Lately, I’ve been thinking about common misconceptions around content.
As a content manager, I encounter these misconceptions regularly. One of the most common (and, TBH, most egregious) is that people think content is cheap. Nope. Good content requires good writers and good editors, which costs good money.
When you’re a content creator, it’s easy to take a statement like this as a personal attack. No one likes having their professional work discounted.
But I’ve found these misconceptions oftentimes come from well-meaning people who simply don’t live in or understand ~our space.~
5 of the biggest misconceptions about content
In an effort to clear up this whole thing, I created a Twitter thread (don’t worry, it’s not one of those massive 30-tweet threads that have become popular) and shared some common misconceptions I’ve encountered in the last six years I’ve worked in content management.
Let’s go ahead and clear up some of these common content misconceptions — and feel free to chime in with your own in the comments below!
1. Content is cheap
We’ll start with the most common one I mentioned up top: Content is cheap. The reality is, good content costs money. It’s an investment.
Think about the steps involved in content creation. It’s not simply a writer pulling, say, 1,000 words out of their head. After all, writers love to write, so no big deal, obviously. (That’s another misconception, if you couldn’t sense my sarcasm.)
Even before a writer drafts an article, there’s typically a good amount of research and strategy involved. This, of course, takes time. Time is money. And let’s not forget to mention the years of experience and expertise that writer has collected. Also valuable.
And that’s just the writing part. There’s also editing, adding visuals, SEO, brainstorming headlines and social captions — the list goes on.
Sure, you can hire someone who’s offering a lower price, but content is like any good investment. The quality is typically reflected in the price you pay. Plus, if you don’t pay the price upfront, you likely will if the piece requires heavy edits or even rewriting.
2. Content creation is a quick and easy process
I’ve run into this scenario all too often. A client is excited to launch their website or hit the ground running with new content. I am, too — but it’s not realistic to expect this process to unfurl days later.
Creating good content is a process, which means it takes time.
Here’s an example: A client hires a managing editor and expects their blog up and running within the month. The reality is getting a blog up and running requires building out iterative processes, establishing writer guidelines, hiring good writers, planning a content calendar and giving writers a realistic amount of time to turn around an assignment.
This doesn’t include editing, integrating client feedback, planning visuals, or uploading the content and getting it all set to publish.
I love this tweet from Andrea Bosoni, the founder of Zero to Marketing:
3. The more content, the better
Earlier this year, I spoke with a prospective client who explained they were in the “volume game” and that they wanted to publish several posts a day.
To be completely frank, I was flabbergasted. This is a strategy that was more common in the early days of blogging, but not so much in 2021.
When I asked for additional details about this strategy, the client said it had worked in the past. But in my experience, I don’t think this is the best way to go.
Pumping out content for content’s sake won’t help you reach your goals. For one, burnout is a very real thing — amongst your creators and your readers. And unless you’re writing for a super broad audience (which isn’t recommended), your content is going to get repetitive.
Plus, in the space of content marketing and sales, if your content isn’t tailored to your audience and isn’t meeting their needs, you’re simply drumming up bad leads and creating a poor customer journey.
Also, remember the common phrase, “Quality over quantity.” Publishing three articles a day for the sake of hitting an arbitrary quota likely won’t yield quality content. The quality content requires research, data analysis, interviews with experts and, of course, time.
4. Content alone can sell your product
Here’s another big “nope” that my friend Dana Sitar contributed when I threw this question out to Twitter:
Content will not sell your product. As Dana explained, the purpose of good content is to educate, serve and engage your audience. Once that trust and brand loyalty are built, then consumers are more likely to take action (e.g., make a purchase).
If you’re trying to sell simply your product ASAP, there are other routes you can try to take that don’t involve thoughtful content creation.
5. Build the content, and they will come
The whole “build it and they will come” idea doesn’t work with content. Creating the content is just the first step to building out a successful content strategy. Simply put: It’s not enough to press “publish” and sit back.
Once your content is out there, you’ve got to take steps to get it in front of people. This might include an SEO strategy (which should be considered before creating a piece of content), social strategy or newsletter.
And, you guessed it! All those require some type of content or creation process, too.
Changing your mindset around content
As mentioned above, most of these misconceptions come from prospects and clients that typically have the best intentions — they just need a bit of education on the subject.
After all, content usually isn’t their thing, and that’s why they’ve enlisted an expert — you — so let’s give them a bit of well-deserved credit for making that important decision.
It’s time for a mindset shift when it comes to how you think about content. By debunking these common misconceptions, content managers and prospective clients can come to the table with managed expectations and a clear understanding of what it takes to get the work done well.
Want to learn more about what it takes to create good content? You can keep tabs on me by signing up for my content newsletter. Every two weeks, I’ll give you the lowdown on what I’ve been up to and share some of my favorite articles, resources and gigs in the content world.