I broke content marketing rules and survived — but don’t try this at home

I’ve spent many, many years talking to others about content marketing rules. I’ve made a career out of coaching in best practice, of hand-holding, of advice and guidance. “These,” I say, “are the unbreakable rules of content marketing: post high quality content often, and distribute it to your audience. You need to work to build a community through content.”

The advice you give others is always the hardest to follow for yourself.

Life gets in the way, doesn’t it? Work gets busy. Holidays come along. Sickness descends upon the house. And sometimes you just. Cannot. Be. Bothered. I get it; I’ve been there. That’s been my life for the last few months.

I recently had a quick look at my business website and my heart stopped: when was the last time I published a blog post? I gave the site a facelift and added new pages around new year, but apart from that, there were no new insights or rants to be seen. Since 14 December 2016. Count them: that’s about 16 weeks. Four-ish months. I’ll admit it — for a business, that’s bad form. Who will listen to a so-called content marketing expert who breaks their own rules?

Content marketing rules aren’t made to be broken

Some will try to convince me that rules are made to be broken; that no one can tell you how to handle your own blog. It is, by its very definition, YOUR blog, your thoughts, your insights to share. You can post as and when you want to.

The problem is, content marketing rules are there for a reason. Everybody is doing content marketing these days. Your competitors are doing it. Check out their websites: fresh, regular content going up, being read by your prospective clients. And if that content is any good, those prospective clients will keep coming back, and they’ll consume and share your competitors’ content. And then, when the time comes that they need the sort of services you provide, who will they go to? The company that’s been entertaining and informing them all this time, or the guys who haven’t published anything in four months?

You guessed correctly. And that’s why it’s so bad that I broke my own rules.

You can’t get away with it, so plan ahead

The short tale is easy: if you want to build a community of loyal, engaged prospects, you can’t get away with neglecting your content marketing programme. More and more, search engines are prioritising fresh content in rankings. They’re crawling for social shares and audience comments, because engagement is an indicator of quality. Without publishing fresh, quality content, you risk becoming invisible to those prospects.

The way to combat the very real problem of life getting in the way? Simple: plan ahead. Use an editorial calendar to know what’s coming up, and mark it not just with your publishing but also with your business and life events. Easter is coming up, which means two four-day weeks in many parts of the world — are you covered for content? Summer holidays are looming fast — are you covered for content?

Think about items like regular features; a weekly post on trends, or a monthly hello from the Director. Build a library of posts that won’t age; these are the things that can be created in advance, and sit ready to be scheduled. Evergreen content is your best friend in times of need.

And when you aren’t covered, or you know a gap is coming up, work out how you can fill it. Ask for guest contributions. Write a few pieces in advance and schedule the publishing and social distribution. Utilise technology and your network to help you in those times of need.

Just remember one thing: if you want to be serious with your content programme, content marketing rules are not made to be broken. So just don’t.