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The Myth of ‘Great Content’ Marketing Itself

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of September 2009 Blog Promotion, Featured Posts 0 Comments

One of the common misconceptions that some new bloggers start out with is that in order to find readers for their blog all they’ll have to do is regularly write quality content.

  • “Great content will market itself” – a statement I heard one speaker make at a blogging conference last year.
  • “Write it and they will come” – a motto I’ve heard a number of new bloggers sharing as a secret to their yet to be found success.
  • “Quality Content = Readers” – an ‘equation’ I saw being written about in one online blogging course recently

Each of the above statements has elements of truth to it. Many bloggers have built successful blogs on the back of great content. However there are almost always other factors at play.

The reality is that many blogs produce quality content that doesn’t get read. The reason isn’t that the blog’s not worth reading – but in many cases it’s because nobody knows to go read it.

Here’s the thing…..

Letting your content market itself DOES work IF you already have an audience to help with that process by spreading word of it through word of mouth – but if you’re just starting out and don’t yet have a readership the reality is that YOU are the only person who knows your great content exists.

Word of mouth can still play a part in your finding of readers – but as YOU are the only person that knows about your great content YOU need to be the one who starts the process and starts the process of getting the word out.

It’s time to hustle and get word out about your content.

Seeding Content

Later in the week I want to highlight 9 methods to do this – however today I want to start with a more general suggestion that comes from my own experience of getting content read

Seed it – Don’t Force it!

Perhaps it’s just my personality or style – but I find that sometimes less is more in the blog post promotion game. Here’s how I’d chart the effectiveness of my blog promotions vs the amount of effort (or aggressiveness might be a better word) put into the promotion.


Let me flesh this out a little:

  • In my experience if you only put little effort into your blog promotion you get little results. This is what I talk about above – if you don’t let people know about your posts how will anyone find them?
  • If you put in too much effort into it and get too aggressive with your promotion you can also get little results. In fact sometimes when you’re too aggressive you can actually go backwards and hurt your site.
  • For me it’s about putting in some effort – but not getting too full on about it. It’s a real balancing act at times.

I like the term ‘seeding’ to describe how I try to promote my content.

I’m not really a great gardener but I do know that in order for me to have a new plant grow in my garden I need to go to some effort – but that if I do too much I can actually hurt the growth of the plant.

To have a plant grow I need to plant a seed, I need to ensure it gets water, I can give it some fertilizer, I need to give it a little protection from my kids digging it up…. but after that it’s up to the seed and the environment to make it grow. It takes some effort – but there comes a point where I need to step back and let the seed do it’s thing.

This is similar to my experience of promoting content on blogs. Often it takes me getting the ball rolling but if I force things it can actually have the reverse effect.

As I look back on some of the biggest traffic events on my blogs there’s been a real mix of my own promotion (usually to start the process) and a more organic thing happening. Sometimes I push too hard and don’t get results – other times I don’t push enough and get little return also – however getting it right can lead to incredible days of traffic.

Update: read the continuation of this post at my next post in the series – 9 Things to Do to Make Sure Your Next Blog Post is Read by More than Your MOM

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

    After reading and loving this article, I tried thinking outside the box a bit and got the idea to try using Facebook to increase my blog traffic.

    I started a Fanpage for my blog and created 2 campaigns with Facebook advertising, one for getting people to my blog, and the other for getting people to join my Fanpage. My goals are to:

    1) increase email subscribers to my blog
    2) get loads of fans on my Facebooks Fanpage
    3) get heaps of exposure to my blog and Fanpage

    In 5 days of advertising, I’ve got almost 100 fans and over 30 email subscribers to my blog… It’s working! At this rate, I should have over 150 subscribers by the end of the month, with a budget of $300 spent.

    The money is small potatoes if you think about how many people you can target (my small niche totals about 40,000 qualified people on the Facebook network) and the kind of authority and traffic you can build during your experiments.

    It’s all because of the ideas in this article.
    Many thanks!

    Pete | The Tango Notebook

    P.S. – One of my Facebook ads.

  2. XBox Ninja says: 09/08/2009 at 9:58 am

    I’ve seen hundreds of people start up blogs and write a whole WEALTH of information on them, without actually finding any form of actual audience. Strange how that works, truly… :(

    -X3N | xbox 360

  3. A valid point made. Writing good content is useless if you’re not gonna market it well. Writing useful content is not enough, you need to make sure that it gets read.

    But when they get there .. make sure that they see good content..

    Super Blogger


  4. Darren very sound advice as usual. I’ve been struggling with the balance between too much and too little myself. I like the concept of seeding and have been using the new social bookmarking site, RedGage, lately to increase my seeding activities. RedGage allows the uploading of links, videos, pictures and documents and provides an RSS feed of your uploads. My colleagues lately have also been discussing the benefits of “selfless marketing” – promoting the work of others – as another form of promotion and branding.

  5. Very truly said. Here we have a quote “Too much Lemon makes the Juice bitter”. If fact too much aggressiveness or less aggressiveness is too dangerous. When it comes to build the foundation of a blog, balancing is very important.

  6. nice post.
    i want to know what all things can i use to “seed” my blog

  7. I agree with you. In the last so many days I have been doing a lot to try and get people onto my blog. But just a few smart moves and it looks like it’s working. Only that I need to keep posting and doing the basics right – letting people know something new has come up for them; and leave the rest to natural laws. It will work, I’m sure.

  8. There is so much content out there that the “build it and they will come” model no longer works for an up-and-coming blog.

  9. ..
    I agree with Robert (commented above), the build it and they will come model doesn’t really work anymore. I am not actually sure if it ever worked – beyond the very early days. That being said it shouldn’t be understated when laying out how important unique content is for an ultimately successful site.

  10. Hi Darrenj, Thanks for great post again!
    The graph you’ve provided is gaussian distribution or Normal distribution (close to) is a Nature low on the Earth we live.
    One more prove of natural traffic.
    What great in your articles – subject and clear content. And…. people response. Such articles are trigger for new ideas.

  11. Hi Darren,

    Your post about the myth of content marketing itself is very helpful to me.

    I’ve heard and read that content is king but as you point out it needs to be found first.

    As for the seeding the content I can see your point.

    I’m just starting with blogging and the only promotion I’ve done is within a forum.

    I found that when I try to push it too much people get turned off. If i don’t say anything they don’t come either.

    So as you say it needs to be helped just the right amount.

    Thank you for writing great stuff.


  12. Thank you for another great post.
    I look forward to many more entries with high quality info.
    I’m a marketer myself and your information always seems to get my business brain going!!

    [http://www.facebook.com/CraigslistSoftwareForRealtors]Craigslist Software For Realtors[/url]

  13. Thanks for this, because I was still hoping that my great content would be ‘found’ by someone and got marketed by itself, just like as a little girl I was always sitting sweetly on a swing hoping for some agent to discover me and make me into a moviestar or supermodel.
    I guess it is time to put myself out there.

  14. I sometimes find that promoting a blog article works in an opposite direction. It produces results, but not for the product or service I was trying to target. Instead I get results from something I had previously promoted! Or I get traffic in an unrelated area.

  15. i really like this post and agree to it. too much pressure distort the excitement. its like to attract an attention of a woman. it should be noticeable but at the same time not too aggressive or otherwise she will run away…once you are noticed, traffic will keep coming continuously though you are not posting regularly…

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