Good Content is Like a Friendly Coffee
3. A technique that has helped me write every post is simple. I “speak” to one person as I write.
Have you ever felt like you should create more content but the whole idea feels like too much time and effort?
Or maybe your content isn’t delivering the win you are looking for.
A business owner recently asked how I stick to my regular weekly email schedule. He was getting well-meaning but frustrating advice to create social media content. The thought of making time in his already over-scheduled day seemed nearly impossible.
He knew that sharing useful content — not just frivolous social media noise in exchange for likes — was important for his business. Content creation simply didn’t have a place on his priority list.
We talked about what I have learned and adopted from many successful content creators. When we broke down the big ”create content” into smaller, doable steps, his obstacles felt less insurmountable.
His “Thanks! You have some great insights.” led me to think that you might find one or two of these tips useful too.
- Give yourself permission to treat content creation as a daily activity worthy of your time.
It took me much longer than it should have to realize that writing is an essential part of our company’s relationship-building toolkit. Accepting a coffee meeting or attending an event were always easy yes/no decisions. Scheduling writing time felt more like play than work.
I had heard often that scheduling regular writing time was the habit all successful writers practiced. What was missing in that advice was a game-changer for me.
Content creation is relationship creation. Call it business development if that feels more actionable for you. Whatever you call it, the important thing is to change your attitude about content creation.
It’s work, not an occasional diversion.
2. Before you jump into creating content, answer these three questions.
• What is the purpose of this piece?
• Who specifically is it for?
• What do you want to happen next?
The answers will give your words clarity and focus.
3. A technique that has helped me write every post is simple. I “speak” to one person.
This is someone I know who will (hopefully) find value in what I’m sharing. Our imaginary talk helps me build a connection with my audience that is more conversational than tutorial.
4. One of the challenges with sharing worthwhile content is there is no feedback.
You click your best words out into the world and silence bounces back. It’s this lack of immediate feedback that can cause you to question the time invested in regular, consistent creation.
You can easily convince yourself that writing is less productive than an instant reward activity.
5. Create small, incremental feedback opportunities.
For example, I track who opens my weekly emails and how many times in a spreadsheet. Seeing the regular openers encourages me to keep writing for them.
An infrequent open from a subscriber is exciting and offers a valuable insight that I dive into.
• Why did they open this particular email?
• Was it the subject line?
• Was it a random occurrence?
• Did they click a link?
• Should I reach out to them?
You get the idea.
6. Carefully consider where to share your content before you get started.
First of all, forget being everywhere. It’s exhausting and ineffective.
Picking the channels that are right for you is actually easier than it sounds. Go back to the three questions above and ask yourself, “Where does my audience go for the information they want from me?” That’s your channel.
Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute and author of Content, Inc. offers this simple advice that I have dutifully followed. It has kept me focused and eliminated a lot of stress.
First, pick one channel and develop it thoroughly. Only then should you move to the next channel. For us this has been our weekly email and blog. Okay, that’s really two channels, but the email content is simply reposted on our blog.
Second, build your audience on owned land. When you rely on social media platforms, you are publishing on rented land. Your audience exposure relies on the algorithm of the moment. Growing on owned land such as email and your blog eliminates the fickle algorithms.
Social media broadens your exposure and reach. For that reason, sharing your content on the platform(s) inhabited by your target audience makes sense. Just don’t make this your primary channel for the long-term.
We have found that Medium and LinkedIn are the channels that connect with the business leader audience.
7. Consistency is a must for you and your audience.
Think about how much time you are ready to commit to creation every day. Then decide how often you are going to publish. This does two things.
First, you clearly tell you audience when they will hear from you. Even though you are not getting instant feedback, know that you will be missed when your content doesn’t arrive as expected.
I recently emailed a business acquaintance I hadn’t heard from in a while. She said, “I know you’re there because I see your email every week.” That was unexpected, appreciated feedback. Even if she doesn’t read, she has a subtle inbox reminder.
Second, you have begun the habit of consistency that quickly becomes hard to break. You have made a promise to your valued audience. You don’t want to let them down.
8. What if you don’t like to write?
We’ve all heard this practical advice — write like you speak. It sounds simple, but, for some reason, it isn’t always so. There’s something about being taunted by the blinking cursor that feels like you should up your word game. Everyday words just won’t do it.
Here’s a tip to help you overcome the blank screen.
Record your words on your phone first instead of struggling to write them. Obviously, these words will have to find their way to writing eventually. But when you start with simple spoken words, you can avoid stilted Olde English prose.
If you and your audience are video people, recording your conversation is the easy, obvious choice. No writing required.
9. Choose the media that is right for you and your audience.
I’ve talked a lot about writing because that’s the media that is most effective for us and our audience. It’s important to listen and learn what your audience prefers. That sounds obvious, and it is.
The point is to use the tools you’re most comfortable with and your audience consumes. You won’t reach everyone, and that’s okay.
Everyone isn’t your audience anyway.
10. Simplify complicated information and ideas.
We started The Questionary to explain complicated, fuzzy technical concepts in plain English. It quickly became apparent that simple words didn’t flow.
To overcome the word block, I turned to Canva. Suddenly, drawing a series of explainer images with a one or two sentence description for each created clarity. The visual did the talking.
An unexpected bonus — it was fun. I highly recommend drawing anytime you’re at a loss for the right words.
You have the valuable knowledge and information your audience is looking for. Sharing it with them is as important as the day-to-day activities that too often take priority.
It starts by changing the way you prioritize building relationship through knowledge sharing.
P.S. If you have a content idea you want to explore, I’m always eager to listen. No hidden agenda. I promise. It’s just one way I love to connect with and learn from smart business leaders.
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