Content, Content – Who’s Reading?

When I was growing up, my little family of five ate dinner together every night. We also spent many weekends together in the car driving to and from Grandma’s house. At home, we read the Sunday paper sprawled out on the living room floor and made a huge production out of holiday entertaining.

There were times when you could describe the scene in my house as chaos. As children, my sisters and I were encouraged to participate in a conversation and tell our story at the end of the day. Once in a while, the excitement of overlapping versions of stories and conversations that went in two directions got a little loud. At those moments, my father would raise his voice over the commotion and ask, “Who is listening?”

It is nearly impossible to talk and listen at the same time. Furthermore, the purpose of talking, as I was taught, is to impart information to another party. There is an inherent futility in talking when no one is listening. In such an instance, my father would certainly advocate silence.

Everyone is writing content

The age of content marketing has progressed to a point where everyone is writing. I am a writer at heart who would write even if no one were reading. (Plenty of my writing has yet to find a reader, and I don’t care.) Personally, I don’t feel special because I write; it makes me feel normal, like breathing. But even as a writer, I am overwhelmed by all the words coming at me on a regular basis. I can read, of course. I like to read, but I just can’t keep up. I realized the other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, that my brain only attempted to focus on bits of text that were no more than three lines long. Those written in a larger font on a colored background were most likely to hold my attention long enough to discern some message.

An economy of words

In our global economy, words are cheap. Five dollars can buy you 500 words to post on your website. They could even incorporate a couple of keywords for SEO value. Suddenly the volume of words is not the goal. Anyone can do that.

The value of words is what you need to consider.

How much information do those 500 words impart to your customers? Do they provide the facts about your products and services? Can they add value to the customer experience?

A list of 500 random English words will have zero value to your SEO or your customers, even if you spend five dollars to acquire it. The most valuable content enriches your brand and engages the audience. It connects with common human emotions and conveys more than meaning. The words that come from you, a business owner and human being, to your readers, more human beings, carry the most value. It takes a personal touch to connect with your customer base because you know them best while you are also intimately familiar with the products and services you offer.

Do the math

Ugh! Yes, I had to bring math into this discussion because everything about business comes down to math, eventually. If it takes you one hour to write a 500-word blog, what do those words cost? What is your time worth? How much revenue could you bring in for your business if you did something else with that hour? I’m not an expert with numbers, but I feel confident that your 500 words cost more than five dollars. In fact, I’m also pretty sure that it takes you more than one hour to write a clear and polished 500-word blog.

Here’s the part you’re not going to like. We’ve established that a five dollar blog has very little value to your business, while one that you write yourself costs more than five dollars. So, how much do you have to spend to get 500 words that actually create engagement with your audience and add value to the customer experience? I don’t know. Only you can determine that.

Who’s reading, anyway?

In the middle of a raucous family dinner, when my father shouted out, “Who’s listening?” the answer was usually the same. It was a cacophony of responses from each one of us, trying to get our story heard. My sister would usually repeat the phrase she is now famous for in the family, “Listen to me.” Dad would then arbitrate the conflict and announce who would have the floor. We would impatiently listen, waiting politely for our turn to tell our story.

In the absence of a virtual mediator, everyone continues writing web content and flinging it out there at someone and no one in particular. When your content connects with your audience, they will read it. Until then, they scroll by.

We are all producing content, you have to decide where to buy the content with the most value for your business. I can tell you one thing for sure. If my father were the arbitrator of the noise of content on the internet, he would tell everyone to be quiet and read mine.

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