In creating content, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds without ever finding your path.
Here’s the surprising truth no one tells you about content…
It’s Not About the Type of Content
We are often led to believe that content is, first and foremost, about the type of content you produce.
Blog posts, infographics, podcasts, videos. Pick one.
Picking one and sticking to it is good advice. Choosing one that’s matched to your preferences is even better. Even with a team, it can be very difficult to publish blog posts and make videos, as an example.
But you will not automatically be more successful because you publish a certain type of content…
It’s Not About the Platform
Secondly, we are told, publishing is about finding the right platform to publish to.
Facebook. Instagram. YouTube.
All things being equal, it’s a good idea to go where your audience is. And there is no mistaking that you’ve got to tailor the right kind of content to the platform you’re publishing to.
But publishing in the right place will not guarantee success. If you’re delivering the right kind of content, people will come to you.
It’s Not About When You Publish
Having figured out what type of content we want to publish and where to publish it, we start looking at when to publish it.
It’s funny because it’s mostly replacing one obsession with another.
Emails should go out between 9 AM and 12 PM EST on a Thursday. Facebook posts should be published between 8 AM and 12 PM EST on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or whatever it is.
Look, you can find this information anywhere, and nowadays Facebook will even help you schedule your posts at a time they are more likely to be seen.
It doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as you think it does, though, because people will still tune into their favorite show at 1:00 AM on Monday if it’s the only opportunity to catch it.
The Surprising Truth – It’s About the Personality
Personality, or what marketer Russell Brunson calls a certain “attractive character” in his book, DotCom Secrets, is what creating content is all about. This is a foundation on which you can build.
People will still occasionally stumble across your content if it’s valuable and optimized, but if there’s no personality in it, it’s unlikely you will be remembered and be able to get people on your list and create long-term engagement with them.
Think about it. Oprah can draw an audience and sell to them any time she wants. You can probably think of plenty of others – Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, or otherwise.
If you were to pay attention to your own consumption habits, you’d notice that large chunks of it are based on people you know, like, and trust too.
So, what personality will you establish?
Something I’m starting to realize is just how much you can get done in 45- to-60-minute time blocks.
Most of us think of ourselves as masters of time management already.
But the truth is you don’t see all that you’re capable of until your plate has expanded, and you’ve been pushed beyond whatever arbitrary limitations you’ve set in place for yourself.
I’m taking a yearlong, intensive leadership program right now (technically, it’s two years), and within this program what I’ve been seeing is that you can be in multiple daily calls and meetings, weekly training sessions and coaching calls, work on three or four businesses simultaneously, make music, blog daily, and take on freelancing work, with time left over for sleep, exercise, meditation, and a social life.
Because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, and I probably haven’t even hit on all the things I’ve been up to.
It sounds like a burnout routine, and at first, I thought that’s exactly what it would end up being. And what I’m starting to see now is that once your plate has expanded, you find yourself able to take on more.
Having just one business or one job gets awfully boring after a while, because you get so good at it, and so efficient at it, that you find yourself needing something more to fill the cracks.
So, I value 45- to 60-minute time blocks as I never have before. In that time, I could write an article or a few pages for my latest book, record a song, put together a product review, or work on any area where I want to ensure forward momentum. And I only need one time block like that per week to keep all those plates spinning.
What you’re reading now? It probably only took me 20 minutes to write.
And the ugly truth? I often don’t even get up until about 9 AM and start my day until 10 AM.
Chances are you don’t know just how effective you could be. Because you haven’t had a reason to be.
If you want to expand your plate, put yourself in a position where you’ve got to figure out how to keep multiple plates spinning. It will probably feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, but if you lean into it, you’ll figure it out.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
It’s Saturday, and normally, this is when I would be sharing a weekly digest.
Not this week.
Because this week, I’m taking a stand for something.
I’m taking a stand that my post on blogging daily for a year gets shared with the media, bloggers, podcasters, and anyone else you think might benefit from covering this story.
I want to see this story on 10 publications, 10 blogs, and 10 podcasts.
Let me be clear – I’m requesting that you share this inspiring and valuable post. Now. Because the above is only possible with your help.
And before you ask, yes, I will also be sharing it.
The post is live on my blog and on Medium. You can share either one.
Here are the links:
I Published Daily for a Full Year: Here are the Results
I Published Daily for a Full Year: Here are the Results (Medium)
Thanks for your help. Let’s get this out there!
There are different ways to promote your works.
But I don’t know of one artist who doesn’t need to promote their works, even if it’s just starting a mass movement among fans.
Content marketing is largely considered the “modern” way in the business world and it can be incredibly effective. But why is that? And can it work for creatives too?
How You View Content Marketing Shapes Everything
It has been my observation that some creatives don’t even like the term “content” let alone “marketing.”
If that’s where you get stuck, then rest assured no progress will be made, and you will not effort to understand content marketing let alone recognize its benefits, utilize, and profit from it (“profit” being another term that could leave a creative feeling uncomfortable). Perhaps it would be best to pursue other channels.
To tackle this mindset issue, though, it’s important to understand a few things:
- Important ideas, through the ages, have been shared in the written word. If it was written before the printing press, and it has survived, it was clearly an idea worth keeping and spreading. Although I do not take it for granted that your content marketing efforts will land in the domain of blog posts, articles, or more generally the written word, the point is that content marketing is the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
- Content marketing isn’t new. If you’ve ever engaged with a piece of direct mail, a newsletter, a magazine, or otherwise, you were the willing participant in content marketing, which predates the internet.
- Content marketing is honest. It begins with relating to your target audience. Sharing about yourself, building rapport and trust. Talking about things that matter to your customer. Sharing valuable information that benefits their lives. Then, and only then, do you ask for their contact information, and eventually, the sale.
There are more points I could offer to convince you, but both you and I know you will not be sold on anything you don’t have an open mind about.
So, I leave the rest in your capable hands, to do your research and to come up with your own conclusions.
What can Content Marketing do for Me?
People sometimes ask how it is that I drive traffic to Music Entrepreneur HQ or sell my books. And though some find it hard to believe, most of it was built on the back of content marketing in the form of blog posts, infographics, podcast episodes, and videos.
I’ve experimented with advertising, sure, and have done my share of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work too. Although, let’s be honest – much of SEO is predicated on the publishing of fresh content.
If this is still a little abstract for you, then have a look at how Music Entrepreneur HQ has done traffic wise in the last 30 days or so:
Sure, there was a rather obvious dip during the holiday season, but most days the traffic holds at 300+ visits per day, and even exceeds 400 some days. And this is largely based on work already done, not on the back of fresh content. Generally, I only publish once per week on Music Entrepreneur HQ these days.
If you don’t understand what 400 visits per day (or even just 200 visits per day) could do for you and your art, then I’m not sure I can help.
Why Content Marketing?
I saw others succeed with it. So, I thought to myself – “why not me?”
In 2007, I learned that Steve Pavlina had built an entire income on the back of blogging (no advertising). And in ensuing years, I learned about the likes of Darren Rowse, Pat Flynn, James Schramko, and many others who’d done amazing things with content.
I think what cemented it all for me was my reading of Content Inc. (affiliate link) by Joe Pulizzi, which still stands as one of my favorite business books. I was already knee deep into content marketing when I had read the book, but reading it made me present to the fact that the opportunity was even greater than I first thought it was.
Now, there are plenty of extraordinary claims about content marketing if you go looking for them. But I wouldn’t get too caught up in those, unless they offer actionable tips to help you improve your content. Generally, there are no shortcuts to success.
But if you stay consistent, continually improve, and publish on a set schedule, you will see results in six to 12 months.
This is exactly what many creatives don’t do, as they start and stop, and sometimes stop altogether after publishing once or twice.
It’s rare that anything works as rapidly as we wish it would, and if not done in a strategic way, content marketing will a) not work, b) attract the wrong audience, c) not build an audience whatsoever, d) disappoint people who started following you, e) not make you any money, or f) some or all the above.
Trust me, I know. I have made most mistakes you could name.
How to Make Content Marketing Work for You
You share your work, and people become interested in it. And that builds an audience. That’s the essence of content marketing.
If people don’t know who you are or what you do, it makes it much harder to gain them as subscribers or customers.
And that’s the “why” of content marketing, which is more important than the “how.”
But in this section, I offer some tips on how to execute.
Talk About What Your Audience is Interested in
If I’m starting to sound like a broken record, then remember that reinforcement comes through repetition.
Learn as much as you can about your audience. Keep notes on them. And be sure to talk about them as well as their interests in your content.
And be sure to share about yourself. Each insignificant detail matters (e.g., “I’m married and have two kids,” or “I was in the Girl Scouts”) as there will always be someone in your audience who can relate to it.
If you have been reading my works for any length of time, then you will know that I am fluent in Japanese, as I grew up in Japan!
Pick a Channel & Stick with it
I plan to elaborate on this in a future blog post, but the key here is to choose from blogging, podcasting, or video and stick with one channel until you find success. Branching out is unnecessary, and marketer Russell Brunson even says you can make up to seven-figures by focusing on publishing to one channel. Which is probably more than most creatives even aspire to.
If you’re going to blog, Medium is the best place to be.
If you’re going to podcast, check out Anchor.
And if you’re going to run with video, you might assume YouTube is the best place to be, but you might try a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn instead, where video tends to stand out a little more. And you can always distribute or syndicate your content across multiple sites using a tool like Repurpose (affiliate link).
(By the way, any content you create should be backed up to your hard drive. You never know when these platforms could change or disappear completely, and I don’t advise building entirely on rented land.)
Based on my experience, I can only recommend blogging or video though. Podcasting tends to be an uphill climb to the tune of at least five years. I have been podcasting for over 11 years and haven’t even come close to my listenership goals (might be time to take my own advice and leave the “loser” behind).
Use Noah Kagan’s Law of 100 to determine whether you enjoy and get results from your chosen channel. Or, if you’re more daring, try publishing daily for a full year and see where it takes you.
I’m not asking you to be a robot or to do this perfectly. I’m just asking you to be consistent. Because content marketing, by definition, is the ongoing creation and publishing of valuable content.
I know ambitious people who started out with the best of intentions and still missed some days or weeks.
With my podcasting efforts, I usually end up publishing 48 episodes per year instead of the anticipated 52.
But when and where possible, be programmatic in your publishing. If you’ve chosen Sunday at 7:52 AM as the day and time your content goes live, then keep publishing weekly on Sunday at 7:52 AM.
If you don’t do it, it will not work. But if you keep showing up, you will reap the benefits.
The more and longer you do content marketing, the more useful data you will have ready at your fingertips.
You’ll write pieces that you think should do well, that end up bombing.
And you’ll write pieces that you think are obvious nonsense but end up exploding.
The trick is to keep improving. Practice Kaizen – gradual improvement.
Keep an eye on the stats and figure out what’s working. Do more of it. And try to do less of what isn’t working.
Sometimes you will create simply because you feel like creating. Trust me, with thousands of pieces published online, I’ve been there.
But as I said, strategy is par for the course. Content marketing doesn’t work without strategy. Find and use whatever feedback mechanisms necessary to keep iterating and adjusting course, as necessary.
Don’t Worry About Search Engine Traffic
Don’t buy too heavily into tails of ranking in search and winning the instant traffic lottery. Yes, this is still possible, but unless you’re paying $99 monthly for a tool like Ahrefs, doing your keyword research and have a backlinking strategy, I can almost assuredly say this is a race to the bottom. Because SEO is a skill like anything else, and it’s tough to learn while you’re still learning how to create great content, which should be your initial focus.
In time, you will get search engine traffic. There are a variety of reasons why this is true, including the fact that you will begin to rank higher for your name, your projects, your poems or lyrics, your photos, or otherwise. In short, this goes a long way towards exposing why coining your own terms is a good idea.
And you will also be able to tap into organic sources of traffic like social media. To me, social media is mostly pointless without a content strategy though. Because otherwise, what do you have to share?
As you grow your email list, you’ll also be able to share your content with your subscribers and continue to build a relationship with them.
So, again, traffic will build with a lot of patience and tenacity. And it will come from various sources. But don’t count on it. Don’t write for search engines. Just make things that are interesting to you and your audience.
Have Fun with it
Content marketing, as with anything else, can become a bit of a grind given time. So, if you’re not having fun with it, it probably isn’t worth doing.
As an artist, you know as well as I do that people sniff you out if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing. Why stick to anything you don’t have much enthusiasm for?
It seems to fly in the face of strategy, but this is mostly how I decide in what to engage in. Will I make a video about my blog posts? Only if I think it’s going to be fun!
Get used to thinking long-term because instant gratification with content marketing is rare. Focus on having fun, and the journey will prove more rewarding and you’ll stick with it for longer too. And it takes sticking with it to see any results.
Content Marketing, Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, content marketing doesn’t work all that differently for creatives than it does for anyone else.
What’s important to understand is its purpose. If you are unclear as to why you would do it to begin with, then there is no point in starting.
Content marketing adds value to your audience. And people who like what you’ve shared are more likely to become an email subscriber. An email subscriber is more likely to become a buyer. That’s what’s at the core of it.
Do you use content marketing to build awareness for your art? How have you utilized content marketing to benefit you?
Let me know in the comments.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.
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