Simple content strategy

I decided a week ago that it was time to stop being the “cobbler without shoes” and actually get some content out into the world.  I was so busy writing for clients that I had no time to write for my own properties. This got me thinking about a simple content strategy.

I felt myself going through the internal struggles that many of my clients tell me about — Where should I post? What should I post? Is it better to post on social media than my blog?

I’ve always been embarrassed about my blog. I make my living as a writer but had virtually no articles on my own blog. Oh, no one will read them because the blog isn’t popular enough, I rationalized. But I once did have a blog with plenty of traffic, and the way I got that traffic was to write stuff regularly. Apparently, I wrote quite well because I even had a Google employee link to that blog and promote it on his Twitter account.

It became a hamster wheel:

  • I posted only on LinkedIn because I had a following there.
  • I neglected posting on my blog because the following on here didn’t exist.
  • So I posted more on LinkedIn and thereby stopped my blog from growing…

“Don’t post external links on social media!” they warned… 🤦🏼‍♂️

We’ve all heard “the gurus.” Don’t post external links on Social Media because you get less engagement! The result? No personal blog posts because we’ve been told we “Can’t post an external link on social media!”

And there’s another “rule” from “the experts”: Don’t post all your content on a third-party site because it can get taken down in a second!

So, according to the the experts:

  • We shouldn’t post only on LinkedIn (a third-party site)
  • But we shouldn’t post any links to our blog on LinkedIn, either (because of the external links…)

You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Following this logic, “the experts” want us to create content for LinkedIn and separate content for our blog. Honestly, who has the time?

There are more restrictive rules:

  • “Post only on days XYZ!”
  • “Post only between this time and this time!”
  • “Post only on days ABC and never on days XYZ!”

Really, it’s just too much.

“SEO” is outdated — “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t! Do. Do. Do!” — Too many rules!

I do plenty of writing for companies that is based on “keyword lists” and “extensive SEO research.” I follow the exact patterns they ask me to follow, use the right keywords in the right headings, stuff those keywords into the article even when they don’t make sense…

The result? A “perfect SEO article” that reads like shit. (These particular clients are happy with these articles. So I play to the crowd because I need to put bread on the table. But I take little personal joy in this type of writing.)

There are SEO basics which make sense — separate the article into logical headings, stick to a theme, use images that explain the content, etc. These basics make sense because they help make the article easier to read. It’s easy to figure these basics out. Just ask yourself, “How would I personally like this article to be structured?”

And then there is SEO “expertise” that really sounds like a load of hogwash:

  • “Use keywords that don’t make grammatical sense.”
  • “It doesn’t matter what you write, so long as it uses the right keywords.”
  • “Don’t link twice to the same page in the same article because Google might think it’s spammy.”
  • Oh, brother…

Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

All this don’t don’t don’t results in one thing — No Writing. No Content. Zero Content Strategy.

Here are some “rules” of my own which I’m sure will make sense to you:

  • Zero social media posts will perform worse than posts with an external link in them.
  • Zero blog posts will perform worse than badly written blog posts.
  • Badly written posts that look like they were written for robots will irritate your readers and make you look unprofessional.

The hard truth about people offering “authoritative” SEO advice is that none of them actually knows what Google wants. Google’s algorithm is a closely guarded trade secret. So is LinkedIn’s. So is Twitter’s. So is Facebook’s. Etc.

So SEO expertise is really just “best guess.” Some of those guesses are good, yes. There are a lot of excellent SEO professionals around.

But none of them has direct access to Google’s algorithm.

Human nature is not a closely guarded secret: People like stories. They like reading good c0ntent. They like learning new things. They like reading content that was written with them in mind. When creating content, simply ask yourself this: Would you like to read what you wrote? Good, then it’s great content.

Here’s a simple content strategy guaranteed to improve your presence 💪🏼

I eventually gave up on all the “science” and just started writing. I’m a writer, I told myself, so anything that I write will somehow promote what I do.

I broke all the rules and just created content. I wrote blog posts and scheduled them to appear on LinkedIn through Canva, with a link to back my blog post.

But I didn’t just automatically post the link to LinkedIn with no content. The tip that social media platforms don’t like external links makes sense to a degree. But I didn’t need a “social media guru” to analyze this for me. I just asked myself, “What don’t I like when I see external links?” Well, I hate it when people just post a link with no context. I like it when people create a post and summarize the external link so that I can choose if I want to visit that link or not.

So I did precisely that with my Canva-scheduled LinkedIn posts that were linking back to my blog — I created an independent LinkedIn post that summarized the blog post.

So I had a blog post to build my blog, and a LinkedIn post that is meaty and can stand on its own. Two birds, one stone.

This might or might not work with Twitter. It’s a totally different platform and 280 characters (Twitter’s limit) is a drop in the ocean compared with LinkedIn’s 3,000 characters.

I don’t have an FB page, but it would make sense to do the same with FB.

Tons of content

Once I shed all the “rules” and “do’s and don’ts,” I started writing. And now I have content, and I’m proud of that content because it says something.

Looking back at that old blog of mine that once performed well, it took time to build it up. I don’t run the blog anymore because it was for my programming business and I no longer write software. I write only articles and books now. 😁

But I ran that blog with the same simple strategy of creating lots of great content and doing it regularly.

By letting all those “rules from experts” stop me, I stopped creating.

Best of all, I’m having fun now because I love to write. And following this simple content strategy — write often, write well — means I get to write as much as I want and about anything I want, so long as I angle it somehow back to my business.