You need to spend only 20% of the time you do on your content marketing and marketing SEO than you’re doing — at least for now. Be quick, be messy, be pedestrian, maybe even turn off your Grammatik and your Autocorrect. Churn out five-times the amount of content you’ve been writing then hit publish and walk away for a couple days. Then, feel free to get all anal retentive on your content — but only with the stuff you plan to add to your portfolio. Leave everything else as close to as-is as possible. Please.
America voted Donald J. Trump 45th president of the United States. To many, Trump’s campaign was a mess — but it worked because it spoke directly to so many people right under our nose and in their own language. Away from school marms and hall monitors. For better for worse, the internet reflects the way people search and write and speak when they’re on their own, away from the grammar police and your thesis advisor.
When I was recruited into the elite digital team at Edelman Public Affairs, they made me take a grammar test. It was an HR requirement even though I was brought on board by an EVP. To this day, our reports, our memoranda, even our emails need to reflect exceptional professionalism.
Unfortunately, all this esprit de corps is mostly wasted in your pursuit of search engine optimization (SEO) ranking and in your content marketing campaigns. Trump speaks at a 6th grade level, and should we all. In fact, weren’t we all trained to aim at the 6th or 7th grade Flesch–Kincaid readability?
As I have said many times before, Google is mostly literal. Google is not your book editor or your doctoral advisor, Google is your everyman. Google is mostly populist. Actually Google is whatever and whomever you want Google to be; however, when it comes to money, you’re more likely to get 20,000 nickels than one thousand-dollar bill. Everyman is where it’s at.
When I wrote for AdAge, back in the day, circa 2008-2009, they did the most delightful thing, though I don’t know how SEO-aware or SEO-focused they were about this. They published whatever I wrote for them immediately upon receipt and then, a couple-days, if not a week later, they went back and put it through the full archive, for perpetuity, let’s not embarrass the Advertising Age reputation, editing.
I always knew that my work would enter the world fully-flawed just like me. With the kind of mistakes that everyone, including me, makes all the time, especially during search. The genius of letting a few days go by before the first deep editing is that all the mistakes, all the informality, and the colloquialisms of we the rabble, pre-spit-polishing and detailing.
And then Google gets in there, indexes, and maybe gets lazy, doesn’t come back in a couple-few days later, doesn’t care too much about the diff between initial draft written by a PR and marketing professional. The final article worthy of consideration is restored to a perfection there never was, by a hyper-vigilant school marm cum hall monitor cum editor.
In my previous life, I used to be a professional film photographer. 35mm slides through Nikon bodies and Nikkor glass. The creative process only took up 20% of my time while developing, sleeving, editing, sorting, labeling, logging, packing, mailing, marketing, selling, and waiting took the other 80%. No, I am not missing a piece. Since I was a slide shooter, I rarely spent too much time in Photoshop doing post-production. I only had light, film, glass, and filter. Someone else did their magic in the darkroom or on a Macintosh Quadra 950.
Same with blogging or any other type of creative behavior. When I was shooting, I was giving 100% but it was still only 20% of the work required to deliver a finished product to the client.
I have upwards of 100,000 slides in archival sleeves in my storage area — but only 4,000 have made me any money and only 400 of those slides made my portfolio: 20 sleeves of 20 slides per.
But back in the day, all 100,000 of those images sat in tall steel file cabinets at Corbis (née The Stock Market) and Pacific Stock, filed away and indexed. While only 4,000 made me royalties and only 400 made me money, 100,000 were always in play.
While only 4% of all my work was considered profitable — and that’s high — nobody ever knew which 4%. And though only .4% ever made it into my portfolio, 250x that had potential.
I want you to write at least five times as much content as you are. Blog content, not ephemeral tweets or facebooks.
Populism 2017 — stop trying to appeal to your Headmaster or the Yale Law Journal, the future’s in that other bubble, a bubble where your choice of words and how you write them color your writing as much as does the content.
Each and every telegraphist has his or her own unique style and pattern when transmitting a message, called their “fist,” identifiable to other telegraphers. The same can be said about your and your words and your writing. Allow your content to become as unique in style and pattern as possible. Your flaws will become your own personal style and you will actually begin to attract people who are outside of Phi Beta Kappa and the National Honor Society — were they ever your perfect customers in the first place?