Stop Making Content Just to Make It

Listen, you’ve been told that “content is king.” Far too many times, I’d add. But it’s not the meal. It’s the condiment.Harold Brogan, Pizza King

You’ve been told to blog daily, or tweet ten times a day, or make four facebook updates, or whatever you’ve been told. How the hell do I know? But at this point, is it getting you anywhere? Are you getting more business by just throwing whatever you think of up onto the web?

The only contrarian I’ve ever heard tell us to stop making all this content is Derek Halpern. I think maybe (maybe!) Julien Smith is also of this mind (or was. Is?). Most everyone else is saying, make content, damn it!

Well, and Jay Baer has the future in mind with his Youtility book (affiliate link). If you haven’t bought this book, stop what you’re doing and do that. I swear, this is 2014′s big thing (or one of a few).

Content Must SERVE Two People

If you’re going to make content, check both these boxes: does this serve my business? (pursuits, etc) Does this serve the community? You have to say yes to both, or don’t bother. If you’re just “writing to be heard,” stop it. It’s done. Game over. No one has time for that. You’re wasting your time, and also your audience’s time. Stop it.

Make it Useful

If you’re going to tell a great story, tell a story we can use for our world. This story does that (one hopes). I’m sharing thoughts you can apply to your world. That’s why you read me, right?

Speaking Of That

I just launched a new project for people seeking to own their lives, own their business, and own their future. It’s called the Owner Mastery Foundation Group, or if you’ve caught on, OMFG. It’s going to be fun. We’ve already had a bunch of people sign up, as it’s very germane to this very concept. How will you own the universe if you’re off doing things that waste time and give little of value to you or your community?

Let’s own it together, shall we?

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  • JosephRatliff

    The title of this article says it all.

  • Justin Cooke

    Great reminder, Chris.

    There’s FAR too much mediocre content out there already. Writing sub-par or even “decent” content isn’t likely to separate you from the crowd or bring your readers any value.

  • BrandonUttley

    I have felt that content-for-content’s-sake has been a really asinine thing for the past several years.

    It’s tough to find a balance, because the same tools that allow us to share freely (which is something so many of us just *want* to do often) are mixed in with the “business” aspect of promoting ourselves, our companies and causes. However, I remain hopeful that most people are smart enough to know the difference. And there’s always the Unsubscribe and Unfollow buttons if they can’t.

  • Timothy O’Dell

    Truth be known this is the first of your blog posts I’ve read in a few months because I was feeling that way about you. Glad you posted this!

  • Vincent Nguyen

    Love it. I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of sites where I noticed a huge quality drop because they publish X amount EVERY DAY. It’s overwhelmed, not fun to read, and you can see exactly what they’re doing.

  • The Franchise King

    Hi Chris,

    I totally agree.

    So much content to consume. So little time.

    But, I’m wondering; is it just the people in our little world-the online marketing folks that are having trouble keeping up with it? Maybe, if Google or Bing are doing their jobs, people who aren’t online all day, and are just coming home from work…or whatever…are finding what they need-information-wise. Maybe they CAN cut through all the noise that’s being created.

    Sometimes, I think that all of us are stuck in the online bubble and can’t see what others see.

    The Franchise King®

  • Rex Williams

    True, but a bold statement when you’ve said that in the omfg we’re going to get some content every day.

    I’m sure it must be good. Can’t wait.

  • Raubi Marie Perilli

    Thanks for trying to help quiet the noise Chris. I wish people would understand, one awesome blog post is so much better than 5, or even 10, mediocre ones.

  • Tania Dakka

    Wait, I’m supposed to be creating CONTENT?? Damn. I KNEW something was wrong.


    Strategic content is key. As you said. :) But, I have to say, though, some people will use that as an excuse NOT to create anything. In which case, they’re never going to grow and get better. So, I think that’s a double edged sword in this case, maybe?

  • Bill Freedman

    I like what you say. I’ve also noticed that there is a disturbing industry dynamic that is driving the creation and publishing of more content beyond being helpful to consumers.

    Content production in 2013 to some degree is like the Cold War-ere arms race. The meta information about their content strategy–number of posts, breadth of coverage, community size, number of follow– is the boardroom- and industry-level measure rather than the usefulness of any single piece of content. And no content strategist wants to “lose” with their board and industry.

    I see no path to detente or industry-wide diplomacy to curtail quantity and improve quality. Consumers appear to be on the sidelines on this one. I hope I’m wrong. Am I missing something?

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  • apfwebs

    Important point: good post. Don’t over-self-censor to the point of writer’s block. But remember, en boca cerrada no entran moscas.

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  • Kate Fuller

    This is a really great post! Too many times it seems like brands are just posting just to post and it can be simply exhausting. No one has time to look filter out all that meaningless content and search for things that actually benefit the community or the reader in some way. This is also something that no one wants to admit that they’re doing, so thanks for telling them to stop it!

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  • Jon Loomer

    It’s a disturbing trend. There’s a growing list of blogs that I once loved because they showed some soul while providing value. Now they write a lot while providing little, all while clearly catering to the Google gods. Value is completely watered down along the way.

    Maybe this isn’t what you’re getting at, but the two are at least related. The “content is king” phrase is leading far too many off an SEO cliff that completely saps their content of everything that once made it enjoyable to read.

    It’s something I’m constantly conscious of — and trying to fend off and avoid.

  • Apree

    Great post! I really liked it and also agree that such contents are being created which are not helpful to readers. I also agree with Joseph that the title of the content says everything. Thanks for sharing this post.

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  • ferretrene1

    Great content, but how do I know if im doing the right thing or not? When I write I put my heart and soul creating the content, but I still feel im not good enough. Any advice will be highly appreciated

  • Cole Wiebe

    I read a post the other day and had to agree with the author, “If you can’t think of anything useful to write, take the F#%k’n day off.” There is entirely to much worthless drivel being pumped out under a sense of obligation.

    We’ve read that if our readers expect a post every Wednesday, and it doesn’t show up, they’ll go elsewhere. I’m quite certain that they will be even more likely to do so if we publish uninspired crap.

    A much needed post. Love the OMFG logo :-).

  • Gunther Sonnenfeld

    No, don’t make ‘content’ just for content’s sake. Learn how to tell better stories. Share intelligence. Develop knowledge. Media has always been ‘social’; the options are what matters — a choice in what we say, how we say it, and what we want to create in terms of sustained value. There isn’t a template for that. It can’t be algorized. You just need to inform your gut, and do it thoughtfully.

    ‘Content marketing’ has been accosted by people who have forgotten the power of stories — there are endless ‘top 10′ lists, ways to ‘optimize’, techniques for increasing page rank, etc. etc. But storytelling approaches? Journalistic sensibilities? Narrative design? Social purpose? Rarely do you ever see them discussed by so-called practitioners. Even worse, the more we think of these communications as units of distribution and optimization (read: ‘content’), the more we commodify the media through which they run. We’re cannibalizing our own market opportunities by dumbing down our communications to the lowest common denominator — by making it about catchy headlines, short copy runs, pretty visuals and clever tags, most of which are filtered and fed to us like cattle. Where’s the substance? You lose that, and value wanes. Stock markets and media markets reveal similar patterns and bubbles. It’s maddening.

    What we deem to be ‘useful’ or ‘interesting’ is obviously subjective. What is universal is the quest to democratize information. It starts by telling great stories that get us to think critically and act with a higher purpose, whether we use humor, drama, romance, or just want to report on the things we observe in everyday life.

  • Spook SEO

    Content is just part of your success. You have to invest on better
    tools as well to make them more useful and more relevant to your viewers. You
    also have to make sure that you will be working with the latest trends. Today,
    infographics is winning it.

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