“All you need to do is have a blog and the traffic will come pouring in!”

Does this advice sound familiar? This misguided advice has been followed by entrepreneurs, businesses and agencies for a number of years now. While content marketing is a powerful tool, it’s not the magic unicorn of internet success. As of 2016, Tumblr has 291.7 million blogs, WordPress.com has more than 55 millions posts each month and the new kid on the block, Medium, is quickly taking the world by storm with more than 30 million visitors a month. All of these numbers look extremely impressive, but the real questions still remains, why should anyone read your blog?

In the early days on the web, circa 1999, the blog was a place for individuals to openly share their thoughts, personal adventures and opinions with their small, intimate and close knit community. While their posts were usually visible to the world, only those who wanted to engage and valued what the author had written followed their blog consistently. Most of the early sites where focused on the “individual’ rather than businesses or news sites. Fast forward to 2016 and everyone has a blog, but for much different reasons. Blogging has turned from an intimate and community focused platform for sharing and adding value into a billboard of regurgitated information for the masses. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in blogging, obviously. But after trying things the way everyone else did, I realized a few things. First, I wasn’t generating good traffic. Second, I was adding more noise than value and lastly, and most importantly, I wasn’t being myself.

Blogging is About More Than Traffic

If the sole reason you are blogging is to generate more traffic, then I can guarantee you one thing, your traffic will suck. We like to think that the masses are dumb and won’t see what we are doing, but truth be told, people are much smarter than we give them credit for. Sure, you may see a boost in your traffic for a little bit, but without a powerful purpose and clear direction, people will soon leave your site for something that adds value.

More traffic is a short-sighted goal. Yes, growing your readership is important, but sustainable growth is a much more profitable goal. We live in a world where everyone wants to go “viral.” Really? Most viral content is exaggerated hype that often falls just as fast as it rose. What business really wants this? Using your blog to continually add value to your readers will encourage them to share your content with others who share their world view. This leads to sustainable, long-term, organic growth.

Renew vs Regurgitate

How many content marketing tips can we take? Do we need another 5 best email practices list? List and “How to” posts are extremely helpful and the data backs it up. If fact, I create a lot of this type of content as well. But I now do it from a whole new angle. Instead of copy and pasting the latest tips from the industry “big dogs”, I personalize my lists to my audience. I write from my perspective and share how, what and why I do what I do. The key is to improve upon or share a personalized take on the strategies, topics, ideas, etc.

We live in a ” copy and paste” culture where many don’t value the hard work and time others put into their content. Want to be different and give people a reason to read your blog? Write your own content.

Know Your Audience and Speak To Them

People are different. Seems like a simple concept to grasp and one that most of us would agree on. But in practice, most marketing is done as if everyone is the same. The same tactics are used in the same ways over and over, each time hoping a different result will happen. I think there is a word for that (insanity). You can’t assume that what works for one company in one industry will work for you. The principles may be solid, but the content and execution will be different.

While reading blogging tips from a marketing website may give you some principles, you shouldn’t blindly follow them as a road map to success. Take the time to really understand your buyers and readers and then give personalized, professional advice and answer pressing questions they have. Tailor your content to meet the needs of real people who may come across it.

Don’t Do (or Stop Doing) These Thing:

  • Copy & paste content
  • Blog because everyone else is
  • Post “just because”
  • Copy the competition
  • Share un-useful information
  • Belabor a point to make a post longer
  • Complain
  • Promote your own ego

Blogging is a powerful tool to share your thoughts, opinions and give practical advice to your audience. Blindly publishing content without a clear purpose and without your audience in mind will only result in noise. If you want to see value and ROI from your blog, then publish content that adds values to your readers. People have more choices now than ever before and shorter attention spans to go along with them. Write with your audience in mind and share your heart, passions and knowledge with them. Give them a reason to come back time and time again. Copying others never made a business great. Learning from others and doing it differently has. It’s your choice.