Content is King

Content King

Content Marketing

Suppose you’re a writer who receives a visit from your fairy god-muse. Your fairy god-muse gives you a choice. Would you rather have:

(A) A fantastic cover, everything else just okay.

(B) A killer blurb, everything else just okay.

(C) 100 amazing reviews, everything else just okay.

(D) Incredible content, everything else just okay, and you have to start out with three horrible, gut-wrenching reviews.

I pick option (D). Nobody wants bad reviews, but content is king. If the content truly is incredible, I know all I need to do is get the book into the hands of the target audience and content will take care of everything else. Eventually, sales and good reviews will come.

The other options may do better short-term, but it won’t be lasting success. Option (D) will lead to long-term success and will help to sell other similar books.

Establishing Value

There is only one thing that determines the value of a product to a customer: Content.

Amazing covers tend to attract readers, but they will be disappointed if the content doesn’t live up to their expectations. A killer blurb might help close the deal; good reviews may make you feel better; but if the content doesn’t please the reader, this improves the chances of receiving critical reviews and losing out on valuable word-of-mouth sales.

Suppose you see a new candy bar in the store with an eye-popping wrapper that totally appeals to you. So irresistible! You just have to try it.

Sure, those other candy bars aren’t selling this week because everybody is trying the new one.

But if that new candy bar isn’t better than the others, once this craze ends, everyone will go back to what they prefer.

Packaging can help you reach your target audience.

But only content can establish value.

Customers want quality content.

Achieving Success

Pop quiz! Would you rather:

(A) Have pretty good sales right off the bat, then drop off and scarcely sell again.

(B) Have sales start out very slowly, but steadily grow and continue to sell for decades.

I’m going with (B) here as it has much more potential.

Not only will (B) bring lasting success, but:

  • The continued success of this product will help you sell all your other products.
  • The content must be better in (B), which will help garner valuable recommendations.
  • It may help your taxes not to make all your wealth in the same year, but to spread it over decades.
  • You feel better about producing a product that achieves long-term success.

Fashion Trends

Did you get caught up in the social media frenzy?

Are you keeping up with the latest changes in search engine optimization (SEO)?

Do you invest much time trying to stimulate reviews?

Maybe your time would be better spent creating valuable content:

  • Once you have several quality products on the market, each product will help sell the others.
  • As customers try your products out, word will spread and your brand will be associated with quality.
  • Exceptional content, especially at a good value, is more likely to earn recommendations and reviews naturally.

Content-focused marketing can start out very slowly, but it has amazing potential. It may be worth the wait. It can outlast the current trends.

With quality and value, you just need to get your products into the hands of your target audience and good things will happen much on their own.

Packaging is important, as it helps you attract your target audience.

Marketing is important, as it helps to get your target audience to try your products out.

But content reigns supreme.

Search Engines, Too

A website rich in content geared toward the target audience is a content-oriented way to market your products.

The idea is for the content to attract your target audience. This is successful when much of your website traffic comes from search engines, and when the searches are a good fit for the products you offer.

It can take months for this to show results, but can be a highly effective marketing tool because it’s based on content.

Why are the SEO trends constantly changing? Because the purpose of search engines is to provide the most relevant content to the customer, while businesses with mediocre or lousy content are trying to abuse the search criteria to get their results to show up higher in the results. The search engine companies are wise to this game, and therefore update their criteria in an effort to minimize the abuse (or, in some cases, punish it by driving those sites way down in the search results).

The client using the search engine wants to find valuable, highly relevant content.

The search engines want their clients to be happy, otherwise they will quickly run out of clients. The search engines do want to make $$$ from advertising, too, but they won’t be around long if people aren’t satisfied with the service.

Entrepreneurs (including authorpreneurs) want their websites to show up higher in search results.

If mediocre and irrelevant websites show up high in search results, this is bad for the client and the search engine. So the search engine will make some changes to try to fix this.

Everything is geared toward content. Quality content relevant to the target audience makes the client and the search engine happy.

It used to be all about keywords and categories. Now it’s more about finding keywords in the content. But consider this:

Garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage KEYWORD garbage garbage garbage.

Search engines aim to filter out the garbage and find quality, relevant content. They continue to make great strides to improve this.

Content is king. If the content truly is valuable and relevant, it will thrive in the long run.

Garbage won’t survive. It might try to find the right way to sprinkle signs of content among the garbage to look like quality, but it won’t last.

Don’t worry about garbage. It will eventually take care of itself. Focus on quality content and relevance for your target audience, whether you’re developing a website, writing a series of books, or creating products or services.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

5 comments on “Content is King

  1. I’m going to bookmark this post for later reference. I’ve been disappointed by so many books with great covers, interesting blurbs, and 5* reviews, but that had very little in the way of substance and quality. These books sell well, and I don’t understand it. So this post is a fantastic reminder that this is a long game, and in the end it’s quality content that will bring lasting results. I try to focus on that, but I do worry that I’ll never find my audience without everything else.

    (Not that I’m in a sour-gapes situation over anyone else’s sales before I have a book out, but I’ve seen it happen to others)

    • You’ve noticed this, I’ve noticed it, and so have many other customers. These things tend to make us wiser shoppers. Customers are learning to become suspicious not only of both good and bad reviews, but even amazing packaging.

      But here’s where those books that don’t deliver on the promise fail. Dissatisfied customers won’t buy more books by that author after reading part of one book. Eventually, reviews will reflect the actual content. Word-of-mouth sales won’t be helping. (The best that author can do is keep writing lousy content under new pen names, hoping to reap short-term gain with each. But it will become increasingly hard for that author to keep up the initial support, and this author is totally missing out on multi-book sales for readers wanting more.) Also, Amazon is aware of this issue, and I feel some changes on the horizon.

      Packaging is important. It does help you attract your target audience. But in the long run, the content is more important. Eventually, the publishing industry will catch up with these questionable short-term practices, and then those books won’t be selling at all.

      Also, keep in mind, especially with Kindle, unscrupulous authors may be purchasing their own books (they get 70% back through royalties; and they may bring the price down for 24 hours, buy their book, then raise it back up), or paying others to buy their books, hoping to improve their sales rank and position in search results. Amazon is also aware of this. Amazon may already take care of it to some extent (by catching the author doing it and putting it lower in search results, for example), and in the long run probably will eradicate such unethical behavior. My point is that it might seem to you like a book is selling well despite lousy content, when in fact it might not be selling nearly as well as you think.

      I believe the best thing we can do is focus on our own content, and that it will work out in the end. If nothing else, it’s easier to stay motivated thinking like this. I also encounter a lot of amazing self-published content. It’s much more positive to focus on fantastic content than how a few authors may be abusing the system. Also, it’s better for branding. If you paint the perception that there are a lot of lousy books out there that look good, fewer people will buy books overall; but if you speak highly of fantastic content and recommend those specific titles, this increases the overall readership.

      Thank you for sharing your buying experience. Good luck with your book. 🙂

      • See, this is why I enjoy this blog. You know your stuff. 🙂

        And absolutely agreed on that last point. It’s better for everyone if we promote what we love rather than bashing what we hate!

  2. When you have to write slowly because of personal constraints, it is nice to know you can put it out when you’re happy with it, then go write some more, preferably in the same vein.

    It IS a luxury – not everyone has it – but also a problem: if someone likes your writing, and wants more, and you take a long time to produce more, they are going to wander while they wait for you, and may come to anchor somewhere else. But it is what it is.

    I don’t think I’m being overly perfectionist about it – that could be modified. And I am writing more quickly now that my work habits are better – it helps some not to waste a lot of time before something useful starts coming out your fingertips.

    I create from 2000 to over 12,000 of notes, plot, ideas, templates for various character effects, etc. – I have all the files to convince myself this is so – for every 1000 words that are acceptable for the first decent draft. It is a large ratio of pre-writing to writing; I’m sure most people do a lot of that inside their heads (which is quicker), rather than having to write all those extra words down. I have to work outside my head – the RAM doesn’t work very well any more, and the CPU cycles are getting very slow. Fortunately, I can still use external drives and devices to help my brain.

    But I love it so much. Writing the extra is thinking onto the keyboard, and I can often refine bits of that thinking – chunks of dialogue, or descriptions, or an emotional journey – as the basis of the fiction. So I don’t mind.

    I like the content that comes out of the process. I’ve learned lost of self-editing tricks – and I’m always picking up new ones that make sense for me. So I’ll take what I’ve developed now over the chaotic hit-or-miss writing/editing I used to do.

    You are correct: content is king. And what comes out of my brain at the beginning isn’t ready to be crowned.

    • “But I love it so much.” This is the drive that can crown the content. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience with preparing content. Remember, the developmental stages may help a little with marketing, to some extent. For example, occasionally, it helps to demonstrate all that hard work and thought that you put into it, and fans may like to see how things looked before the book took its final form. (Maybe you’re already using your notes, drafts, etc. this way.)

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