You get content marketing …
Crank out some blog posts. Gush out some guest posts. Build links. Share content on Google+ or Twitter. Pin images to Pinterest. Hot dog it in a LinkedIn Group Discussion.
But your greatest problem isn’t creating enough content because we’ve been taught how to make content fast six ways to Sunday …
But since when was efficiency a mark of good content? Or that speed was even desirable? What’s the pay off? Most likely a fatigued, alienated audience (so don’t be afraid to break your content schedule).
This is where I agree with Mars Dorian on the notion of substance over style. But I’d qualify it to be substance with style.
Yes, Your Content Needs Substance …
Substance is a Wikipedia article on the American Civil War. Vienna, Austria. Virgil. People love Wikipedia. So does Google. So it pays to imitate Wikipedia … to an extent.
Wikipedia favors the anonymous. The article without the style. But we are not into the anonymous any more. We are into the thumbprint that says “I’ve been here.” We are into color and texture.
We are into the author. The author who stands out.
But Your Substance Also Needs Style
It begins with a healthy scepticism of the status quo … a healthy curiosity for the strange. It survives on a fear of the mediocre … of disappearing into the crowd. Of blending in with the thousands.
That scepticism, curiosity, and fear, however, is a part of my nature. My makeup. And it’s got an obsessive quality to it. One you might not be able to imitate.
Can you do anything to nurture this same obsession?
Here’s the deal. Our scepticism, curiosity, and fear won’t ever be the same since we have different childhoods, parents, brain and body make up … but I do think you can nurture a sense of the unique and create original content (that you hope will get copied, which is not bad — I’ll explain in a future post).
- Read wide. Read new books and old books. Read books on economics and history … read biographies and memoirs … read text books and magazines. Read. Read. Read.
- Build a wicked vocabulary. Highlight words you don’t understand … and then look them up.
- Talk to people who don’t think like you. Spend a half hour listening to them, asking them questions. Do this at coffeehouses, lounges. On Skype or Google+ Hangouts. Seek first to understand. And then end the conversation. You can seek to be understood through your content.
- Seek iconoclastic images.
- Experiment. Process through all you’ve learned by writing. Test new things, new words, new headlines and images. Play with other mediums like photography and music.
- Dig into the thesaurus. But before you use a word, understand what it means.
- Follow rabbit trails. Give yourself the freedom to chase stories that don’t matter … to pursue irrelevant ideas … because, in the end, they do matter. You are building a reservoir.
- Develop a sense of humor.
Let’s break the first one down (read wide) to give you an idea of what to do. Here’s what I’ve read in the last 24 hours:
- Psalm 33 from the King James Bible
- Three poems by Ezra Pound
- “Glory,” an essay by 16th Century essayist Michel de Montaigne
- Four poems from the current edition of the Paris Review
- An article about a neighbor from hell in the Tampa Bay Review
- Chapter from Daniel Dennett’s Freedom Evolves
Remember, you could read the exact same things I read … and we will walk away with different ideas. It’s okay. Your originality — not mine — is what we are after.
See, the problem with giving advice and formulas is your mileage will vary. The best I can do is give you a framework. You have to do the rest.
But here’s the deal …
You can do it. Don’t be afraid. Create. We are waiting for you.