We have all heard and read the mandate from hundreds of sources – create original content! Sounds like solid advice. No one will argue with it. The problem is, it’s easier said than done.
Today, there are billions of websites, blogs and social media pages publishing trillions of pieces of content. No topic has been left untouched by the tidal wave of content that crushes the internet every day.
Publishing truly original content is a myth.
Who Told us to Publish Original Content?
While bloggers, content marketers and SEOs scramble and strategize to create “original content,” let’s take a step back and see where this advice is coming from.
Google, of course.
Well, not Google directly, but all of the tea leaf readers who scrutinize every guideline that the search engine publishes and every video that Matt Cutts produces.
The thing is, all these suggestions, tips and strategies are, for the most part, true – if you want to get traffic from search engines. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want traffic from search engines? They provide marketplicity.com with over 75% of my traffic, so why would I be dismissing such a valuable well spring for my business?
I don’t write for Google. I write for my current and future customers. I also write for myself.
So I Should Copy and Paste Other People’s Blog Posts?
By no means am I advocating plagiarizing other people’s work and passing it off as your own.
What I am suggesting is that you pay less attention to what blog posts have already been published and focus on writing. Write for your audience and stop worrying so much about what Google is going to do with your post.
A Case for Non-original Content
I recently published a Simple Small Business Blogging Manifesto that sums up my advice for small business bloggers to a few core principles. Has this been done before – you bet. Like, a thousand times. So why did I feel compelled to write this? Here are 8 reasons why.
Your own voice
No matter how it has been said before, when you tell a story or give guidance to someone, you flavor it with your own voice. This in itself makes the content you write unique. No one has the experiences, relationships and knowledge you do. By applying your own voice to an idea, you are making it your own and adding value to it.
There are no original ideas. There are only original people.
– Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Once you start writing, you’ll come up with new angles
I use to avoid blogging about topics that already had been written about because I was having problems coming up with new angles. Then I decided to forget my ego and write about topics that I thought mattered and were worth exploring.
As soon as I started outlining by ideas, the funniest thing happened. I started to see my topic from new angles. When I started to put pen to paper (or pound away on the keyboard), I discovered new connections and insights.
Lesson learned: Just start writing.
Helps you own the idea
In addition to helping your explore your idea, writing helps you own that idea as well.
For example, late in 2012 I started seeing the amount of people who saw Facebook Page posts trending down. I started babbling to people about this conspiracy theory I had where Facebook was pulling the biggest bait-and-switch in internet history. While I often talked about my theory, it wasn’t until I wrote a blog post about it that I was able to fully articulate and own my theory. Since publishing the post, I use those concepts and ideas in a presentation I give frequently. By putting my idea into words, I was able to own it.
Good to send to clients and potential clients
One of the most important reasons why small businesses should blog is to win business. A lot is written about how blogging helps bring in leads, but not much is said about how blog posts can be used in the sales process.
I’m not bullish on the prospect of the small business blogging manifesto I mentioned earlier bringing in much search traffic. Truth be told, I would be thrilled if the post gets 30–50 visitors a month from search engines.
What I am excited about is sending the blog post to my next prospect. While other companies are trying to win business by talking about their portfolio, their process, their benefits, etc., I focus on providing value to potential clients right off the bat. Thats where my blog comes into play.
If big news break in your industry and you don’t say anything about it because every other blog in your niche has, you’ll look out of touch. Adding your voice to popular topics and news in your industry helps build authority.
As I stated earlier, chances are the topic of your blog post has already been thought of and published. Don’t take this as a sign to abandon your idea, but rather as an opportunity to network with other bloggers and add your own voice to the conversation.
I was researching an idea I have for a new blog post about WordPress and saw that every result on the first SERP (search engine result page) was from years ago. Trust me – since these have been published, there is a ton of new ground to cover.
If the topic you want to write about has already been covered, do some research to see if there have been more developments or angles to cover since the last post was published.
Brings in traffic
Contrary to popular belief, not all traffic originates from search engines. Upworthy and other similar websites have proven how you can bring in traffic and build an audience on the back of social networks.
The chart above shows the traffic I received to my 2013 Genesis WordPress Developer Survey. Nearly 93% of the traffic to the post has been though social media, referral sites or my mailing list.
Don’t be fooled – you don’t have to (and should not) rely on search engines for all your traffic.
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