I am a horrible client. I am one of those people who finds myself prefacing many conversations with ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ Recently, when discussing the content needs for a client’s website, we were addressing the elephant in the room — the logical reason for a blog for their business, the potential for real contribution to an industry dialogue, and their feeling of overwhelm when confronted by the responsibility of creating that much content. They aren’t alone. I hear this every day, from clients in every industry who want to take advantage of the fluidity of the web, and the new channels for communicating a message. But the idea of committing to regular blog entries, or having to think of interesting ideas that often, just leaves them stymied. And believe me, I get it. I get overwhelmed with the responsibility of my work, my life and then, on top of all of that, this blog. Life is overwhelming. Being interesting is just not easy. So I thought I’d share with you what I share with clients — just a few inspirational pointers to help get you started down the path to creating compelling (relatively speaking) content.
This thing that is happening on the web right now with Social Media has everybody talking because there is a lot to talk about. All of the connections and conversations and industries and ideas are exciting to watch and to learn from and to participate in. You can start by listening in on your industry or those conversations that touch on topics around which you feel passionately and find room for your own voice. I try to encourage clients to participate in the dialogue because, quite simply — that is content. Respond to conversations that are already happening. Bring them back to your blog and take a position. Whatever it is – whether you agree or disagree–your contribution adds richness to the discussion. I think people often believe they need to comment on a blog post or article and that must be the end of their interaction with the material. Really, there’s nothing wrong with taking it home and expanding on your comment, your opinion, your reaction to the piece and encouraging others to do the same. Participating in conversations that are already happening will also expand your network, or potentially establish your voice as that of an industry expert.
I have one client who is, for all intents and purposes, a teacher or business coach. This particular person interacts with large audiences of people in classroom settings every single day. And she’s exceedingly passionate about the work that she does because, in her mind, and based on quantified data, she’s changing these businesses for the better. But the very thought of blogging adds yet another thing to her mile-long list and that is one thing too many. Here’s the deal – oftentimes you ARE your content. You’re creating content every day in your engagement with your clients and customers. Find ways to capture and share easily digested pieces of that on your blog. In her case a Flip Camera is an easy, affordable way to not only capture clips of the work she’s doing, but also to tap into her audience for their reactions and response to what they learned. One session with a live audience could potentially fuel many blog posts with rich and engaging content. Taking some video every time means she’ll build a really resource-rich library that could prove a real asset to her blog and her company.
There are even simpler ways to address the content dilemma. Talk to the people around you, the people you work with, perhaps, and brainstorm topics that you think need to be tackled. Talk to your audience — what are their expectations? Ask them for feedback, questions, contributions. Invite other industry leaders to guest post on your blog. Distribute responsibility for content topics across your organization. Don’t try to manage the overwhelm alone. Talking to people plants the seeds of content. That is the first step.
Let me be clear — this post is not at all a guide around content strategy. There are additional considerations that I’ve not touched here. But I am suggesting that you needn’t be overwhelmed to the point of silence by your need for content. It just requires a shift in thinking about what constitutes good content and where we get our inspiration. At the end of the day, if you love what you do and you are willing to talk about it and share your passion and just plain participate — you’ve got yourself some content.