Content marketing mistakes: Repeating what others have written

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog.

Mistake #3: Repeating what others have written. (“Why should I read your stuff when someone’s already said it better?”)



Based on Matt Might’s “The Illustrated Guide To a PhD”.

I find that Clayton Christensen’s ‘Jobs-To-Be-Done’ idea is a particularly useful insight for thinking about content. People ‘hire’ a piece of content to ‘do a job’ for them.

Turns out that Gregory Ciotti (again) has already written a good post about creating content from a JTBD perspective. I agree with his assessment 100%.

Now there’s no point in me writing it. I can just refer you to Greg’s post.

This can seem depressing initially, if I fixate on wanting to have written it first. But it’s really quite liberating. It means that I’m now freed to think about what the next steps might be.

You create new value by beginning where the best writing has left off.


Remember that addictive game, City Bloxx? Creating new content should be like that. We add to the collective space.

Brian Dean from Backlinko alluded to this when he described the Skyscraper technique.

Skip the stuff other people have already done.

Duplicate content is the bane of the Internet, and more crucially, it’s boring. Instead, change your lenses. If everybody is looking through telescopes, bust out the microscope. Look deeper. Look farther. Look broader. Make comparisons. Chase down the implications.

If you want to write something, and you discover that somebody else has already written it, just link to that and then build off of it.

Write what should come next. Write what should’ve come before. Ask questions that haven’t been asked yet, and then set out to find the answers to those questions.

“But everything’s already been written!” False.

I often catch myself thinking this too, and yet… every so often, somebody comes up with something that the rest of us recognize as fresh, high-quality content. How do they do it? What are they doing differently? Typically, they begin by examining some facet of the idea-scape to a greater nuance.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel– and more importantly, you have neither the time nor the resources. Pick something specific and really dig into it.

Here’s a fun story about how this worked for us:

  1. We found a great series of interviews that Brian Honigman had done with successful entrepreneurs.
  2. We figured that it would be compelling to fit those interview passages into a single, coherent narrative, and so we did.
  3. That Slideshare subsequently got featured on Business Insider, making it a win-win-win for everybody involved (the interviewees, Brian, ourselves, readers.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *