Why Educating Readers Is No Longer Enough (and How to Really Build an Audience in 2014)

Why Educating Readers Is No Longer Enough (and How to Really Build an Audience in 2014)

Only fools depend on educational content to grow their audience.

There. I said it.


What about all the huge sites like WebMD and Moz getting millions of visitors through publishing educational content?

What about all the blog, podcast and video heavyweights who say publishing educational content is key to building a presence online?

And for that matter, what about this blog post? Isn’t this educational content? Aren’t I being a bit of a hypocrite?

All fair questions. In the next few minutes, I’ll answer all of them.

For now though, let me pose another question:

If you’re a beginner, and you’re starting from scratch, what’s the best way to build an audience in 2014?

Ask a dozen popular bloggers that question, and at least half of them will tell you to publish great content. I would be one of them.

The problem?

It’s a useless answer. Here’s why:

Nobody truly knows what great content is. Not even me.

Let me explain.

Why Advice from Successful People Rarely Works

Let’s say Warren Buffett holds a seminar on how to become a billionaire by buying and selling stocks. It’s invitation only, but for some strange reason, Warren sends you a personal invitation, and you find yourself sitting in the front row, listening to perhaps the greatest investor in history talk about his strategy.

You’re thrilled. Naturally so. To learn from Warren Buffett is the chance of a lifetime.

Or is it?

During the seminar, Warren walks you through exactly what he does in painstaking detail. You learn every step of his process, every criterion of a good investment, everything he can possibly teach you.

After the seminar, you leap into action and start buying stocks. You do everything the way Warren told you.

And what happens?

More than likely, you earn a mediocre return.

Not because you lack his talent. Not because Warren has access to information you don’t. Not because you made a mistake.

It’s because the world catches up.

If you find a strategy that wins today, everyone will copy it tomorrow. As a result, the advantages of the strategy disappear.

When asked to predict the future earnings of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett said he expects to only slightly out earn the market. Translation: The rest of the world has caught up to me, and I’m no longer special. For now, at least.

What you might not realize though is that the same process applies to everything. Including content.

Why You Should Ignore Most Popular Bloggers

If virtually all popular bloggers say publishing great content is the most fundamental piece of building an audience online, then certainly it must be true, right?

Well… yes and no. Here’s the problem:

How do you define “great content?”

For years, the stock answer was “great content is educational.” You teach your readers something, and they’ll come back for more.

And for a long time, it was true. The vast majority of the popular sites on the web today grew up in a world where educational content was king.

But I’d argue that’s changing.

Now that every Tom, Dick, and Harry are jumping into the content marketing game, the web is flooded with educational content. You can find an articulate, useful article on how to do damn near anything.

The result: educational content isn’t as effective as it used to be for driving traffic.

If all the popular bloggers who started five years ago were forced to start over from scratch today, and they followed the exact same strategies that made them famous, I’m convinced they would only be moderately popular. Not failures by any means, but not the titans they are today.


The great content of yesterday is the mediocre content of today. If you want to succeed, you have to evolve.

And that means redefining “greatness.”

Why Your Content Isn’t As Great As You Think It Is

If you’re struggling to build an audience online, it’s likely you have an outdated perception of what great content is.

Here’s what I mean:

Are you publishing short, witty posts built upon a single insight or story? Kind of like journal entries or letters to a friend?

Well… I’m afraid you’re following a content model from around 2007.

Or maybe you’re doing a series of how-to posts where you break down a large topic into manageable pieces?

I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re stuck in 2009.

Or how about an infographic? Maybe you’re thinking about passing industry data to a graphic designer and having them whip up a nifty little graphic with charts and graphs and whatnot?

It might have worked like gangbusters in 2012, but not today.

That’s not to say any of these strategies are ineffective. On the contrary, they still work. They just produce mediocre results.

If that’s all you’re looking for, then go ahead. Use them.

But if you’re starting from scratch, and you want to be the biggest and best in your space?

Well, you need to study content that’s getting a great response today. Or at the very most, go back no more than one year.

If you do, here’s what I think you’ll find:

4 Ways to Create Great Content in 2014

In my opinion, there are four distinct ways to create great content right now:


If you think back to your best teachers in school, they didn’t just teach you information. They brought the information to life, not only helping you understand it, but helping you feel it.

You can do the same thing online. Instead of just giving your readers a list of steps to accomplish their goals, give them a surge of feeling to go with it.

You can:

  • Use music and video to spice things up. After traveling the world, Alex Chacon could’ve just posted up a whole bunch of photos like most people do, but instead, he created videos in dozens of exotic locations, stitched them together into a cool video, and overlaid music from the brilliant Tim McMorris. The result: 8 million views and counting.
  • Study storytelling, and then tell great stories. For years, I studied to become a professional novelist and screenwriter, but instead of succeeding there, I used those skills to infuse stories into several different posts (like this one) that have been viewed by over one million people each.
  • Target a specific emotion for your post. When I was serving as editor of the KISSmetrics blog, I decided to write a blog post deliberately targeting the anger many people in social media feel toward marketers. The result was an extremely popular post titled An Open Letter to Marketers Who Abuse Social Media for Selfish Gain.


And not just any data. Unique data.

You can:

  • Do a survey and ask questions no one has ever asked before. For instance, when Moz did an industry survey, they asked about gender, salaries, marketing budgets, response to changes in Google, and all sorts of other factors. The results are fascinating.
  • Crunch private stats and release your insights. Instead of just reporting on eye tracking studies, for example, Neil Patel implemented some of the suggestions from the studies and published his own results.
  • Write a computer program that compiles and analyzes a bunch of data. When Google released a new category of content called “in-depth articles,” for example, Moz didn’t just report the news. They used a sophisticated computer program called Mozcast to analyze the new feature and released an in-depth analysis.


One of the easiest ways to create great content is to just go into greater depth than anyone else has before.

You can:

  • Pick a topic lots of other people have written about and publish an enormous guide. This is what we did with our Google Authorship Handbook โ€“ a 15,000+ word guide telling you everything you need to know about Google Authorship. Lots of other people have written about Google Authorship, but no one has written about it in such detail. It’s the ultimate resource for someone who wants to learn everything they can in one place.
  • Gather everyone else’s research on a topic and publish an enormous infographic. For example, Why Your Brain Craves Infographics pulls together a bunch of research about why infographics are successful. Individually, the studies wouldn’t be that interesting, but together, they paint quite a compelling picture.
  • Create a video course and give it away for free. Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income could easily sell a course on podcasting, but instead, he decided to give away a miniature video course for free, and it’s earned him thousands of links.


If Apple has proved anything, it’s that design matters. A lot.

And content is no exception.

You can:

  • Create a custom user interface to organize your content. When we created the Google Authorship Handbook, we knew it was a mistake to put all 15,000 words of it on a single page, but we didn’t want to use a regular humdrum table of contents, either. So, Tim Gary, our resident technical wizard, created a custom table of contents widget that floats up and down the page.
  • Pay a graphic designer to illustrate your content. Moz must have spent a fortune illustrating The Beginner’s Guide to SEO, but it makes an otherwise dull topic 100 times more interesting.
  • Use snazzy PowerPoint and Keynote templates to create slick screencast videos. Over the years, a lot of people have asked what software I used to create the videos over at guestblogging.com, and the answer surprises them: PowerPoint. You can actually create some pretty cool stuff in PowerPoint or Keynote, especially if you use design templates from a company like GraphicRiver.

Isn’t This All a Crazy Amount of Work?


But that’s the point.

The secret to success in anything is doing what other people are unable or unwilling to do.

Most people don’t have the time to write a 15,000 word guide to Google Authorship. That’s why we did it.

And by the way, if you’re a beginner, depth is by far the easiest place to start.

You don’t need talent for connections or a big budget to create the most comprehensive resource ever published on a topic. You just have to put in the hours.

Yes, it takes a ton of time, but if any of these techniques were easy, they wouldn’t work. Everyone would use them, and they would quickly become worthless.

On the contrary, the difficulty of these techniques is precisely what makes them valuable. If you’re crazy hard-working enough to create content like this, you become almost unbeatable in your space.

And getting traffic?

It’s easy. Not because you’re using some magic promotion technique, but because the content you’re publishing is better than everyone else’s.

There are no shortcuts. There are no easy buttons. There are no magic techniques.

You just have to do the work, damn it.

The question is…

Are you going to do it? Or are you going to sit there whining about how hard it all is and let the world pass you by?

The choice is yours.

About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger. Poor man.ย ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. Kenya Halliburton
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:00:55

    I love this post! I especially appreciate how you broke down what content fads worked in previous years. And I so agree with you about the commitment to hard work. It seems we’ve entered the era of hard work. The content strategies that are working today are based on formulas that have worked for centuries (storytelling, data and educating through entertainment) – all of which take a commitment to execute and see results. It’s time to play a bigger game. Thank you for this little piece of treasure!!!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:19:45

      The era of hard work. I like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tope Fabusola
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:36:25

      That is it, Kenya.

      Playing a bigger game!

    • Pauline
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 15:53:09

      I was about to post a comment about how much I liked your title “the era of hard work” only to find that Jon beat me to it

      Do I now have to do hard work to find a quote I like almost as much as that one?

    • DOK Simon [Blogging Engage]
      Jul 01, 2014 @ 04:11:57

      I could have expected it to be pure broken like this, I think John is a very learned and unpredictive writer.. I was all anxious to see how it would end.. Luckily for me it ended well …

  2. Karim
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:03:25

    Great article Jon.

    I also think that bloggers should start to leverage the power of Youtube! It’s really incredible how loyal your fans become once you give them a portal into your life in the form of regular and consistent Youtube videos (vlogs).

    But of course, it’s not as easy as posting a status on Facebook or Twitter – so naturally, only a few will be able to rise to the top in that arena :).

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:20:07

      Very true. It’s apparently working quite well for Derek Halpern.

    • Serena @ Thrift Diving
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 20:18:25

      I couldn’t agree more! I don’t see many bloggers in my niche (DIY blogging) doing videos because of the amount of work it takes. But it’s a great strategy. And I like that I don’t see many DIY bloggers in my circle doing it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Serena @ Thrift Diving

  3. Rob McNelis
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:04:49

    I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I don’t do any blogging on my site, and I’m still steadily growing subscribers.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:20:48

      Congrats. And yeah, blogging isn’t right for everyone.

      • Rob McNelis
        Jun 21, 2014 @ 01:17:32

        Thanks Jon. Congrats to you on your continued baller status!

  4. Bryan
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:05:28

    Great post, Jon and so on point. The best thing to do is come up with the next great thing, and the only way to do that is to take risks. Unfortunately, not too many people want to take risks and that means a few brave (or foolish) people will and they will look brilliant when it works. And if their ideas don’t work? So what. Who’s going to notice anyway? ….

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:22:23

      It’s true. Risks are a part of the game.

  5. Cynthia
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:11:12

    Jon, you read my mind. I am an eager student of yours and just today I was thinking that you (and other experts) are doing your damndest to stay ahead of the game yet change appears to be accelerating. If “content” was a microbe that destroyed plant crops, then internet marketing experts (not gurus — I don’t believe in those) are the front-line scientists trying to stay one step ahead of them as they evolve each year into something different. I’m pretty much ready to jump into this game and all I have to say at this point is one thing (two actually) 1) I am going to be myself and do the creative work I want to do and 2) teach my peeps that there are no gurus — they are the gurus. One-size-fits-all answers don’t apply in my paradigm. Thanks for your work, Jon. I hang on your every word . . . you might be about as close to a guru as I’m willing to admit. LOL > > > > Yours in the art of the comment, Cynthia Lindeman

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:23:14

      Thinking of content as a microbe? Cool idea.

      • Cynthia
        Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:30:17

        P.S >>> Hope you have not totally given up on writing a novel ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Mike Power
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:12:14

    Very interesting post but I would like to comment on your use of Warren Buffet as an example. The whole point about Buffet’s success is that he has ignored every fad, fashion, new fangled idea, latest hot prospect and complex algorithm since stating his investment career. He uses the same, old fashioned ideas and the same metrics he used decades ago. It is this solid, down to earth, nuts and bolts, bread and butter approach that made him the greatest investor in the world. And he continues in exactly the same way today.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:25:27

      Sort of. I’m by no means a Warren Buffett expert, but from what I understand, some of his approach was revolutionary when he started. For example, focusing on companies with a “moat” or advantage that protects them from competition. Common sense nowadays, but at the time, it was new thinking.

      • Mike Power
        Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:38:04

        I think it has been made to look that way but in fact all he was doing was finding companies with some sort of advantage such as a big brand name, patent rights, or being in an industry that was difficult to break into because of high entry costs. This wasn’t revolutionary but it ran counter to the ideas of people who thought the best investments were speculative and “sexy”. In fact it is the basis of pretty well all solid, low-risk investment strategy. What made Buffet rich was that he didn’t just invest, he sought out smaller versions of these types of companies and bought them. My point is that he continues now as he did decades ago and fads and fashions don’t interest him. I appreciate that this doesn’t apply to the web, where some people are always chasing the latest new thing.

      • Ash
        Jun 19, 2014 @ 16:02:57

        I’ve read 4 books on Warren Buffet and hold stocks in his company Berkshire Hathaway.

        I think all of the point about a competitive advantage (a moat around the corporate castle which keeps competitors at bay) is one of his biggest strategies.

        Another one is his long term approach. When Buffett invested in the Rail Corporation just prior to the stock split he was thinking 200 years down the track in terms of returns!

        Apple is another example of a company that thinks very long term.

        I see this article and Boost Blog Traffic as having a very similar approach to blogging which is why I really love the site (and it’s founder) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Dave Nordella
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:16:39

    “Itโ€™s because the world catches up.” This is a maxim for Marketing 102, the stuff that you really need to learn after you have learned the “tried and true” methods of getting noticed.

    There is no lack of competition. The only way to be different is to put in the hard work that others avoid.

    Thanks for your on-going guidance, Jon.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:26:35

      Thank you, Dave.

  8. Jeannette Paladino
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:20:41

    Jon — you are such an original thinker, always ahead of the pack. And that’s an issue for the rest of us mortals. Even if most people put in the time they lack the creativity or the new ideas no one has thought of. Let’s back up and ask: why am I creating content? As you well know, very few people make money online. You need to build a huge audience and even your guest posting advice is not getting the results it used to what with Google’s new algorithms and the flood of poorly-written guest posts.

    It’s time to stop thinking of social media and the web as the golden ring. Social media is but one funnel. Let’s rethink our strategy for making money. Maybe the old-fashioned methods of networking, advertising, creating events prospects will attend and knocking on doors are no longer retro but the “new” best strategies for achieving our goals.

  9. Michael Chibuzor
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:20:45

    This is awesome John. I know you always have something spectacular to share with us – me especially. Drama truly works because at a time I did a post that generated great response and the post was controversial. Thank you once again for making this post valuable – I love every piece of it.

  10. Lauchlan Toal
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:20:50

    As always, a fantastic post. This iss great advice for bloggers, but equally applicable to anyone – if you put in the time to create the best work out there, you’ll succeed in what you do. Fortunately, a lot of people are loosing the drive to achieve greatness through hard work, so the competition diminishes everyday.
    Thanks for the time and energy you’ve put into this site – your articles are second to none and judging by your subscribers this tactic’s paying off.

  11. Paula
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:22:34

    Impressive! I love the honesty about what “great content” is!
    It’s not just follow “recipes” and be successful, you need to be creative and, as Bryan says, take risks!!
    AH! by the way I’ve been using some of your headline hacks and is awesome how my subscribers list grew!! Thanks for that!

  12. Adrienne Andreae
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:23:47

    It’s easy to forget that the first good how-to blog post required a lot of forethought and struggle for someone. It seems so easy now, because of them. And because of them, there is a next level for the rest of us to aspire to.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:10:06

      Very true.

  13. Eustace Greaves Jr
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:30:49

    Your Royal Awesomeness:

    Another outstanding post! I will be putting your ideas into action.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:09:05

      Awesome! Go for it.

  14. Tope Fabusola
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:33:23

    As always,

    This is another insanely educational post.

    No, not just educational.

    But with the four Ds you mentioned there.

    I know this for sure.

    Since the time I stumbled upon BBT, No Traffic Blog has stood near.

    You are in another league of your own entirely.

    Keep up the good work, Jon.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:09:40

      Thanks Tope. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Todd Sledzik
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:36:47

    I think this underscores a few things, the first of which would be everything previously stated Mark Schaefer regarding “content shock.” The second, is to focus on your niche. That expert advice you’re getting might not work in your field/market/sector. Lastly, is the need to experiment, experiment, experiment. Sure, better, deeper writing/storytelling and design is huge. But the next level and new content ideas will not be created by following a “how to create content..” blog post. The next level of content will come from those that do (and that aren’t afraid to dabble).

  16. Caryn
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:44:30

    Thank you, thank you! I’ve been wondering about this myself as I plan and write for a dog health blog that I will be launching soon. I realized that emotion and story were two ways I could differentiate it from the pack (pun intended). Having you voice something I already felt and validate the direction I am headed is so inspiring. Thank you!

  17. Alvin Chadwick
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:48:41

    Hey, this was a really informative article, John. Learning content trends over the generation can really help people out when it comes to content marketing!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:11:50

      I hope so, Alvin. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Lucy Barber
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:48:49

    Love the quote “If you find a strategy that wins today, everyone will copy it tomorrow. As a result, the advantages of the strategy disappear.”

    And, you’re right. Ultimately hard work & determination will always win out. People will spend so much time looking for the magic formula to follow, which they can rinse + repeat week in and week out.

    Thanks for the post Jon!

  19. Mark Brinker
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:52:02

    The most important 23 words of your post above are:

    “There are no shortcuts. There are no easy buttons. There are no magic techniques. You just have to do the work, damn it.”

    When I participated in your private coaching group last year and you showed firsthand how you do what you do, what blew me away was the *massive* amount of work and effort that goes into it. I had no idea.

    That alone was worth the price of admission.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:13:44

      Thanks Mark. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Fabienne Raphaรซl
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:54:08

    Hey Jon,

    What a great source of information your article is. Wow. People catch up. We need to stay ahead of the game. And never forget to use the “4 Incredible D’s”: Data, Design, Depth, Drama.

    Well, as you say, if we want to reach the top, we have to be willing to do what others won’t. That’s the formula of success.


  21. Steve Irvine
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 15:04:16

    Great post and very insightful. Refreshing to hear from someone that there are no shortcuts, just hard work. It’s far too easy to spend more time looking for a easy solutions rather than actually spending time just getting shit done! I’ve started realising myself that the first step is as hard and as important as the last step to realising great ideas. Just a little tiring sometimes!!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:22:13

      Yep. That’s why getting started is so important. In the beginning, don’t worry about working 10 hours on a post. Just tell yourself, “I’m going to work on this for 15 minutes today and see where it goes.” Chances are, you won’t want to stop after the 15 minutes are up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Taylor
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 15:38:37

    Hi Jon,

    As usual, insanely useful post!

    I’m working on a product offering for my blog and instead of doing the regular old blog post for it I think I may try out one of your super awesome slideshows from the Guest Blogging course. To be honest, I was whining a little bit in my head – and then I put my big girl pants on Lol!


    P.S. Thanks so much for the advice on my guest post yesterday. Definitely made a good post that much better!

  23. Ash
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 16:05:30

    So there are the 4Ps of marketing and the 3Ds of blogging ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you your Royal awesomeness.

    I look forward to a reading the post.

    Immersion and reflection – that’s the mindset with which I read BBT posts. Always works wonders.

    Merci beaucoup Monsieur.

    • Ash
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 17:28:05

      Ooops. I meant 4Ds not 3 Ds ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Jon Rhodes
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 16:06:07

    The problem with the internet is that there’s so much information. You can spend too much time researching “advice” and not enough thinking of your own strategy. It can take years to find a unique strategy that works, but keep going and you’ll find it. Once you find it, simply scale up (if possible) and repeat.

  25. John Yeoman
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 16:17:48

    Which is all excellent advice, Jon, and might be summed up: Once more, with passion!

  26. Mike Corona
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 16:20:06

    Jon- excellent post. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Sarah A
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 18:03:41

    What a thought provoking post. I think the key is an element of originality – and a lot of hard work!

  28. Joycelyn
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 18:27:48

    Fantastic article, I am new to blogging so I am looking at what is ‘old’ and learning from that but also looking at what is ‘new’ and where I want to go regardless of what they say I should be doing.
    Your article brings it all into focus regarding technique and I think being able to create that target emotion is a very important key to work around and duplicate throughout my website.

  29. Lynette Benton (@LynetteBenton)
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 18:39:32

    Now, to go out and search for someone with the technical skills. Sigh.

    BTW: Great post!

  30. Monty @ The Financial Freedom Blog
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 19:18:34

    Hi Jon,

    Great post, but as someone who has become financially free following the exact same strategy of Warren Buffett, I can tell you that the advantages of his value investing strategy have not disappeared one iota. They are alive and well and I’ve benefited from them tremendously. The reason they haven’t disappeared is because they are timeless principles (i.e. “be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy”).

    Just so you know, Berkshire slow future growth prospects are not about others catching up with Berkshire, it’s simply about Berkshire’s size. Elephants don’t move as fast as cheetahs. This is something Buffett has written about many times in his annual shareholders letters. They are great reads.

    Thanks for another great, informative post. I try to incorporate your ideas into my blog posts about financial freedom to keep them fresh and interesting. Thanks.



  31. Steve
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 20:30:15

    Question re: application of depth (being best for beginners).

    So my ultimate aim is to share my data with personal investors who have the same investing philosophy I do…and that would be my paid product.

    If I provided this for free…I would be providing a useful site with useful info (though it might also get lost amongst other free data / screener sites which is not quite what it is…but it could get lost amongst them without educating my audience first).

    So the question is: do you go all out? I’d be providing the most value I could…but then I’d have nothing (accept ads due to greater traffic) left to sell!


  32. Bree
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 22:47:10

    How timely – Derek Halpern just posted a video n the 7 ways you will become memorable online in this day and age. He also mentioned the drama/entertainment aspect, as well as the design aspect (he’s the one who wrote that article debunking the “content is king” myth).

    But since you’re both successful bloggers, I can only take this with a grain of salt since I’m a newbie, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Melinda
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 23:24:10

    Couldn’t agree more. I am new into blogging and I found that your article is very helpful. “The secret to success in anything is doing what other people are unable or unwilling to do.” I love it!

  34. free seo for blogger
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 23:32:29

    is there anything like free seo , maybe give a chance to beginners to get some onpage seo for free to boost traffic in return of some tasks online.

  35. Mark Crosling
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 04:10:25

    An excellent and inspiring post Jon. If the unique niche or approach is so successful then others will follow and it will no longer be unique or indeed interesting. As you said, if you want to succeed, you have to evolve.

  36. Bryan Collins
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 05:18:09

    Great post Jon.

    Learning is hard work, but we need to make ’em feel something.

    Your post reminds me a little the problem-agitate-solution model that Dan Kennedy espouses the Ultimate Sales Letter.

    Problem – your blogging strategy is unoriginal
    Agitate – do you realise you’re getting left behind?
    Solution – Drama. Data. Depth.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:16:58

      I use that structure a lot. Dan Kennedy is one of my heroes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Matt Antonino
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 06:32:03

    Great article – shared on Inbound.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:17:13

      Thanks Matt.

  38. Mandie @ RamblingMandie
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 07:19:11

    THANK you. It’s about time somebody said this. I have read so many “how to grow a successful blog” posts that it made my head spin. All the while I was thinking “well, sure that’s what worked for you…8 years ago.” People say that to appear professional, you should avoid talking about feelings. As a travel blogger I try to have a mix of travel tips & adventure stories, and you know what my most popular posts are by FAR? The ones where I talk about feelings.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:18:22

      Yep. Things have changed. In my experience, talking about your feelings, or more importantly, being vulnerable, is one of the best things you can do.

      • Joe Arak
        Aug 20, 2014 @ 10:03:33

        Yes. Vulnerability is one of the hardest things to open ourselves to. That’s why I think, when we see someone who does, it’s so incredibly magnetizing. Fearless honesty and vulnerability is at the heart of all great comedy and breakthrough communications.

  39. Geniece
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 08:25:31

    I haven’t read a blog post on your site Jon that I have not liked. But this one is definitely one that I needed to hear right now. And this line was my favorite: “You just have to do the work, damn it.” This is so true for me. I know I haven’t been doing as much as what I have the potential to produce. Thanks!!

  40. Joel Libava
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 09:57:58


    Please keep the hits coming.

    You’re right: Content is King. But, it’s kind of not anymore.

    Special content is King.

    The Franchise Kingยฎ

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:07:03

      “Special Content Is King.” I like that.

  41. Sheryl
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 13:34:43

    As a newbie trying to wade through the recommendations, Jon I have to admit I love your self-effacing writing style. You speak to me; you reel me in, and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself hanging on your every word. Others experts I’ve found are more focused on selling their snake oil; living and doing business in Vegas for over 20 years has a different connotation. Thanks for the great articles and inspiration.

  42. Mi Muba
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 14:46:36

    Hi Jon
    First of I want to confess here a great sin which I did recently. After reading your each blog post and practicing many of them now I have started my own blog but not paid you a single penny for this. I am sorry you didn’t charge that is why I didn’t pay you.
    Now to this post a little. I think in this blogging era only one thing is clear that NOTHING IS CLEAR. That is why we are little confused about several thing. I am sorry to say if we can become billionaire after following the investment tips of Warren then how come I become a good blogger after reading several posts of Jon Morrow or after regularly visiting his blog. So these are the ironies and paradoxes which have to settle after passage of time. I think one thing is clear quality will rule the horizon of blogging and quantity will be a secondary consideration.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:20:17

      No worries about not paying me. I’ll get a few dollars out of you sooner or later. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes, I agree, quality will rule.

  43. Stephanie Gellepes
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 15:22:28

    I agree with this post 100%.

    I thrive on coming up with ideas that are first of its kind.

    As a designer of crochet, I have created some of the most unique patterns anyone has ever seen. As soon as the ideas were exposed, others with more experience in marketing, came to swipe the ideas before “little ol’ me” had a chance to be discovered.
    In the end, who would have known I was the original creator of that particular design?
    Happens all the time. Especially when your area of expertise, doesn’t include advertising and marketing.

    I’m happy to have heard you come out and publicly admit that no matter what you teach, even if it’s taught by the exact science; it all comes down to HOW the individual who receives that information, applies it with their own added flair.

    “Like a breath of fresh air, taken from an ocean breeze; as soon as it filters through the body, on the exhale… Becomes, stale.” S.G.

    HanieB. (C.~)โ„ข

  44. Ron. N. Sullivan
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 11:09:54

    Thanks for this, John. Good, solid information is always appreciated by those of us who claw, grope and sweat in our climb towards the top of Mt. Blogdom.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:04:28

      Onward! ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Sonja
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 14:33:40

    Thanks, Jon, for helping to keep your followers ahead of the curve! I do a lot of speaking, and I’m finding the same trends in the speaker’s industry. One doesn’t just “tell a story”, one is “in” the story that is being told. This connects the speaker with the audience emotionally and dramatically increases audience engagement.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:04:08

      Yep, the speaking industry and the blogging industry have a lot in common, I think. And good point about being in the story that’s being told.

  46. Prakash
    Jun 22, 2014 @ 01:55:42

    I also think we should be concentrate on building audience rather than depending on search. This article is really helpful for me. This is my first time in this blog.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 22, 2014 @ 14:02:33

      I agree. Welcome to the blog, Prakash.

  47. Kristine
    Jun 22, 2014 @ 15:37:59

    As a starting blogger, this post was extremely helpful. People keep talking about the importance of innovation in business, but that also applies to blogging. There’s so much information out there and the only way to make yourself heard is by saying something new and engaging.

  48. Raj
    Jun 23, 2014 @ 06:56:28

    Wow. An article on great content that actually contains great content. As a blogging novice this has been a real eye opener. Thank you your majesty … err I mean Jon ๐Ÿ™‚
    In terms of design you mentioned Apple, so can I assume that you espouse the use of simple flat graphics, an uncomplicated colour theme and larger than average text? Also, if the content is great how important is the design as long as it is easily readable?

  49. Paul Back
    Jun 23, 2014 @ 17:16:46

    Hey Jon

    Through you I have learned that there really are no shortcuts to success in blogging – and thats a good thing.

    There are very few “gurus” that like will tell people the honest truth, either they don’t respect their clients enough, do it all for the money or they simply don’t know themselves – you fall into neither of these categories and thats why you are an amazing teacher.

    Paul Back

  50. Megan
    Jun 24, 2014 @ 13:37:48

    It’s so true!

    I would say the new definition of “great content” isn’t only storytelling, but storytelling in such a way that you’re validating the user’s experience. I’ve found the content that receives the greatest response is that which tells the reader’s story. The pieces that speak to their fears and dreams in such an authentic and transparent way, they can’t help but have an emotional response.

    Like you said, the internet is overflowing with “how-to” type articles. If I want to learn how to do literally anything, there’s a YouTube video or blog post about it. It’s so much more difficult to find a piece that really speaks to my heart and helps me grow as a person. I think you’re right, “in-depth” content is the new “great”!

  51. Zaid
    Jun 25, 2014 @ 05:17:29

    Great content.
    I like reading pure and original content.
    My blog http://www.everythingtechrelated.com was recently affected by panda effect.
    Can you help me coming out from this?

  52. Arleen
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 19:43:50

    It seems like everyone writes the same thing. If I write down my comments for one, I probably could use it for many different sites. Where I think content does matter is when you put information on your site and you give good information and do not keyword stuff. Everyone looks at content is king differently.

  53. Lorraine Reguly
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 01:46:31

    The one thing you forgot to mention, Mr. Morrow (or should I say “Your Royal Awesomeness”?) is that honesty and vulnerability play an important part in the life of a blogger. Blog posts that clearly illustrate these things have the potential of being listed as #1 in search engines.

    I know this firsthand.

    To give you an example, I wrote a post about my false teeth. This is a subject many people do not want to talk about, out of fear of embarrassment, exposing themselves as “less than perfect,” and because it reveals a personal secret. In fact, I was a bit scared to publish that post FOR THOSE VERY REASONS.

    But I did.

    And now I am helping others with their “teeth problems” on a near-daily basis.

    Search engines send people to my site all the time because of this post. What’s more is that I’m thrilled I’m able to help so many people! As a teacher, it’s in my nature to help others. As a blogger, I like connecting to my readers, even if my readers vary.

    Honesty and vulnerability are two key ingredients of blog posts of 2014 and 2015, Mr. Morrow, if you ask me.

    Going viral is not necessary. Helping others is.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 28, 2014 @ 19:40:22

      Good points. I agree with you.

      I’d say vulnerability and honesty all underneath the “drama” category. Both are tools for making the reader feel.

    • Alexander
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 08:35:40

      “The only real currency in this world is what you are sharing with someone while you are not being cool.”

      – Lester Bangs (as quoted in “Almost Famous”)

  54. DOK Simon [Blogging Engage]
    Jul 01, 2014 @ 04:07:12

    Hello John !!
    I strongly agree with you, at least you have made your point. But my question is what exactly is the internet there for ? why do we have web ? and the last question is why are we here ?

    I understand that people seek for information that would help them improve in whatsoever they are doing and if the information is absent why then should we exist, For instance if am going to buy a laptop and I don’t really know the type of laptop to buy, I guess I have to do a research to learn which and why am buying a particular laptop. This still brings us to an educative point of field.. but just like what you said, your content should be accompanied with involvement ..

    I love you post and thank you for sharing it .. Hoping to see your next update !!!

  55. Di Downie
    Jul 02, 2014 @ 00:24:53

    Hi Jon,
    Found your blog through Adrienne Smith, who I regularly read and appreciate her tools for developing a great blog post.
    I love the way you have broken down what makes a good post for 2014. I don’t want the drama in my blog but I can see what you are saying regarding story telling, something that I need to practise more of.
    Thanks Jon

  56. Dan Stelter
    Jul 02, 2014 @ 17:56:12

    Very thought-provocative post here. I blog for myself and businesses, and it’s hard to convince them why not to speak in a corporate tone. This gives some good examples of how to be interesting with writing. Unfortunately, I think that gets undervalued today. It takes years of hard work and trial and error to learn how to be an interesting writer.

  57. Aliica Kolesnikova
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 07:07:51

    Thank you, Jon. Just the kind of perspective shift I needed on a Monday. Though, I wonder how you would go about establishing yourself as an Authority in the Drama domain. When can you actually say “Yesssssss, I’m a Feeling Authority now, baby!”

    And do you think Seth Godin is stuck in 2007? That’s alright, I guess. He’s got a good dose of drama to go along with the education.

  58. Patiencd
    Jul 14, 2014 @ 22:17:33

    Thanks for this post, I think I now some of the things to work on,
    on my blog,

  59. Alexander
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 08:18:11

    Another unwelcome revelation.

    I wrote a course for self-marketing as a freelancer in 2009, to many favourable reviews. And it was new ideas then, or at least ideas that the majority of my audience did not know.

    Now, every homeless person in sales, marketing, seminars and freelance talks about those ideas.

    Would love to claim that they all got it from me.

    Yet, I guess, the world just caught up.

  60. Joe Arak
    Aug 20, 2014 @ 10:36:07

    Thanks Jon for this view through the contrarian lens. It makes me think about the difference between fashion and style. Fashions come and go in any field — cars, blogs, restaurants, music, et al. But great style that’s marked by attention to detail, real effort, care, and honesty continues to speak to us…

  61. Philos
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 21:56:55

    And part of the hard work involves listening to yourself in a world where everyone is eager to share their new and insanely successful idea, tactic or strategy with you – because this is (listening to yourself more) one of the ways to avoid playing it safe when sharing your message, ideas, or observations.

    So, never forget this part of hard work, because the reality is most people searching for the next big technique spend very little time listening to the suggestions from within them.