7 Examples of Content Marketing Expectations vs Reality

Expectations vs Reality Road Signs

It’s really easy to have unrealistic expectations when you’re getting into something new and uncharted.

These 7 examples of content marketing expectations vs reality are very common among beginner marketers.

Let’s see what they are!

Volume of content

Expectation: “10-15 articles is all I need and traffic will magically start pouring on to my site.”

Reality: *crickets*

Most sites start getting meaningful traffic after 70+ articles.

And that’s if you’ve done most of the things like SEO, keyword research, competitor research, search intent, and content relevance right.

You’ll always hear about exceptions but you must assume your site isn’t going to be one.

Content quality

Expectation: “I don’t really need the BEST content, do I? Surely I can just wing it and still do well!”

Reality: High competition in your niche is raising the content quality bar on a daily basis.

This is especially true in evergreen niches like health, wealth, and relationships.

That’s not to say you can’t carve out a place for your site even in the most competitive niches, because you can.

Just not with an attitude of “good enough will do.”

Always strive to create the best piece of content you possibly can.

Content relevance

Creating relevant content

Expectation: “I have so much to say! People are going to love hearing about my rants and ideas!”

Reality: For the most part, people go online to find solutions to their problems and you have to create content with that in mind.

Sure, you might be an industry veteran with a lot to say but when starting from scratch, you have to build authority by solving specific problems for your audience.

After you’ve created a body of content on relevant keywords and people start seeking you out because they like and trust you, you can then occasionally let off some steam and create content on whatever you want.

They say “content is king,” but relevant content is the name of the game.

Content creation process

Expectation: “I’ve got half an hour… let me just bang out a couple of articles real quick.”

Reality: You’ll barely outline an article in that amount of time.

Of course, some people are better at creating content than others.

But on average, it will probably take you 4-6 hours to create a 2,000-word article.

Bear in mind, getting out the words is into a Word document doesn’t mean you’re done.

You have to then edit the article, find appropriate imagery, and upload your article to your website.

This will all take a lot more time than you might expect, especially when you’re in the beginner stages.

Google rankings

Google rankings and traffic

Expectation: “I just created the best article on fly fishing ever! Let me upload this bad boy and let it shoot to the first place on Google. I hope my site handles all the traffic that’s about to come my way!”

Reality: 6 months later – article ranks on page 12

Unestablished websites take a long time to rank for low competition keywords, let alone high competition ones.

A new site will have an unsurmountable battle to rank for such a competitive keyword like “fly fishing.”

Even if your article truly deserves to rank high, Google will want proof that you know what you’re talking about in the terms of:

  • User experience – Google will test your content against audiences and see if people are actually interested in it
  • Backlinks – Google sees links from other relevant websites to your content as a seal of approval from your industry peers that adds authority to your website
  • Content relevance – your content has to solve problems
  • Topic comprehensiveness – search engine algorithms like websites that cover topics comprehensively, which means covering as many related keywords on your website as possible should be one of your goals

Content marketing ROI

Expectation: “Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing schemes and generates 3 times as many leads? I’m going to get my money back so fast!”

Reality: Cost-effectiveness of content marketing depends on your ability to execute well on several concepts:

  • Understand SEO
  • Understand your competition
  • Understand your audience
  • Create relevant and comprehensive content
  • Survive until content marketing kicks in

Just as an example, you might spend all your marketing budget on 50 articles in January and go out of business in July because those articles are still not bringing in any traffic to your site.

And then in December, long after your business is gone, you might see some of those articles start to perform.

Content marketing skillset

Expectation: “OK, I’ll just write articles for my site, create YouTube videos, and start publishing content on Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn on a daily basis. How hard can it be?!”

Reality: An ambitious plan like this requires a distinct set of skills including writing, editing, copywriting, SEO, and social media management.

Not to mention a ton of knowledge when it comes to nuances of all these content marketing channels.

But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to tackle all of these things because it is.

Just prepare yourself for a few months of learning and mastering your craft.


None of the problems mentioned in this article are insurmountable.

The important thing is not to give up and take a level-headed approach to content marketing.

It works – but only if you do it right.

And to do it right, you’ll have to get through the growing pains of the beginner phase.

I suggest checking out my article series on how to create a working content marketing strategy starting here.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve had similar expectations about content marketing and do you feel disheartened by the reality checks!

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