Prototyping Content

Prototyping Content

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I don’t know anyone who would literally eat an elephant, of course. But as a creative or creator, you’re sure to take on projects requiring significantly more work than a blog post – newsletters, eBooks, whitepapers, reports, books, and more.

I don’t know about you, but this is where I find most of the money is made. It’s all well and good to get nickeled and dimed by the Mediums and News Breaks of the world, but I would argue that your ticket to establishing a steady income as a writer is usually on the other side of ghostwriting, staff writing, creating products (like newsletters, books, and courses) – basically, something you can put a higher price tag on.

The challenging part, of course, is in gathering and organizing your research, writing, editing, and sustaining your attention and energy long enough to finish the project.

Setting deadlines can help, but at times, even the pressure of a looming completion date isn’t enough.

This is where prototyping content can help.

Prototyping Content?

I’m not necessarily talking about anything revolutionary here. There are several practitioners who create infoproducts and books this way already, and I share several examples below.

But the idea is to use the time you typically spend writing blog posts, prototyping the content that will ultimately go into your eBook (or other product) in bite-size chunks.

You can still publish what you write, because that can create opportunities to double-, and even triple-dip into the same asset.

One of the most famous examples is Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, who wrote a blog series called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and turned it into an infoproduct.

Rowse was initially worried that the eBook might not sell, because all the content was available for free on his blog, but it turns out his audience appreciated having it all in one convenient place.

Content marketing authority Joe Pulizzi made it his goal to write a new book every two years, and he basically followed the same process Rowse did, breaking down the project into bite-size chunks, and writing the content that would ultimately go into the book week by week.

And by the way, Content Inc. (affiliate link) by Pulizzi is one of my all-time favorite books.

When I was working on my third book, The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship, I also decided to create a table of contents first, and then tackle the topics one by one, publishing 1,200-word blog posts on Music Entrepreneur HQ.

Of course, I added an introduction and conclusion, additional resources, and even edited the content a bit before publishing. But that book went onto become an Amazon best-seller.

I’ve also been prototyping membership content lately. This post and this post are great examples.

Some of the content I’ve prototyped never went anywhere. But that’s okay. That’s the great thing about prototyping – if it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you can scrap it, or just publish it as a blog post.

Am I Cheating My Audience if I Publish the Content I’m Planning to Sell to Them?

If there’s anything we can learn from Rowse and Pulizzi’s examples, it’s that no one felt cheated when they repurposed their content.

Even marketing god Seth Godin did this with his book, Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? (affiliate link), compiling the blog posts he wrote between 2006 and 2012.

Even if you don’t have a massive audience, there are probably people who wish they were able to hold your content in their hands. And that’s easy to do with platforms like Amazon KDP.

My first experience with this was my second book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship, which was originally a free, long-form guide I published online.

All I did was take the content, edit it, add a new section, compile a few blog posts, and voila! I had a new book.

I was concerned about response, but since I’ve released it, I’ve received nothing but praise.

So, there’s a good chance you could be leveraging your content in ways you haven’t already thought of, and not get any backlash for it.

And don’t forget – whatever you publish is just a prototype. You can further edit, improve, and refine the content before selling it.

Final Thoughts

Since I’ve started publishing daily, not prototyping content seems like utter lunacy.

When writing for sites like Medium and News Break, the article is the product. But that’s not much fun unless everyone and their dog is reading your stuff. There are other ways of creating an income writing, and they might prove easier besides.

I’ve never been accused of not knowing all my possible revenue streams, and I’m constantly thinking about how to leverage and make the most of everything I’ve got.

So, if you’ve ever wondered whether you can do more with the content you’ve created, now you know the answer is “yes.”

For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.