I’ve been learning about content marketing from Copyblogger since the days when its only writer was Brian Clark, and the phrase “content marketing” didn’t yet exist.
Yep, that was a long time ago.
At first I was seduced by Copyblogger. It lured me in with useful content marketing and copywriting advice, and all the lovely instruction that a young publisher needed to learn.
But now I know the truth … I actually hate Copyblogger.
And I’m going to tell you why …
Copyblogger stole all of my readers
Why does Copyblogger have something like 190,000 subscribers while I’m stuck at a measly 10 or 15 thousand?
It’s because all of the people who would have signed up to my mailing list already found Copyblogger! And let’s face it, what do I have to offer them that they’re not already getting here?
You see, at a time when blogging was taking off in a really big way, the Copyblogger team was creating content and information that solved so many damn problems that they cemented themselves as an ever-relevant authority.
And they just went from strength to strength.
Once you get that many readers it’s not hard to make your stuff go massively viral. Your existing readers help spread your work to new people and eventually you’ve “stolen” everyone’s future readers.
Have you seen how many “likes” this silly grammar graphic got?
Yeah, that says 32,000!
Copyblogger took my ideas before I had them
I’ve come up with some pretty cracking ideas for the blogging and digital publishing niches lately.
Oh wait … they’re already taken. UGH!
I remember when premium WordPress themes started to become a big thing. Before I even knew how to properly install one, these guys had created a WordPress theme marketplace.
Or how about when Google first announced that site speed was going to be an important factor for rankings? Yeah, Clark already had a note in his sidebar about his new, blazing-fast WordPress hosting service.
How about when bloggers wanted to move away from just selling ebooks to doing something a little bit more comprehensive? Yep — they launched easy-to-use membership site software that lets you build one without needing to spend a fortune hiring a coder.
And don’t get me started on responsive design for mobile devices …
Copyblogger can’t possibly be beaten
How can I possibly go viral when this site is on the scene?
Should I just wait it out?
Surely a time will come when they slip up — maybe they’ll somehow lose the respect and adoration of the entire mailing list. It happens … right?
Well, that’s not happening here.
This site continually produces high quality content, training courses, and products. And although it does keep up with the times, Copyblogger never seems to deviate from the fundamentals that made it famous in the first place.
It’s absolutely bloody infuriating.
Really, it seems pointless to even try.
Well, not really …
You know what?
There is always going to be someone better than you.
There is always going to be a website, blog, or business that was doing it before you.
And it doesn’t matter. You can still build a minimum viable audience of 10,000+ troops that allows you to build a great business and live the life of your dreams.
Here are some facts:
- There are a crap-load of people online
You think just because some site is massive and powerful that you don’t have room to grow in the same market? That’s crazy. Not only are populations growing around the world, but more people are getting access to the internet every day. There are literally five people online in my house as I write this.
- People aren’t loyal to just one website
Sure, people who subscribe to Copyblogger might really love them and their content, but I bet a lot of them also subscribe to my site. Even if every single person in the world was subscribed to your competitor’s mailing list, you’re still going to get subscribers. You might even become the new powerhouse. Haven’t you seen Game of Thrones? Kingdoms rise and fall all the time.
- You don’t need to be first
Can you imagine if Subway decided not to go in business just because McDonald’s was already around? I guess they wouldn’t have grown to the point of having more stores than the big guys. Whoops.
- You don’t need to be original
I’ve never plagiarized an article in my entire life, but I highly doubt that any of them are 100% original. I’m not the Beatles. What I have done is absorb ideas from other websites, copied theories from offline businesses, and, as such, my blog is an awesome mixture of hybrid un-originalities. And it’s still successful.
- The big guys will teach you a lot
Yes, it sucks to always sort of be in someone’s shadow. But you know what? These people have a lot to teach us. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be working from home, starting WordPress blogs, and traveling the world if Brian Clark hadn’t built this site first. I owe him a lot.
The takeaway …
So the next time you get a little bit depressed about the fact that your blog is not the biggest or the best or the first … it would be good to remember these three simple things:
1. No need to be first. Be different.
2. No need to be the biggest. Be effective.
3. No need to hate your competitors. Make friends and learn from them.
Who knows … they might even let you write an article on their website.
Reader Comments (104)
Rachel Speal says
Ha, pretty funny to see this from you today Ramsay, since I just spent the morning digging through your blog today 🙂
The truth is, readers like to follow different blogs not only because of the info they get, but because of the personality of the blogger.
I enjoy reading Copyblogger because they’re a source of fantastic info (though the daily posts are a little overwhelming; they make me feel guilty for not reading every one).
But I like Blog Tyrant because I like your down-to-earth, sitting at the kitchen table approach. Reading your blog is like speaking to a good (knowledgeable) friend at your kitchen table.
Thank you for that description of my blog – that’s a really nice way to put it.
Glad you enjoyed!
Harry Heijligers says
I hate CopyBlogger because every blogpost I read is all about the same statement: create quality content. They’re right of course, but repeating the same mantra over and over again, get’s me boring!
Sonia Simone says
So are you doing it?
Harry Heijligers says
Ha! Trying to, anyway!
🙂 Great lessons are always worth repeating.
The -application- of the idea of “quality content” can take years of studying. Copyblogger is still nothing but home runs for me.
John Richardson says
Ramsay, I used to hate Copyblogger with a passion. They had all the cool tools and ultra shiny objects. Their websites conformed to what ever device I was on. Their WordPress guy named Brian Gardner actually made a living working at Starbucks. I have to admit, I was a jealous man. But then I realized that I could use some of the things they were offering and create a cool site of my own. So I bought a theme that the famous Brian guy used on his own site. I modified it, tweaked it, and added some unique content.
Last I saw, Copyblogger doesn’t offer free Daily and Weekly Planners, Goal Setting Toolkits, or even a fast way to clean off your desk. And they certainly don’t know the Power of 48 Minutes. For that my friend, you’ll have to visit a site built with the Eleven40 theme, pumping out content pages designed with Premise, that ranks well because of an adventure with a Scribe. Just click my name above to be magically transported there…
Brian Gardner says
John, it’s ironic that you leave the comment that you did. Currently I’m sitting at Starbucks and developing the theme that I use on my personal blog so that it can be available on StudioPress.
Kudos to you for taking our advice and using our tools. More importantly, I’m glad that they are working for you. 🙂
This exchange is awesome! 🙂
John Richardson says
I really like the new about-me style theme you are working on. Looks great on a tablet or computer. Definitely the way to go for a site focused on putting all your major media links in one place. Can’t wait to implement it.
Gemma Regalado says
Superb piece, Ramsay!
I speak with SO many people who think, “Oh hey, [insert big-ass website] already covered what I wanted to, so I guess I shouldn’t even bother”.
Truth is, we each speak about things with our own personal style – and there are some people who are going to learn MORE from something you write because of the way you express it, rather than how the writer of a really popular blog has reported on it.
Get stuck in, I say! There’s plenty internet pie to go around.
Thanks Gemma! Glad you enjoyed it.
I hate your post Ramsay because it just revealed my struggles. But I have to say thank you for the last three points-they brought comfort.
Ha ha. It was a LOT more antagonistic before the edit process too…
<3 you 🙂
Loved your article and the way you wrote it. It was cathartic. Case in point, no one has your particular way of saying something or your point of view. In fact, someone out there is waiting for what you have to say in the way you’ll say it. It will finally click for them in a way they couldn’t hear before. We all have our place in the world. You do, I do, we do.
Thanks Marie. This was a really lovely comment.
Ung Mulat says
“Someone out there is waiting for what you have to say – in the way you’ll say it.”
Totally gonna steal that line.
Samra Khan says
Ramsay, you have done a perfect job in taking the readers of copyblogger on an merry-go-round of stress and relief! 😀
When I read the first paragraph through the email…I was so annoyed at you, that how you dare talk about copy blogger like that 😀
well, well..but then i got you!
Thanks for the ride!
and the takeaway is absolutely something we beginners needed! I’m loving it!
Perfect response! 🙂
Thank you for leaving a comment about it.
Nick Stamoulis says
“What I have done is absorb ideas from other websites, copied theories from offline businesses, and, as such, my blog is an awesome mixture of hybrid un-originalities. And it’s still successful.”
Great point. Very rarely, if ever, will you have an idea that is 100% original. Everything we think and believe is an amalgam of our past experiences, influences, relationships, and more. But you can take a unique spin and an unique combination of those influences to come up with something special.
Yep, took me a long time to get that in to my head but it’s very important.
Mark Brinker says
You mentioned the Beatles in your post. I remember hearing a Paul McCartney interview where he acknowledged that when the Beatles were getting started back in the 60s, there were other bands that were better musicians than them. But it didn’t matter because the Beatles had that “it” factor. They brought something unique and fresh to the market that people liked.
To your point, Ramsay, you don’t have to be an amazing writer like a Brian Clark or a Jon Morrow to be successful online. Perhaps all you need to offer is a slightly different perspective or angle.
Great post, Ramsay, and thanks for the reminder that the Internet is a *very* big place and getting bigger all the time!
Well look at that – even the Beatles! 🙂
Ria Parish says
Wonderfully entertaining to read! XD
Charlie Gilkey says
Nice post, Ramsay.
I hate Copyblogger for yet another reason: when I try something “new” that works when it comes to content marketing, I remember that I either remember reading it here years ago, that it was a seed that I got from a post I read here, or that I’m synthesizing some ideas I have with ideas they’ve shared.
Of course, that I count some of them as friends and colleagues and I’ve been around since near the beginning of Copyblogger goes a long way to lessen the burn. Luckily, I’m not trying to beat or compete with them, rather than advance and add to the great work they’re producing.
I hate that! 😉
🙂 i love the word “be different, be effective and make friends and learn from them.”
GREAT article thank you!!
No worries. Glad you enjoyed it!
Honestly, the topic got me angry…I thought its only an insane blogger that can utter out such statement.
With a grin and tight face, I clicked through from my email and saw this, it’s funny, inspiring, challenging and I smiled till I finished reading the last phrase.
Copyblogger has become an institution and not just a blog. Thanks to brian clark and the rest teams. I learn a lot of details and I’m still learning.
Sorry for making you angry! Hope you enjoyed it in the end.
Gail Nott says
Great example of an eye-catching headline. Even the Beatles did covers in the beginning of their careers. Not being first or even being different “enough” bothered me so much, I didn’t actively promote myself as an expert. I’m not letting that stop me now. I know I’ll find my voice the more I produce content.
The original headline was way worse but Sonia made me change it. Pfft….
Sonia Simone says
ha ha 🙂
Elizabeth @ Rosalilium says
Very entertaining! Thank you. You’ve managed to drag a comment out of me here.
Off to check out your blog now! Might be just what I’m looking for right now. 🙂
The dragging out of comments is my favorite pastime. 😉
Elizabeth @ Rosalilium says
P.S. the Beatles weren’t that original. Much of their music was heavily influenced by american rhythm and blues and they were big fans of pentatonic scales with influences from old english chamber music.
I guess the point is, they took from a wide range of influences to make something their own, which is kind of what you’re saying here anyway and what makes a great blog!
Susan Neal says
Great post – it’s a waste of energy worrying about all the people who are better, smarter, wittier, prettier and more successful than you. It stops you focusing on becoming the best you can possibly be (which might just be better than you think).
Wittier…. I don’t know about THAT.
Thanks Susan. Appreciate it.
Samar - Freelance Flyer says
Absolutely brilliant post Ramsay!
I used to feel that way. It’s hard to match someone who made the term “quality content” synonymous with “epic”.
Then I signed up for Authority and now get to pick Brian, Sonia and their team’s brains whenever I want and all I can say is… I’ve seen the light 😀
I’ve resisted signing up for that because I know I’ll get lost inside forever and ever. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things though.
Sonia Simone says
Samar is a great voice inside Authority, I’m glad we have her. 🙂
Sonia Simone says
Oh, and Ramsay: Resistance is futile.
I saw your Copyblogger post sitting in my inbox; I did a double take when I read the headline. You better believe I had to click on the post. I think your headline is one of the best I’ve read. Simple, yet effective. Thanks for a great headline writing lesson. 🙂
Thanks so much Amandah. I really appreciate that. It sort of just came to me during fits of jealous rage. 🙂
Yeah, I have to admit, I have a “man crush” on Brian Gardner and Brian Clark. LOL
I use their stuff too. May use them all some day. I tell people who say they want to write for me to go read Copyblogger first, and subscribe. That’s how it is.
We owe a debt of gratitude to these guys! Thanks for the reminder.
Very well said. Thanks for leaving a comment Todd.
Craig McBreen says
I love this and I certainly agree with you. First of all I hate, hate everyone at Copyblogger. Brian, Sonia, Demian, etc. (They’re just so full of free, helpful advice. Full of it.) And I don’t even have 10 or 15 thousand readers, so I hate you too … 😉
“absolutely bloody infuriating.” Yes!
Seriously though, you are SO on the money. There is always going to be someone doing “it” before you. (Heck, wasn’t Google like the 5th search engine to come along?)
You don’t need to be first, or original. Heck, my latest post was written because of many of the sage-like things Brian Clark has written. But he is one of The Big Guys and he has indeed taught me a lot, even though we’ve never had a conversation.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? So, I guess (hope) he is a wee bit flattered by my completely unoriginal post 😉
Thank you, Sir!
Thanks Craig! I appreciate your hate. 🙂
Hassaan Khan says
You almost jolted me, now you add value to Copyblogger. I’m going to follow your blog too!
Thanks to you!
Shawn Gossman says
Wow, I got to say that this is one of the most interesting articles I have ever read online, for any topic at that! I applaud you for doing such a great job in writing it. 🙂 I think it is important to read it, though. Just because another site is doing better than yours doesn’t mean that you should give up… Instead of hating that site, maybe look up to it as a mentor and dream to grow up just like it! Great Post, I repeat, great post!
Dude thanks so much! They are extremely kind words!
Dan Merryday says
I agree about working with the competition. This is why you see industry “clusters” in cities – because working together returns more profit in the long run.
I think I need to start implementing working with the competition in my business strategy.
Thanks for the reminder!
Glad it helped Dan. Thanks for leaving a comment.
Just got back from London, by the way, and really noticed those “clusters” that you talk about. Everything happens so quickly because of it.
Sean Roulston says
Ramsay, you hit the nail on the head with this article. My takeaway? Be yourself! Readers are drawn to a variety of websites based on their personalities, how they best learn, and how they like to interact with others. If you choose to be yourself, you’re guaranteed to be unique and stand out!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and reminding us not to be too hard on ourselves.
Thanks Sean. Really good point. It’s hard to do sometimes…
Christian Richardson says
I agree with the others here.
CB has quite the audience and it seems
they have proven themselves to be rightfully at the top.
Thanks for the article Ramsay I subbed to you.
Thanks Christian! Nice to have you on board.
Ike Jr. says
This is very interesting, true and inspiring. I’m going to continue to soak up the knowledge from the big guys online and then apply it with my own personal twist…great post!
Glad you enjoyed it Ike Jr.
Slavko Desik says
Great article my friend. And I’m glad seeing your work being published here; people indeed have much to learn from the Tyrant. This article is inspirational, but factual as well when it comes to numbers- there is audience out there for everyone.
Oh, and one more thing I see you failed to notice in this article- the Tyrant troops are probably among the most loyal and engaged audience on the net nowadays. That’s a win in itself.
Yeah I am so lucky to have the Troops. I really don’t know how it happened but you guys seriously make it all worth while. Even the discussion happening now on the ethics of Fiverr is absolutely blowing me away.
Sara Woodward says
Headlines, Hookers and Hope….
A very clever headline. It almost backfired because I have become a loyal follower of Copyblogger. I was about to leap to their defence and I had you down as a bitter, twisted failure! Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. We both won. You got me to read the article. I learnt from it.
Writing can be a lonely, cash scarce place, re-enforced with bills that thud on the door map and clients who are sometimes hard to find/hook/engage. It’s all too easy to lose that confidence and self belief, file away the hopes, dreams and words and find somewhere safe. Boring, soul destroying but safe. So, keep these articles coming – I have become one of your foot soldiers and look forward to more pearls of wisdom and encouragement. If Sandra Bullock can take on space, debris storms, losing George Clooney and not quit, then it makes my life seem less daunting. My ‘no thanks’ to her space station debris. Her Houston radio silence to my copyblogging access from the best out there in cyberspace.
I may be 9,990 shy of 10,000 but I will take on board your advice – take heart, be different, be effective and learn from the best.
PS. With reference to my headline – your headline was brilliant, I won’t lose hope and you need to sort your hooker out in the front row of your rugby fifteen after the Wallabies loss at Twickers (mind you, we are going to get hammered by your little cousins in black this weekend) ………Regards. Woody
Noooo I haven’t seen the movie yet!! 🙂
The title is deceiving, sounds like you are brushing copyblogger’s shoes.
Did you join them recently? haha
Thanks for the reading.
I love Copyblogger
I’m not sure I know what that saying means, Bryce…
Anthony Morgan says
The first half of your article reminds me of the South Park episode, “Simpsons Already Did It”.
Ha ha. Haven’t seen it but can imagine…
You know I love your blog Ramsay as I was one of your first followers before we knew who you were.
And this article is a great example of why – brilliant headline; some key insights and a load of empathy.
When you wrote that there were a hell of a lot of people online and room for a lot of quality content, I let out a sigh of relief.
Jeez mate – I’d be delirious with joy if I had 1000 readers – let alone 10,000.
Working on that and your blog and Copyblogger are my 2 go to places to learn some of the nitty gritty.
Thanks Liz. That means a lot. And it always makes me grin when I see a comment from you and the other originals.
Is this a native ad?
Brian Clark says
Whom would it be an ad for, Copyblogger or Ramsay? It’s not a native ad, by the way … just curious why you ask.
Wish he’d followed up on this…
Eric White says
The best takeaway: Don’t be first. Be different. Too often content creators get caught up in wanting to be first with a topic, especially if it’s about something current like the Playstation 4 release or something. But really, the best thing a content creator can do is actually take the time to differentiate the material and come up with a completely fresh angle.
Even though it very likely won’t be completely fresh, the new take will resonate with readers and spark interest in later articles. Nice work and keep trucking towards Copyblogger status!
Valerie Leroyer says
Oh well I enjoyed reading your post, Ramsay!! In fact your headline is quite good indeed. And I didn’t know about you before reading it. So now, not only do I know you’re coming from Down Under (which I visited a few times), but also I’m eager to visit your blog.
And btw, with such a great guest post, I’m really curious to know how much new subscribers you got back -)) If you may share that info…
And no, I don’t hate Copyblogger… Otherwise I won’t be on the site right now. In fact I’ve met Brian Clark at a bootcamp back in 2011, and that makes me trust the info I read here. When you see real people, “cela change la donne” as we say in French! Good luck -)
Where did you visit in Australia?
I got around 100 subscribers from this post yesterday. Here is a screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/JR1SVfp.jpg?1
Thanks for commenting!
Valerie Leroyer says
My mom used to live in Brisbane. So I visited Queensland and New South Whales mainly. As a scuba diver, I enjoyed Lady Elliot Island and Heron Island. Beautiful great barrier reef…
Just waiting for another opportunity to go back there with my son (I’m from Canada).
And now you’ve got one more subscriber -)
BTW, I love your -over 600 px- pictures. It does have a nice impact. Take care -)
Scott Cofer says
Just had to click through and read this … excellent lure with the headline! Bet you learned “lead with a strong headline” from Brian and the gang, huh? 🙂
To your point … I am a loyal reader – and subscriber – of yours as well Ramsay. A valuable blog is always needed and Blog Tyrant rocks – plenty of room at the top!
You’ve learned well …
Yep – probably stole the idea from Brian somewhere!
Thanks for commenting.
I have to admit, because of copyblogger, it was the reason I wanted to start blogging lol. It was also the reason I passed my english 4 class in high school though. With all the grammar weekly posts and people talking about I needed to write good to communicate to my audience, writing was a gift from Copyblogger for me. But I never did blog all the way because of school and could never find out how to fit the time in for writing — despite me writing in my journal every week, which I still do.
But after reading this blog post, I remember so much. I was also here before the wordpress theme trend took place. It’s crazy how fast that happened. I still remember when I got my first 3k visitors a day because of this blog. Crazy. And the craziest part about this blog is that a lot of the things it says has been reposted and reiterated for a very long time. Much of the techniques shared by this blog from years ago still work. It’s how I got to understand how essential SEO was for websites in general.
Good times Copyblogger. I have so much to remember because of this post. Ha.
Thanks Jarod. I’m really glad it brought back some nice memories. Thanks for leaving that comment. Made me grin.
Jackson Anderson says
haha I really liked this post!
Firstly the headline grabbed from a retweet so I actually had no idea where this has been published and all I could think is “but it’s such a good site with amazing content, have I missed something to hate?” haha
and then imagine my surprise when I saw it was posted ON Copyblogger.
Definitely had a bit of a giggle.
Really great post and always a constant reminder to why you should always get started.
Like you said when it comes to this online world there is millions of people getting internet access for the first time, you can still get a lot of subscribers, you’ve just got to focus on those last 3 main points and MAKE SHIT HAPPEN!
Again, great post Ramsay and awesome to see a fellow Aussie kicking ass in the online world!
I’ll definitely be checking out your blog for the first time!
and P.S another point –
When there’s even bigger blogs in your niche, don’t underestimate the value of getting an article of yours to their 100k+ subscribers, they just made it even easier for you to attract a new audience!
Absolutely! This particular post brought in about 100 new email subscribers yesterday alone.
Takeshi Young says
Screw CopyBlogger! :p Just signed up for your blog.
Definitely don’t do that. This site is about 1,000,000 times more valuable than mine.
Like John Mayer said when playing blues guitar with BB King, “This is like stealing something from someone’s house right in front of them.”
Lena @ WhatMommyDoes says
hahahaha this was great. I needed to read this just about now, too. 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it Lena.
Great post Ramsey! I follow both copyblogger and you, and both are great. What I like about you though is that I can relate more, because you are newer on the online market and it feels like you’re more of a very knowledgable co-worker than a top university professor, which copyblogger is to me. Maybe a bit over the top comparison, but you get the point, right? 😉
Thanks for the kind words.
I’ve thought about this “vibe” and I think it comes down to one site that knows what it’s doing [Copyblogger] and the other one still trying to figure things out [Blog Tyrant].
I hope to be half of what this site is one day.
The only thing I understood is be different. For years I have fought against my quirkiness. Now I am embracing it. Somewhere I heard that often the things we dislike most about ourselves is what sets us apart. It’s like fitting in in high school. We spend so much time and effort to fit it and then realize that fiting in is conforming. Look in the mirror and you’ll see your fine. Skills can be learned.
Thanks for the comments. Just checking that you picked up on the fact that I was joking in the post right? I don’t really feel like that about CB.
Bui Hong Diep says
You surprised me with this title and continue to read your post…it’s really cool content and I learn alot from it.
Be different & Be effective
Glad you enjoyed it!
I hate it when people steal my ideas.. before I have them. I must admit, copyblogger is one of those such people. Great post.
Vinny Polston says
Your title got me, Ramsay. Straight up hook-line and sink, lol.
Seriously though. I loved the post. The whole thing had some really good insight, but the final three bullet points were my favorite. They should be on some sort of inspirational poster.
As always, I really enjoyed it! You rock!
Okay, I just popped over here from Jerod’s lemon post. This was a good read. I didn’t read it when it first came out, but that’s beside the point. You guys have taught me so much in the years that I’ve doing this blogging thing. I am trying to duplicate some of what you’ve done, but with my own twist to be different. Anyone who doesn’t read your posts, or download your free eBooks is nutty. Thanks for the good read,
I’ve a list called “Have to read to learn copy writing”.
And #1 on the list is Copyblogger.com
I love to read copyblogger.
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