In the online world, Content is King….and everyone wants a turn on the throne. Competition for eyeballs is fiercer than ever, and with such an influx of information hitting everyone all the time, it can be pretty discouraging for the average content creator like you and me to even know where to start. How can I even compete with the top sites out there? How is anyone even going to know about my blog or podcast, let alone stay interested in it?
It’s enough to make even the most prolific media maker want to go back to just passively watching re-runs of LOST and CSI Miami on the couch.
So how do you rise above? How do you make sure your content is kick-ass enough to get noticed? Well, there are plenty of articles and seminars out there that will show you how to get the eyeballs you desire fast. Some of them have valuable tips, but others, I find, are focused on the wrong things. Like anything in new media, it’s not about how many eyeballs you get, it’s about the quality of those eyeballs.
Stop with the viral, already. There are plenty of companies out there that will tell you that they can help you make the next viral video. They guarantee you 20,000 views in 1 week, or your money back. They tell you that they, and only they, have the secret formula for getting everyone in the world to see what you’ve got. These people are nothing but glorified spammers. Run away, run away! There are inherent problems with companies who claim to be able to make “viral” content.
The fact is, viral videos are not made, they happen. Do you think that the Evolution of Dance guy intended to get 141,000,000 views on YouTube? Do you think anyone tried to make Susan Boyle an Internet sensation? Of course not. Content becomes popular because people can relate to it, and because when content moves people, they are compelled to share it with others. Evolution of Dance worked because what that guy did was pretty original, and it spoke to several generations at once. Susan Boyle worked because she has a great story – the ultimate underdog with an incredible, and unexpected talent. Compelling content makes popular content. It’s that simple.
Get over yourself. I swear, if I hear one more person try to tell me that they “don’t have anything interesting to say”, I’m going to snap. Everyone has a story, including you. It can be a challenge to draw out exactly what that story is, and being able to tell stories naturally takes practice. So how do you figure it out? Well, I just went through an exercise a few weeks ago that was insanely useful.
I was put in a position where I had to trace back my working life to the beginning (I mean, like when I was 11 years old), and then figure out all of the highlights of my professional life to date, including work accomplishments, awards, and community involvement. It was a really daunting task, but as I started working on it, I realized that I was telling a story. I was digging up memories of past experiences and people that I hadn’t thought about in years. And once I was finished, and was reviewing it, I was able to see very clearly where my strengths lie. I knew my story, and I was able to extract from that some new things to share. You can do this too – it’s a great way to learn about yourself, and you’ll get more ideas than you know what to do with, I promise.
Stop telling yourself that you have nothing to contribute. Just sit your butt down, turn on that video camera, or start typing, or start painting, or go take those pictures. Do the things that speak to you (notice I said “things”). Don’t get hung up on the technology. Go to wordpress.com or tumblr.com and post your stuff. Tell your Facebook friends about it, if you’re on Facebook. Tell you Twitter pals, if you’re there. Or just email your Mom and your best friend with the link. The process of publishing content and then having others read it (even if it’s only a handful of people to start) is a little nerve wracking at first, but you get used to it. Eventually, it becomes extremely rewarding and even exciting. So, starting now, no more excuses. Butt in chair. Hit Record. Type. Click. Publish. Contribute.
It takes time. There’s no quick fix, no easy route to “getting” people to pay attention to your content. But that doesn’t mean you should give up if only 3 people (your Mom, your best friend and your spouse) are reading your blog or looking at your photos. I’ve been blogging since 2008 and I can tell you, my Mom and my husband (well, maybe not even him!) were the ONLY people who were reading my stuff for at least the first 6 months. But I kept doing it, because I was enjoying the process. Eventually, others started to take notice. Imagine my excitement when I got my first comment from a complete stranger!
Along my path of content creation, I was learning a TON about how all these different tools worked, and I was figuring out how to connect all of my efforts. I was reading other content voraciously, and that was giving me new ideas, and new things to experiment with. Does it take a long time? You’re damn right it does. If I had a nickel for every time Greg says to me, “Are you STILL on the computer?”, I’d be a rich woman.
There’s no “I want to do” in new media. There’s only “I am doing”. The people that you see succeeding in touching people with their content are not sitting around talking about publishing content. They are doing it. A LOT.
If you think you don’t have time, because of that full time job, a few kids, or all those re-runs of LOST you need to catch up on, then you need to rethink how your hours are prioritized. We all have 24 hours in a day, and kids sleep and eventually you go home from work. If you really, REALLY want this, you have to grab it by the teeth and just do it.
No more excuses, ok? Now go make some content, and once you’ve hit Publish leave your link in the comments.
Photo credit add1sun on Flickr