Do you blog, or vlog, or in some other way create content to share via social?
If so, why? Why do you do it?
Seriously: you cannot afford to shrug this question off. The answer you give will help you focus your efforts and multiply your success. Dramatically.
This just may be the most important question you ask yourself all year.
I speak to content creators every day all week long. I also spend a lot of time with executives who are thinking of creating content themselves: often they’ve been advised to get started, but aren’t quite there yet – for some reason they aren’t quite convinced.
Often, their hesitation comes from the vague lack-of-reasons they’re given to jump in. Like “you have to” because “everyone’s doing it” and “you don’t want to be left behind.”
Screw that. We don’t do things to avoid negatives. If negative pressure worked, our jails would all be empty, our children would get along, and our scared employees would do great work.
None of which is the case, is it?
Negative motivation doesn’t work. We’ve known this since at least the 1940s. And that’s just great. Don’t create content because you “have to,” according to other people. You’re a grownup: you “have to” do what you want to do and what you think will be productive and (I hope) beneficial, end of story.
The many successful content creators I’ve had the pleasure of befriending do it for one or more of the following reasons:
- They have something to say – they must create! – and they can’t help themselves.
- The process of creation forces them to clearly articulate thoughts for themselves.
- They’ve learned things in their career that they think will help others, and they couldn’t imagine not sharing these insights: to do so would be selfish.
- They are keen to raise their public profile, to build a strong personal brand, to help them advance their career.
- Same as #3, to help them build their business.
- Sharing content and getting feedback from readers/viewers/listeners helps them refine their thinking, or even…
- It helps them crowdsource their careers: what their audience finds of value helps them know what to focus on and what to drop.
If none of those work for you, then there’s a very good chance creating content simply isn’t your thing. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s actually quite important for you to know this. Don’t waste time creating content. You’re now free to provide value in other ways.
Me? I’m motivated by every single one of the seven reasons above. (Number 1? Ask my wife and kids: if I go too long without writing, I actually get cranky.)
But number seven, the question of crowdsourcing? This has done wonders for my career, and it will for yours, too. Here’s how it works:
- You blog (or whatever) and share it socially. After all, the world has to know that your content is there: if a tree blogs in the woods and no one is there… you know the drill.
- If the post falls flat (happens to most people, including definitely me, over 70 percent of the time – so don’t get frustrated), you either expressed yourself poorly and should try again or – much more likely – no one cares about that topic and you should move on to something else.
- If people hate it and tell you so, that’s great! Learn from their comments and pursue this topic again with a refined take on it. Call me a masochist, but I actually value my hate mail and tweets most of all, as long as they’re courteous and well-reasoned.
- If people love it, now you’ve hit content gold! Explore that topic further!!!
Okay, the last bullet: this is how I shifted from calling myself a customer service author to a leadership author, as I describe here.
It’s also how I came up with about a dozen foundational posts for what would eventually become my third book, A World Gone Social. Five years before we published, I wrote a post on three trends I’d observed in new market pressures leaders were facing, and what thriving companies were doing differently from their competitors to address those trends. My readers commented and shared much more than usual, so I knew I was onto something. Five years later and with the help of a co-author, that initial post had developed into fifteen chapters.
My keynotes follow this same pattern: event organizers hire me to present on some of those fifteen chapters more than others. The crowd continues to refine my career.
Now, let’s get back to you. You want to do this.
Think of it this way: you know a lot of stuff, all of which you find interesting (of course, or you wouldn’t have bothered to learn it in the first place).
- Put it out there, a piece at a time.
- Your audience will latch onto some and ignore others.
- What they love, you give them more of!
- Do this, and in very short order you’ll go from a generalist to a specialist; from someone knowledgeable in various things to a relied-upon go-to source in just a couple of things, or (better yet) you’ll work your way in renown until you’re considered top ten or even to world’s best in just one thing.
- Double down on that thing.
Do this, and the crowd will have built your career for you. And no matter how wise you are, how much of an expert, you will never know more than the crowd.
So why fight it?
Now, read this follow-up post about how I’ve sped up this learning process four-fold while cutting my blogging time down dramatically – and how you can, too.