or you have something to say in an astonishing way. Or both, if you really want to hit the jackpot.

It’s All In The Mix

You need to combine a healthy mix of the above elements in order to produce content that will engage your audience. Ultimately, If you feed quality in, you will get quality back. If you feed drivel in, you’ll likely get nothing back.

Photo courtesy of Simon Hucko