Who Said Content is King?
When I started freelance writing in 2012 I was just concerned about writing web content for clients like you. Write a short description here or a blog about health there and then get paid. That was it.
Until I got a writing gig for a social media management company. That’s when I heard the saying “Content is King”.
Who coined that phrase, I wonder. At first, I thought it was my client. I never realized it until I read Bill Gates’ “Content is King”, an essay he published on the Microsoft website in January 1996.
What Bill Gates Said About Web Content
Reading the essay again today, it seems that Bill Gates predicted the future when the Internet was just new.
Bill Gates indicated that with the interactive nature of the Internet, the definition of the term “content” became broad. He even cited software as an example of content, which by today’s standard is also called an “app” (short for application, which is technically software).
Facebook is an app. Any website (even yours) could be an app. Think about it.
He also added that numerous opportunities on the Internet “involve supplying information or entertainment” and “anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create.”
“I expect societies will see intense competition – and ample failure as well as success – in all categories of popular content, not just software and news, but also games, entertainment, sports programming, directories, classified advertising, and online communities devoted to major interests.”Bill Gates, 1996
And it is still true up to this day.
Web content may have evolved over the years AND it still matters. That is why the phrase “Content is king” never leaves us.
Evolution of Web Content
Back in the day, if your customers need information, they would type the phrase and let a search engine provide them with answers.
Then blogs became a big deal. Almost everyone on the Internet has a blog — either to tell stories or to share information.
Then the brands started combining the powers of the search engine and blogs together, spamming the Internet with ads, PR releases, and marketing strategies hoping to get more customers.
Thus, web content not only evolves into a piece of valuable information for any end-user but also drives sales. Content became a commodity because netizens are always in search of information or entertainment.
And because content became a commodity, content could also be monetized. Content creators are paid. Who isn’t motivated by money?
Whether you admit it or not, you spend more than half of your day consuming online content either free or paid subscription: news, communications, social media, videos, video games, podcasts, music, etc.
Now make a 180-degree turn and think about your customers. Have you thought that they might be looking for you?
Why Content Is Still King
One of the definitions of the term “king” is “one that holds a preeminent position especially: a chief among competitors”. Thus, when we say “Content is King” it means that any form of web content should be the best there is.
As Bill Gates predicted in his essay, the Internet became “a marketplace of content”. Today, businesses or professionals like you could become web content creators. And you have to compete for your customer’s attention.
Creating content is no longer about making it on the first page of all search engines, making a sensational headline to earn social media shares, or being viral for 15 minutes of fame.
Web content creation is all about providing something valuable to the right people and keeping it authentic.
Here is where content marketing comes in. Content on the Internet informs, entertains, educates, and offers value for the end user’s consumption. The end-user is your customer. Meaning, that your content is there when your customer needs it rather than being thrust upon them.
So why is content king? Here are a few explanations:
1. Web Content Establishes Your Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EAT)
For decades, Google ranks content in search results by its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness because users expect to see quality answers in the search results.
That’s why SEO is not all about plugging keywords and backlinks into the right places. It is not just racing toward the first page of the search engine results page (SERP). It is more than that.
Content creators are encouraged to produce high-quality content on the topics they know best. Using various formats of content to project your expertise and authority on a subject matter may prove that you’re trustworthy. Being consistent is the key and your SEO will follow.
2. Users Avoid Ads
Nowadays, many people are using ad blockers or pressing the “Skip Ads” button to avoid seeing annoying paid ads. This just shows how consumers do not rely on ads for content.
That is one of the reasons why some advertisements disguise themselves as informative pieces with subtle mention of their brand or use social media influencers rather than celebrities as endorsers.
People would rather browse organic results on Google or YouTube or any other platform to answer their queries. But that doesn’t mean they immediately trust what they read. They would look for more information and select what content suits their need.
It boils down to authentic content.
3. Web Content Can Take Any Form
Content can be found everywhere online in different forms: text, images, videos, ebooks, infographics, etc.
With social media and other collaborative tools, business management, marketing, sales, customer service, and recruitment became real-time. Thus, the demand for continuous content production increases.
But not all content is a “one-size fits all”. That is why it is common nowadays to update, refine, repurpose, and reformat the same content into something suitable or applicable.
4. Web Content Can Be Your Branding Tool
Treat every piece of your content like it’s the only thing someone will associate with your brand. To do this, you need to create something valuable to your audience, prioritize quality over quantity, and optimize images and media. This is your opportunity to bring out your brand’s personality.
Not only your content should be cost-effective, but it should also be sustainable and scalable as a branding tool. Why? Because if you discover that your efforts are not working, you should go back to your content and review why it didn’t work.
5. Web Content Helps You Know Your Audience
Creating web content always keeps the audience in mind. But how would you know if it suits your audience?
A/B Testing could help you determine which content ticks with your audience. You’ll be sending out two versions of content and based on the audience’s response, you’ll know.
However, there are types of content that target a specific audience. Thus, you need to choose the right keywords and topics and answer their questions at the right knowledge level.
6. Web Content is King Across All Channels
We’ve discussed earlier that content can take any form. Therefore, these types of content have platforms or channels. When you think of videos you immediately think of YouTube. When you think of a question and answer you think of Quora. When you think of images you think of Pinterest or Instagram. Imagine where you can reach your audience from different points or channels.
Let Your Brand Stand Out
Creating high-quality content for your business or profession is to promote your products or services. But the question is how can your brand stand out and keep people interested?
Sure, you can be your own content creator. But creating web content may not be always feasible to make on your own. Consider hiring a freelance writer who is familiar with web content marketing.
However, you might be hesitant because you’re weary and don’t easily trust a stranger nor would you know if hiring a freelance writer is worth the effort.
I assure you that hiring a freelance writer can make a difference. There is a right writer out there who understands your needs, can deliver what you request in a timely manner, and can be your invaluable resource. This way you save time.
Bad writing can cause you to lose customers and money. Imagine your customers being annoyed with writing full of mistakes, too long, disorganized, or filled with hard-to-understand terms. Or your website is getting stagnant and having a fresh perspective from someone could be a healthy change. This way you can save money and effort.
Do not underestimate the improvement professional writing can make on all kinds of material. Businesses need different types of writing that go beyond the basics. Your goal is to produce web content that increases web traffic, boosts sales, and keeps customers coming back. Consider a freelance writer as an additional team member without the expense of a full-time employee. This way you can save on overhead expenses.
How To Work With Freelance Writers
In this digital age and time, the consumer market is already saturated. Businesses face the challenges of navigating the tough waters. Making the brand stand out above the rest is the key.
If your business goal is to promote your brand’s mission and values, and if you want to prove that your products or services are better than your competitors, it is smart to hire a freelance writer.
To achieve a consistent tone across all your content and writers, create a submission guideline for all freelance writers to follow.
Also, provide examples of what you would like your content to look or feel like. Provide resource materials that you may have for the writer to use for initial research. This is a good starting point that is open for brainstorming and further discussions toward the goal.
To produce content that conveys a high level of technical accuracy, have a staff as “subject matter expert” available to aid in the research and editing process especially if you’re not available.
Since most freelance writers are paid by the hour or by project, create a content publishing calendar to provide deadlines and budgets.
The bottom line: it is more likely that a freelance writer who is well-versed in content marketing can deliver the right web content, optimized for the search engines, written in an appropriate tone with your audience in mind, and formatted in understandable and shareable information.