I'm going to tell you a secret about content marketing - particularly blogging. In fact, I can sum it up in one word and that's 'voice.'
I believe the best blogs are those that offer perspective.
Let's use my client, Leonard Baer (known to most as "Lennie") as an example. Lennie is an elder law attorney with dual practices in Highlands, NC and Palm Beach, FL. His niche is the protection of seniors from financial abuse and fraud. While others in his industry are writing about the '10 things to put in your will,' Lennie writes about how cell phones are only smart if we know how to use them, why seniors should (or shouldn't) go to the doctor alone, and the secret to aging that you won't find anywhere else. His blogs are humorous, but endearing. They leave you thinking. In short, what makes Lennie's blog great is that his pieces have heart.
For the record, a post about '10 things to put in your will' is still relevant - people love lists and people especially want to make sure that their actions are in line with the criteria contained (or not contained) in the list. But, to make a splash today, it's necessary to offer a different perspective. We need to provide something unique and tell a story. We need to have a voice.
So, why don't more people do it? Why are they blogging about boring topics, or worse, not blogging at all?
I have three theories on this...
1. They don't know they can or that they should
Many think blog content is comparable to a news story or an essay, rather than what content is now.
The online world has shifted our content expectations - some for the better and some for the worse - but because anyone can self-publish, we're no longer reliant on mainstream media or advertising outlets to influence our thoughts. The way to stand out in this new content landscape is by offering a first-person, experience-based account. No one else can provide your perspective and insight.
I think Lennie would be comfortable with me sharing that he struggled with this, at first. He was sharing some of the same stories he wrote for newspapers, and also much of the same content others in his industry were sharing. It took him a little while to find his footing - and when he did - he loved it. It was cathartic, and most importantly, it came natural to him.
2. They don't feel comfortable taking a stand
Many have a lot of knowledge and expertise, but aren't comfortable sharing their opinion - often due to fear of potential opposition or backlash.
I see this primarily among those who fear that what they say in writing will be perceived as professional 'advice' in their field, such as legal, healthcare and financial. Then there are others who don't believe their opinion is something people would want care about - but we have to remember that there are others already putting themselves out there, and have found a way to do it well (or not so well).
This is your chance to stand out and gain trust with your audience. Lennie didn't have any challenges in this arena, despite being a lawyer, he simply talked about his experiences while protecting the privacy his clientele.
3. They don't think they have what it takes to produce content, especially the written word
Writing is a barrier for many people - and I understand why. Take this post for example. It took me about 30 minutes to determine a topic, and that was only by default, because I received an email from Lennie that got me thinking.
As the ideas pop into my head, I'm writing phrases and points to back them up, but other parts are flowing in full paragraphs. Writing is not a linear process and everyone works differently.
Most people are not writers, which is the other issue. I think Lennie would admit that he has the knowledge, but it's a challenge to write in a way that's compelling to the audience. He knows this and he asks me to edit his blogs before we post them, which is something I would recommend to anyone - even a writer. I would argue that editing could be the single most important content marketing role, besides the writing itself. Just get that first, rough draft on paper, read it aloud, and let at least one other set of eyeballs review it.
Not everyone on the web is a writer, or even a 'guru', in their industry, but, if they can find their voice, that's a step in the right direction. I encourage you to check out Lennie's blog for some inspiration.