Content fuels the web, but the people who create it aren't realizing true value. Why is the online content market so inefficient, and is there a solution?
Here’s an unfortunate irony: Despite the fact that much of the digital-marketing industry is fueled by content, bloggers are among the industry’s lowest paid professionals. According to a survey conducted by ProBlogger.com, 87% of independent bloggers earn less than $1000 per month.
Data courtesy of ProBlogger.com
So why the disparity? If content makes the digital-marketing world go ‘round, why does the large majority of independent content creators need a day job to pay the bills?
Content creators are falling prey to a combination of market conditions and technological issues that are dramatically discounting the value of their work.
The biggest problem for independents is oversupply, and the biggest contributing factor to oversupply is the sheer cost and complexity of Internet marketing stacks. Building a quality destination website is hard enough in its own right. But implementing a marketing-automation platform, lead-generation and lead-management systems, and an array of other bits and pieces necessary to make it all work, is simply beyond most small businesses. In fact, lots of medium-sized businesses struggle to get it right.
And here’s the punch line: Without a fully functional marketing stack and a team of specialists that know how to use, content has limited value. Put another way, only a tiny fraction of businesses on the web have the technology stack and human resources necessary to make effective use of blog and vlog content.
Exacerbating the plight of content creators is domain authority, or, rather, lack of it. Enterprises running sophisticated content-marketing programs often exist in highly specialized spaces, many of which may be technical in nature. Such corporations have little use for general-interest content—such as fitness, lifestyle, or travel-focused content—even at the top of their content funnels. In fact, most such organizations must rely on a handful of in-house domain experts across company divisions to create thought-leadership content.
So while there are bloggers and vloggers by the millions pushing out good content, there’s a limited market for the type of content that most of them are capable of producing. To put it mildly, it’s a buyer’s market. Consequently, a professional blogger might spend hours researching a topic and several hours more writing and polishing an article for an online magazine that will pay her a scant couple of hundred dollars for the publishing rights.
While large enterprises tend to want highly specialized content, tens of millions of entrepreneurs and small businesses—who might be selling anything from arts and crafts to lifestyle and home-décor products—need the type of general-interest content that most bloggers/vloggers can create. Unfortunately, these entrepreneurs lack the technology stacks necessary to make effective use of such content. And even if they had the stacks, most could never afford to buy enough content (20 to 50 new pieces per month) to move the needle with search engines.
Consider that most entrepreneurs and small businesses don’t have destination websites, let alone all the other requisite pieces and parts necessary for systematic content marketing. Rather, these upstart players often rely entirely on social-media platforms for marketing reach.
This fact, alone, puts them at a huge disadvantage in the world of content marketing. It’s almost like they’re trying to win the Daytona 500 with nothing more than a carburetor and a fan belt—just a couple pieces of a highly sophisticated apparatus (in this case, a race car) that they would need to have a chance at winning.
Sans a destination website and all the collateral that goes along with it, an Internet entrepreneur has no use for third-party content, given that it can’t be used to convert traffic into leads on a website that doesn’t exist.
Long story short, if tens of millions of entrepreneurs had content marketing stacks, they’d need an avalanche of general-interest, top-funnel content to push out into search engines and the social cloud. In fact, given a marketing stack and a steady supply of top-funnel content, entrepreneurs by the millions would have similar capability to what large enterprises use to drive revenue.
The Plight of Content Creators
In practical terms, the massive market for general-interest content has simply not emerged because of a pervasive lack of technology among the burgeoning mass of online entrepreneurs. And the situation won’t change until someone creates a platform that enables entrepreneurs by the millions to play the content marketing game.