The focus of content marketing has shifted over the last few years. A couple years ago, everyone wanted a lot of quantity – more more more! That’s what the audience wanted, and it’s what search engines rewarded. Now, it’s all about quality – creating something so awesome that people can’t help but devour it and share it on social networks.It makes sense. There’s a lot of garbage out there on the Internet, a lot of me-too content that could’ve been created by just about everyone. There are millions of blog posts that have been read by eight people. And that doesn’t seem to be doing any good. It certainly can strain your standing in an organization in which the CEO is demanding ROI, and you’re sweating over a blog post that very likely won’t move the needle.
It makes sense. There’s a lot of garbage out there on the Internet, a lot of me-too content that could’ve been created by just about everyone. There are millions of blog posts that have been read by eight people. And that doesn’t seem to be doing any good. It certainly can strain your standing in an organization in which the CEO is demanding ROI, and you’re sweating over a blog post that very likely won’t move the needle.
However, focusing on hitting only grand slams is almost certainly going to lead to a lot of strikeouts.
Instead, you need to create a lot of anything in order to have that breakthrough hit. That’s the real secret to creating high quality content – in fact, the real secret for creating high quality content is that your best chance of success is to create a high quantity of content.
Because quantity and quality are not opposites.
As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers, the greats in a variety of fields worked at their craft for 10,000 hours – that’s what honed their talent into greatness. In other words, they put in a lot of work. Often, this is work done out of the spotlight before they burst onto the scene. But it doesn’t have to be.
Consider the work ethic of several people who have changed history, as pointed out by renowned psychologist Dean Simonton. Thomas Edison is known for a handful of inventions that changed the world – but Edison had more than 1,000 patents. When Picasso was painting perhaps his greatest work, Guernica, he sketched 79 different versions before he arrived at the final piece. In all, Picasso created close to 20,000 works of art in his lifetime.
The lesson – you have to do a lot of focused work in order to have a breakthrough. The odds of having success are in direct correlation to how much you create.
Which brings us to content marketing. Everyone is looking for a shortcut. The latest trend is to publish content less frequently, and focus on making it great. This sounds great to those who aren’t obsessed (great writers tend to be obsessed), because it’s less work. The idea is less work, more impact. Sounds great; sign me up. However, the odds of it working seem low. It puts a lot of pressure on that one piece you’re creating, and working less almost certainly means you’re creating a lower quality of work – because you’re not as good as if you practiced every single day.
Whenever you hear a great writer talk about writing, they talk about the necessity of writing every day. They also often talk about the pain of trying to create this frequently. However, the discipline of doing it every day is what makes for superlative quality.
Here’s what this means for your content marketing initiative: Two blog posts a month aren’t going to cut it. Sure, it’s possible lightning will strike twice a month and you’ll create a few gems. However, history shows that quantity is the best path to quality.
Create a lot, and the odds that you’ll create something great rise significantly.
So, let’s get writing.