If You Build It, They (Might) Come

Field of (Blogging) Dreams

An interesting conversation continually resurfaces itself along the social media pipeline. The debate: Does blog content sell itself or do you have to promote it? Do you let others do the talking, or should you assume that responsibility? Are you, as the author, the driving force behind sparking conversation, or should you leave that up to your readers?

Exhibit A: Content is King

(Quality) content is and always will be the single most important component of any blog. Without effective and compelling content, the rest will be insignificant. Your design, SEO work, and even marketing approach doesn’t mean squat if you’re directing people back to a site with lackluster content. And honestly, why would you even waste your time promoting content your not proud of? The first focus for any writer has to be on just that, the writing – the rest is secondary.

Exhibit B: Content, even great content, doesn’t sell itself

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – content selling itself is a myth. You can build the most amazing amusement park with the biggest roller coasters and the brightest lights in the middle of a forest – but if no one knows about it, they won’t come. The same goes for your blog. You can be the most incredible writer out there, but if you never make an effort to share your blog with other people, how will anyone ever know about it?

When I started this blog, I was a self-promoting whore. I tweeted about myself like crazy, “link dropped” on other blogs, even straight-out asked other, more prominent bloggers to tweet and share things for me. Basically, I went about everything the wrong way. While it might have “worked” to an extent, taking this approach is a short term (not to mention annoying) solution to a long-term goal of developing a quality and engaging community.

But it does illustrate my next point: That blogging, and promoting your blog, is an evolutionary process – and that everyone, even the big-time players, had to start somewhere.

Exhibit C: Content does sell itself (eventually)

It is my goal and I’m sure the goal of many to have every article spread virally. Wouldn’t it be great if your audience read, commented, and shared your blog posts entirely on their own without provocation? This may be the ideal, but not at all a realistic initial outlook – and you will never get to this stage without putting in some time to promote yourself.

Just as your writing style and talent evolves and develops, so does your marketing approach. While initially you may have to invest a disproportionate amount of time into shamelessly promoting yourself, eventually, the content will start to sell itself. Word of mouth is a powerful tool once you’ve put in the time to establish a community who will evangelize and promote your brand.

(Photo via Josh McElwee)

What do you think? On which side of the debate do you align with? Does content sell itself? How do you promote your blog? Sound off in the comments below.