Content is Not King

Fiddy says Content ain't King

I have read so many posts on the subject of “Content is King” lately, that I feel I need to chime in on this. Now, don’t worry, RQR will never turn into a “blogging about blogging” blog. Stuff like this will remain the exception and I’ll usually leave it to the blogging-bloggers.

For today, though, I want to shed some much-needed light on the “Content is King” theme. And yes, I’ll also explain why the hell I have a picture of 50 cent up there.

NOTE: This is, once again, a text/video hybrid post, so if you don’t feel like reading, just head on down and watch the video.

Challenging the Crown

The whole “Content is King” thing advocates that the most important thing you need to do as a blogger is create good content and everything else will eventually follow. In other words, content is more important than SEO, more important than promotion/marketing, more important than community interaction, etc.

Different proponents of CiK go to different lengths in how much they value content over everything else, but no matter how you look at it, content and content alone simply is not king.

Fiddy Knows

Here’s where 50 cent comes in. I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that Fiddy is an amazingly successful guy. Right, so he’s definitely made it in terms of getting attention, being in the spotlight, being talked about as well as making craploads of cash.

But guess what? His music is not the best music on the planet.

And that’s his content, by the way. Music is a musician’s content, just like blog posts are a blogger’s content. Fiddy did not make it to his level of success merely by merit of the quality of his music. I’m not saying his music is bad, I’m simply pointing out that the quality of his content is not in direct relation to how much success and money he has.

And the same is true for blogs. How much more traffic does a post on Problogger get, compared to a post on your blog? I’m guessing it’s probably in the thousands or tens-of-thousands times more. Is the content on Problogger a thousand times better than the content on your blog? Unless you’re just banging your head against the keyboard, the answer is: hell no!

It may be better, but it’s not better in proportion to how much more successful it is.

Biased Preachers

The problem is that many of the most adamant preachers of the CiK creed are completely biased. If you are a so called “A-list” blogger with a hugely popular blog, then sure, you don’t have to do any promotion of your content. Your vast army of readers is going to do more promotion than you could ever do yourself, anyway. And yes, the better the content you produce as an A-lister, the greater the response from you readership will be and the more promotion of your content you will see your readers do.

So, for an A-list blogger, content may truly be king. But not the same is not true 99.9% of bloggers.

In fact, the closer you are to being an A-lister, the more over-ruling content becomes, because more and more promotion of your content is being done by the people who already know you and your blog. But especially if you are starting out with a blog, just producing top content will simply not cut it.

Apart from content-promotion, there is another very important factor to online success.

You vs. Gary Vaynerchuk

Let’s look at a practical example: Check out this post by Gary: Secret 2.0 (go ahead, it’ll only take a few seconds)

That post got 208 retweets, 90 comments and around 50 links to it. The video has been viewed almost 8’000 times on Viddler.

Let’s just pretend that Gary had never made that video and that instead, you had made it and posted it. How would the reaction to that have been?

Well, I don’t know, of course, because I don’t know who you are (you should introduce yourself in the comments), whether you have a blog (though you probably do) and where that blog can be found (again, comments).

But I can give you an estimate of what would have happened if that video had been made by me and posted on my blog instead of by Gary on his. I’m guessing it would have gotten around 20 views, maybe as much as 40, no more than one comment and certainly no retweets or links.

And that’s partially because RQR has not been around for very long. But it’s also because content alone doesn’t matter.

The fact that I’m using something by Gary Vaynerchuk as an example here is actually slightly ironic, because he’s a great believer in marketing content and “getting in the trenches” as he calls it. Still, due to the nature of that video, it’s the perfect example for what I want to illustrate, here.

So Who’s King?

A statement like “X is King” is very compelling because it’s so very simple. Unfortunately, in real life, things tend to be a bit more complex. You can’t narrow the reason for a blog’s or website’s success down to one factor alone, no matter how much you would like to believe that there’s one “secret” to making it big-time.

If you really want to simplify things, then narrow it down to at least these three factors:

  1. Quality Content
  2. Excellent Marketing
  3. Perceived Value/Perceived Authority

In more detail:

Quality Content
Pretty self-explanatory, really. If your content sucks, then any promotion you do for it will be fruitless. Of course, good content is a necessary basis for a successful site, but it doesn’t end there.

Excellent Marketing
This is where Fiddy really shines. That guy is an amazing marketer. You have to get maximum, positive exposure for your material. You have to give people who have no idea who you are or what you might be offering a chance to find your content. Otherwise, it simply doesn’t matter how good that content is.
Excellent marketing can mean a thousand different things and can be done in countless different ways, but the objective is always to reach new audiences and remind existing customers/readers to come back and check out your new stuff.

Perceived Value or Authority
This is a factor I’ve never seen mentioned by anyone else. See, the main reason a video gets more attention if it’s made by Gary than if it’s made by me (assuming identical content) is because is because of perceived authority and value. When Gary says something, it’s automatically a hundred times more awesome than when I say the same thing. Why? Because of what he calls personal branding. Because you know and respect and like who Gary is, but you don’t really know who I am.
Personal branding is not the only way to increase perceived value, however. Other common methods include making use of high prices, high-end looking design, association with authority figures or institutions and exclusivity (“limited offer”). And there are many, many more techniques that can be used to increase the perceived value or authority of any product or website.

Ultimately, none of these three factors are “King”, because if any one factor is missing, you’ve got nothing.

If your content sucks, everything else doesn’t matter.
If you don’t do any promotion whatsoever, you’ll be stuck with those four accidental viewers per day for a very long time.
If people don’t perceive your content to be valuable in any way and don’t take you seriously at all, they will only visit to have a laugh (and even that won’t last).

Dude, I’m a Marketer, Not a Blogger

Ok, so let’s take this a bit closer to Internet marketing land: The same principle holds true for any kind of content you put online. It’s true for a squeeze page, a sales-page, an ad (written or graphical) and anything else you can think of.

Unless you work on the quality of the content, promote that content intelligently and make sure that you and/or your offer come across as authoritative and valuable respectively, you’ll never see many visitors, comments or sales.

Here’s me ranting about this on video:

Let me know about your thoughts on this much-discussed topic. Do you agree? Or did I get it all wrong?


About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Thanks for the link. I appreciated your rant because I’m noticing the same things. Lately I’ve only been posting 2-3 times a week but each article is fairly lengthy and requires some actual research and editing. Many of the more popular blogs post short articles about some really obvious topics that frankly weren’t worth reading yet get tons of tweets, links, and comments. Frustrating, but that’s the way of the blogosphere I suppose.

    • Shane says:

      Good point. While I have absolutely nothing against basic info for beginners, I’m sometimes amazed at how inappropriately titled some posts and reports are (e.g. when “The Insider Secrets to Making a Fortune Online” turns out to be the bare basics of how to set up a blog and do a bit of SEO…).

      Thanks fro commenting! Good to know I’m not the only one of this opinion.


  • Mark Drapeau says:


    Gary constantly says “Content is king, but marketing is the queen, and she rules the castle.” So, marketing is important, but content *must* be more important, because otherwise you’d have nothing to market.

    As for perceived authority, you’re right that it’s important. But where does it come from? The first two things.

    So, content is still king. You haven’t disproven that. Marketing is queen, and authority is the prince.

    • Shane says:

      Hi Mark,

      Yes, Gary is a great advocate of marketing and promoting content, as I mentioned in the post.
      I guess we actually agree, it’s just that I wouldn’t build a hierarchy out of the three factors. This post is mainly a reaction to what I percieve as an overemphasis on the importance of content. As an analogy, it sometimes seems to me that bloggers are saying “this is the only side of the triangle you need”, forgetting that if you don’t have all three, it’s simply not a triangle anymore.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! :)


      • Vance Sova says:

        Hi Shane,

        Your approach to the “Content is King” is a very sensible one.
        There is no doubt that content is hugely important but it is not the only thing necessary for success online.

        Off-line no king would be a king without his subjects. He would accomplish nothing without his servants etc.

        I think that the same principle applies online.

        It is human nature to focus on the head and forget about who or what carries it, feeds it etc.

        Simplistic slogans serve well to attract masses of people looking for simplistic solutions. Populism is well both off-line and online.

        Thus we have, as you call them, preachers focusing only on content or only on other important aspect like SEO to the exclusion of everything else.

        It is very hard to find a balanced approach.


      • Shane says:

        Hi Vance,
        That’s a very good analogy! And you’re absolutely right: It’s just easier to focus on one little thing and ignore the intricacies. Simple, short ideas simply stick, even if they are inaccurate or incomplete.

        Thanks for your comment!

  • Rohit Sane says:

    Absolutely! For most bloggers Content is not the king unless you are able to market it properly. To be very frank, I have caught two A-listed bloggers coping content online.
    Marketing tactics are more important. They help in gaining more popularity.

    • Shane says:

      Hi Rohit,

      I wouldn’t even say that marketing is more important, but I really believe that creating good content and marketing that content are two abilities that bloggers need in equal measures. I bet there are more than enough blogs out thtere, that are filled with great content, that hardly anyone knows about…
      Thanks for commenting!


  • Its the first time I am hearing that :)

    • Shane says:

      Hi and thanks for commenting!

      And what do you think? Agree? Disagree? :)

  • I love the comparison of music to blogging – it is so true but I’d never thought of it quite like that. The marketing is so important, and we should all take a leaf out of Fiddy’s book!

    • Shane says:

      Hi Ruth,

      Thanks for commenting!
      Fiddy is definitely a phenomenal marketer and I think he’s one of the guys who does most of it very deliberately. I how far his marketing tactics can be applied to blogging and IM, I don’t know. :)


  • Eric says:

    Hey Shane, I’m with Ruth on this one as I like how you’ve compared music to blogging here. I love music with a passion so of course this would strike me!

    You have made such a great post here that you’ve inspired me to write another upcoming post on my blog –

    This is extremely true and I’m honestly surprised it’s over looked. If you have incredible content, great, now what are you going to do with it? Okay, you’ve got out there and shown it off, and what authority is it giving you?

    Great stuff man!

    • Shane says:

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for your feedback! I’ll be looking out for that post of yours. Looking forward to your thoughts on the same subject.


  • Sire says:

    Content has to be King. What’s the point of applying all your marketing expertise only to have people land on a page that is unadulterated crap. That’s why content is so important. If you supply good content people will come. It will take a hell of a lot longer, but word of mouth is a great marketing tool.

    • Shane says:

      Sure, I never said content doesn’t matter.
      However, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is quite a lot of crap that’s getting lots of attention and exposure because it’s being marketed properly. That’s still not ideal, but it shows what I mean.

  • Clever post and a refreshing take on the Content is King mantra. It’s interesting how you bring up 50 Cent as one of your examples. Personally, he’s not making the music I like, but I think that someone somewhere must like his content enough for him to sell records, even if some of his content is his brand as a performer.

    I mean, after all, isn’t part of the “content” of 50 Cent his life? Isn’t his whole life part of the performance, hence, part of the content? There are lots of musicians and acts out there that don’t make headlines, but many do. So that has to be considered as part of the content of their act, right?


    • Shane says:

      If you put it that way, that certainly begins to blur the lines between content and promotion. It’s an interesting way of looking at it.

  • Tim Traffic says:

    Hang on. Just got to try something here….

    mjuik8njhnuykipr4e5c 7yu;p[-rt5fg3ewup;[-

    Ok. Point proved. Banging my head on the keyboard has not provided quality content. :o)

    Great post though with a lot of good points I think quality content can win out in the end if enough people start to link to you or blog about you but it speeds up the recognition if you actively promote yourself and your blog.
    Ultimately you have to have something worth the effort of someonw coming to visit and thn wnting to return again and again though whether you make money from readers as aainst new visitors is perhaps ahnother question. I’m impressed with your blog and it’s content so I will be back.

    • Shane says:

      Hey, who knows, maybe you could make a viral cult site which just consists of the results people get from banging their heads on the keyboard. You know, user-generated micro-content like FML, MILA and all those.

      On a more serious note: I agree that content is an important part of the puzzle and one might even say it’s the foundation for everything else, but it should not be overestimated.
      Sometimes, trashy stuff actually works better than high-quality stuff.

  • Tim Traffic says:

    Ahhh. Sorry about all the bad spelling in my previous comment. I think banging my head on the keyboard made it misbehave to get it’s own back.

    • Shane says:

      Yes, that’s probably it.
      Don’t worry about it, no grammar-police here! :)

  • jesse says:

    Shane – just found your site because of a VERY specific search in Google. Your site answered my question quicker and better than any of the other results did.

    Thank you

    • Shane says:

      Thanks Jesse. I’m getting a lot of search engine traffic to the post you mentioned. Seems like a lot of people are asking this question and no-one else has written an answer that specific. :)

  • jose says:

    first and foremost keyword research is king and definitely lord of the manor. content and seo is queen and last but not least the price is backlink and traffic..

    at times I have seen terrible keywords and great traffic linkage overthrow all.. go figure

  • Tuesday says:

    Amen, Well said.

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