How to Monetize Your Blog (Series Pt. 2 – Content Generation 101)

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blankIn part one of this series we talked about the structure of the pathway which leads to your blog.  We did this so that you would have a solid understanding of the particular dynamics and realities that make up the world in which your blog exists.  This understanding allows you to not have any misconceptions about what it is that you are about to embark upon and also allows you to know what it is that you will be marketing and who is responsible for the product that is being marketed.  All of that points back to you and with that in mind, I hope you have done your homework that was assigned in part one and spent some time filtering down to that distilled version of yourself that is you, your voice.  You are going to need it.

So let’s get started with content.  What is content?  What is the kind of content that we are looking for?  What kind of content is the best content to produce and how do I go about acquiring/producing it?  Well, first let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  We have to talk about the orientation to content generation just like we talked about the orientation to the medium in which we were creating in part one.  This will allow us to understand better the types of content which are productive and the types of content that are destructive to our growth.  After all, that is what we want. We want our voice to be heard and we want to grow the number of people who hear it.  Right?

OK so let’s talk about orientation.  I don’t know if you know much about the content landscape, but it is vast and there are tools that help with creating content but they all boil down to three types of content.  The first is regurgitated content, the second is solicited content and the third is original content.  Within these three categories there are two main methodologies whereby this content is disseminated.  The first is automated and the second is organic.

So let’s talk about the three types of content. First, regurgitated content is content that we scrape from websites or that we pass along from someone else once they have created it.  If they have also scraped this content then you can quickly see that content passed around ad nauseum until everyone is puking and suffocating in the stench of that cesspool of unoriginality.  OK that may be a bit dramatic, but you get the point.  Second, solicited content is content that we solicit from others.  This may be automated, like when we subscribe to an RSS feed or join a newsletter mailing list or it can be original, like when we inquire concerning a guest blogger or guest podcaster on our blog or on our show.  There are more, but the idea is that whenever we approach someone to acquire their content, we are engaging in solicited content.  Third, original content is content that we produce ourselves with original research or experience as our guide.

Now let’s talk about the two methods of content generation.  First we have automation.  This is where information technology allows you to broadcast pre-selected content spaced out over time or all at once.  In some cases you have control over what goes into the broadcast and in other cases you don’t.  It just depends on the info tech you are working with.  Incidentally, original content can be automated.  Tools like HootSuite allow you compose original material for broadcast and schedule it for posting at a later time that is optimal for it to be seen on your social media channel.  Second we have original content.  This is content that you produce with an original voice which references your research or your experience.

So which is better?  Is automated regurgitated unoriginal content better than original hand posted content?  Is bigger better?  Is more, well, more effective? The answer to that question is relative.  For certain greater quantities of broadcasted content are going to attract a ton of attention, at first, but soon this overwhelming tsunami of information overloading the channel is going to get flat out ignored.  So as you can see, you can have an initial bang from automation, but at the end of the day, your tribe tunes out and eventually drops you as annoying.  Not a good way to impress your tribe and certainly not a good first impression.  Now before I go and say automation is for the birds, let me say remember when I mentioned the automation of scheduling your original content?  THAT IS OK.  That is, in fact a great way to keep your content rolling out on a regular basis for consistency that your tribe will appreciate. Plus it frees you up to do other more spontaneous things that will spice up the mix later.  So it is understanding how NOT to use automation (zombie marketers are on my shit list and they should be on yours too because they ruin a good thing, every time) that is as important as understanding how to use it.  And for my money, automating your original content is OK.  We will get into the benefits later in the next part of the series when we talk about engagement, but for now we are sticking to one subject so that we can make that crystal clear in your mind, OK?

Now, let’s talk about that voice again.  You know the one you worked on?  Right?  That is going to be the basis for your original content.  That is going to be the story that everyone hangs on your every word for because it is unique and authentic and unapologetic and it speaks to them because it makes them feel something unpredictable.  It makes them feel YOU and by really feeling you guess who they also feel?  They feel themselves!  That is a powerful thing.  So this power is what is going to inform your original content.  Now I am not going to make any bones about it, I am a straight up in your face evangelist for original content and I am at war with zombie automated scrapers who are puking out automated dribble that is sometimes weeks old and clogging up the infosphere.  So when I start talking about original content and what it means to the social media scene I am talking about my passion!

Sure, I understand the temptation and I understand the initial question many have about, “well Benjamin, how do we get started?  How do we get the ball rolling?”  It is easy to fall to the temptation of zombie marketing because we want to feel that bang of incredible response, but it has no substance and dies off quickly while ruining our reputations.  Original content is never going to do that.  Especially if it is hardcore dedicated to that beautiful and amazing voice that you now have.  So what did you discover while you were doing your homework?  What is your passion and what does your voice sound like?  Rest assured, you will quickly find out if that voice is original or not.

Now the third part in our series is going to deal with engagement.  Right now you are in a solid position regarding your foundational understanding of the structure of your content enterprise and the product you are going to market (and if you were getting my not so subtle admonitions earlier you know what kind I prefer and what kind has worked for me).  When you begin to speak with this original voice you are going to start gaining interaction.  Just as it was and is critical that you have a foundational understanding of your orientation to the structure that your content business resides within and it was critical that you have a foundational understanding of your orientation to the types and methods of content available to you, so it is equally critical that you have a foundational understanding of your orientation to interaction and engagement and that will comprise our third part in this series of monetizing your blog and we will entitle that Engagement 101.

So look for that release.  I will get to it soon, for now read over this a few times and your homework assignment is to start writing with your voice and sending it out to some friends and family for their reactions.  Ask them questions about whether it makes them laugh or if it makes them think or if they feel you are being contrived or genuine.  Your goal is to get raw.  To get down to the nitty gritty of what you really think and be able to say that in the rawest way you can without looking unsophisticated.  Sophisticated raw.  That is what you want.  You can do it.  Now you know why I said if you skip the first homework assignment you would be in deep deep doo doo!  So if you did not do the first assignment, do it now and then get to the second so we can get on with Engagement!

Until then, Stay AWESOME!