Content is a Verb: A Challenge for Freelance Writers

image of Morpheus from The Matrix

“Can you content my website?”

Here’s the thing you need to know when clients ask you to create content for their websites.

They don’t just need this asset called “content.” Because content marketing is more than a collection of text documents to be cut and pasted into WordPress or an email program.

It would be delightful if we could just write a whole bunch of words and call the job done. But (with the glorious exception of the email autoresponder) the real world doesn’t work that way.

Content is a noun — a set of files you send the client. But it’s also a verb — a collection of actions you deliver over time.

Here are some of the pieces.

Do you even Authorship?

When you’re creating content for clients, what matters most is the quality of the content. Is it readable, does it serve your client’s customers and potential customers, is it well-written and thoughtfully optimized?

But increasingly, it also matters who wrote it. Has the author established a high degree of credibility with the topic? Do other well-regarded experts respect this author’s work?

Google Authorship is just one element in a larger trend: your value as a writer doesn’t only lie in the great content you create today. Your clients also benefit from all the great content you’ve already published on their topic.

Becoming a recognized authority in your topic — and bringing some of that luster to your clients’ sites — carries any number of benefits, from improved click-throughs on SERPS to better social sharing via the network of people who know and respect you.

Go do this:

If you haven’t already, set up your Google+ account and claim your authorship markup. Start claiming authorship now now on the content you publish.

Because strategy

Some of your clients are going to be stuck in the pre-Panda world of “write me 100 keyword-stuffed articles so we can rank in the google engines.”

These are the clients you need to educate, or to fire.

Since they’re going to try to pay you two cents a word anyway, it won’t do your business any harm when you tell them you’re no longer available for their spammy projects.

Grown-up content marketing isn’t about creating undifferentiated buckets of keyword-stuffed crap. It’s about systematically creating a publishing program that includes:

  • Intelligent search optimization
  • Social media strategy
  • Lead-building attraction strategy
  • Prospect nurturing
  • Tested conversion content
  • Ongoing customer retention and referral strategy

    • … all focused on paving the way to a sale by benefiting the customer.

      Go do this:

      Go snag our free Content Strategy ebook, along with 14 other valuable free books and a 20-part course in email on how to become a stronger content marketer. You’ll learn all kinds of useful techniques and strategy that will benefit both your own business and your clients.

      Why u care about this?

      image of babyContent marketing isn’t tricky just because it relies on good writers. (Although that’s a factor.)

      Content marketing is tricky because you need to keep overarching business objectives in mind — while executing on the fine points and details that make for superior content.

      And the reason I’m torturing you with questionable English usage and silly internet memes is that I want you to remember that as a talented content creator and a student of marketing strategy, you have more to offer your clients than just pretty words.

      • You understand how SEO, social media, and content work together.
      • You understand how content can build enduring relationships with customers.
      • You don’t make silly guru mistakes like forgetting to actually sell the product.

      And remember — if you need some ongoing education as a writer and a content producer, we’ve got your back.

      Get started with MyCopyblogger (it’s free)

      Make sure you’re signed up for our complete library of marketing education. It will give you the advice, tactics, and underlying strategies you need to deliver a knockout content marketing program — today, tomorrow, and for the long haul.

      About the author

      Sonia Simone

      Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Rainmaker Digital. Get lots more from Sonia on her podcast, Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, or come hang out with her on Twitter.

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  1. Me like u content, Sonia. Especially the cool content boxes. You’ll have to tell us StudioPress owners how u do that. Verbs will be helpful… :-)

  2. Once again google is changing the landscape of internet marketing. If they can pull it off it will be a good thing for those who use their search engine. Content is king. I only hope that google bots are able to appreciate the beauty an article like yours.

  3. Me like pretty words.

    I have to admit that I was scanning this article more than reading it. Then my eyes fell upon that picture and “Why u care about this?” on the screen.

    My mind went “Noooooooooooooo!”

    The reason I was scanning is because it’s mostly a lesson I already know. The good news is the sub-head got my attention. The bad news is that it scarred my eyes.

  4. Great article Sonia. My mind turns to a client I was doing SEO/content work for until recently. I increased his traffic tenfold over a 12 month period, but more importantly I was creating high quality content that was enhancing/building his brand and was converting traffic into sales.

    We parted company (my decision) because he just didn’t understand the value in what I was doing for him and, as I knew him of old I had been doing ‘mates rates’ for a year. This was not sustainable for me for the time and effort I was putting in.

    So, he has now gone elsewhere and the new SEO Co (and I use the term loosely) are just filling up his site with the aforementioned ‘keyword stuffed crap’, which won’t convert and will probably get his site penalised/banned. All my good work will be undone and I have advised him that he is heading for a serious problem, but you can lead a horse to the water…

    • Sad. But once you’ve given him the best advice you can, if he decides he has to learn the hard way, there’s not a lot you can do.

      • At least he can’t say I haven’t warned him…

        In addition to the terrible copy on the site, they are building some very dodgy links. I foresee a google slap in the not too distant future.

    • That is pretty unfortunate, David. Looks like he was simply seeing conversions, rather than branded copy that was equally engaging and effective. It’s the norm sometimes with clients in certain industries ( those that are more analytic).

      • Yeah, in addition to the ten fold increase in traffic, his turnover probably increased by about the same. I’m expecting a grovelling email in 6 months or so… 😉

  5. Sonia, this is what I’ll call, ‘the grounds’ of content creation!
    One good post!

    And I’ll like add, a writer/content creator must value his/her own talent first and the power to make difference, only then he/she can say a clear NO to ‘spammy’ Clients.


  6. Check out Merriam-Webster. Content is also . . .
    an adjective.

    If our content is written properly, our readers will be, well, content.

    We will have made them happy, satisfied. gratified and pleased.

    They come to acknowledge us as trusted authorities.
    Am I right?

  7. Maybe content is like food. Even though the consumer officially knows the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ eats, there’s a market for all things edible, sometimes beyond. So it seems with content – food for thought. Whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is ultimately the decision of the reader, so the first order of the day is to get started. How to get started? Copyblogger, obviously :-]

  8. Arghhh…let’s not encourage lazy writing by turning more nouns into verbs. It smacks of corporate blather like “officing.” Eeuw. I stopped reading as soon as I saw it.

  9. I really enjoyed your post. People think that creating content is much simpler than it really is. But, when you look at all of the factors involved you realize that content is one of the most important parts of brand image.

    Also, blogs should use memes more! Nice use of memes!

  10. “But it’s also a verb — a collection of actions you deliver over time.”

    Um, no. It’s still a noun.

  11. Content marketing is the game of SEO!

    Good article Sonia.

  12. Sonia,

    U rocked another one. Surprised? Not really…
    U had me at hello with Morpheus there at the top, and kept my engagement with ur text message style “u”.

    I, too, will plug Even if u know all there is to know about marketing, u’ll (did I really just do that?) find stuff u’ve (again?!) forgotten about that’ll make u say “oh yeah! forgot about that one!”


  13. Hi Sonia,

    Excellent! Few realize that we as freelancers create stuff that should make people do stuff. Action verb territory all the way.

    Thanks for sharing.


  14. I’m worried Google’s authority will become too authoritarian. We all want our authority figures and thought leaders, and that’s why they give us those Google+ profiles so people can always know to click on our mug and not the other guy.

    What happens if they click too much on us and no one else? Blind allegiance and unquestioning loyalty? The inability to think for themselves? Tunnel-vision with no other viewpoints?

    That’s why I just pull up the first 5 results on the SERP page and close them off one-by-one until the fittest remains.

  15. Yet another wonderful post from Sonia!

    I love “Because strategy” . I have a few clients who I have tried to educate about content marketing, looks like the next step is to fire some and find new clients who get it.

  16. There is entirely too much Reddit in this post! But, I love it.

    Great write up, Sonia. Trying to educate clients about real content marketing is like wading through mud with Atreyu – it’s difficult and someone is gonna die.

    “Fight the sadness!”

    Anyway, I created a new company (Content Kung Fu) solely for offering actual content marketing campaigns. We don’t about keyword density (makes me sad that some still do) or even word count. Thanks for re-affirming that my business plan is needed.

    I just want to make the internet a better place.

  17. I can content your website. Concisely.

  18. Loved the last photo you attached! According to the message, I’m SMARTER ALREADY 😉

  19. “Grown-up content marketing isn’t about creating undifferentiated buckets of keyword-stuffed crap.”

    This sums up what the “First Tribe” is guilty of doing.

    It sometimes can still work though, which is probably why they are still doing it.

    The part that really resonates with me is “undifferentiated”, because it shows the lack of human care and connection.

    Thanks for the reminder, Sonia, about how important it is to be “differentiated” in our content marketing – like you are when you change “content” into a verb.


  20. Thanks for sharing this post Sonia Simone. It’s a nice article with very good information, This post is very helpful for the writer. The way you define was very informative. High quality article writing is not a difficult task. I really like these strategies because these strategies are very helpful and appreciative to popular the website.