Pop Quiz: Are You On The Content Marketing Train To Nowhere?

Pop Quiz: Are You On The Content Marketing Train To Nowhere?
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If you have a business blog or spend more than two seconds a day thinking, “Gosh, I really need a business blog” then you’ve probably been swept onto the content marketing train.

You know somewhere in the back of your brain that a blog is supposed to help you promote your business and generate leads. Maybe you’re working real hard to make that happen and not seeing the results you want.

Or maybe you just don’t know where to start.

Either way, this quiz is for you. These are just some of the things I was fortunate enough to talk about with Ryan Hanley – a true content warrior if ever there was one – on his Content Warfare podcast last week.

After you’re done testing your content marketing wizardry, watch and listen. I promise that if you make some tiny shifts in your thinking and in your execution that you can be generating leads with your blog. Good ones. Consistently.

Question 1: How Big Is The Font On Your Blog?

A. It’s whatever the default size is that came with my WordPress/Blogger/Squarespace theme.

B. Big enough to read… with a magnifying glass.

C. It pops off the screen so even granny with spectacles can read it from across the street.

Answer

It may sound strange to start a conversation about content marketing with a question about font size but if your readers can’t actually read then you’ve got yourself a train wreck right out of the station.

Truthfully, I don’t care what your font size is. I only care that it’s big enough to read from across the street.

Most default font sizes are 12 pixels. It depends on the font but more often than not 12 pixels is too small. Fourteen pixels is probably too small. Sometimes font size is even measured in ems. But don’t get hung up on numbers or units of measure. Just look at yours on a screen.

Then make it bigger.

Does it look big enough now?

Make it bigger again.

Trust me, nobody ever left a website because the text was too easy to read.

Question 2: Who Are You?

A. I’m a business owner and industry expert thought-leader with a propensity toward corporate-speak because that’s what makes me sound important and professional.

B. Um, I don’t know. I’ll be whatever I have to be at any given time as long as it generates business.

C. Just a guy. (girl)

Answer

If you said anything but C then quick, jump off the train! It’s heading for a ravine.

Before you commit word to page you have to know where those words are coming from.

A repository of “professionalism” that’s been drilled into you by management because that’s what people in your industry are “supposed to sound like”?

A well of leftover grammar and usage rules that was drilled into you by a high school English teacher?

Some idea of who you “should be” that you’ve concocted based on your own insecurities and uncertainties?

Or just you?

When you do business with people in real life – face to face across a cup of coffee or a breakfast meeting – who are you? Do you put on a façade? Do you play a role through an avatar?

Probably not.

You’re probably just you.

That’s because people hire you for you. You know that whole thing about how “people do business with people they like and trust”? Remember that.

We recently had a big debate over here about whether or not to use the word “asshole” in the title of a blog post.

Should we? Shouldn’t we? Would it send the wrong message? Would people unsubscribe?

My dad (hi dad!) reads every one of my blog posts and I know he disapproves of “language”. Because he tells me every time.

So there was this little part of my brain that thought, “You know, dad is going to read that and he is not going to be happy.”

We toyed with other words. “Jerk.” “Dork.” “Doofus.”

Ralph said, “Yeah, but we wouldn’t use those words.”

And so asshole it was.

Did it offend some people? Yup. But if I dupe them into doing business with me because I used a word like “dork” and then let rip with an “asshole” over coffee, how well do you think that relationship is going to go? How well do you think that relationship is going to go if I keep up the façade of Pollyanna-ism for its duration?

It’s exhausting, let me tell you. And the seams start to fray.

Oh, and for the record? One unsubscribe out of 2800 people. (And it wasn’t my dad.)

That’s because we know who we are. And so does everyone else.

Question 3: When Is It OK To Use An Ellipsis?

A. When you’re omitting parts of a quote to indicate that it was edited from its original form.

B. Whenever you feel like it.

C. What’s an ellipsis?

If you said C then, well…

There. I just gave you a lesson in ellipses.

Somewhere between A and B is a happy medium where those three little dots can enhance your writing…

Like this….

But not… like… this…

But this isn’t about the poor, maligned ellipsis. It’s about avoiding grammar-brain.

I admit, I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi. I hate when people mix up their singulars and plurals. And never never never use the word “literally” in my presence to mean anything but “something that actually, in fact, happened for real”.

But you may also notice that I break rules liberally when it suits my purposes. I say things like “a person doesn’t want their blog to be a train wreck” because saying “a person doesn’t want his or her blog to be a train wreck” just sounds stupid. At least in conversation.

And I am having a conversation with you. Because if I had been talking corporate-speak in a ten point font, you would have jumped train a long time ago.

Repeat after me: my blog is not a term paper.

And the only grade you’re going to get is the sound of the cash register ringing. Or not.

So speak to people as if they’re people, not your English professor with a red pen. Have a conversation. Break rules on purpose.

I don’t advocate being sloppy and lazy but sometimes you gotta… just… be you.

Listen If You Want The Rest Of The Goodness

I don’t want to give away the farm so if you want more insight and a great conversation about how to rock your blog then listen in. We talk about other content marketing stuff like…

Should I be writing for a third-party platform (like LinkedIn publishing)?

How do I measure success?

And… what’s the absolute WRONG way to sit down and start writing a post?

When you’re done listening give it a rating on iTunes and subscribe. Ryan puts out fantastic, thoughtful and insightful content that no business should be without.

PS: I’ll also let you in on a super secret revelation that we announced… Web.Search.Social will be launching its own podcast as of September 15th. But shh! Don’t tell anyone yet. Tuck it under your hat and save the date. I’d love for you to listen in and maybe even be a guest if you’ve got some marketing and business questions or gripes. Let me know!

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera