The Content Arms Race and the Death of Single Author Blogs

by Marcus Sheridan

content arms race

In so many ways, content, from a business and digital perspective, has become a modern day arms race.

Company “A” starts blogging twice a week.

Company “B” doesn’t want to be outdone and blogs 3 times a week.

Company “A” reacts with the addition of a video blog twice a week, on top of their other two articles.

Company “B” responds with a new podcast, a video campaign, and articles 5 days a week.

And on and on and on.

Believe it or not, that’s where every industry is headed—who can get the most content out to the masses, in as many ways as possible, on as many platforms as possible…and fast.

In some ways this is good, in others it is bad.

As a byproduct, some content will stink. Other companies will do exceptional things. It is what it is.

The Fall of Single-Author Blogs

But it will also open up a Pandora’s box of dominoes that will continue to fall over the coming years.

From a business perspective, one of those dominoes that is going to fall will be the death of the single-author blog.

Now before you roll your eyes at my statement, understand that when I say “death,” I’m referring to the great demise, not the total extinction, of an act that has changed the world of business and marketing as we know it.

But think about it for a second. If you look at the top marketing blogs in the world today, what do 90% have in common?

Yep, they’re all multi-author blogs. (Pretty much every single-author blog that is extremely popular in this realm has been popular for at least a few years, so please don’t start telling me about Seth Godin.)

Furthermore, if you look at the ones that really took off the most in 2012—blogs like the Content Marketing Institute and Convince and Convert (both went from popular to really popular)—they followed the same pattern—rich content with in-depth articles, daily posting schedules, and multiple authors.

One of the blogs that helped establish this trend 3 years ago was Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner and since that time more and more are following suite, for good reason, as the system works, and is necessary to attain the highest level of success.

Social Media Examiner

The model of Social Media Examiner with daily, rich content by multiple authors is a growing trend of many successful blogs.

I mention “marketing” blogs here because of the fact that the CSI (content saturation index) for this particular industry is incredibly high, which means to rise to the top as a blog (or website, same thing really) you’ve got to be doing some amazing things, for a long stretch of time.

Although such isn’t necessarily the current case in low CSI industries, mark my words that it will be within the next few years after every industry has accepted content marketing similar to the way everyone has now accepted the need to have a company website.

Not Able to Keep Up

I’d be lying if I said this “content demand” wasn’t something I’ve often thought about. Naturally being someone who wants to be one of the best in my field, I’d like for individuals and businesses around the globe to recognize The Sales Lion as a premier hub of inbound and content marketing information.

But the simple fact is this—I won’t get it there myself.

Why?

To make a long answer short, I can’t out do the work of a team. It’s that simple.

So I either change the TSL model and do guest posts with daily, ultra-rich content, or I continue along my current path of modest growth, hoping that my best-selling book that gets translated in 84 languages is the impetus to blogging stardom ;-)

Understand folks that I’m not at all crying the blues here. In fact, I’m just making a simple observation about the state of this industry.

Content Insourcing will become a standard part of business culture

This is also exactly why I work my hardest to help every company I consult with leverage the power of their employees to produce content. Because of the arms race, one person writing articles for a larger organization is foolish when compared to what can be done if synergy and team work are in effect amongst all employees.

I call this process of producing content by multiple employees “insourcing,” and although it’s not a common practice yet with most organizations, I can see it being a standard part of one’s job description for most companies within the next 3-5 years.

Insourcing

As talked about previously here at TSL, companies like US Waterproofing that leverage the power of their employees to produce content will set the bar for their industries and own the digital web.

Sure, some folks will squawk at those numbers, but if these last few years are any indication of where we’re all headed, the arms race isn’t about to slow down whatsoever. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Which brings me back to my original point. As smaller bloggers and businesses look at the leaders of their industry (the ones that are at the top of the content production heap), I can see many being left with two choices:

1. Give up on the idea of content marketing

2. Join the big boys and leverage numbers

Sure, there will be exceptions and “tweeners”, but this is how I see it going down.

As for me, I think I’ll just stick with my current style, counting on the tortoise to eventually win the race…at least for now ;-)

Your Turn:

I’m curious to know if you agree with my premise here or think I’m way off base. Do you see less and less single-author blogs, especially from businesses, in the future? Also, do you think the Content Saturation Index of most industries will make the barrier to entry incredibly difficult?

Jump in folks, I’d love to know your thoughts.

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Owen McGab Enaohwo January 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

To me it’s crazy for a founder to think that he/she should be the only one blogging. You can either insource it; get your team members to blog or outsource it totally by hiring skilled writers and/or journalist (<<<— my preferred choice since they know how to interview and tell stories) to interview your team and customers and turn their findings into blog posts. As the founder of the company you already wear too many hats and trying to do it all by yourself is not a feasible way to go.

I also see social media talking heads, chiming about how one needs to be the only one communicating on their Social Media platforms, have your voice, blah, blah, blah and again this is ridiculous, you can insource or outsource your Social Media marketing. Zappos for instances does this nicely, do you see Tony Hsieh tweeting all the time? They have designated folks doing this for their customer support and when he launched his book, the social media marketing campaign was outsourced too and was handled nicely!

Both content marketing and social media marketing all boils down to clearly outlining your company's process and goals for communicating on each platform and then delegating it properly.

Yup, the days of the Single Author blog are gone! (<<<— it was not sustainable in the first place).

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Love the passion and points Owen, and I’m with you. Singularity simply isn’t the model going forward. Thanks for the thoughts man,

Marcus

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Frank Strong January 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

Hi Marcus, I agree with that view point from a corporate perspective. A company with a single author is selling itself short. One person just cannot keep up the pace and the company isn’t tapping the creativity at it’s fingertips. However, I don’t think that’s true for the sole blogger — like you and me. I think if we write consistently good content, we’ll attract readers. Good content tends to move.

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm

It is true Frank, we’ll still get readers if we move, but it won’t be explosive growth like it once was. If I started TSL 6 years ago instead of 3, I’d be much more successful than I am today. But by now, we can’t make up for time, it’s like the Law of Compound Interest, but instead it’s the Law of Compound Information. So yeah, the solos will be there, but very few superstars will arise…IMO.

Thanks for dropping by man,

Marcus

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John Garrett January 8, 2013 at 11:06 am

Unfortunately, I have to agree.

I don’t like it, but I agree. More people can put out more content quicker, and if the team is actually GOOD, and puts out relevant, top shelf information consistently, then you’re at least in the game.

As you mentioned, competition is fierce, especially in the marketing field, so even being good doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll succeed.

Probably the only single author blogs that will always remain popular are those “celebrity” blogs (I’m talking about internet/blogging personalities) where they don’t blog that often, but when they do, everyone shows up.

Actually, I still see single author blogs around for a long time to come, but their effectiveness in business will likely keep declining, unless that single author has some amazing unique stuff that others just can’t get.

And if that was easy to do, everyone would be doing it.

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:20 pm

No question John, single author blogs will exist, and my guess is that they’ll be there until the end of the internet as we know it. But in terms of driving business, especially for organizations and saturated industries, one-trick ponies ain’t going to be the model.

Interesting times my man…

Marcus

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Darnell Jackson January 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

Interesting point Marcus,

Maybe I should break out my old relational database schema designer.

It appears blogs will turn into a one to many relationship with authors.

Each blogger will contribute to multiple blogs in order to grow their audience while owning one or many blogs of their own.

Will this result in dilution? What about content exclusivity?

Here’s one thing I noticed in 2012.

Top rated bloggers may allow guest posts but you don’t see them guest posting.
Makes you think.

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Very true Darnell, top rated bloggers generally don’t guest post, unless it’s a “step up” in their opinion. In fact, the whole benefit and dynamic that is guest posting has changed drastically over the past 2 years, as has its overall value.

Appreciate your thoughts man,

Marcus

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Russ Henneberry January 8, 2013 at 11:10 am

At Crazy Egg, we have a team of bloggers that contribute content a couple of times a month.

It wouldn’t be possible for me to publish good stuff five days a week.

As you say, I think we are already seeing a consolidation of single author blogs into multi-author projects. A good example would be The Social Habit project with Jay Baer, Mark Schaefer, Jason Falls and Tom Webster.

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The Social Habit is a very nice example Russ, and this is a trend that will only pick up the pace with time, I’m sure of that.

Thanks for stopping by man,

Marcus

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Ruth Zive January 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

It’s also a function of investment, I would imagine. If the company is invested in the notion of content marketing, it makes sense that content would be generated across the organization. And that measure of investment is likely to be reflected in online traction and impact. I don’t think that the number of contributing authors is necessarily an isolated variable. More bloggers contributing likely means more people tweeting and sharing; more networks being leveraged and an overall broader reach. Right? It’s an exponential impact. And I agree – definitely the way to go! As for TSL…I’d be happy to contribute as a regular if you are looking to extend authorship :-).

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Absolutely agree with that Ruth– the investment from management will essentially dictate the rest, especially overall success.

And if I ever do have guest posts here Ruth, you better believe you’ll be tops on the list ;-)

Marcus

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Andi the Minion January 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

Unfortunately I have to agree, I don’t want to but it is looking that way, content is being pushed out daily by the big sites, they will always get better rankings than the little fella, there is no way to compete on your own.

It is a shame though as I don’t agree that it is all quality content, often it will just be buried by other posts and much of it will hardly be seen. The internet has become more talk and less teach. Sad really.

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

No doubt Andi, it’s not a very romantic or even “feel good” subject. It just appears to be the case.

I have faith though that although much content will be “talk,” the teachers will still be strong :-)

Thanks for adding your thoughts,

Marcus

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Jon Loomer January 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

Interesting post, Marcus. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t necessarily see it as an “arms race.” I see it as the natural evolution of a blog meant to serve a business.

I wrote 325 blog posts in 2012. I didn’t do this to keep up with someone, but to establish my name and quickly get noticed by Google.

Through the natural evolution of my blog and business, I can’t maintain that pace. I don’t necessarily need to write more than 325 blog posts in 2013, but I do need to spend more time doing other things (namely: Making Money) now that my name is established.

The first thing I’m doing to free myself up started near the end of 2012. That’s when I started the interview post. This doesn’t eliminate my blogging responsibilities for that day, but it cuts my time in half.

The second thing I’m doing is starting a weekly guest post feature. This runs every Wednesday, and my first was last week. Again, this doesn’t eliminate my responsibilities, but cuts down the amount of time I need to devote while maintaining a level of high quality content. It also allows me to potentially reach a new audience.

The third thing I’m doing is starting a video blog (I’d include the podcast, but that is about seven months old now). As with the podcast, this was first done out of experimentation — not to compete with someone else who is doing this. But the other reason I’m doing the video blog is because it should again cut down on my writing for that day while maintaining a high level of quality and hopefully reaching a new audience. It won’t eliminate my writing, but cut it back.

I’ve set my own standards that I want my site to be the greatest source of Facebook marketing content anywhere. I want it to be loaded with tutorials, guides and references that teach. I want it to include editorials that demand you question the way everyone else is marketing on Facebook. And I want it to be diverse.

The only race on my site is the race to reach my own goals and standards. I experiment with podcasts and video to find what works, not to keep up with someone (I honestly can’t start naming Facebook marketers who do both of these). And the move from single-author to multi-author is because my company has evolved to the point where I need to start spending more time doing things other than writing.

And, as always, I just pretty much wrote a blog post about how I’m writing less. Crap…

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Marcus Sheridan January 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Jon, loved this man, and I’m going to disagree with you a little.

This past year, you were, so far as I can tell, the most prolific producer of Facebook related content on the web. You were beast mode, 24/7.

You say you weren’t competing with anyone, but that’s simply not true, at least in my opinion.

You’re competing with every FB article that has ever been written on another site. You’re competing with every company offering FB services. Your competing with “A-listers” so as to get your name thrown in with the best of the best (which I clearly think you are.)

If you weren’t running a business, I’d say this wasn’t the case, but you are, which means you’re competing with people and content.

5 years ago, if you had written 325 blog posts about FB in one year, you’d practically rule the world.

Today, you’ve grown, but it’s 1/20th of what it would have been 5 years ago.

But this isn’t particular to you, the same applies to all businesses.

The CSI is high, so we’ve all got to do more.

This is competition in my book. ;-)

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Jon Loomer January 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Yes! Disagreement!

I see your point. And yes, there’s a level of competition in there somewhere. And my goal to be the most comprehensive website on Facebook marketing is only a goal because it means I’m comparing my site to others.

That said, I posted on average 6+ per day because I wanted the site to be prolific. I didn’t look at competitors and say, “They post four times — or five times — I need to post more.” The honest truth is that…

1) I’m someone who needs routine. Writing every day at a particular time gave me that.
2) The main reason I set a goal for publishing every day was that I was reading that was the best way to get noticed by Google.

I started a video blog this year, not because someone else did it and I need to stay ahead, but to diversify my content and cut down on my writing. Yep, there’s still a competitive element — I want to be the best, and that means doing many different things. But so much of this is simply experimentation and trying to create the best possible product. I honestly do very little comparison of my content to that of others.

Truth is that what I do is very different from others I follow. I don’t like to call them competitors because they are often partners. But people like Mari Smith, Amy Porterfield, Andrea Vahl, etc… They have a completely different business model. They are already known and focus much less on content and more on products and speaking. If anything, maybe I want to catch up with them regarding product creation. But we have a different outlook on content.

So, yeah… There’s competition in everything we do as a business on some level. But I’m trying to keep up with technology more than I am trying to keep up with competitors. And my move away from single-author is more about allowing me to scale and make money more than it is about trying to create more content to keep up with the competition.

I’m also stubborn. And competitive. And have strange sources for my motivation at times. And sometimes I don’t even realize it’s from competition. So it’s always possible you’re more right than I’m willing to acknowledge!

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Anthony Chatfield January 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Tough one man – true but tough. I’ve had a similar feeling for a while now, even just as someone running two blogs – the company blog and my personal blog. The former is now run by my business partner but I am contributing where possible to ensure it stays fresh. We have plans for more, more, more too – podcasts, videos, etc.

Even then, I don’t feel like we’re doing enough. So, yeah, I completely agree. The problem, of course, is that small companies with 1 or 2 employees in competitive fields can’t really insource like a big corporation or even a ma and pop store. I have to go out and get contributions from clients, fellow marketers and guest bloggers to really bolster my content count.

It’s forcing me to think in entirely new ways about our strategies, though, which in my book is a good thing but I can see it as a major obstacle for someone who just wants to get a few more people reading their blog.

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Wade@Make Money Blogging January 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Being a single author blogger, it’s hard to keep up with the rest of the popular blogs that are putting great content out every day. However, I don’t think that a single author blogger CAN put out great content every day. Even though I could blog every day, I don’t want to because it takes away from the integrity of the blog because no one can create great, awesome, and original content every day by themselves.

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Murray Lunn January 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

That’s certainly the struggle, at the moment, Marcus.

I think it’s certainly possible to push out fresh content each and every day but what the multi-author approach brings that you can’t on your own is an entire time to promote the work rather than hoping your community and followers jump in.

So, you get a guest poster on board. They write up some great stuff. Goes out to your community. But then they turn around, share with theirs through multiple mediums. Then, add in the other members on the ‘team’ and it becomes exponential. It’s an ecosystem.

That being said, we’ll still see many blogs grow very rapidly from a single author stand-point but not in the major industries we seem to pay attention to in blogging, online business, etc.

What I’ve been trying to do, with my work, is to get people on board within the existing companies to bring that multi-authorship to the business blog and social media. The trouble is the resistance from business owners that are too afraid of giving up total control of the message (despite the fact that the associates certainly understand what they’re doing).

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Jens P. Berget January 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I agree with you Marcus, and that’s exactly why people like us should be more personal. By being personal and creating strong relationships with our readers, we can still be fairly successful – there is only one Marcus Sheridan :)

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Ryan Hanley January 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I want to scream, “Marcus your’re wrong! My single-author blog will make it big some day…”

But I know what you’re saying is true. I know because of the blogs that my eyes are drawn to.

It will be interesting to see where things go (especially this incredibly valuable piece of online real estate).

All the best my friend,

Hanley

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Danny Brown January 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Yes and no (surprise, surprise) :)

This isn’t anything new, at least for smart businesses who have had multi-blogger teams in place for years (I led a few of them back in 2004, then 2007 and 2009/10). Businesses who understood content complements other marketing efforts have also been doing this for years. The CMI and similar aren’t professing new concepts; merely making those that have worked previously more popular.

Can a small business owner blogging on his or her own compete with a team for resources? No. Can they compete on smarts? Hell yes. And as long as the customer is receiving education, they don’t care if it’s one person or many.

As for the solo blogger, I have to disagree with the “death of” quip. Micro-blogging was going to kill the solo blogger. Social media was going to kill the solo blogger. Video and podcasting were going to kill the solo blogger. Content curation was going to kill the solo blogger. And, yes, business team blogging was going to kill the solo blogger.

It hasn’t happened yet, and won’t, for one simple reason – a solo blogger (whether for their business or hobby, but let’s stick with it from a business angle) blogs with passion for their craft and wanting to provide the very best information for their customers, and that shines through.

Too many team blogs lack focus and passion, and are from employees who’ve been told they have to blog as opposed to finding employees that want to blog, and giving them the reins. And that really shines through.

It’s like anything. There are good and bad examples of both solo and team blogging, and that will continue. Besides, it’s not us content creators who will decide what happens in any “arms race” – to quote the THX organization, “The audience is listening.”

I’ll let them decide my fate. ;-)

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Glenn Mandelkern June 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Solo vs. team can also be seen in music.

Some bands sound really good together. And some solo performers sound fantastic all on their own.

Again, it comes down to content and emotional appeal.

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Chris January 9, 2013 at 12:42 am

This is a very astute observation Marc. I think I intuitively knew this when I recently started my blog and decided to (on the first day) hire ghost writers and pay for a some guest posts to help fill out me category structure, which includes about 40 topic areas.

Since my blog helps conscious parents leverage entrepreneurship to create a meaningful life for their families and create their life’s work, I knew I needed a jumpstart to fill out the content base for my blog because both “entrepreneurship” and “parenting” blogs are everywhere.

I also hired a VA to help with content research, which helps leverage the team concept you mentioned. It’s not just the actual content creation, but also the research and syndication of the content.

I believe the solo blogger has hope if they focus on using multi-media platforms, leveraging teams and technology for platform proliferation, and creating super valuable free and paid content that creates real results.

Again, thanks for your clear insights and perspective in this post.

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Rajkumar Jonnala January 9, 2013 at 8:03 am

Because of these reasons, every blogs are trying to get more guest authors to the blog. The reason behind it is updating the content dynamically. But frankly Google algorithm is making solo bloggers to toil hard.

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Mark Schaefer January 9, 2013 at 9:15 am

Like everything, it starts with strategy. I doubt you are competing with Mike Stelzner, but if you are, you’re right — you need to invest heavily!

I talked to a guy yesterday who blogs about tomatos. Only tomatos. And he has established a very successful business. It has led to tons of opportunities and even TV appearances. He is loved by tomato enthusiasts from all over the world.

I think the bigger question here is, what is the company’s niche? If a competitor is already occupying a business niche and blogging like a monsoon, don’t go there. Do something else. Find vulnerabilities and find other ways to attack and win. Marketing is not just about blogging. There are endless possibilities. We fail ourselves and our customers if we think “blogging” or even “content marketing” is the only answer.

In summary, stay away from tomoatos. This guy has it cornered. Do corn or something. : )

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Christina Pappas January 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

I agree on your points about goals & strategy here. The death of a solo-blogger will only truly be a ‘death’ if their specific goals are not met. A lot of us simply use blogging as an outlet to say something, have an opinion and publish it.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Yes, and that will live on, at least in some way, until the end of the internet Christina ;-)

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Kathleen Booth January 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

Marcus,

Great post (as usual)! As soon as I started reading this I thought “I can’t believe I didn’t see this trend coming.” You are completely right about all the big, NEWER marketing blogs being multi-author. Its just impossible to produce the volume of content required to emerge at the top of the heap otherwise. But beyond the challenge of sheer workload, the move towards multiple author blogs is, I think, in many cases the right solution from a marketing strategy viewpoint because it is a fantastic opportunity for a company to showcase the diversity of talent, skills and personalities of its staff. And although I’m a content marketing zealot, I do still believe that people by from PEOPLE, so letting the personalities of your staff shine through your marketing is one of the most effective sales tools we have in our arsenal.

Thanks for posting!

Kathleen Booth

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Kitty Kilian January 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

I think you are hyperfocusing on quantity – of traffic – while focusing on quality will often work. I agree with Danny Brown, therefore.

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Tom Martin January 9, 2013 at 9:51 am

Marcus,

I’d have to say I both agree and disagree. For the solo blogger that is producing bad content, yes — they’ll certainly face a world in which breaking through the clutter will be next to impossible.

But for the blogger or company that is producing truly compelling content, even if that content is only a single, in-depth pillar type post per week, I see no reason they can’t continue to flourish.

While yes, multi-author blogs can produce more (theoretically high quality) content then a solo blog and the current industry belief is that daily blogging is the only way to build traffic, I think this is misguided thinking from folks that haven’t taken the time to study the history of content/marketing and entertainment.

Humans have been trained by Hollywood and the publishing world to expect and enjoy episodic content — think the weekly drama or sitcom or the monthly or even, quarterly magazine. These formats do just fine.

Blogging is no different. And when you consider your “Money Words” — as you discussed in your most recent Podcast, the argument gains even more strength. Unless advertising revenue is your primary goal, traffic is really somewhat irrelevant (on this I think we agree). The RIGHT traffic, tracked and monetized correctly is the golden ticket here. And with that goal in mind, I think single author blogs will be just fine.

Good stuff as usual brother… looking forward to seeing that book in 84 languages.

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David Weinhaus January 9, 2013 at 9:51 am

Marcus,
+1 to your blog post. In addition to all the reasons you mention, I would also add that a companies message is not articulated through one voice in real life, why should it be though a blog? The more voices that chime in, each with a different take on what the company is trying to do and the stories it is trying to tell, the better IMHO. Wheres today maybe it a content race, in the future, perhaps a vision and energy race. The more voices working together the better!

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Laura Click January 9, 2013 at 9:53 am

Marcus – I do think that there is definitely a demand for more content – especially if you want to compete from a search standpoint. However, I think businesses must be careful about not getting caught up with what everyone else is doing. Just blogging more than the next guy isn’t necessarily going to help you a whole lot. Maybe you would be better off developing multimedia content or focusing on a different topic. As many others have mentioned, it all comes back to your business’ goals and strategy.

All that said, I do think that most blogs are going to benefit from having multiple authors. Not just from the quantity standpoint, but because it does a few things:

- It increases the visibility and credibility of more members of your team
- It allows you to showcase different voices and cover more topics based on the varied expertise of your team
- It makes blogging less daunting if you share the load between multiple people
- You bring in a more diverse audience, especially if you have guest bloggers

I think multi-author blogging makes a ton of sense, but it really depends on the business, the goals, the strategy and the resources available.

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New Orleans Web Design January 9, 2013 at 10:22 am

I think you’re on point here, Marcus. It’s no longer “good enough” to create a new blog post once a week. Users want more, and it’s tough to do it all if you’re a one-man or woman setup. Insourcing is the way to go, but finding good writers who can produce good content will be the challenge.

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Mary Wright January 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

Interesting article even for a non-marketing person.

Water finds its own level and so will social media blogging. Right now, most businesses are in the dark ages of simply trying to obtain a credible presence on the ‘Net and have little understanding of the content wars or multi-author blogging.

I started my site by curating (and by that I mean reading and hand selecting authors and articles) and I am now expanding with a personal blog. Over the 7 months we’ve been in existence, I have created a small list of bloggers (about a dozen) who have asked to contribute directly to the site. In time, I will have enough to fully populate the site without daily outside curating.

Now, after reading your article, I’m thinking this may be too slow and I’ll lose the content arms race before I’ve really entered it.

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Christina Pappas January 9, 2013 at 11:08 am

So what do you think about companies who in-source but have a Content Manager on staff that edits all submitted blog posts so the company ‘voice’ is heard, not the individual’s voice? Ive seen this quite a few times. Aside from the byline that says Mary wrote the blog vs. Jim, the post reads like all the others. the individuality is lost.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Christina, great question. I tell the content managers I work with that it’s always better to keep an author’s true voice than it is to edit it too much and sacrifice the individuality, just for the sake of making it “a little bit better.”

But that’s just my style, and every company can be a different scenario I think.

Good stuff my friend,

Marcus

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Flavr.fi January 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

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Wade January 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I wanted to add one more thing. The “single author” blogs will be dead only tells the reader that they should branch out and commit to building relationships online, building a community out of their blogs so that they can keep up with the rest of the “popular” blogs out there.

I agree that multi-author blogs are doing much better because they are pushing out fresh content every day from different perspectives. However, it can take a single author a long time to establish this for themselves on their site…A person must take the time to work on the relationships he has established, build his blogs integrity, and then go for the multi-author blog..I assume that having a bunch of guest posters is the same thing?

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Joan January 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm

While multi-contributor websites are ranking as the most popular, I don’t think single-author blogs are terribly disadvantaged; they’re both different opportunities.

I think of multi-authored site like Amazon.com, but single-author blogs like boutiques. I go to Social Media Examiner (the Amazon.com) for the variety of content, run-of-the-mill, generic, what’s-everyone-else-doing news.

But I come to you, the boutique of content marketing, to tell me what’s working for you as a small business, because like fashion, you really get me. Your content fits what I’m trying to do, more than Social Media Examiner. I’m after the boutique-limited-edition stuff, and you’ve got it.

End of the day, it’s what you want TSL to be. Do you want to be able to employ more people, get more readerships, share the writing responsibility with others? Then go the route of Social Media Examiner. If you’d like to retain the small-business-underdog-boutique feel, stick with your current style.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Joan, love your boutique analogy here. GREAT point. At the same time though, if we look at retail, the giants have swallowed up many of the boutiques, as they simply couldn’t keep up.

In my mind, I’d love for single author blogs to get better and stronger with time, but my impression is many will be another “wal mart” victim.

But again, there are always outliers and exceptions. Always.

Thanks so much for your thoughts Joan,

Marcus

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Beth M. Wood January 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm

This is a tough one! And something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now, so thank you for sharing your thoughts. One one hand, I want to disagree with you… While having multiple bloggers does mean more frequent posts, it certainly doesn’t guarantee the quality of the content. It also means many more followers, but to what end? I have been more impressed with a blog post that is smart, succinct, entertaining and thoughtful – written by a sole voice. I care not one wit how many followers that blogger has, how big a company he runs (if at all), or whether she is considered a “thought leader” – I judge the blogger on the blog post. Period. I may come across a blog with many guest bloggers. Doesn’t matter. I’m only interested in that particular guest blogger’s post I am reading. If it’s great – I follow the guest blogger, not the company with the blog. Does that make sense?

On the other hand, I have to grudgingly agree with you. Do we need guest bloggers? Maybe. Will having multiple bloggers grow my audience reach and blog topics? Certainly. We’re in a field (Marketing) that, as you mention, is so saturated with content, it’s all but impossible to be heard. But, when we are? When the right person reads the right blog post at the right time? That’s where the magic happens. That’s all it takes. So I’ll hold onto the hope that us lone bloggers out there can keep writing great stuff that’s smart and entertaining, and that the right audience will find it. I’m an optimist, after all.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hey Beth, sorry for my slow reply, but this was a tremendously thoughtful comment. In fact, I couldn’t agree with you more, on both accounts.

When it comes down to it, I’m really not here to say what is happening is good or bad, but it does seem to be a trend, one that businesses are all going to have to deal with if they’re not dealing with it(saturation) already.

Thanks so much for adding to the conversation,

Marcus

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Sandra January 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I’m right behind you, tortoise, I’m the snail:)
I can see content outsourcing taking hold. But eventually, something’s gotta give and there has to be a plateau – quality content is just that, quality. Not quantity.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Yep, time will tell Sandra. I’m sure there are many in this industry paying close attention to see where this all goes.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Marcus

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Timothy Reeves January 9, 2013 at 8:23 pm

I am following suit. I believe its a very powerful strategy to “partner”/ promote other leaders in your niche to work towards a common goal.

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Tom Turner January 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Marcus,
Great post. I’m new to this, but I have to agree. Here’s my question: how can I understand the CSI of my industry?

I realize it won’t be an easy answer, so let me tell you what I’ve already started doing:

I’m searching for and following those in my industry, from the content-heavy to the throw-up-a-website-and-hope-they-come. They’re on my HubSpot competitors page. I’m following them on Twitter. I haven’t jumped into Facebook or g+ yet.

I don’t have the research to back this up, but I’m guessing that my industry will be Facebook- and Twitter-heavy based on my target audience. I can’t confirm it yet, but I don’t want to spread myself too thin on social media based on your recommendation.

Do you (or anybody else) recommend other avenues to understand industry-specific CSI?

Tom

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Tom, sorry for my slow response bud.

Your question is a GREAT one, and frankly, I don’t have a solid answer. One thing is for sure though. Every industry has its top keywords, and you can always search them on Google Adwords tool and see their competitive rankings. It ain’t perfect, but it’s better than nothing.

But whoever invents the CSI app for content marketers is going to be doing quite well ;-)

Marcus

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Andrea T.H.W. January 10, 2013 at 2:35 am

You’re surely right Marcus even if this is not such a good thing. It will become something restricted to those who have the money, so to speak, and probably a lot of freedom and independent thinking will be lost. Think about how difficult it is today to compete on searches when Google routinely prefers big dogs over everyone else.

Surely if it’s a one author blog you can’t write, be social and live a life at the same time, or it’s very difficult; someone with money can outsource everything and be everywhere whatever the quality of the blog, or website.

Not so good but that’s the way it goes. Going the tortoise way though I think a little space for independent, one person blogs will remain because it’s there where you will always find independent content.

Happy 2013 to you and all readers!

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Andrea, appears you and I see this very similarly. There are pros and cons to all changes online, and this is just one of many more to come I think. But without question, the little guy is going to have a tougher and tougher time keeping up unless they are using a multiplicity of strategies and platforms.

Thanks for dropping by bud,

Marcus

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Tom Webster January 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

Like some others, I agree…and disagree. I know from some smart folks in this space (like you, Jay Baer and Mark Schaefer) that the kernel of what you are saying here is true–to have a top blog, frequency is mandatory.

But, I’ll just proffer this–in my particular business, the linkage between having a “top blog” and selling a big custom research project is marginal. We are above the fold on Google for scores of keywords that matter to our business, and some of these haven’t been written on for months–but they are linked to as evergreen resources. There is value, I would submit, for those who would post less frequently, if (and only if) they are producing genuinely great, evergreen pillar content that will stand as a resource for a period of time.

That’s not to say that you couldn’t come in to our business, Marcus, and point out a dozen or more ways that we could be doing this better, and that those ways wouldn’t add to our top line growth. But our PRIMARY goal with our blog is quality, quality, quality. To pour more into the hopper would render that goal secondary–it HAS to.

Again, I’m not saying we are great at it, or even examples to hold up. But I do think there is another way. Having a “top blog” is not an end goal.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Tom, sorry for the slow reply on my part, as I was under the weather this past week.

Your point about frequency to business generated is a good one indeed. I’m sure there is a whole study to be made around that. In conjunction with that though, I wonder how much the established nature of the company dictates the success equation as well.

Also, I’m glad you bring up the point about “top blogs” not always being the end goal. Amen to that, and I hope my message here isn’t taken from readers as “top blog or nothing,” which would be a big fail on my part.

Thanks man,

Marcus

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Ken Muise January 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Wow… This is one of the most depressing blog posts that I’ve ever read. Ugh…join the big boys or die of exhaustion while treading water.

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Sorry to be depressing Ken. I agree, not a fun subject, but I was just observing a trend that seems to be real and present. But with everything else, there will always be outliers and exceptions– no matter the trend.

Thanks,

Marcus

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Mack Collier January 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

Marcus love this post and this is something I’ve been thinking about the last few months as well. I know that over the last few years that when I am blogging the most frequently (say 4-5 times a week), I get more referrals, leads, and business. When I get busy and let the blogging slack to 1-2 posts a week, the leads and business dries up.

So with that in mind, I’ve been really focused on getting back to 4-5 posts a week, and staying there. So far so good, I’ve written 12 posts in 14 days in 2013.

But, I’ve also seen how some in this space have moved from being a solo blogger to a group-blog model. The problem with this approach IMO is that…the very thing that made me want to read the blog to begin with, goes away.

Let me give you an example: There was a blogger that I loved reading. Then a few years ago, they got pretty popular, started speaking a lot, working a lot more, etc. Then they brought in a couple of other bloggers to post. So the blog still had 3 posts a week, but now only 1 of them were from the original blogger. Ok, so I didn’t like it as much, but still not terrible.

Then the blog expanded to 5 new posts a week, but only 1 from the original blogger. Over time, the original blogger’s weekly post became a ‘here’s where I am speaking next!’ weekly update.

I unsubscribed. The blog had literally lost its voice, and the reason why I was such a fan to begin with.

And I think that’s the trade-off here. More content (assuming the content is even semi-useful) will equal more traffic. We all know this.

But if you are already getting say 1,000 visitors a day from just you posting, is it REALLY worth it to turn your blog into a group blog if it means you’ll double that traffic, but completely lose your voice?

I dunno, I think that’s a question we can only answer for ourselves. For me, I’d rather go it myself and see how high I can climb alone. Your mileage may vary ;)

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Marcus Sheridan January 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Love the example you brought up here Mack. I think anyone like yourself or me that has been around for the last few years and reads often has seen this phenomena take place more than once. Fact is, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain that individual feel and brand when there are multiple bloggers on the site. Although this individual feel and brand isn’t the “end all” by any stretch, it makes it tough for some (like you and me) to open our doors.

Good stuff man,

Marcus

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Paul January 22, 2013 at 1:27 am

I guess I consider myself part of “the slow blog movement”. I publish a few times a month, try to write outside the bounds of date-based relevance and don’t even have social media sharing or comments. I find my readers get value from the way I do it, and sure I might not have 1,000s of them, but I’m good with that :-)

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Marcus Sheridan January 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

And that’s what matters Paul– you’re good with it.I think that’s in many ways the key to all of this– a clear understanding of where you are and what makes you happy and satisfied. For each person, this can very much vary.

Thanks for stopping by man,

Marcus

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Jon Hall January 23, 2013 at 5:18 am

I think it’s a shame that your example of good content is yet another “4 ways that…”, “10 things that…”, “the 12 best…” blog article! This formula is horribly overused these days.

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Marcus Sheridan January 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm

If you’re referring to Social Media Examiner Jon, there roughly 200,000 subscribers that have been attained by these types of posts over 40 months since inception indicates they seem to be doing well. And just because you or I aren’t a big fan of list posts, doesn’t mean the common business person who is just learning about this stuff isn’t very interested.

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Tushar January 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

Yes I too see lot of blogs get succeed which has got so many guest bloggers. Surely single author blogs are finding i difficult to win the race.

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Ocha June 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Hey Marcus, You are right about one person not being able to do the work of a team. But how many times do we, as individuals feel we are the team. Getting total buy-in is not always achievable. I’ve read your article on the buy-in and love it, but man isn’t that last quarter inch much thicker on some skulls than other. Though I’m still do all my own writing, I do have others that provide some of the input and ideas which really helps get things moving forward.

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