Friday, October 13, 2017

Fight Content Glut: Promote Content the Right Way

Content creation is no small task. Many of the best writers spend hours, days, and weeks laboring over a single article or post. Unfortunately, the effort is often wasted. Most online content, even great content, attracts no organic audience.

The simple truth hurts: The day-to-day online experience offers too much relevant, engaging, and truly informative content. And this so-called "content glut" is destroying engagement.

Our blog's sponsor, Alex Stepman, of Stepman's SEO, works with local website owners; earlier this week, Stepman told us about the "number one" anxiety currently plaguing local websites: Content glut.

"For new website owners, especially," Stepman said, "content creation and publication often feels like shouting into the void. They write great content--I've seen it myself. It's good. Yet when they press the 'publish' button nothing happens. And, of course, nothing will happen, until they discover a viable promotion strategy."

As Stepman implies, the problem is not the writing itself. The problem is promotion.

Why Do We Hate Self-Promotion? 

Before we speak about content promotion, it may be helpful to explore the psychology behind self-promotion.

Why do we hate self promotion so much?

On Forbes, Bonnie Marcus states the questions another: "What about self-promotion is so difficult?"

"It’s the 'self' part," she answers, "the egocentric nature and seemingly aggressive pushiness that makes us cringe not only when we attempt it for ourselves, but when we observe others bragging in a self-centered manner."

Of course, the challenge of self promotion is nothing new. As The New York Times notes:

"In 440 B.C. or so, a first-time Greek author named Herodotus paid for his own book tour around the Aegean. His big break came during the Olympic Games, when he stood up in the temple of Zeus and declaimed his 'Histories' to the wealthy, influential crowd."

Read: "How Writers Build the Brand"

Herodotus: The father of history--and famed self-promoter
If Herodotus promoted his brand, in front of Zeus, no less, why can't we do it?

It is a simple fact of modern life: Most great writers fail miserably at promotion. In fact, on social media--at least in our circles--it is nearly axiomatic: The best writers abhor self-promotion. It is accepted, of course, that a writer has to self-promote, yet many good writers feel the need to apologize.

So many self-promoting posts begin, "Sorry for the self-promotion..."

Of course, as Herodotus reveals, the two talents, good writing and self-promotion, are not mutually dependent.

Walt Whitman, for example, practiced an inventive (and deceptive) means of self-promotion. After the publication in 1855 of his book of poems, Leaves of Grass, Whitman wrote "anonymous" reviews praising (and sometimes criticizing) his work.

"An American Bard at last," he wrote in The American Review, later declaring himself  "the largest lover and sympathizer that has appeared in literature"--a true statement, in our estimation, but still.

Whitman's "anonymous" review [Photo Source]
"I celebrate myself," Whitman famously begins his poem, "Song of Myself," a sentiment--in literature, life, and self-promotion--that has since rarely been matched.

Whitman's unique brand of self-promotion might seem outrageous today, but his impulse, in the end, is instructive. He wrote an amazing book. He believed the book deserved attention. So he engaged in relentless (shameless) self-promotion.

Of course, self-promotion need not be shameless. Plenty of authors practice self-promotion with humility and panache. So how can you promote your website's content with humility and panache?

Below we offer the three essential steps for attracting an organic audience.

Promote Your Content the Right Way: Three Simple Steps

Contact Well-Known Writers in Your Niche 

Walt Whitman famously sent his first edition of Leaves of Grass to the most famous writer in American, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson wrote back, "I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of 'Leaves of Grass.' I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed."

Don't expect this sort of response to your own content--but do reach out to others--especially well-known writers. By contacting a well-known writer in your niche, who might be willing to share your article, or offer a quote for your article, you might gain access to a new, colossal audience.

KissMetrics suggests contacting influencers at scale by using BuzzStream. This is a terrible idea. If you're going to contact a well-known writer, write a personal, genuine note. As with your writing itself, the quality of this form of self-promotion is much more important than the quantity.

The key, of course, is humility: When asking another writer or influencer to share your work, be courteous and respectful. It's good to have wild ambitions, as long as ambition does not translate to undue expectations.

You do not deserve attention--you must earn it, like everyone else.

Contact Your Immediate Social Circle

When contacting others, do not limit yourself to "influencers." Your article might be of special interest to certain friends in your social network. Again, though, do not follow the terrible advice of KissMetrics: do not "scale" your contacts with a mass message. Make it personal.

Take the time to reach out to a few key friends via private messages. Let them know that you've written a piece that might interest them. In this way, you cultivate a devoted (and personal) readership--a group of core readers who are more likely to share your content.

Sound time-consuming? Remember, one well-promoted piece of content is worth more than ten pieces of content that no one reads.

Scale with Humility and Tact--and Persistence 

"The public is a thick skinned beast," Whitman wrote, "and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there."

In his quest to "sound [his] barbaric yawp," Whitman might've neglected humility and tact, but he certainly understood the value of persistence.The key to successfully promoting your work at scale, however, is humility and tact.

Read this simply-stated, genuine tweet from the writer, Dominic Smith, whose novel, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, was released last year:
Simply put, without fuss. When sharing, there is no need to apologize. Just share your stuff without pretense: Here it is. I hope you have the time to read.

Of course, for beginning writers, especially, persistence is important. Make sure you're not overloading anyone's feed with relentless self promotion. Remember, humility governs not only how you share your stuff, but how often. There is no golden rule here. Only this: Share enough to attract attention, but not enough to annoy others.

Content Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote content, contact our sponsor, Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.