Information and Resources for Solopreneurs

Create Real Content, Not Blog Posts

Written By: Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell) in Ken's Blog | July 9, 2007
Ken’s Blog

Jakob Nielsen wrote an article today, not a blog post, an article. Jakob doesn’t blog,
you see. He feels people should create articles with value, not posts to blogs.

Jakob’s been a hero of mine since I first started researching Internet Marketing to
sell a software product I was writing “way back when.” And so has John Audette, who recently made a return appearance to the LED Mailing List, a list I still receive
by good, old-fashioned e-mail.

The mention of John reminded me of a landmark series of articles that he wrote called “The Sweet 16.” They had disappeared from the Web (I had tried searching
for them some time ago). But it seems he republished this must-reading in late 2006…

Here are John Audette’s
Sweet 16, timeless as ever.

I suspect that Jakob’s article and John’s resurgence combined with a “back of my mind” pet peeve about blogging to spark this post…

I dislike blogging for the same reason as Jakob — too much noise, and not enough signal. I’m not sure why Jakob doesn’t make his thinking available via an RSS feed, but the LED list does. Its home page, though, make the same fundamental point that Jakob does….

“The format is old-school: just a standard text email. The list is moderated to keep the posts relevant and it’s delivered in a tidy, readable digest. The LED has a very high signal-to-noise ratio.”

Jakob’s excellent article, the above LED paragraph, and John’s Sweet 16 illustrate compellingly what’s wrong with blogging. It’s hyped and pushed by a vocal
minority who have a lot to say about very little. It’s part of the next
big thing, “Web 2.0.”

But it’s not Web 2.0. Both forums and mailing lists are “more Web 2.0” than blogging.

Most blogs deliver quickly “banged out” thoughts, some smarter than others,
all the successful ones written by very clever people. But very few really
push my thinking forward. None have impacted me the way Jakob’s article did
today or the way John’s “Sweet 16” still do today.

The “signal to noise” ratio is so darn low that I’m not sure they’re worth my time, even the time it takes to merely scan my reader to see if any might be worth reading further.

Blogging is a powerful vehicle for the small number of smart, erudite people who can “pop corn” quickly and efficiently, branding themselves in the process. But there’s so much noise before you get to any signal.

And comments? Comments are not community. Blogging is just one-to-many broadcasting. Seth Godin even turns commenting off on his blog. Matt Cutts? I read what Matt has to say, but I’ve never read a comment because I just don’t care what others say to Matt.

That’s not to say that all blogs are useless. There are, of course, may excellent blogs. My favorite six are listed in the right column. But true quality, someone who impacts my thinking? Few and far between.

I suppose you can use “blogging” the way we do…

1) Ken’s Blog I talk, infrequently, on whatever I like that has to do
with e-business (and beyond, sometimes) online. It takes me time, though. It’s just not in my nature to toss out pithy little nothings in new ways, but that have been said before.

2) SiteSell Insider We deliver lessons from running our own Web site, new techniques we are trying, what works and what does not. As a fairly successful
Web business, those who follow us find this insider view interesting. And finally…

3) E-zine Alerts We provide an alternative to the vagaries of e-mail delivery, by alerting subscribers to mailouts of our e-zines.

But our blog is not really a “BLOG“. Most people have come to equate blogs with something far different. The term “blog” has come to mean high quantity/low quality posts that amount to very little except what Jakob calls “information pollution.” (And that’s excluding the vast majority of blogs, which are splogs — spam blogs.)

It’s just not in me to spit out quick little observations. Here-today-and-gone-tomorrow
information is just not the way to help people succeed at business And Search Engines see the difference, too…

At Solo Build It!, behind the scenes with our massive bot behavior base, we can see how time-sensitive the blog bots/engines consider blog posts, compared to true content articles. Blog post get quick, short-lasting distribution (yes, there are exceptions, but those come closer to providing “articles” — true content).

True content lasts.

Blogging is like being a shark — keep swimming or sink and die. But Google respects great content. A collection of related , high-value content builds and holds traffic for years.

So why do I “blog”? Well, I do it my way, ignoring the feeling that I “need” to blog daily to be relevant. I do it when I have something to say that does not fit into our private Solo Build It! forums.

Most of my spare business time is spent in the forums, commenting and helping SBI! owners there. So my specific business-building advice goes there. I might initiate a thread, or I might respond to questions about using Solo Build It!, with answers that can be leveraged so that they are useful to many SBIers.

Forums are regarded as “old-fashioned” by Web 2.0 fanatics. But they are far more flexible and multi-faceted than blogs. Instead of the controlled, one-to-many broadcast nature of blogging, anyone can start a thread and those interested, I included, pitch in and reply. Over 30 outstanding moderators keep the signal-to-noise ratio high.

The LED is almost 100% user-generated, too. And it’s 100% moderated, too, resulting in
a high-quality publication. But even though it’s distributed via RSS, it’s not what most would consider a “blog.”

Moderation and conversation is something that most bloggers just don’t want to do. It requires a lot of work to do that. Fewer still reply to the comments. It takes even more time to reply.They are too busy working on their next post.

That’s broadcasting, not Web 2.0.

There’s no conversation. No community. Even in this blog, while we do moderate the comments, I’ve only replied to one or two. Somehow, I don’t feel that the nature of this medium requires it. However…

Compare that to our forums, where I’ve made over 3800 posts. Some of them are quick and simple answers. I don’t feel compelled to polish each answer into an article when simple help is required. But many of them are longer than this post, some of which become the basis for a future article, as do some of the posts of other SBIers.

And that’s just one of 1,000 things I love about our forums. We distill important new thinking and strategies into articles for future SBIers. That way, superb old threads are not lost to posterity.

After all, who reads old posts in forums (although we do have a “Hall of Fame”
for outstanding threads)? Just like blogs, while current threads may be interesting, they’re lost to posterity if you don’t hold on to, and summarize, what has not been said before.

Blogging? Give me a well-run, old-fashioned forum or mailing list any day of the week!

But blogging does give me an outlet to comment on something that’s been bugging me lately Like blogs. 😉

Thank you, Jakob and John, for stimulating this. I’ve finally got my arms wrapped around all this noise.

All the best,

Save 33% On Your Online Business!
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

Latest posts by Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell) (see all)

  • Natasha –

    Oh yeah!
    Relieved am I of my guilt for not blog posting since late May 🙂
    As to Nielsen in general, sometimes one thinks that he just makes up stuff to “zag” when everyone else is “zigging.” Take his recent proclamation to downgrade the status of page views in favor of time spent per page.
    That being said, his notion that blogs should be “articles” is something to which people using SBIers are accustomed.
    None of my blog posts have ever been less than 250 words, they don’t include “speedlink” posts or take on Twitter-like brevity. Nor have I seen a blog created by an SBIer that was like that.
    We know what quality content does for our businesses and brands as well as the power it holds so it carries through in most everything that we do online!

  • veronicay

    Hi Ken
    That’s a great article! You make so many excellent points, crystallising what I’ve felt about blogs but haven’t been able to articulate. I think there are a few very focussed blogs that do manage to create some sense of community though — several food-related blogs I read have regular commenters whom one gets to “know”, seeing their comments on several different blogs.
    Confession: I have 3 blogs 😉 But the most frequently updated one still only sees about 1 or 2 posts a month. I totally a gree that many blogs would be a lot better if their authors only posted when they had something of value to say.

  • Hi Ken.
    I agree with what you said overall..BUT if people approach as a RELATIONSHIP builder and preseller and not a TRAFFIC grabber, the blog can be a powerful tool.
    I have a TypePad blog on my site (still waiting for that domain mapping on Infin It Ken)… and It opens up conversation that has led to sales.
    I look at the Blog as an “informal newsletter” that I have in addition to my newsletter.
    I can only get to my newsletter once a month, but since I am short on time, I can blog random, unpolished thoughts, and people appreciate the connection.
    I think that could be promoted on SBI in the Action guide LATER, once people have everyhitng else established an “get” what they really need to do…
    Just a thought…
    If anyone wants to see a blog with content value, check my wife’s Blog on our site… She is actually using the unpolished thoughts as notes for a future book.
    Also… when is Infin It coming out??

  • Allan Gardyne

    Well said, Ken! I think a lot of people must be rethinking the time they spend blogging. A while ago I wrote an article called “Are you wasting time blogging” and it has turned out to be the most visited article on our site.

  • Dr.Mani

    Nice post – oops, I meant ‘article’ – Ken 🙂
    Part of the reason for ‘quick, pithy blog posts’ as against well-thought out ‘stream of consciousness’ posts may well be the widespread ‘belief’ that no one will bother to read LONG posts on a blog.
    My own testing proves that wrong. People read valuable content – on a blog or website – no matter how long it is. They won’t read boring drivel, even if it’s just a few words long.
    As I posted on LED where I first read about your post here, I would personally plump for a blog as my CMS for 2 reasons.
    #1 – Ease of publishing, even for non-techies who don’t know (or
    want to mess with) coding, however easy or quick it may be with
    WYSIWYG editors
    #2 – Built in SEO advantages that would take a lot of time and
    effort to incorporate by oneself on a conventional ‘website’
    The ability to integrate a blog with an autoresponder (via email),
    deliver to desktop via RSS feeds, and integrate into a forum to
    spark off discussion (if one prefers it to the ‘comments’ feature)
    are all significant pluses.
    Comments are often turned ‘off’ because of the problem of software generated auto-commenting (for backlinks) by ‘spammers’ who attack popular blogs – leaving the blog publisher the thankless and time consuming task of cleaning up the mess.
    I’ve had to delete my database of comments on several Movable Type blogs for this reason, and leave them off on most except my main blogs.
    Just my thoughts on a well-thought out and written ‘article on a blog’ 😉
    All success
    How To Cross The Road

  • Thanks everyone. The post seems to have struck a chord. 🙂
    All the best,

  • Hi Ken,
    Can I just say…
    As a very new and overwhelmed site blog it/xml it SBIer who’s currently reading all and everything available that instructs on just how good blogging and social bookmarking is to generating traffic to my site;
    My thanks for the clarification on where blogging belongs and having taken a deep breathe I’m no longer stressing about urgently creating bloglets with super quirky headlines and motivationally inspired copy.
    Re-thinking as Posted by: veronicay | July 10, 2007 at 03:42 AM
    Many blogs would be a lot better if their authors only posted when they had something of value to say.

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