Reflecting on what this year has brought and what will change in the coming year I could not help but think of the volume of content.

We’re deluged with content, most coming in the name of content marketing. Those producing all the content or those on the verge of doing so have started asking what makes my content get seen? What makes me different than anyone else?

For many lawyers and law firms content marketing became like the yellow pages and SEO driven websites of years past. Money was the key. The more you pay, the more you get.

Pay $70,000 for a full page yellow page ad year after year and you’d become the first ad in the book. Money not ability, expertise, or care drove placment.

For a while lawyer generated content on AOL message boards, Usenet groups, Listservs, and lawyer websites broke the mold of pay for exposure and business development.

For about ten bucks a month in the mid 90’s I could answer questions on AOL message boards and generate more work than you could shake a stick at for my small trial law firm in Wisconsin. Loved the feedback we received and the real connections we made with people.

AOL message boards and websites with helpful information for the public, before the days of the SEO race, were lawyers giving of themselves in a real and genuine way. Those lawyers who gave got more work.

SEO driven websites, the later day yellow page ads soon followed. Pay enough and you got high placement. Later on when you needed content for high placement hire someone to write content for you.

2014 become the year of producing the most content for law firms. Content marketing was all the buzz. Heck if you needed to move blogs inside a website, even at the expense of credibility, do it – we need content for our website.

The problem with all of this is that everyone’s content is getting seen less and less. Those firms joining the content marketing arms race are going to have mixed results, at best.

I found it interesting that author and digital marketing strategist, Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel) was writing on the same thing today, content marketing being dead.

Content Marketing is dead. Right? That didn’t take long.

I’ve been reading this notion of “too much content and not enough value” a lot lately. It usually starts with the premise that consumers simply can’t keep up with the pace and increase in content production and publication. We live in a day and age when anyone can create content – in text, images, audio and video – for free with global distribution.

What’s the solution? What draws people to read one piece versus another? What causes people to share one article and not another?

Joel sees three things.

1. The art of writing. Crafting words yourself as the author, instead of just churning them out.

2. Care. Look at the content and see if the content really matters. “Does the reader really care? Will the reader really care about it? Was there enough care put into the work for anyone to feel it? Authors won’t publish anything that doesn’t illustrate how much care they put into the content.”

3. True value. How great is that content? Does it have value for not only the reader, but you? Are you leaving meaning? If it were a book, does it merit being kept on the shelf? What’s the legacy you are leaving?

Joel may ask it of brands, but I’ll ask it of law firms. How many embrace these three ideas and the idea of building intimate trust with people through real and authentic care expressed through personal content.

Content marketing, as a way of getting seen, may end for law firms in 2015. But real and authentic personal engagement through blogging yourself is going to continue to grow. It’s the only way lawyers are going to get heard among the noise of content marketing.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ritesh Nayak