Our group started the ascent of Mount Sinai at midnight. Climbing through the blackness, safe from the burning heat of the day, we expected to reach the summit by dawn. Dark shapes loomed suddenly either side of the path: our torches picked out local Bedouin, offering camels to carry us up the mountain.
We all declined. We were just starting off. We were full of energy and keen to climb through the night. Why waste money when we could just walk?
The local men followed us, never far away, stepping into the torchlight every few minutes to ask ‘camel?’ For the first hour this seemed like an insult. The second hour was tougher, and at the half way stage some of the party had to rest for a little while. Then, towards the end of the ascent, with the dim pinnacle in sight, the path grew steeper and one woman began to struggle. Forward jumped a figure:
‘Yes! I need a camel!’ she panted. ‘How much?’
‘Fifty dollar’ said the Bedouin, no hesitation.
And she paid it.
There are some services that you don’t know you need, and by the time you do, the price is much, much higher.
With professional content help, it’s not that the price is artificially inflated (cunning move by those Egyptians, don’t you think?). If you don’t have advice and guidance on your content right at the beginning, your web project is likely to get so messy, and delayed, and diluted, that rectifying the result will cost you far more than the help would have done in the first place.
And, unlike the woman on Mount Sinai, my experience of people with small businesses and tight web site budgets is that they can’t afford to buy themselves out of the mess near the end. They settle instead for a half-hearted, chaotic, unfinished or imbalanced web site.
They never make it to the top.
Conversations at the foot of the mountain
I’m too honest to pull the camel trick on you. My climbing companion wished that the traders had been candid with her at the start. If she had realised she was likely to need the assistance later on, she could have hired the beast at the foot of the mountain, for a reasonable price, and simply jumped on when she needed it most.
So I’ll be straight with you. I won’t hide the reasons that you will wish you had a content strategy from the beginning. Over the next two weeks I’m going to publish two blog posts covering the 8 most common problems that content strategy solves for small businesses.
As I’m being honest, here is the list. I know that some of them will make you cringe but please don’t go into denial. I’ve seen these played out again and again. Hopefully they will help you to realise that you do need help with your web content, and that it pays to get it from the start.
- Your content is not good enough
- Your existing print content does not work on the web
- It takes time to produce good content
- There are bits of web content that you have never heard of
- When you finally realise what you want on your web site, it will be too late to change
- Your site might look great when you launch but will deteriorate soon after
- Blogging is tough to keep up
- You can’t offend your boss
You’ll pay one way or another – either at the beginning so that help is at hand, or at the end, over the odds, breathless, and in pretty bad shape.