The Authentically Authentic
Guide to Communicating
Marketing, Storytelling, Public Relations, Buzzwords, and Other Dark Arts
This article originally published on Inc.com
Content marketing is one of those terms that sounds new and complicated, despite the fact that it is old and simple. How is that? Because there are other words for content.
One of those words is "words."
In your mobile app, on your website, in your blog, on social media, in all of those places you need content.
Or in other words, you need words.
And here is how to write better words:
1. Respect the craft.
Writing is art. And it's the only type of art that nearly everyone does on a daily basis. Every day we write. We write text messages. We write emails. We write status updates.
Most of us do not paint, compose, or sculpt on a daily basis.
However, most of us do write on a daily basis.
I cannot tell you how many times someone has asked me how I got anyone to read my LinkedIn posts or become a columnist on Inc., only to watch their eyes glaze over when I start talking about writing. Sometimes it goes beyond glazed eyes, and they say something like, "Yeah, yeah...but how did you push it out?"
Distribution is critical in getting your written content out there, but without effective words, distribution won't do a whole lot. Think of yourself, the burgeoning writer, as a chef. You won't have to worry as much about distribution if you are selling amazing tacos from a food truck.
However, if you're filling tacos with meat from a pump, you better have a restaurant on every corner.
Respect the craft. Take writing classes. Read well-written books. Take it seriously.
2. Write frequently.
Even great writers need to write frequently. The more you write, the better
you'll get--and the easier it will be to fill up a blank page with words. Good words.
Or at least better words than the words you were writing when you started.
3. Expose your work to the critical eye of people who are not related to you or employed by you.
Your family and your employees will try to find something nice to say about even your worst writing.
A random reader on LinkedIn Pulse (for example) is more than happy to call you a moron.
And while that isn't easy to hear, that feedback will make you a better writer.
(However, it might come at the expense of your faith in humanity. But you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.)
4. Have something (relatively) new and interesting to say.
If you want to write blogs as a way to drive traffic to yourself or your business, you need to have something new and interesting to say. The newest and most interesting thing you can tell someone is your story. We haven't heard your story.
We have heard--time and time again--the "One Thing Rich People Do."
So unless you really got rich by doing "one thing," don't write that blog.
5. Study content that moves you, and attempt to understand why it moves you.
The first time I heard the opening notes of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road", something inside of me began to open up. I was 20 years old and the song was 25 years old. The lyrics that followed, to this day, move me to a place that's hard to describe.
In that place I see a different me, a better me, a me that I hope to one day meet.
Why do those words--that content--move me that way? I don't know, but I've spent a lot of time trying to understand, particularly after I started a company that pays the bills in part by creating content.
On your website, in your app, on your blog--that's what you're looking to do. You want to move people. You want to move people to purchase something, or download something, or do something.
So start trying to understand what moves you, and why.
Find your "Thunder Road" and learn from it.