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.


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134 Responses
  • Nate Reply

    I’m definitely an Exhibit B guy. Great content will spread, but someone has to start the process, and most of the time that’s the writer. Nice post, Matt.

  • Nate Reply

    I’m definitely an Exhibit B guy. Great content will spread, but someone has to start the process, and most of the time that’s the writer. Nice post, Matt.

  • David Spinks Reply

    If you’re providing quality content, it shouldn’t even really feel like promotion. It should feel like sharing, like would any other valuable content that you find.

    Think about it in terms of science. You can have a blog with all the potential energy in the world (like a rock at the top of a cliff) but unless you give it a push, you’ll never turn it into kinetic energy. Of course, if you’re creating valuable content, it shouldn’t take much more than a simple push for the content to spread on its own (gravity to the rock).

    I appreciate you using my analogy of the amusement park in the forest but if you use my words, can you please attribute them to me? Thanks.

    Good discussion.

    • Tim Jahn Reply

      Wasn’t the link to your Twitter status attribution?

      • David Spinks Reply

        Yes, Matt simply forgot to add the link originally and it’s fixed now. (=

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          Oh, gotcha. He’s quick on the draw, that Matt ;)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I like you’re thinking here David – and that’s how I approach it. Not as shameless plugging for the sake of a few blog views, but because I am genuinely proud of everything I write here (even the crap I wrote when I first kicked this thing off). I openly and often share the outstanding content from all of you out there, and will be the first to admit that I think the quality of my content is worth sharing – that’s why I do it. I want to get my message out there for people to read because I do think it presents real value – maybe not to everyone – but if one person walks away with a fresh take or a new perspective, I’ve been successful.

      Again sorry about the lack of credit, I honestly could have sworn that I linked through to your Twitter comment when I wrote this last night. In my defense, it was late when I wrapped this up. I made sure to go back through and give you credit where credit’s due. Love that analogy.

      • David Spinks Reply

        Right on. If you don’t think your content is valuable, then why even create it in the first place? To self promote is to have confidence in your content and it’s shareability.

        No problem. Again, I appreciate you using my quote and I didn’t mean to come off as a dick. (=

  • David Spinks Reply

    If you’re providing quality content, it shouldn’t even really feel like promotion. It should feel like sharing, like would any other valuable content that you find.

    Think about it in terms of science. You can have a blog with all the potential energy in the world (like a rock at the top of a cliff) but unless you give it a push, you’ll never turn it into kinetic energy. Of course, if you’re creating valuable content, it shouldn’t take much more than a simple push for the content to spread on its own (gravity to the rock).

    I appreciate you using my analogy of the amusement park in the forest but if you use my words, can you please attribute them to me? Thanks.

    Good discussion.

    • Tim Jahn Reply

      Wasn’t the link to your Twitter status attribution?

      • David Spinks Reply

        Yes, Matt simply forgot to add the link originally and it’s fixed now. (=

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          Oh, gotcha. He’s quick on the draw, that Matt ;)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I like you’re thinking here David – and that’s how I approach it. Not as shameless plugging for the sake of a few blog views, but because I am genuinely proud of everything I write here (even the crap I wrote when I first kicked this thing off). I openly and often share the outstanding content from all of you out there, and will be the first to admit that I think the quality of my content is worth sharing – that’s why I do it. I want to get my message out there for people to read because I do think it presents real value – maybe not to everyone – but if one person walks away with a fresh take or a new perspective, I’ve been successful.

      Again sorry about the lack of credit, I honestly could have sworn that I linked through to your Twitter comment when I wrote this last night. In my defense, it was late when I wrapped this up. I made sure to go back through and give you credit where credit’s due. Love that analogy.

      • David Spinks Reply

        Right on. If you don’t think your content is valuable, then why even create it in the first place? To self promote is to have confidence in your content and it’s shareability.

        No problem. Again, I appreciate you using my quote and I didn’t mean to come off as a dick. (=

  • Grace Boyle Reply

    Aha, glad you jumped on this conversation bandwagon and wrote something.

    I’m learning about Exhibit B. I feel like I tweet about my new posts and that’s about it. Pretty lame actually. However, I think that good content does speak for itself (largely) because I started my blog in a forest. Knew literally no one. I just started blogging and somehow, people found me. I attribute a lot of this to Brazen but it’s all sort of a blur of how we all met up and got to know each other. I had something to say. Others responded, I connected, collaborated and guest posts also help to increase cross promotion.

    Like Ryan’s Top Ten Gen Y list, you don’t ask anyone to vote for you. I will talk about it on Twitter or feature it as a list to check out but I don’t send emails to everyone I know asking for the vote. In fact, I think it’s pretty balanced with new people added to the list, moving down, moving up. I think you’re completely deserving of the #1 spot and why would others become salty of it? It’s like wanting to see new people at the top…well Chris Brogan is at the top for social media and marketing for a reason. Someone else can always make their way up there, but he has established a following and knowledge base that until it’s surpassed, isn’t going to fade away.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      This is a point I wanted to bring up during the discussion yesterday evening, but couldn’t in 140 characters. There’s a reason when you look at the top social media/marketing blogs, etc. you see a lot of familiar names. Like Carlos says below, patience is the key and most of us don’t have enough of it. You don’t dethrone the body of work and the community surrounding Seth Godin or Chris Brogan over night. And you certainly don’t do it in TWO months.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I’m with both of you, and Grace – I started the same way – not knowing anyone at all. I started this blog and jumped on Twitter at the same time, started from square one, and here I am. I can count the “real life” friends and family who read this blog on one hand – the rest has been established within the past 8-9 months. The three of us (and many of the others commenting here) are where we are today because we have cultivated the communities within our blogs. It’s not about rallying votes or begging for support – We write great content, we share it, other people share it, our communities continue to grow, and up until this point, our success has been on the rise.

        I’m not sure why the whole conflict arose yesterday regarding Ryan’s Top 10 list. Ryan, I don’t think you claim in any way that is the difinitive list – and whether or not it’s “accurate” is out of your control. I personally am a fan of your approach – you place no judgment, no restrictions – you simply tell people to send you and email with a list of who they like. It doesn’t get much more fair and unbiased than that.

        Keep it up – and if someone dethrones me, I’m happy to bow down and graciously accept that I wont forever reign at the top of your list. But I won’t back down from continuing to do what I do, from continually promoting an active and engaging community, working on new projects, testing new ways to communicate, etc. The most successful people are the ones who develop themselves within their niche, but don’t settle and continually reinvent themselves and their approach.

  • Grace Boyle Reply

    Aha, glad you jumped on this conversation bandwagon and wrote something.

    I’m learning about Exhibit B. I feel like I tweet about my new posts and that’s about it. Pretty lame actually. However, I think that good content does speak for itself (largely) because I started my blog in a forest. Knew literally no one. I just started blogging and somehow, people found me. I attribute a lot of this to Brazen but it’s all sort of a blur of how we all met up and got to know each other. I had something to say. Others responded, I connected, collaborated and guest posts also help to increase cross promotion.

    Like Ryan’s Top Ten Gen Y list, you don’t ask anyone to vote for you. I will talk about it on Twitter or feature it as a list to check out but I don’t send emails to everyone I know asking for the vote. In fact, I think it’s pretty balanced with new people added to the list, moving down, moving up. I think you’re completely deserving of the #1 spot and why would others become salty of it? It’s like wanting to see new people at the top…well Chris Brogan is at the top for social media and marketing for a reason. Someone else can always make their way up there, but he has established a following and knowledge base that until it’s surpassed, isn’t going to fade away.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      This is a point I wanted to bring up during the discussion yesterday evening, but couldn’t in 140 characters. There’s a reason when you look at the top social media/marketing blogs, etc. you see a lot of familiar names. Like Carlos says below, patience is the key and most of us don’t have enough of it. You don’t dethrone the body of work and the community surrounding Seth Godin or Chris Brogan over night. And you certainly don’t do it in TWO months.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I’m with both of you, and Grace – I started the same way – not knowing anyone at all. I started this blog and jumped on Twitter at the same time, started from square one, and here I am. I can count the “real life” friends and family who read this blog on one hand – the rest has been established within the past 8-9 months. The three of us (and many of the others commenting here) are where we are today because we have cultivated the communities within our blogs. It’s not about rallying votes or begging for support – We write great content, we share it, other people share it, our communities continue to grow, and up until this point, our success has been on the rise.

        I’m not sure why the whole conflict arose yesterday regarding Ryan’s Top 10 list. Ryan, I don’t think you claim in any way that is the difinitive list – and whether or not it’s “accurate” is out of your control. I personally am a fan of your approach – you place no judgment, no restrictions – you simply tell people to send you and email with a list of who they like. It doesn’t get much more fair and unbiased than that.

        Keep it up – and if someone dethrones me, I’m happy to bow down and graciously accept that I wont forever reign at the top of your list. But I won’t back down from continuing to do what I do, from continually promoting an active and engaging community, working on new projects, testing new ways to communicate, etc. The most successful people are the ones who develop themselves within their niche, but don’t settle and continually reinvent themselves and their approach.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    I do think that great content will naturally demand to be spread, but there has to be a starting point. I love what David Spinks said above about the rock and the kinetic energy – excellent analogy. Not matter how great the content is, there has to be an initial launch point for it to be discovered and be spread.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    I do think that great content will naturally demand to be spread, but there has to be a starting point. I love what David Spinks said above about the rock and the kinetic energy – excellent analogy. Not matter how great the content is, there has to be an initial launch point for it to be discovered and be spread.

  • Greg Rollett Reply

    Yea, you need to have someone spark the conversation about your content, whether that be paid or through word-of mouth. Overtime as that content spreads, it will start to be found due to link trails and organic SEO. Always be at the front of the conversation for your content, syndicate it everywhere and find a direct audience that your content can help.

    Good stuff!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Well said Greg – that spark has to start from somewhere, and more times than not, the initial spark has to come from within. By putting in that up-front time, you’ll work toward ensuring an active community who will take over in that “promotional” role – allowing you to sit back and encourage conversation and, most importantly, focus on writing great content. Cheers!

  • Greg Rollett Reply

    Yea, you need to have someone spark the conversation about your content, whether that be paid or through word-of mouth. Overtime as that content spreads, it will start to be found due to link trails and organic SEO. Always be at the front of the conversation for your content, syndicate it everywhere and find a direct audience that your content can help.

    Good stuff!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Well said Greg – that spark has to start from somewhere, and more times than not, the initial spark has to come from within. By putting in that up-front time, you’ll work toward ensuring an active community who will take over in that “promotional” role – allowing you to sit back and encourage conversation and, most importantly, focus on writing great content. Cheers!

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    My asnwer to the rock analogy: over time, erosion can move the rock. Patience is hard, slow and it works.

    We think that because we get partial results fast, self-promotion is the way to go. What happens, actually, is that we don’t give time to word of mouth, true word of mouth, to build up. We don’t plan 5 years from now, we plan 4 months from now.
    Self-promotion will give you some results 4 months from now.
    True valuable content will give you more over 5 years.

    Be human, talk to your real friends, and do something remarkable. That’s all you need to do, and your content will spread. So I guess I’m an exhibit A kind of guy.

    • Tim Jahn Reply

      I follow you Carlos, but think about it this way. You’re in a room with 1,000 people who do the 1,000 most remarkable things in the world. How do people outside the room find out about you and not the other 999 people? They only have time time look at maybe 40 remarkable things. What are the chances of them picking yours simply because it’s “remarkable”?

      • Carlos Miceli Reply

        If everything is remarkable, then nothing is. The chances increase the better you get than others.

        Also, luck exists.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          I see what you are getting at in saying self-promotion will bring short term results if that is the only focus. If you focus on only self-promotion, meanwhile neglecting your community, building relationships, etc – you ultimately will never get where you want to be.

          BUT, on the other hand, I think self promotion will always be a part of the “marketing plan” – Yes, it will take on a lesser role as you build a community, but it will always be a part. I side with Tim here in that, there can be a lot of people who are great at what they do – but the people who are better at MARKETING what they do will ultimately stand out from the other greatness.

          Good thoughts on both sides guys.

          • Gabe | New Hustle Reply

            Speaking from one with a relatively new blog – I think everyone has made great points on here.

            That being said – what is “marketing” besides self-promotion when you’re just getting started? What should be one’s primary focus of “marketing” one’s top notch quality content? Self promotion? Clever marketing? Or letting word get out on its own?

            I mean, I don’t want to spam twitter – or shamelessly plug my [amazing] blog here – but the method I’m taking is putting all my marbles on the content/quality of the blog and trusting that the positivity will resonate itself. Much of it must be a mindset of where we see our blogs going and a perseverance to continue on if we really believe in what we’re providing.

            Very insightful post – appreciate your honesty!

            Gabe

            • Matt Cheuvront Reply

              Gabe, I think that, as with everything, you have to have a solid “marketing mix” – self-promotion is going to be a part of that, but it should be a relativley small part over time – one’s hope is that the self promotion will lead to positive PR from the community they’ve developed. Then you focus on what THEY will do, work on your SEO and organic traffic, etc.

              It’s all a process that evolves over time – and what I think we’re seeing here is that there is no clear right or wrong – everyone can have a different approach and ultimately will achieve positive results.

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          So you’re saying you just get lucky? I definitely disagree. Yes, if everything on a page is highlighted, nothing is really highlighted. But if you’re one of the few things highlighted on that page, a little bit of doodling or bold type or something to help guide one’s eye can’t hurt. I’m a firm believer in working your ass off to achieve what you want.

          Not just sitting around and getting lucky.

          We need to meet someday, Carlos. I think we’d have some awesome conversations.

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    My asnwer to the rock analogy: over time, erosion can move the rock. Patience is hard, slow and it works.

    We think that because we get partial results fast, self-promotion is the way to go. What happens, actually, is that we don’t give time to word of mouth, true word of mouth, to build up. We don’t plan 5 years from now, we plan 4 months from now.
    Self-promotion will give you some results 4 months from now.
    True valuable content will give you more over 5 years.

    Be human, talk to your real friends, and do something remarkable. That’s all you need to do, and your content will spread. So I guess I’m an exhibit A kind of guy.

    • Tim Jahn Reply

      I follow you Carlos, but think about it this way. You’re in a room with 1,000 people who do the 1,000 most remarkable things in the world. How do people outside the room find out about you and not the other 999 people? They only have time time look at maybe 40 remarkable things. What are the chances of them picking yours simply because it’s “remarkable”?

      • Carlos Miceli Reply

        If everything is remarkable, then nothing is. The chances increase the better you get than others.

        Also, luck exists.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          I see what you are getting at in saying self-promotion will bring short term results if that is the only focus. If you focus on only self-promotion, meanwhile neglecting your community, building relationships, etc – you ultimately will never get where you want to be.

          BUT, on the other hand, I think self promotion will always be a part of the “marketing plan” – Yes, it will take on a lesser role as you build a community, but it will always be a part. I side with Tim here in that, there can be a lot of people who are great at what they do – but the people who are better at MARKETING what they do will ultimately stand out from the other greatness.

          Good thoughts on both sides guys.

          • Gabe | New Hustle Reply

            Speaking from one with a relatively new blog – I think everyone has made great points on here.

            That being said – what is “marketing” besides self-promotion when you’re just getting started? What should be one’s primary focus of “marketing” one’s top notch quality content? Self promotion? Clever marketing? Or letting word get out on its own?

            I mean, I don’t want to spam twitter – or shamelessly plug my [amazing] blog here – but the method I’m taking is putting all my marbles on the content/quality of the blog and trusting that the positivity will resonate itself. Much of it must be a mindset of where we see our blogs going and a perseverance to continue on if we really believe in what we’re providing.

            Very insightful post – appreciate your honesty!

            Gabe

            • Matt Cheuvront Reply

              Gabe, I think that, as with everything, you have to have a solid “marketing mix” – self-promotion is going to be a part of that, but it should be a relativley small part over time – one’s hope is that the self promotion will lead to positive PR from the community they’ve developed. Then you focus on what THEY will do, work on your SEO and organic traffic, etc.

              It’s all a process that evolves over time – and what I think we’re seeing here is that there is no clear right or wrong – everyone can have a different approach and ultimately will achieve positive results.

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          So you’re saying you just get lucky? I definitely disagree. Yes, if everything on a page is highlighted, nothing is really highlighted. But if you’re one of the few things highlighted on that page, a little bit of doodling or bold type or something to help guide one’s eye can’t hurt. I’m a firm believer in working your ass off to achieve what you want.

          Not just sitting around and getting lucky.

          We need to meet someday, Carlos. I think we’d have some awesome conversations.

  • @NashvilleBen Reply

    Is the most beautiful diamond in the world still the most beautiful if it remains undiscovered as of yet?

    • Grace Boyle Reply

      I think no. Hmm…that’s like saying you’re the fastest runner in the world and you’ve never run a race.

      • @NashvilleBen Reply

        Although sitting around developing the best content may not necessarily get you the most readers… I don’t think the number of followers necessarily defines the degree to which a blog is remarkable. The value of the content does not decrease just because it’s less read. The content is the same. Therefore, why does it matter if a ton of people know about it or not? Your value should not come from the numbers but from the content.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          It’s easy to say that (and I agree) Ben – but it’s one of those “easier said than done” kind of things. Yes, the content can still be amazing without anyone ever knowing about it – but part of the VALUE we place on the content we write is who, overall, will be reading it. For example, if I had sparked NO discussion on this article, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as “succesful” as I do with all of this conversation ongoing.

          So while I don’t place all of my content’s value in the numbers (you’ll go crazy if this becomes your focus) it does add some VALUE and credibility to what I do. Thoughts?

          • @NashvilleBen Reply

            I’ll buy that, Matt… Well said. It’s when numbers become ego, and when ego ruins creative content where I have a problem. :)

  • @NashvilleBen Reply

    Is the most beautiful diamond in the world still the most beautiful if it remains undiscovered as of yet?

    • Grace Boyle Reply

      I think no. Hmm…that’s like saying you’re the fastest runner in the world and you’ve never run a race.

      • @NashvilleBen Reply

        Although sitting around developing the best content may not necessarily get you the most readers… I don’t think the number of followers necessarily defines the degree to which a blog is remarkable. The value of the content does not decrease just because it’s less read. The content is the same. Therefore, why does it matter if a ton of people know about it or not? Your value should not come from the numbers but from the content.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          It’s easy to say that (and I agree) Ben – but it’s one of those “easier said than done” kind of things. Yes, the content can still be amazing without anyone ever knowing about it – but part of the VALUE we place on the content we write is who, overall, will be reading it. For example, if I had sparked NO discussion on this article, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as “succesful” as I do with all of this conversation ongoing.

          So while I don’t place all of my content’s value in the numbers (you’ll go crazy if this becomes your focus) it does add some VALUE and credibility to what I do. Thoughts?

          • @NashvilleBen Reply

            I’ll buy that, Matt… Well said. It’s when numbers become ego, and when ego ruins creative content where I have a problem. :)

  • Aysel Vandeventer Reply

    Nice Matt. Networking and passion is where it’s at… the more people know about you the more they will talk about your blog, only if you have quality content. So, like you said good content is crucial. With quality comes passion, if you’re not passionate about your blog posts then it translates to the readers. I can tell when a blogger is passionate about their post and I’m sure many others can do the same. The point is to write enticing and useful content and meet people at the same time. Then hopefully, one day you will be noticed!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      You hit the nail on the head. Your readers will see right through you if you lose that passion, if you start “manufacturing” posts for the sake of posting them. You don’t have to be a “good” writer to be successful, but you do have to have passion – and 99% of the time, passionate writing is, in turn, pretty damn good.

      Instead of focusing solely on promotion – at this point I’m focusing on the content, an easy-to-navigate design, getting the community more involved (with projects, etc.) and in becoming more transparent (video-blogging, and so on). I’ve created an expectation on my blog but I keep surprising people. THAT’S most important to me: Setting expectations and surpassing them.

      • Aysel Vandeventer Reply

        Really good points. Focusing on community and being transparent makes people feel like you truly care and that you’re not just in it for the exposure or networking! It’s just like businesses getting involved in Corporate Social Responsibility. People want to know your motives and that you care. CSR allows companies to reach out to the community and act more transparent. So, bloggers have the opportunity to reflect or show CSR tendencies through posts and projects. Probably on a much smaller scale than companies.

  • Aysel Vandeventer Reply

    Nice Matt. Networking and passion is where it’s at… the more people know about you the more they will talk about your blog, only if you have quality content. So, like you said good content is crucial. With quality comes passion, if you’re not passionate about your blog posts then it translates to the readers. I can tell when a blogger is passionate about their post and I’m sure many others can do the same. The point is to write enticing and useful content and meet people at the same time. Then hopefully, one day you will be noticed!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      You hit the nail on the head. Your readers will see right through you if you lose that passion, if you start “manufacturing” posts for the sake of posting them. You don’t have to be a “good” writer to be successful, but you do have to have passion – and 99% of the time, passionate writing is, in turn, pretty damn good.

      Instead of focusing solely on promotion – at this point I’m focusing on the content, an easy-to-navigate design, getting the community more involved (with projects, etc.) and in becoming more transparent (video-blogging, and so on). I’ve created an expectation on my blog but I keep surprising people. THAT’S most important to me: Setting expectations and surpassing them.

      • Aysel Vandeventer Reply

        Really good points. Focusing on community and being transparent makes people feel like you truly care and that you’re not just in it for the exposure or networking! It’s just like businesses getting involved in Corporate Social Responsibility. People want to know your motives and that you care. CSR allows companies to reach out to the community and act more transparent. So, bloggers have the opportunity to reflect or show CSR tendencies through posts and projects. Probably on a much smaller scale than companies.

  • JONNY | thelifething.com Reply

    Chances are not good for most bloggers selling their ideas. Unfortunately most people simply do not care about you life. I think a better reason to blog is for yourself. Write content that helps you improve and focus your ideas. If others come, great. If they dont, no worries. Life is too short my friends.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I sort of agree, but see it a little differently. Ultimately, you have to write for yourself first. If you don’t care about your content, neither will any of your readers. That being said, to see the most success and continued growth, you have to write with your audience in mind. As you said, no one cares about my life, but they DO care about it if I can find a way to relate my life to each of them. That’s what the focus has to be, on making that connection with you’re readers – that alone is what keeps people coming back again and again.

  • JONNY | thelifething.com Reply

    Chances are not good for most bloggers selling their ideas. Unfortunately most people simply do not care about you life. I think a better reason to blog is for yourself. Write content that helps you improve and focus your ideas. If others come, great. If they dont, no worries. Life is too short my friends.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I sort of agree, but see it a little differently. Ultimately, you have to write for yourself first. If you don’t care about your content, neither will any of your readers. That being said, to see the most success and continued growth, you have to write with your audience in mind. As you said, no one cares about my life, but they DO care about it if I can find a way to relate my life to each of them. That’s what the focus has to be, on making that connection with you’re readers – that alone is what keeps people coming back again and again.

  • Lance Haun Reply

    You have an established readership. Some of those people are influential, some are not but the sum of them have exponentially higher influence than you by yourself do. If you really want to increase the adoption and discussion of your ideas, you want these people promoting your stuff, not you.

    So if you think about it with that in mind, here are three questions:

    – Do your regular readers care about whether or not you are promoting your latest post?
    – Does promotion really change the sharing habits of your core network of readers?
    – Are readers intelligent enough to figure out your good posts from the bad and won’t share the ones that suck (thus naturally covering mistakes)?

    This is honestly why I stopped worrying about promotion. If you have already established a steady readership, your network of people will push out the best ideas while covering for your weaker ones by not pushing it out. My best written posts get little to no promotion by myself because my readers will do a better job than I will.

    I think the recipe for success is focus on content first, network/community second and promotion third.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think that’s a good formula Lance. I don’t disagree with you a bit. It is very clear to me when I have written a post that connects with a lot of people – just as it is clear to me when a post is unsuccessful – my community of readers is the judge and the jury.

      With that being said, I do still do some self promoting, as I am still focusing on the goal of continued growth. While I’m not NEARLY as overbearing as I was when I started out, I do still do some of it, mostly through outreach – connecting with other bloggers, reaching out and saying hello on Twitter, regularly commenting on THEIR blogs, etc. I don’t focus on ME, ME, ME – nothing turns people of faster than when you become ego-centric in your promotion.

  • Lance Haun Reply

    You have an established readership. Some of those people are influential, some are not but the sum of them have exponentially higher influence than you by yourself do. If you really want to increase the adoption and discussion of your ideas, you want these people promoting your stuff, not you.

    So if you think about it with that in mind, here are three questions:

    – Do your regular readers care about whether or not you are promoting your latest post?
    – Does promotion really change the sharing habits of your core network of readers?
    – Are readers intelligent enough to figure out your good posts from the bad and won’t share the ones that suck (thus naturally covering mistakes)?

    This is honestly why I stopped worrying about promotion. If you have already established a steady readership, your network of people will push out the best ideas while covering for your weaker ones by not pushing it out. My best written posts get little to no promotion by myself because my readers will do a better job than I will.

    I think the recipe for success is focus on content first, network/community second and promotion third.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think that’s a good formula Lance. I don’t disagree with you a bit. It is very clear to me when I have written a post that connects with a lot of people – just as it is clear to me when a post is unsuccessful – my community of readers is the judge and the jury.

      With that being said, I do still do some self promoting, as I am still focusing on the goal of continued growth. While I’m not NEARLY as overbearing as I was when I started out, I do still do some of it, mostly through outreach – connecting with other bloggers, reaching out and saying hello on Twitter, regularly commenting on THEIR blogs, etc. I don’t focus on ME, ME, ME – nothing turns people of faster than when you become ego-centric in your promotion.

  • Roschelle Reply

    Content is definitely king. However, SEO is heir to the throne. Having great content and at least some knowledge of SEO is a must for a blogger expecting some level of success in the blogosphere. Promotion for me is providing what I feel is great content on a regular basis, optimizing my blog hoping to garner a bit of attention from the search engines, and visiting other blogs “regularly” are just about all the promoting I have time to do.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      GREAT point Roschelle – and one that I think is overlooked by many. SEO is easy to get going but difficult to master (it’s a continual work in progress for yours truly) but do focus on optimizing my content to get the right people coming through the door (and returning again and again). Happy to say that I’ve seen a steady growth of organic SEO but this young padawan still has much to learn about the finer details of SEO optimization.

      Thanks for the comment Roschelle!

  • Roschelle Reply

    Content is definitely king. However, SEO is heir to the throne. Having great content and at least some knowledge of SEO is a must for a blogger expecting some level of success in the blogosphere. Promotion for me is providing what I feel is great content on a regular basis, optimizing my blog hoping to garner a bit of attention from the search engines, and visiting other blogs “regularly” are just about all the promoting I have time to do.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      GREAT point Roschelle – and one that I think is overlooked by many. SEO is easy to get going but difficult to master (it’s a continual work in progress for yours truly) but do focus on optimizing my content to get the right people coming through the door (and returning again and again). Happy to say that I’ve seen a steady growth of organic SEO but this young padawan still has much to learn about the finer details of SEO optimization.

      Thanks for the comment Roschelle!

  • Shane Reply

    I think for content to sell itself, it has to be truly outstanding. If your blog has merely very good, well written content, it’s still just one among many, many others.
    On the other hand, some blogs seem to get tons of traffic even when the content isn’t all that great. This is always a matter of opinion, of course, but it just seems to me that traffic isn’t fairly distributed according to quality in the blogosphere.

    Perhaps the more important question is: Why do you want more traffic? If you aren’t monetizing your blog, does it really matter that much? Of course it’s nice to get recognition, but that alone wouldn’t be incentive enough for me.
    I like this quote by Josh Olsen: “You cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you’re not a writer.”

    So, in short, I believe that content mostly doesn’t sell itself but I’m only willing to invest so much time and attention to blog promotion.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Interesting point Shane – but I think that even the most outstanding content still needs a push. Obviously, the better the content, the more effective it will be to your audience, the more your community will do FOR YOU. So while quality content is neccesary, it still will never get recognition without a push in the right direction.

      You’re second point RE: monetizing is valid. If you’re not “profiting” what’s the point? For me – I want all of this to lead to something more, eventually. For now, if it leads to support of new projects, new readers, etc – that’s more than enough for me. But somewhere down the line, I’d love to write a book, maybe start my own business, etc – having a supportive community around my “brand” at that point will be invaluable to my cause.

      That brings up something else that all bloggers should have – goals. Without them, you’re lost in this wild wilderness of social media and blogging.

  • Shane Reply

    I think for content to sell itself, it has to be truly outstanding. If your blog has merely very good, well written content, it’s still just one among many, many others.
    On the other hand, some blogs seem to get tons of traffic even when the content isn’t all that great. This is always a matter of opinion, of course, but it just seems to me that traffic isn’t fairly distributed according to quality in the blogosphere.

    Perhaps the more important question is: Why do you want more traffic? If you aren’t monetizing your blog, does it really matter that much? Of course it’s nice to get recognition, but that alone wouldn’t be incentive enough for me.
    I like this quote by Josh Olsen: “You cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you’re not a writer.”

    So, in short, I believe that content mostly doesn’t sell itself but I’m only willing to invest so much time and attention to blog promotion.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Interesting point Shane – but I think that even the most outstanding content still needs a push. Obviously, the better the content, the more effective it will be to your audience, the more your community will do FOR YOU. So while quality content is neccesary, it still will never get recognition without a push in the right direction.

      You’re second point RE: monetizing is valid. If you’re not “profiting” what’s the point? For me – I want all of this to lead to something more, eventually. For now, if it leads to support of new projects, new readers, etc – that’s more than enough for me. But somewhere down the line, I’d love to write a book, maybe start my own business, etc – having a supportive community around my “brand” at that point will be invaluable to my cause.

      That brings up something else that all bloggers should have – goals. Without them, you’re lost in this wild wilderness of social media and blogging.

  • Anita Lobo Reply

    What I find missing in most discussions on blogging/ content/ promotion is: What are you great at doing?

    If blogging in your primary answer, then all of the above discussions hold good.

    However, most of us perform a diverse group of professional roles: from business owners/marketing/ VC/ management consulting/ public relations etc

    I think people who are fantastic at what they do in real life, attract a greater following of people on their blogs / social networks etc, irrespective of whether they’re a CEO or a mid-level manager

    So my view is:
    Do great stuff, everyday.
    Your blogs will have rich, real-life content to draw upon – and thats something word-wizardry/ promotion/SEO etc can only imitate, not create!

    Cheers,
    Anita Lobo

    • Shane Reply

      Very well said. This was actually one of the reasons for me to start a blog: It helps drive me forward and it helps me think more clearly about subjects I write about. So, in essence, the blog helps me (a little) in building an interesting, “content-rich” real life, which in turn can make the blog itself more interesting.

  • Anita Lobo Reply

    What I find missing in most discussions on blogging/ content/ promotion is: What are you great at doing?

    If blogging in your primary answer, then all of the above discussions hold good.

    However, most of us perform a diverse group of professional roles: from business owners/marketing/ VC/ management consulting/ public relations etc

    I think people who are fantastic at what they do in real life, attract a greater following of people on their blogs / social networks etc, irrespective of whether they’re a CEO or a mid-level manager

    So my view is:
    Do great stuff, everyday.
    Your blogs will have rich, real-life content to draw upon – and thats something word-wizardry/ promotion/SEO etc can only imitate, not create!

    Cheers,
    Anita Lobo

    • Shane Reply

      Very well said. This was actually one of the reasons for me to start a blog: It helps drive me forward and it helps me think more clearly about subjects I write about. So, in essence, the blog helps me (a little) in building an interesting, “content-rich” real life, which in turn can make the blog itself more interesting.

  • Tara Reply

    You have to reach critical mass to not have to push your content to your potential audience. I think it is shameless and your content is not going to go anywhere if you just tweet out recent posts. I think once you become an “expert” about whatever content you want you will gain followers around not only your blog but relevant content to your blog. Allow twitter to be a mini blog that is focused on current topics that can relate to your posts or just things you are interested in. I think that is how most heavy hitters get to where they are today.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Twitter is a great CONVERSATION tool. But it is also the PRIMARY source of traffic to my blog (a challenge I, and a lot of others, are faced with is spreading around that PR) – I’m not one who recommends putting all of your eggs into one basket. Twitter may not be here forever. But I do agree with your point here – that you have to develop a reputation within your community – so that the link-sharing isn’t shameless and there is relevance. Also, use Twitter to HUMANIZE your blog – let people get some perspective into the “real you” both on, and away from your blog.

  • Tara Reply

    You have to reach critical mass to not have to push your content to your potential audience. I think it is shameless and your content is not going to go anywhere if you just tweet out recent posts. I think once you become an “expert” about whatever content you want you will gain followers around not only your blog but relevant content to your blog. Allow twitter to be a mini blog that is focused on current topics that can relate to your posts or just things you are interested in. I think that is how most heavy hitters get to where they are today.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Twitter is a great CONVERSATION tool. But it is also the PRIMARY source of traffic to my blog (a challenge I, and a lot of others, are faced with is spreading around that PR) – I’m not one who recommends putting all of your eggs into one basket. Twitter may not be here forever. But I do agree with your point here – that you have to develop a reputation within your community – so that the link-sharing isn’t shameless and there is relevance. Also, use Twitter to HUMANIZE your blog – let people get some perspective into the “real you” both on, and away from your blog.

  • Monica O'Brien Reply

    I had trouble picking between the exhibits and then I read Lance Haun’s comment. So I’m going with Exhibit Lance Haun, because there is such a thing as too much self-promotion and it does damage your reputation and irritate people. I prefer to put my stuff out there and use various metrics – views, comments, retweets, shares on Facebook, etc – to get feedback on whether the post resonated or not. I know I don’t always write amazing posts, and I think the community is a better judge than I am at what should be promoted and what shouldn’t.

    That said – everyone draws the line in a different place, which is why this conversation keeps coming up in this community.

    On the Gen Y List note, I think people misunderstood what my point was, and still is – that the list could be seen as more credible if some changes were made in criteria and selection. A few people agreed with me publicly. I’m not trying to harp on this or convince anyone else to agree with me – I just want to be clear on what I meant because people got really defensive.

    To be honest, I didn’t follow the whole conversation that well. I only responded to people who sent me @ replies with my arguments/points/opinion. From what I read (which, albeit, wasn’t everything) I don’t think anyone attacked Matt or Ryan specifically: criticizing the list does not equate to criticizing the people at the top of the list, in my mind.

    I think Ryan got some valuable feedback on the way the list is constructed, and when I spoke to him semi-offline he was really appreciative of the criticism, whether he agreed with it or not. At this point, he’s an adult and has the choice whether he implements all or nothing or some hybrid.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      We all self-promote Monica, including you – you have been promoting your new series like crazy and it has gotten you some significant recognition. The reason other people are sharing it (including me) is because the content is quality. I agree with your point – there is a fine line between effective self-promotion and obnoxious-ness.

      In regards to GenY and Ryan Stephens list, I don’t think anyone felt personally attacked – I know I didn’t – everyone has their opinion, and what I expressed to Ryan was that the criteria doesn’t need to be clearly defined. Ryan Stephens is just Ryan Stephens, someone who takes the time every two months to organize and develop that list. His only guideline is to vote for who you like – he then tallies those votes, and a “winner” is chosen. You or I or anyone could assemble the same thing, we could make our own list and have our own rules – it doesn’t make it any better or more effective, just different. It’s simply a peer evaluation tool. Everyone else on that list deserves to be up there just as much as I do. Good points though Monica, and no one is shooting you down, at least not around these parts :)

      • Monica O'Brien Reply

        Yes, I’m promoting my new series by taking the most salient quotes from the posts and re-purposing them for my Twitter profile. I was uncomfortable with how much I was tweeting out the actual links by themselves and decided to switch it up to provide more value than just a link to my post. People can retweet the quote if they want, with or without the link. I love the response I’ve gotten since switching, and I’m comfortable with the way I’m promoting my blog now.

        Which brings up another good point – if you are justifying how you promote your blog by how much and what ways everyone else promotes their blog, you’re doing something wrong. I was doing that when I was just tweeting links – justifying the tweeting by thinking, “This is what other people do all the time, with EVERY post they write.” Now I’m promoting my blog in a way that makes me comfortable. That’s all that matters in this conversation – it’s not whether content is king or not, the real question is are you comfortable with and proud of HOW you promote your blog, and are you willing to accept the consequences of your actions (people getting irritated, unfollowing you, calling you out, etc)? If you can answer yes to both those questions, you are doing it right.

        I think we can both agree that RS can manage his own project the way he wants. I’m glad you didn’t feel personally attacked – that wasn’t my intention, and I hope it wasn’t anyone else’s.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          I love what you are doing with sharing relevant quotes from your posts – I mix it up a bit myself, usually asking questions, sharing quotes from other people’s comments, etc. Keeps things interesting and involved – and, the great thing about what you’re doing is that is provides a clear takeaway even if they don’t click through the link. Great points all around!

  • Monica O'Brien Reply

    I had trouble picking between the exhibits and then I read Lance Haun’s comment. So I’m going with Exhibit Lance Haun, because there is such a thing as too much self-promotion and it does damage your reputation and irritate people. I prefer to put my stuff out there and use various metrics – views, comments, retweets, shares on Facebook, etc – to get feedback on whether the post resonated or not. I know I don’t always write amazing posts, and I think the community is a better judge than I am at what should be promoted and what shouldn’t.

    That said – everyone draws the line in a different place, which is why this conversation keeps coming up in this community.

    On the Gen Y List note, I think people misunderstood what my point was, and still is – that the list could be seen as more credible if some changes were made in criteria and selection. A few people agreed with me publicly. I’m not trying to harp on this or convince anyone else to agree with me – I just want to be clear on what I meant because people got really defensive.

    To be honest, I didn’t follow the whole conversation that well. I only responded to people who sent me @ replies with my arguments/points/opinion. From what I read (which, albeit, wasn’t everything) I don’t think anyone attacked Matt or Ryan specifically: criticizing the list does not equate to criticizing the people at the top of the list, in my mind.

    I think Ryan got some valuable feedback on the way the list is constructed, and when I spoke to him semi-offline he was really appreciative of the criticism, whether he agreed with it or not. At this point, he’s an adult and has the choice whether he implements all or nothing or some hybrid.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      We all self-promote Monica, including you – you have been promoting your new series like crazy and it has gotten you some significant recognition. The reason other people are sharing it (including me) is because the content is quality. I agree with your point – there is a fine line between effective self-promotion and obnoxious-ness.

      In regards to GenY and Ryan Stephens list, I don’t think anyone felt personally attacked – I know I didn’t – everyone has their opinion, and what I expressed to Ryan was that the criteria doesn’t need to be clearly defined. Ryan Stephens is just Ryan Stephens, someone who takes the time every two months to organize and develop that list. His only guideline is to vote for who you like – he then tallies those votes, and a “winner” is chosen. You or I or anyone could assemble the same thing, we could make our own list and have our own rules – it doesn’t make it any better or more effective, just different. It’s simply a peer evaluation tool. Everyone else on that list deserves to be up there just as much as I do. Good points though Monica, and no one is shooting you down, at least not around these parts :)

      • Monica O'Brien Reply

        Yes, I’m promoting my new series by taking the most salient quotes from the posts and re-purposing them for my Twitter profile. I was uncomfortable with how much I was tweeting out the actual links by themselves and decided to switch it up to provide more value than just a link to my post. People can retweet the quote if they want, with or without the link. I love the response I’ve gotten since switching, and I’m comfortable with the way I’m promoting my blog now.

        Which brings up another good point – if you are justifying how you promote your blog by how much and what ways everyone else promotes their blog, you’re doing something wrong. I was doing that when I was just tweeting links – justifying the tweeting by thinking, “This is what other people do all the time, with EVERY post they write.” Now I’m promoting my blog in a way that makes me comfortable. That’s all that matters in this conversation – it’s not whether content is king or not, the real question is are you comfortable with and proud of HOW you promote your blog, and are you willing to accept the consequences of your actions (people getting irritated, unfollowing you, calling you out, etc)? If you can answer yes to both those questions, you are doing it right.

        I think we can both agree that RS can manage his own project the way he wants. I’m glad you didn’t feel personally attacked – that wasn’t my intention, and I hope it wasn’t anyone else’s.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          I love what you are doing with sharing relevant quotes from your posts – I mix it up a bit myself, usually asking questions, sharing quotes from other people’s comments, etc. Keeps things interesting and involved – and, the great thing about what you’re doing is that is provides a clear takeaway even if they don’t click through the link. Great points all around!

  • Mark Lewis Reply

    I tend to think of it in terms of phases. Start with good content. Get the ball rolling. Then let it sell itself. Time plays a huge role.

  • Mark Lewis Reply

    I tend to think of it in terms of phases. Start with good content. Get the ball rolling. Then let it sell itself. Time plays a huge role.

  • Jenny Reply

    I am loving the blogging community more and more each day. Just found your site via your guest post on Blogussion and I have now added you to my RSS. Looking forward to reading your new (and old) posts.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Hi Jenny (and welcome)! PLEASE don’t hesitate to be an active part of the community here. There are always great conversations and ideas bouncing around – I am continually inspired by what all of you have to say – it’s what keeps my mind engaging and fresh – and overall, it allows me to do what I do in putting out consistent (relevant) content. Thanks for coming by – happy to have a new face around!

  • Jenny Reply

    I am loving the blogging community more and more each day. Just found your site via your guest post on Blogussion and I have now added you to my RSS. Looking forward to reading your new (and old) posts.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Hi Jenny (and welcome)! PLEASE don’t hesitate to be an active part of the community here. There are always great conversations and ideas bouncing around – I am continually inspired by what all of you have to say – it’s what keeps my mind engaging and fresh – and overall, it allows me to do what I do in putting out consistent (relevant) content. Thanks for coming by – happy to have a new face around!

  • courtney Reply

    I agree– greatness doesn’t promote itself, at least not in the beginning. That isn’t only true of blogs, it’s true of all products. Music, toothpaste… If you haven’t done some effective marketing, built your brand, created some conversation, the most brilliant content in the world will be overlooked. It’s sad, but it’s true. I’ve learned this the hard way…

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I sense there’s a story you were ALMOST about to get into? No? I think a lot of us can attest to the experience of neglecting to promote ourselves, hoping that our “product” would sell itself. Unless you find a very specific niche (and get a little lucky) you’re going to have to put in some time and effort yourself to see real results.

  • courtney Reply

    I agree– greatness doesn’t promote itself, at least not in the beginning. That isn’t only true of blogs, it’s true of all products. Music, toothpaste… If you haven’t done some effective marketing, built your brand, created some conversation, the most brilliant content in the world will be overlooked. It’s sad, but it’s true. I’ve learned this the hard way…

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I sense there’s a story you were ALMOST about to get into? No? I think a lot of us can attest to the experience of neglecting to promote ourselves, hoping that our “product” would sell itself. Unless you find a very specific niche (and get a little lucky) you’re going to have to put in some time and effort yourself to see real results.

  • Akhila Reply

    Agreed, there has to be some balance between good content and substance and some amount of promotion to get your name and word out there! Of course there can be a line that you don’t want to cross – you don’t want to become shameless at self promotion. But I think reaching out to a community through Twitter, facebook, etc is a good way to broaden your community without seeming arrogant about it. I try not to be arrogant because after all I’m so young, and I try to promote other people & good causes as much as I can to compensate!

    Another thing I discovered is that some amount of promotion (of course, without OVERdoing it) makes you more accountable. If your blog or website becomes more popular you’re under pressure to keep up the good work, make it better, and make the content even more worth it for your audience. If only 1 person reads my blog do I even have an incentive to try to write amazing posts? Not really! With blogs I think really creating an audience/community comes with self promotion and IN TURN that promotion makes your writing better and forces you to “compete” in the blog market per se.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      That’s a great point Akhila. The more you promote yourself, the more you have to live up to – and the harder you’ll fall if you don’t live up to the hype. A lesson for all of us to consider – don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. And I agree that a little healthy “blog competition” is good and only natural in this day and age. We’re not really competing for traffic – but we use each other’s successes as benchmarks for our own growth. There’s nothing wrong with keeping each other on our toes, it brings out the best in us!

  • Akhila Reply

    Agreed, there has to be some balance between good content and substance and some amount of promotion to get your name and word out there! Of course there can be a line that you don’t want to cross – you don’t want to become shameless at self promotion. But I think reaching out to a community through Twitter, facebook, etc is a good way to broaden your community without seeming arrogant about it. I try not to be arrogant because after all I’m so young, and I try to promote other people & good causes as much as I can to compensate!

    Another thing I discovered is that some amount of promotion (of course, without OVERdoing it) makes you more accountable. If your blog or website becomes more popular you’re under pressure to keep up the good work, make it better, and make the content even more worth it for your audience. If only 1 person reads my blog do I even have an incentive to try to write amazing posts? Not really! With blogs I think really creating an audience/community comes with self promotion and IN TURN that promotion makes your writing better and forces you to “compete” in the blog market per se.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      That’s a great point Akhila. The more you promote yourself, the more you have to live up to – and the harder you’ll fall if you don’t live up to the hype. A lesson for all of us to consider – don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. And I agree that a little healthy “blog competition” is good and only natural in this day and age. We’re not really competing for traffic – but we use each other’s successes as benchmarks for our own growth. There’s nothing wrong with keeping each other on our toes, it brings out the best in us!

  • Rich DeMatteo Reply

    Love the article here Matt. Great debate question. I’ll try to answer, but I’m not sure I’m really able to pick 1 of the above options.

    When just starting out with ANYTHING – a blog, a new business, or a lemonade stand, it’s imperative to create excellence. In the beginning, reputation and product is all one really possesses. Once writing the perfect blog, its time to spread the word. I guess I’ll be corny and refer to the saying “If a tree falls but no ones there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I guess my point is obviously that Exhibits A and B need to be happening at the same time. We can all agree that our goal is to get to Exhibit C. Excellent content followed by heavy promotion will eventually build a strong following.

    Thanks for this question Matt, you are on your way to an Exhibit C blog!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I would love to be an “Exhibit C” blog – but there will always be a self-promotion piece as long as I do what I do. Why? Because I’m proud of what I come up with here and believe it presents a real value to anyone who takes the time to come read/watch/listen to what I have to say. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll become self-conscious about self promotion and you’ll second guess yourself. I’m confident, but by no means cocky, in that I happily share what I do here in an effort to continually grow the community. You made it here, commented, reached out on Twitter, and sent me a direct email – as long as that keeps happening, I know I’m doing something right, and don’t need to “rock the boat” when it comes to marketing my blog. Thanks, Rich.

  • Rich DeMatteo Reply

    Love the article here Matt. Great debate question. I’ll try to answer, but I’m not sure I’m really able to pick 1 of the above options.

    When just starting out with ANYTHING – a blog, a new business, or a lemonade stand, it’s imperative to create excellence. In the beginning, reputation and product is all one really possesses. Once writing the perfect blog, its time to spread the word. I guess I’ll be corny and refer to the saying “If a tree falls but no ones there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I guess my point is obviously that Exhibits A and B need to be happening at the same time. We can all agree that our goal is to get to Exhibit C. Excellent content followed by heavy promotion will eventually build a strong following.

    Thanks for this question Matt, you are on your way to an Exhibit C blog!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I would love to be an “Exhibit C” blog – but there will always be a self-promotion piece as long as I do what I do. Why? Because I’m proud of what I come up with here and believe it presents a real value to anyone who takes the time to come read/watch/listen to what I have to say. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll become self-conscious about self promotion and you’ll second guess yourself. I’m confident, but by no means cocky, in that I happily share what I do here in an effort to continually grow the community. You made it here, commented, reached out on Twitter, and sent me a direct email – as long as that keeps happening, I know I’m doing something right, and don’t need to “rock the boat” when it comes to marketing my blog. Thanks, Rich.

  • Robert Reply

    “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?”

    It all depends on your purpose and goals. As Carlos said in his post titled “Wounds and Houses- the thing with tools, you can build a house or you can hurt yourself.”

    Above, Shane wrote “one of the reasons for me to start a blog: It helps drive me forward and it helps me think more clearly about subjects I write about. So, in essence, the blog helps me (a little) in building an interesting, “content-rich” real life, which in turn can make the blog itself more interesting.”Jonny sort of said the same thing.

    Before I started blogging (last month) I wanted to know what the purpose was. I came across many different blogs. I found some were focused on monetizing as fast as possible, some were created merely because the author forgot their pen and pad journal, some were created as an personal accountability system and to track the authors progress. Some were created specifically for the author and a select group of friends. Until I came across this communtiy of blogs, I didn’t know that blogs could be used for building a personal brand.

    If your purpose for blogging is to sell ideas and eventually write a book then there should be no debate, get out there and sell. How long should you sell? That depends what you’re selling for. Are you trying to make a living? Another important question is who defines what great content is anyway?

    I think Steve Pavlina answered this best. He wrote “If you want to earn income as a contributor, you must contribute social value, not personal value. Many would-be contributors get stuck on this concept. Personal value is whatever you say it is — you’re free to decide what has value to you personally, and it doesn’t matter if no one agrees with you. Social value, however, is assigned by social consensus. If you believe your work has tremendous value, but virtually no one else does, then your work has high personal value but little or no social value. Here’s the key point: your income depends on the social value of your work, not the personal value.

    If you want to generate income from creative work, then your work must have social value. There’s no getting around that. No social value, no income. If your skills and hard work are not in alignment with the creation of social value, then you will not be able to generate income as a contributor.”

    You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out. “

  • Robert Reply

    “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?”

    It all depends on your purpose and goals. As Carlos said in his post titled “Wounds and Houses- the thing with tools, you can build a house or you can hurt yourself.”

    Above, Shane wrote “one of the reasons for me to start a blog: It helps drive me forward and it helps me think more clearly about subjects I write about. So, in essence, the blog helps me (a little) in building an interesting, “content-rich” real life, which in turn can make the blog itself more interesting.”Jonny sort of said the same thing.

    Before I started blogging (last month) I wanted to know what the purpose was. I came across many different blogs. I found some were focused on monetizing as fast as possible, some were created merely because the author forgot their pen and pad journal, some were created as an personal accountability system and to track the authors progress. Some were created specifically for the author and a select group of friends. Until I came across this communtiy of blogs, I didn’t know that blogs could be used for building a personal brand.

    If your purpose for blogging is to sell ideas and eventually write a book then there should be no debate, get out there and sell. How long should you sell? That depends what you’re selling for. Are you trying to make a living? Another important question is who defines what great content is anyway?

    I think Steve Pavlina answered this best. He wrote “If you want to earn income as a contributor, you must contribute social value, not personal value. Many would-be contributors get stuck on this concept. Personal value is whatever you say it is — you’re free to decide what has value to you personally, and it doesn’t matter if no one agrees with you. Social value, however, is assigned by social consensus. If you believe your work has tremendous value, but virtually no one else does, then your work has high personal value but little or no social value. Here’s the key point: your income depends on the social value of your work, not the personal value.

    If you want to generate income from creative work, then your work must have social value. There’s no getting around that. No social value, no income. If your skills and hard work are not in alignment with the creation of social value, then you will not be able to generate income as a contributor.”

    You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out. “

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Wow, a lot to take in here Robert, but I absolutely LOVE this:

    “You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out. “

    This is SO spot on. You HAVE to believe 100% in what you’re selling to be a truly efficient marketer and promoter. Wise words for any business, individual, blogger, etc to follow. Thanks for sharing!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Wow, a lot to take in here Robert, but I absolutely LOVE this:

    “You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out. “

    This is SO spot on. You HAVE to believe 100% in what you’re selling to be a truly efficient marketer and promoter. Wise words for any business, individual, blogger, etc to follow. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa Reply

    I go with B too. It’s critical to have good content, but it doesn’t do anything without messengers to spread the word. However if you are already well known, you have a following to take notice.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Exactly Lisa – but, even the most well known had to BECOME known – which without a doubt took hard work and tireless self promotion at some point. The goal is ultimately to produce good content, market it, and then have your community and audience become the marketing force for you BECAUSE the content is so good. It’s all cyclical. Thanks for the comment!

      • Lisa Reply

        Excellent point Matt! That’s what our 2.0 world is all about. Thank you for creating this forum for collaboration.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          No problem Lisa – that’s what a BLOG is all about: CONVERSATION. Thanks for being a part of it!

  • Lisa Reply

    I go with B too. It’s critical to have good content, but it doesn’t do anything without messengers to spread the word. However if you are already well known, you have a following to take notice.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Exactly Lisa – but, even the most well known had to BECOME known – which without a doubt took hard work and tireless self promotion at some point. The goal is ultimately to produce good content, market it, and then have your community and audience become the marketing force for you BECAUSE the content is so good. It’s all cyclical. Thanks for the comment!

      • Lisa Reply

        Excellent point Matt! That’s what our 2.0 world is all about. Thank you for creating this forum for collaboration.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          No problem Lisa – that’s what a BLOG is all about: CONVERSATION. Thanks for being a part of it!

  • Jenny Reply

    You know, I think about this topic quite a lot. I think both points are dead on. You need to get people to your site to develop a following, but in order to get them to come back, you need to have something that teaches, entertains.. does… something!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Jenny – I am liking you more and more with every comment here – so glad to have you as a part of the community here! You hit the nail on the head – you have to have that “it” factor – something (or many things) that keeps people coming back for more – whether it be your amazing content, your ability to engage conversation, knowing that you’ll get a reply when you comment, a cool design, maybe even good looks? (ehem…was I just describing myself there?) – You have to have something that is memorable and defining.

      Establish that connection with your audience and the “marketing” becomes second nature. Did I mention I’m modest too?

  • Jenny Reply

    You know, I think about this topic quite a lot. I think both points are dead on. You need to get people to your site to develop a following, but in order to get them to come back, you need to have something that teaches, entertains.. does… something!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Jenny – I am liking you more and more with every comment here – so glad to have you as a part of the community here! You hit the nail on the head – you have to have that “it” factor – something (or many things) that keeps people coming back for more – whether it be your amazing content, your ability to engage conversation, knowing that you’ll get a reply when you comment, a cool design, maybe even good looks? (ehem…was I just describing myself there?) – You have to have something that is memorable and defining.

      Establish that connection with your audience and the “marketing” becomes second nature. Did I mention I’m modest too?

  • Jessica Reply

    I agree that you have to do a little bit of promotion and from there the content will sell itself. But at the same time, even if I do think I’ve written something great and am sharing the link with the blogosphere by putting the link out there I can’t help but feel like I’m just cheaply pushing my own content. Every writer wants someone to read their writing and tell the world on their own. No one wants to write a great review of themselves to have people agree with it, a writer wants someone to say “wow that’s great, let me tell my friends” and not have to do the work. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet…still working though!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Hi Jessica! This quote (shared above) says it all:

      “You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out. “

      Focus on your writing first and foremost. Become so much in love with your own writing and your own perspective that you just HAVE to share it with your Twitter followers, Facebook Friends, LinkedIn connections etc. You want to get to the point where you feel as though you are providing a disservice by NOT promoting it. When you get there, there’s no shame at all.

      And believe me when I say – I’ve got a long way to go – a lot of work to do – I’m not there yet at all (and neither are most people). Keep working at it and you’ll get there!

  • Jessica Reply

    I agree that you have to do a little bit of promotion and from there the content will sell itself. But at the same time, even if I do think I’ve written something great and am sharing the link with the blogosphere by putting the link out there I can’t help but feel like I’m just cheaply pushing my own content. Every writer wants someone to read their writing and tell the world on their own. No one wants to write a great review of themselves to have people agree with it, a writer wants someone to say “wow that’s great, let me tell my friends” and not have to do the work. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet…still working though!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Hi Jessica! This quote (shared above) says it all:

      “You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out. “

      Focus on your writing first and foremost. Become so much in love with your own writing and your own perspective that you just HAVE to share it with your Twitter followers, Facebook Friends, LinkedIn connections etc. You want to get to the point where you feel as though you are providing a disservice by NOT promoting it. When you get there, there’s no shame at all.

      And believe me when I say – I’ve got a long way to go – a lot of work to do – I’m not there yet at all (and neither are most people). Keep working at it and you’ll get there!

  • Sharalyn Hartwell Reply

    I love all this commentary everyone. I have a unique situation. My “blog” is a column for the Examiner. Like a blog, I write about what ever I want pertaining to my topic (in my case, it’s Generation Y). And, like a blog, I get to throw in my own opinion and insight. But, it isn’t a blog exactly, it’s still on an accredited media site and I have to pay attention to things in the news which pertain to Gen Y and literally cover a beat. That is all fairly easy to digest (sorry, I just wanted everyone to understand my situation). But, where I get stuck is the promotion as well. My financial success of this column literally depends on page views (i.e. developing a following and getting my columns sent around). I feel like I’m doing well for only being at it for 4 months, but I look at the success of others and it’s depressing. (haha) It becomes overwhelming when I try to take on too much (I have to post several times a day). I’m new to the online “community” (and I’m quickly discovering it is a community” and learning so much right now. I can say that you definitely receive a lot, when you give just a little, and I’m grateful for that.
    I agree whole-heartedly with Matt and the other people who say you have to be proud of what you write. I am very proud of my column and my material. Ultimately I believe in it, but it’s hard to keep those self-doubting moments at bay when you write something you think is great and see lackluster page views. Like most things in life, I suppose the key is perseverance and patience. And, it probably doesn’t hurt to not be afraid to think you’re great and dream big too!
    Thanks to all. I”m eager to learn from all of you!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      If you read my most recent post here (http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/social-media/15-steps-to-effective-social-media-marketing/) it has some great takeaways summarized by yours truly from the MarketingProfs Digital Mixer last week here in Chicago – this advice comes from some of the best of the best and is a good read for any blogger, especially in combating that self doubt.

      It is tough, Sharalyn – I look at my numbers all the time and while I have seen peaks and valleys – there has always been a steady increase. Each month, so far, I’ve done better, my views and visits have increased, subscriptions have gone up after making calls to action more OBVIOUS, etc. Try new things – maybe what you’re doing is great, but it’s time to incorporate a video post (that’s just a hypothetical).

      There will always be times when you think a post is great but you get no views or comments, and vice versa. You could think a post was terrible and it ends up being one of your biggest successes. The numbers fool me all the time. Just keep your head up and look at the big picture. As long as you’re growing your community and numbers are increasing, you’re doing something right – when you’re steady or declining, it’s time to rock the boat and mix things up.

  • Sharalyn Hartwell Reply

    I love all this commentary everyone. I have a unique situation. My “blog” is a column for the Examiner. Like a blog, I write about what ever I want pertaining to my topic (in my case, it’s Generation Y). And, like a blog, I get to throw in my own opinion and insight. But, it isn’t a blog exactly, it’s still on an accredited media site and I have to pay attention to things in the news which pertain to Gen Y and literally cover a beat. That is all fairly easy to digest (sorry, I just wanted everyone to understand my situation). But, where I get stuck is the promotion as well. My financial success of this column literally depends on page views (i.e. developing a following and getting my columns sent around). I feel like I’m doing well for only being at it for 4 months, but I look at the success of others and it’s depressing. (haha) It becomes overwhelming when I try to take on too much (I have to post several times a day). I’m new to the online “community” (and I’m quickly discovering it is a community” and learning so much right now. I can say that you definitely receive a lot, when you give just a little, and I’m grateful for that.
    I agree whole-heartedly with Matt and the other people who say you have to be proud of what you write. I am very proud of my column and my material. Ultimately I believe in it, but it’s hard to keep those self-doubting moments at bay when you write something you think is great and see lackluster page views. Like most things in life, I suppose the key is perseverance and patience. And, it probably doesn’t hurt to not be afraid to think you’re great and dream big too!
    Thanks to all. I”m eager to learn from all of you!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      If you read my most recent post here (http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/social-media/15-steps-to-effective-social-media-marketing/) it has some great takeaways summarized by yours truly from the MarketingProfs Digital Mixer last week here in Chicago – this advice comes from some of the best of the best and is a good read for any blogger, especially in combating that self doubt.

      It is tough, Sharalyn – I look at my numbers all the time and while I have seen peaks and valleys – there has always been a steady increase. Each month, so far, I’ve done better, my views and visits have increased, subscriptions have gone up after making calls to action more OBVIOUS, etc. Try new things – maybe what you’re doing is great, but it’s time to incorporate a video post (that’s just a hypothetical).

      There will always be times when you think a post is great but you get no views or comments, and vice versa. You could think a post was terrible and it ends up being one of your biggest successes. The numbers fool me all the time. Just keep your head up and look at the big picture. As long as you’re growing your community and numbers are increasing, you’re doing something right – when you’re steady or declining, it’s time to rock the boat and mix things up.

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