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Content as Commodity.

By on November 13, 2011 in Blogging Tips, Random Thoughts with 18 Comments

One thing you should know about social media in general and blogging in particular is a little bit about creating interesting and at least reasonably well-written content. Most would agree that to use any social platform at any kind of a high level would imply that you have to at some point hit a minimum standard and quantity of organic content. Even if by accident, it should happen somewhere along the way.

But blogging and social media aren’t juried. They aren’t moderated by anyone, other than you. Google Analytics won’t tell you if your content sucks, it will just tell you how many readers had the displeasure of its suckery. If it sucked bad enough, readers probably didn’t get to the end of it to get annoyed enough to take the time to tell you so. If a blog was a musical instrument, it would be a guitar. Easy enough to learn some basic chords, but taking a chunk of a lifetime to master.

Now, blogosphere regulars who are professional writers and social media consultants will sit right there and tell you that good content is not enough. And, well, they would likely be right. Whether that necessarily points to the conclusion that content cannot be king remains to be seen. What that camp lacks is enough exposure to the garden variety bloggers who never had to consider Klout social hierarchy, and who think it might be best to just buy some keyword laden blurbs from a content farm, enjoy the little stick of seo dynamite that their blog can be, and sell freaking widgets. Their blogs are not “I love me” shrines, and posts are not plaques on the wall. Blogs are selling machines, not to be measured in traffic stats, comments or membership, but in conversion and roi. If a blog doesn’t convert and return fast and cheap, it will quickly be abandoned and condemned as useless. The words that constitute content are just an unfortunate necessity. Even the keywords.

Both extremes are real, and the broad mid spectrum charges forward with one eye in the rear view mirror and the other on the windshield.

I was an English major and remember vividly just about every English major I ever shared a class with. I also remember the English teachers who were my colleagues in education in the 90’s, most of whom were writers of some novel that would somehow never be finished. Worse still, I saw the utter misery of a life’s work on dog eared legal pads stuffed in a brief case that would evaporate off a park bench while its owner pondered the wisteria. We are liberal artists, and we now have open source explosives. And all the backup in the world. Any of us who watched Spalding Gray’s Monster in the Box too many times in previous decades can heave a collective sigh of relief.

There is reason for hope, because there are alot of good writers coming into their primes right now. Right this minute. Every minute. Check your feeds. Most good writers are able to flow their ideas pretty efficiently, when the time is right. We compartmentalize our minds to be like computer screens with a couple of rows of open tabs capable of creating mental folders to slide ideas into all day long to brood over for what seems like forever before opening the keyboard valve. You know, the whole “survey the inner landscape” thing.

Writers are like safe crackers when it is time to put fingers to whatever electronic vessel shall receive our words. I wrote this draft in my iphone’s notepad feature while pacing around my shop. There is gold in the vault, and we must access and extract it as efficiently as possible, by whatever means immediately at hand, and boogie with the treasure. Good writing is that treasure and when you sort through the feeds and streams of all the major social media venues, there are nuggets of absolute gold to be found.

So, if social media is truly social, and even a marginally accurate reflection of the society that evolved to spawn it, then good content can hold a high enough esteem still to be recognized as good writing, and content can probably always be a contender around the chair being fought for, in which the king will sit.

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Scott Burt
Scott Burt owns and operates Topcoat Finishes, Inc. in Vermont, writes the monthly "From the Field" column in American Painting Contractor, and blogs prolifically at www.topcoatreview.com. Google
Scott Burt
Scott Burt
Scott Burt

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  1. Content as Commodity: Is it King? : Scott Burt | December 24, 2013
  1. This looks familiar. 🙂

    Still has some really good, quote worthy nuggets of truth in it.

  2. Chris Haught says:

    Great post Scott, that’s Apple Pie a la mode!:)

  3. Scott. Just wow.

    “There is reason for hope, because there are alot of good writers coming into their primes right now. Right this minute. Every minute. Check your feeds. Most good writers are able to flow their ideas pretty efficiently, when the time is right. We compartmentalize our minds to be like computer screens with a couple of rows of open tabs capable of creating mental folders to slide ideas into all day long to brood over for what seems like forever before opening the keyboard valve. You know, the whole “survey the inner landscape” thing.

    Writers are like safe crackers when it is time to put fingers to whatever electronic vessel shall receive our words. I wrote this draft in my iphone’s notepad feature while pacing around my shop. There is gold in the vault, and we must access and extract it as efficiently as possible, by whatever means immediately at hand, and boogie with the treasure. Good writing is that treasure and when you sort through the feeds and streams of all the major social media venues, there are nuggets of absolute gold to be found.”

  4. Darren says:

    If your content makes sense and is informative, I think readers would be willing to overlook a lot. Take it from me, I am a perfect example of that philosophy.

    Why?

    Because I don’t pretend to be an English major. In fact, it was one of the classes I paid the least amount of attention to, and I am sure it shows.

    But the value the content I provide turns real ideas into dollars. And therein lies the X factor. Make your content not just good, but either take away someone’s pain or give them pleasure, and you have a new customer or client!

    Great post!

    -Darren Slaughter

    • Chris says:

      Great point Darren, good content can take a variety of forms, being authentic, like you, Scott and others goes a long way!

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Scott says:

      Darren

      I disagree. I think your writing is good. 🙂
      I also enjoy your videos, but am glad to see you exploring the power of written word on your site lately. I’ll be looking for you to expand on your comment here into a post: “Why does Content need Value?”

  5. kornerking says:

    So this is Chris Haught’s reference to polishing the throne.

    I agree that in writing as in producing a product that content is important. Vitally important. The major issue though is to produce something. Be it a blog post or an early matrimony piece of furniture we all need to start somewhere. If we approach it with the idea of giving value, we will be afforded the opportunity to perfect our skills.

    Somewhere prior to this Chris commented on this piece. I replied that sometimes it isn’t always the perfect English so much as it is the message. The example that I used was the verbage for a radio ad that we ran to promote an event.

    It had been a cold hard summer and this was a fall event. I used the lyric, “Spring has sprung.fall has fell, summer never came , but what the … Well come on out to our event” . Our ad person said it wasn’t proper English. Bottom line we created a content laden message that brought many customers.

    Moral of my post is it doesn’t need to be perfect as long as it has content that creates a message. This also will improve with practice.

    Great article.

  6. ” If we approach it with the idea of giving value, we will be afforded the opportunity to perfect our skills.”

    Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! When we write for value, out of purity, and not for “keywords” sake, we are creating good content. We cannot all expect to be at the level of writers like Scott, but we can still find our own nuggets and create content worth sharing based on our own opinions. But it has to come from us, not a list of Google created keywords or what the latest marketing guru has decided we should say. You are absolutely right, find your own message and share it! We would love to hear more from you! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Scott says:

    Korner and Chris

    It’s important to note that blogging, especially in our fields, is not at all about being the best writer on the planet. In fact, some of the best writers out there have nothing interesting to say, so they fall into that whole “poor me, misunderstood writer” routine. Most important is to hook up with like minded people in your area of interest, and share/promote values.

  8. Derek Morton says:

    Great post. But there is one aspect of content that you missed. And that’s the increased demand for content curation. Meaning sites, or programs that can provide a lot of great content, from many different sources all in one spot. Blogging Painters is a great example of a website that is doing content curation.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Derek, I agree. That is the beauty of BP, we have some great contributors that supply of a variety of content, and i just have to curate it! Win Win!

  9. This definitely makes sense. Your writing is good, at least – I like the metaphors you use. Would come back for more and that’s my comment!

  10. Scott says:

    For the record, I still feel this way.

We would love to hear what you think!

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