If there’s a term out there these days that I’m not fussy on, it’s “content marketing”. I totally get that content is king (though I believe that conversation is actually king), but content has become so commoditized lately. It seems like content is now a product or service being sold by myriad “social media consultants” as the be-all and end all of online marketing.
Yes, content is vitally important. It gets you search engine love and positions you as an expert and all those wonderful things. But reducing it to simply a product to be bought and sold is not the right approach.
The online world is a noisy, noisy place. Figuring out how to make content more than just a product is the single most important thing you can do to stand out from the noise. You need to find the story you want to tell. And you need to figure out how to tell them in a way that sets you apart. That’s not easy to do. And because it’s not easy to do, many of us stop before we even begin. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can produce great content that cuts through the noise. But you have to start somewhere.
Read then Write
Everyone always says they don’t have time to read – I’m guilty of it myself. But if you ask anyone who puts out vast quantities of content, you’ll discover that all of them, without exception, read voraciously. The only way you can learn to think critically about a topic is to understand various perspectives on that topic. So read everything you can. Hard to find the time? Yep, me too.
If you don’t have time (or patience) to sit and quietly read a book for at least 1/2 an hour a day, then get into audiobooks. You can listen in the car, on the bus, at the dog park. My friend Tom even listens to audio books on double speed, so he can get through more books more quickly.
As for blogs, if you’re not using a feed reader and subscribing to blogs that interest you, start doing it today. Get Feedly. You can read on your laptop, your tablet, or smart phone. You can do this reading in line at the supermarket, or waiting at the doctor’s office.
To really get clear on what you think and the story you want to tell, you simply MUST read. A lot. Only then will the concepts start to flow.
Just Start Writing
I got up this morning and didn’t know what I’d be blogging about. I just knew that I wanted to put a post out. I scanned through my ideas list and nothing really struck me. So I opened my page and just wrote the first thing that came to me, as the title of the post. (By the way, I changed the title halfway through writing this- the rule is, there are no rules!). Then, I just started riffing. It’s not entirely stream of consciousness, but it is the culmination of all of the ideas and experiences I’ve been absorbing the past few days.
Try coming up with a headline, and then just riffing on it. It takes practice, but after a while it gets easier. Some of my most successful blog posts have been the result of me just riffing on a subject. So just sit and write. Don’t wait for the perfect time or the perfect inspiration, because inspiration doesn’t have a schedule and it only comes from one thing – hard work.
Just Hit Publish
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…at a certain point in the process, you have to just suck it up and hit that publish button on what you’ve done. (In fact, I wrote a whole e-book about it.) Every time we interview someone for our podcast, every time I push the Publish button on a blog post, every time I hit record on a video, there’s a little voice inside me that tries to say, “Nobody is going to read this. Your questions are silly. Who wants to watch this?”. But I do it anyway. Sometimes nobody reads what I write. Sometimes the question doesn’t come out exactly the way I want. Sometimes the video doesn’t get watched. But I suck it up and do it anyway.
The process of telling a story is one thing. But that only gets you so far. You HAVE to get over your fear and get it out there while it’s still fresh. Will you feel ridiculous? At first, probably. But it’s like hearing your own voice on a recording or seeing yourself on TV. It feels really weird, makes you cringe a little. But if you do it enough, eventually you get used to the feeling. And the rewards to your business, your relationships with others, and your life if you do hit publish? Second to none.
So, what holds you back from telling your story? Let’s talk.