What to Do If Your Great Content Isn’t Getting Found

Another well-hidden Menehune statue on the grounds of Disney's Aulani resort in Ko Olina, Hawaii.

Hang out around this place for more than ten minutes and we’ll hit you over the head, telling you to create some high-quality content.

And by “high-quality,” we mean the good stuff. Not spun, fluffed, scraped, or otherwise mass produced for pennies a word.

Something people want to read. (Or listen to, or watch.)

So if you create that kind of content (or hire someone to create it for you), you’re set, right?

When I quoted Robert Rose saying, “Great content wins. End of story,” did I mean that great content promotes itself? That if the content is good enough, content fairies fly down and magically transport it to the eyes of an adoring audience?

Sadly, no. Creating content worth paying attention to is vital … but it’s not the only step.

Once you’re pretty confident that your content does not, in fact, suck, you’ve got to put your big-writer pants on and actually promote that content.

That might make you nervous, but I have faith in you. Once the quality aspect is covered, here’s where you want to put the bulk of your work and attention:

#1: Build your network

Today, tomorrow, next week, and next year, you need to be building your network of web publishers.

Those are the bloggers, web journalists, social media power users, and others who have the audience you’re looking for.

My top tip for expanding your network and making connections with influential folks on the web? Actually, I have two, and you really need both:

  1. Do something epic.
  2. Be a good egg.

You have to do something (like create some fantastic content) worth paying attention to. And you have to be the kind of person that others can stand to hang out with.

Incidentally, don’t try to only cultivate a network of “big” publishers. Those are nice, too, but you also want to expand your network of publishers whose audiences are close in size to yours. Blogger Michael Martine once called this your “blog pack.” As your sites grow, you’ll be able to support and encourage each other.

Networking isn’t about sucking up to people you don’t like. It should be about cultivating relationships with publishers who are passionate about the same things you are. Spend your time on people you respect and like — it just works better all around.

#2: Make it shareable

As you’re building your network and creating all that epic content, remember to make it easy to share.

Make a careful study of the content that gets lots of shares on your favorite sites. Try to model your content on that — not just superficial elements like a Buzzworthy-style headline, but in delivering an experience that the audience wants to share with others.

#3: Clones don’t win

You’ll never be able to really effectively promote stale, “me-too” content. Even if you make it useful and interesting. Even if it has good headlines.

Your content needs a unique voice. It needs a point of view. You have to stand for something. You need a thumbprint — something about you, your approach, and your content that no one else has.

No matter how crowded and cluttered your topic is, there’s always a way to differentiate. But you need to put the work in. It can take time, and thought, and a lot of words written. But there is always a way.

I’ve got some more ideas for you

I’ve written lots more about content promotion, and you can download it instantly in a handy, nicely formatted ebook … along with 14 others on just about any aspect of content marketing you can think of.

We even throw in a 20-part online marketing course, to give you a real foundation for success.

Want to discuss? Drop us a line on Google-Plus.

How to get your free marketing library

If you haven’t joined us inside MyCopyblogger yet, go get signed up now. (It’s free.) You’ll find more detailed, proven strategies for finding your audience in Effective Content Promotion, plus 14 more ebooks to keep you informed and moving forward with your online marketing.

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Reader Comments (63)

  1. says

    I found your great content Copyblogger.

    Now I am wondering, do you ever plan to sell the plugin you use for your My Copyblogger email subscription/ membership area?

  2. says

    #3 Clones don’t win! 100% agreed. In fact, I think the hardest work is first figuring out who you are. Only then can you put out your best (truest) content.

    Thank you, Sonia, for this great article!

  3. says

    Sound advice as always and excellent timing! I wrote a post this week about what to do when your content does get found (You Can’t Handle The Traffic!) that dovetails nicely with this one. :)

    Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t set up properly to deal with the traffic they hope for. I know Brian has crashed many a website with little more than a tweet.

    While building your network and creating that awesome content, I would encourage everyone to make sure their site is on a foundation that can handle it when the traffic comes.

  4. James R. Halloran says

    You’re absolutely right, Sonia! Creating content is only one part of the battle. Promoting it is another.

    I like what you said about differentiating your content from the rest. The best way to make something shareable is to have a completely different point of view on the same topic everyone is talking about.

    It not only makes your piece more enjoyable but it also makes it different from the plethora of other “me too” articles that everyone copies online.

    Just thought that was a really good point. Thanks for sharing this today!

  5. says

    Sonia, rocking as usual. I’m just about to read the promoting your content ebook again.

    To support your point about your network, I wanted to share a great story about how Tim Ferriss got the attention of Tucker Max. Not sleazy, just being a good egg.

    To read the story, go down to end of Section 4 in this post. (Please don’t click if you don’t like 4 letter words or get offended easily.)


    • says

      Link allowed … but definitely heed the advice regarding the language.

      Loved this line in the section you reference, Ed: “Once again, it pays to know your audience, and being different is often more effective than being better.”

    • says

      Thanks, Ed, for sharing the Ferris-Tucker story … and thanks Copyblogger for allowing the link! Awesomely insightful stuff – happy to have given up 2 hours of tonight’s sleep for it.

  6. says

    The thing is that content marketing as part of inbound marketing strategy does not work without a little bit of outbound marketing and some promotions you mentioned !

    Copywriting without promoting it and waiting for the “SEO effect” would bring a huge mount of time … It’s like being in a beautiful landscape without taking a picture and share it !

  7. says

    Good stuff Sonia.

    That networking thing is such a big deal! When I worked in corporate, it was something I absolutely loathed. So I often avoided it and fumbled at it when I did try it.

    But the great thing about networking online is that it can feel much more genuine, its easier to add value, and possibly most important – its easier for people to do and do well (especially introverted folks like myself)!

    And with those existing relationships intact, it’ll make connecting in person that much more enjoyable. I imagine lots of blog packs will come together at Authority Intensive!

  8. says

    Read Sonia’s ebook – it’s worth it!

    However, Sonia, I will disagree with one thing in your ebook. You’re not hot on buying ads for your content, because it’s complicated and Google can turn the faucet off, as you explain.

    I like buying ads because you do a bunch of upfront set-up work, and when you get it right you can kill in PPC auctions.

    If you have great content, don’t be afraid to send paid traffic to it!

    • says

      I agree with that, actually, if you’re willing to put the work in and really pay attention to your results & ROI.

      Some smart PPC can be a good boost, for the right person, as long as it’s not your entire audience-building strategy.

    • says

      We’ll be experimenting with “advertised content amplification” ourselves this year for the first time, so of course we will share with you what we discover and achieve results with.

  9. says

    Sonia, as I am new to this, I’d love to hear more about ‘blog networking.’ I run an insurance site (boy, now if THAT isn’t hard to promote, well, I don’t know what is?). However, I do provide some interesting videos, and some unique perspectives on insurance that I feel have ‘value’ – i.e. that “does not, in fact, suck” to use your words.

    So, I am not sure how to create a ‘blog pack’. Could you provide a little more about how to go about doing that? This seems like it may be a great idea, but I am not sure how to move forward with it. Thanks for any suggestions you can provide.

    • says

      I like your site — doing a great job getting out of the “boring insurance” box!

      Think about who else has the audience you want. It might be personal finance blogs, it might be parenting blogs, it might even be health blogs. If your business is local, it might be other local businesses.

      Who else is talking with the customer you want to reach? That will help you figure your network out. I think you’re on a great path so far …

  10. says

    Hey Sonia,

    I’ve just downloaded and read the content promotion ebook. Great stuff. Especially the part about the “2nd customer” and “find related audiences”. This is something we started doing a few months ago and the results have been fantastic! In particular, I recommend people go see about syndicating their content to Business2Community as it’s worked quite well for us.

    I’ve shared this post with my tribe. Keep ’em coming :)


    • says

      I’ll admit I’m a bit proud of the Second Customer idea. A lot of otherwise very savvy online marketers are too quick to write off the members of their audience who may not be buyers, but can have great value.

      • says

        I agree completely. Earlier today I was on the phone with a customer of mine who’s built a very successful reputation management agency for the elite. When I asked him how he got traction with the “hard to reach”, it said it was all done through a “second customer”.

  11. says

    If your child was lost you’d get the word out any way you could. Unashamedly. Because your message is that important. Nothing would stop you. Maybe one key is to have an important (aka VALUABLE) message.

    Or just create a goofy gif and be done with it. 😉

    Thanks, Sonia. As always (okay, almost always) good stuff.

  12. says

    Thanks for these tips, Sonia! I think the building relationships with fellow bloggers has really helped my content get a little recognition. I’ve met some really great people here including this wonderful site. I like the tip about checking out the posts that do get many shares and model some of my own on that premise. I’m not good at copy cat ideas because they don’t feel authentic.

  13. says

    Hey Sonia,

    I’ve been curious about how to promote my content in different places. Especially on high traffic sites.

    Let’s say I’ve created an exceptional piece of content, I know will rock peoples boats, but I’m a relatively unknown entity.

    I want to get known and this piece is going to help me do it.

    I’ve figured out, the best way to get my content out there is by putting it on high traffic sites related to my audience. i.e. CopyBlogger, B2BCommunities etc etc.

    Do I first put the post on my site and then approach the other companies to guest post?

    Will this be classed as duplicate content?

    Do the other companies with huge audiences and high-end quality guidelines expect exclusivity to have any chance of your article being posted?

    • says

      Peter, great question. Yes, reputable sites with high-end quality guidelines will want exclusivity. Use Copyblogger as an example: we will not accept a guest post that is a duplicate of a post elsewhere. Not all sites abide by this guideline, but most do.

      Create the post on your site, then consider creating a complementary post that will work as a guest post. That way you can create a piece of content that will stand on its own on the “big” site, and you can seamlessly — not gratuitously — link back to your own work for those intrigued enough to want to learn more.

    • says

      You really can’t build a solid content marketing program on one piece of content. (And this is one reason why.) So yes, you need unique content for your larger-audience platforms, and you need additional unique content on your own site.

      People tend to overestimate how much good a single strong piece of content can do, and underestimate how much good a consistent stream of content production can do. Your business needs to be famous for longer than 15 minutes.

  14. says

    Couldn’t agree more with you Sonia.

    If your content isn’t being discovered, it’s pretty much your lack of engagement and connection with other like-minded individuals in your niche.

    Believe it or not, they’re websites that encourage networking, even to the point of sharing what content you produce. (ex. Triberr)

    Keep it simple to share, create kick-ass content, and entertaining while you supply the solutions through your content.

    Thanks for the post!

    – Sam

  15. says

    Great post. Another tip that has worked well for me is working hard on growing my social media audience.

    Specifically Twitter is now outranking Google traffic to our blog posts by a factor of usually 5-7 to 1.

  16. says

    Another thing is to find your target audience. Putting content out without knowing who you are trying to reach only means you are like a hamster in a cage. Finding your audience and giving them content that creates change is golden.

  17. says

    I’ve recently seen the term “delightful” used by several different authors. That we should delight our readers.

    I have boiled that down to:

    Surprising–make it fresh & unique

    Satisfying–make it useful, practical, helpful

    Entertaining–make it easy and fun to read

    Though you didn’t use that term this post was truly about delighting our readers.

    Thanks for the confirmation and reminder.

  18. says

    Great article here Sonia. I totally agree, creating a high quality content is very important but you also have to make some efforts to make it visible to your target audience. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  19. says

    Hi Sonia, I feel today’s headline begs the question of, “how do you know whether your content is great (or not)?”

    To the question, “What to Do If Your Great Content Isn’t Getting Found”, the best (and hardest), I think, is to conclude it’s not great after all … and to return to getting your hands dirty.

    But after reading your post, I see there’s another angle to it – speed. Your content might well be the greatest there is (you might even have outsourced its creation), but the bills are stacking up, so “what to do if your great content isn’t getting found fast enough?”

    I find it hard to put it into words – not only because it’s 3 am. In short, am thinking of the Jean Tinguely, Henri Matisse and Cormac McCarthies of this world – they produced content for ages knowing it would be great (i.e. found out about) ultimately, with the result that even content they themselves didn’t think of as great … you get the drift. So ultimately it’s also a question of affordability. Is the very purpose of content to pay bills, or can you afford to wait till your great content promotes itself?

    • says

      To conclude your content isn’t great because it doesn’t get found is backwards. If you publish the world’s greatest post on a blog that nobody reads, nobody will find it. Getting the word out is up to you as its creator.

      Content never promotes itself. Even if you luck out, and the right person finds it and shares it with the right people, your content is being promoted.

      But you can’t wait for that to happen.

      That’s like putting the pages of your book in a bottle, tossing it in the ocean, and hoping it will someday become a bestseller.

      Oh, and you’re tossing it in an ocean that’s already littered with millions of other bottles, hoping to be discovered by the right person.

      When you’ve written something great, you need to bring it to people’s attention. That responsibility falls on you, not on the content itself.

      • says


        It’s certainly tricky to know if what you’re creating is genuinely good. The best writers and content producers tend to be the ones who are hard on themselves and never satisfied. That’s where they get the drive to get better.

        • says

          Referring to Trent Dyrsmid’s comment, I guess it’s the second customer idea that ties it all up – the razor’s edge between content and genuinely good content. If your content can’t make the second customer hurdle, work on your content. Then, once people (second customers) “find” your stuff worth talking about, they’ll do it better than you yourself ever could.

          • says

            Most of us work in cycles. We make some stuff, then we share it and see what the reaction looks like.

            Then we might make some adjustments, try some new angles, and repeat the process.

            But for some it can be very easy to let fear get you stuck on one cycle — to keep making and making and never call anyone’s attention to it.

  20. says

    I think I’ve got a lot of good content on my site which is all about productivity. Most of the content is original in that it’s written by me from scratch. I assume that means it’s not ‘me too’ content.

    Anyway I get about 10K hits a month but it seems to have plateaued since I’ve been focusing on monetisation strategies.

  21. says

    Thanks, Sonia, for this great post. I have a relatively new blog to which I would like to drive more traffic by guest blogging. I understand the importance of generating great content, especially when so many bloggers are trying to submit guest posts, so your post was very helpful. By the way, I was referred to this post via a Twitter link from Kristi Hines. Regards, Joe

  22. says

    What I’ve seen people’s problem to be with the fact that their content isn’t found is that they open their mouth about it. In a social media kind of way. One of my friend has blog and I found this out a few weeks ago cause was upset that he writes and writes but doesn’t get any traffic.

    But that was the first time I heard about it. Never seen him promote it on social media or anyway. So yes, it’s true you need to build a network in order to get those people to come back but you have to also have to tell people about it.

  23. says

    Great read! I love just about everything from Copyblogger and this article definitely hit home for me.
    I will say though, that I am surprised that writing with an SEO focus is not on this list. I would argue that if you are writing “great”, relevant content and you make this content ripe with keywords and crawling with meta tags, the people who you are targeting in the first place will find you. Of course, I am not saying that this alone will help your content reach the light of day, but I do believe it is an important aspect of great content that cannot be overlooked.

    • says

      Organic SEO is actually the first chapter of the ebook I linked to. :)

      But your SEO won’t go anywhere without signals of quality, particularly links — and those signals come from promoting content worth sharing.

      Too many writers actually overdo the keywords, and you have to understand what a meta description can and can’t do for you. We have an SEO Copywriting ebook in the member library that talks in depth about writing so that search engines can find you.

  24. says

    My blog is a platform for my passions. I love parent humor, mom lit, and social media. So I write about those topics in hopes of attracting like-minded moms and bloggers! And it’s those passions that carry me through the dark moments when I want to stay hidden under the covers on a cold, cold morning.

  25. Laura Middleton says

    This was a great read. Signed up to copyblogger immediately after reading. Looking forward to reading more of your posts Sonia.

  26. says

    You have listed a great problem that we see all the time.

    The bloggers try hard to write high quality contents. They lead lots of expectations but when they realize there are no visitors, all efforts are gone wasted. So, the best promotion strategies are must for them.

    Thanks for your content where you have entirely explained how we should do the content promotion part.

  27. says

    One of the things that I have found to be important, and is quite hard to get right, is to write a completely original title, but to do that these days, you really have to think outside the box. Originality is always key I feel. Great post. Thanks.

  28. says

    Thanks, Sonia. Your article helps serve as a kick to get me thinking more outside the box to get my posts read and shared – because there ain’t none of that going on so far :(. So it’s time to get utilizing more resources and get promoting!

  29. says

    “You’ll never be able to really effectively promote stale, “me-too” content. Even if you make it useful and interesting. Even if it has good headlines.”

    If you have to make it useful and interesting, you are adding value, and it is no longer cloning. If it is useful and interesting, people will respond to it.

    Once you’ve done that, have an attitude and say what you really think, not what you’d say if your grandmother or pastor was within earshot. Hell, my grandmother wouldn’t have cared, as long as you really believed what you were saying; ‘tude or not.

    Just because it’s business writing doesn’t mean it has to be bland, business people after all, are still people.

  30. says

    Thanks for sharing this. I have so much trouble getting my content found on the web. It is incredibly hard to know where and how to start marketing it.

  31. says

    Build a network is a sound and legit advice but how do you do that?this needs a detailed actionable steps guide and would be happy if you create one or refer me to an existing one.Thanks

    • says

      The detailed action plan is in the post — create/make/do something worth talking about, and be a good person.

      Once you have those two down, it’s quite easy to find online publishers in the social media platforms — twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn — wherever your particular network of choice spends their time.

      If you can’t manage those two, find a partner who can, because no detailed action plan will save you without them.

  32. says

    Content promotion can be tricky but, bottom line, original and thoughtful content will always get shared. Assuming you have a decent headline. My go-to platform for content sharing are the various Google+ communities. It has performed wonders for me.

  33. says

    Great points here Sonia. Content promotion is definitely something that I have been working on for the past couple of months. Social sharing tools have helped out quite a bit….yet..i’m always trying to find other ways to make my content “stand out in this noisy world”.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Cheers!

  34. says

    Really great article I think while most bloggers turn out the same regurgitated crap instead of finding there own unique style, and you will find that those that do create original and interesting content often suck at promotion and their articles basically are placed under a cover and is hardly discovered.
    Great point on promotion, especially building a network that as become a critical part of marketing your content in today’s world.

  35. says

    I loved this post. Super useful content. The most helpful part was in regards to finding other bloggers that have audiences near your size — that way you can encourage each other as you grow.

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