Friday, August 23, 2013

Just get to the Point – Why Long-Form Content Marketing is not for me

So by this point you all know I’m a freelance writer. I have concentrated my efforts in this business on two distinct areas – Content Marketing and Freelance Blogging. For those who may be confused as to what those two things are read on for a brief description.

My Story in freelancing

As a Content Marketing Strategist I fully integrate copy and content solutions for B2B & B2C including website pages, landing pages, blog posts, micro-blogging and articles that will be posted on each company's pages. Additionally I'll work on newsletter copy and press releases.

To break it down even further, if a business needs words written for one or more areas of their marketing I’m the gal who does it. This offers them a consistent voice across all of their content. Their landing page, blog posts, twitter posts and press releases being written by one person (yup, me) allows that consistency.

Then on the other side of things I’m a Freelance Blogger for hire. I’ll write up guest posts for authority sites, or for those clients who just need to stay in their public’s eye I can provide more consistently published content.

In addition to blogging for others I also write posts for my own blogs - Randomness and Lunacy, Green Leaf Reviewer, or this blog which shares my tips for Writers.

I love what I do and that it keeps me writing on a daily basis. Regardless if at times it isn’t the most creative writing that never matters because I can do research and learn fascinating things about new industries. It’s pretty cool.

So because of my love for all things freelance I subscribe to a whole slew of newsletters and other bloggers who offer tips and advice as well as pay-for-it information.

One of these sites is one that’s been around for a while (over a decade) and I decided to purchase a course from them a couple months ago. I like to stay in the know and continuing education is crucial in any industry.

Recently, I received an email with a link to a presentation about a specific niche where writers can earn a healthy income. The subject line indicated the enclosed was going to be good advice for newbie copywriters. I was excited to hear about the niche and determine if it might be something that aligns with my own style and market.

After watching for 5 minutes I still hadn’t learned one single thing about the niche itself (it wasn’t revealed until 10 minutes in). But I sure learned a lot about the travel habits and income of the writer of the presentation. I knew about all the places they’d gone and the things they do with their huge quarter of a million dollar salary.

During those 5 minutes it became clear that the presentation wasn’t so much about providing advice per se but was just a long-form copy sales pitch. Because although there wasn’t a time listed for the length of the presentation that little progress bar had only moved about 1/8 of the way across toward the end. I was somewhat frustrated but wanted to find a way to turn that frustration around.

Let Down or a Learning Experience?

The fact that I can now identify a sales pitch after such a short period of time (when compared to the whole) is, in part, attributed to these same people who I bought the course from.

But this is the real kicker – in the first few days of starting the self-guided course their number one piece of advice was to tell us that people don’t really like it when you sell them. That people enjoy gaining useful information and then will make a determination based on that content whether they want to buy from you or not.

Since the day I bought the course most of what I’ve received from this group is nothing more than sales pitches for their other stuff.

It feels awkward and like I was “taken” to a point because it makes me think they don’t really walk their talk – they say don’t sell people but then that’s all they seem to do. If nothing else I can learn from my gut instinct of uncovering the irony.

So What Did I Actually Learn?

I decided to watch the entire presentation but after it had been running for 20 minutes and still hadn’t reached the halfway point I changed my mind and had to give up. I didn’t see this as quitting or deeming knowledge to be extraneous. Because I knew the best course of action was to learn two things from where I’d gotten in the presentation:

1. That I definitely don’t like being “sold” - so I could figure out what about the content didn’t resonate and work toward not doing those things in my own marketing efforts.
2. That the length of the video script (aka long-form copy) isn’t where I plan to focus my efforts.

For me writing short-form content like blogs or press releases is exciting because I can focus half of my efforts on learning about the industry/company/audience I’m writing for and the other half on making the content as beefy as possible without coming off as too salesy or showy.

There are all types of styles of selling out there, all types of freelance writers, and being successful in this industry means weeding out the type of selling that works for what each freelancer is trying to achieve.

Do you freelance? Are you more attracted to long or short form copy? How do you feel about reading or writing long-form persuasive sales media?

Let me know in the comments!

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Content Marketing Strategist and Blogger for hire Jenn has over 12 years of freelancing experience. Follow her antics on twitter @jennshon


Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Just as an fyi to those interested, the entire presentation I spoke about had no way to fast forward or rewind and came in at a total of 49:34 when all was said and done. I let it run in the background through the end and would like to say that there was some interesting information on the niche itself but not enough to convince me to spend my money to purchase the program. Each person should be sure to decide for themselves what works and what doesn't where their educational needs are concerned.

Daisy McCarty said...

We must be brain-twins. I'm glad to know I'm not the only web content writer who just can't handle being exposed to long form sales content. I guess it's like knowing how the magician does his tricks. It loses its power to influence you when you know exactly what you're looking at (or listening to).