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  • Basic Articles Mean Mediocre Articles

    Rescue me from beginners’ secrets!

    Everywhere I turn, I’m inundated by yet another article about “social media secrets” or “blogging secrets” that don’t contain any actual secrets. They’re such beginning-level articles that, if they had any secrets, have the worst-kept secrets anyone has ever known.

    Psst, hey buddy. Edison invented the light bulb. Don’t tell nobody.

    Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles on marketing put out by a very large group of “experts.” Presumably these people know a lot about their field. They effervesce with knowledge. It overflows from their brains, and they can’t pour it out fast enough.

    Except the knowledge they’re pouring out is as weak as water.

    A recent article about creating compelling content offered valuable tactics, such as 1) have goals, 2) write a first draft, and 3) collaborate with your writing partners.

    This isn’t advice, it’s a high school business textbook.

    95% of everything is crap

    According to Sturgeon’s Law, “95% of everything is crap.”

    Including most of the “expert” marketing advice you find on the Internet today.

    Why do people continue to write such basic advice? Because it’s easy, it applies to every situation, and there are a whooooole lot of people who still think “write good stuff” is brand new. No matter how far back I roll my eyes, this advice is still brand new to a lot of people.

    The problem is, the Internet is flooded with this same advice. It’s getting so bad even Google wants you to quit. Now they’re saying your content has to be top-notch. “Something you might see in a book or a magazine,” said Google’s Matt Cutts in a recent video. (Check out his video on how Google Panda is now a regular part of their indexing efforts..)

    Be the 5%

    If you want to stand out from the crowd, raise the level of your content. Start writing about intermediate topics. Better yet, go a step further, and write about advanced-level ideas — 301- and 401-level material.

    If someone publishes an article that says “write a first draft,” explain how to write one. If someone says “collaborate with writing partners,” write about five pieces of technology that let you collaborate remotely. And if “have goals” has people scribbling in their notebooks, then tell them about three new apps that will help them set and meet those goals.

    The rest of Internet will continue to be stuck in the 95 percent, still publishing the same 101-level crap. So be the 5%. Give better advice. Don’t rehash the same topics over and over. Pretty soon, no one else is going to care about it. They’ll stop reading it, they’ll stop sharing it, and it will eventually be ignored.

    The “blue ocean strategy,” the untapped vein, is to write and share the advanced knowledge that most of the other “experts” aren’t even aware of, let alone talking about. Write about the things no one else is talking about, and you’ll soon become the expert’s expert that even the 95% look to for advice and wisdom.


     is the owner of Professional Blog Service, a newspaper humor columnist, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, and The Owned Media Doctrine.


    is the owner of Professional Blog Service, a newspaper humor columnist, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, and The Owned Media Doctrine.

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    Posted in Career Development, Marketing, Personal Branding, Reputation Management
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    2 comments on “Basic Articles Mean Mediocre Articles
    1. avatar

      Erik I appreciate you frustration. My question is, why should I take tim to write an intermediate or advanced piece of knowledge that clients pay me to deliver?

      Most people write about the basics because there are still many who need it and because it is a simple door opener for the conversation … “how else can you help me?”

      • avatar
        Erik Deckers says:


        There’s still a difference between writing about advanced knowledge and actually doing the thing. If I write a blog post called “Five most effective copywriting formulas,” (AIDA, SSS, PAS, etc.), that doesn’t mean a potential client can still come up with a high-performing sales letter. A programmer can write a blog post about “Five high-performing secrets of responsive design,” but the client still needs the programmer.

        There are so many people still writing about the basics that I think everyone is awash in the same thing. How many times are you going to see “Write good content. Have a catchy headline. Be passionate about your subject.” in a blogging “secrets” article before you quit reading them?

        I know there are still plenty of people who need it, but I don’t think the basic article is going to necessarily sell a client on hiring me. But the advanced article that shows I (presumably) know more than the person writing the basic piece, and sets me apart from them.

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