Originally written in Nov 2017. Updated in Feb 2019.
A reader asked me:
“How can my free content compete with the the big authors in my? Why would anyone want to watch my videos or read my articles?”
A good question to reflect for yourself, too….
Who are the famous thought leaders in your industry? How many of them share content online? (Probably more than you think.)
Why would anybody pay attention to your content, when there’s not even enough time to consume all the excellent free content from proven experts in your field?
Interestingly, you are in a position to answer this very question, because I will turn it around and ask it of you:
Why do you pay attention to my content? Why do you read my articles, when you have many choices online? There are many other business thought-leaders online who are smarter, more experienced, more entertaining than George Kao!
Why do you think I (George Kao) should continue to create content, when there is already more than enough online to read or watch for lifetimes?
I would love to know your personal answer.
Before you continue reading this article, please comment (below this Facebook video or below this Medium post). Your answer is valuable not only to me, but to others reading this too, and perhaps also to yourself.
Once you’ve written your comment, continue reading for some additional thoughts on this…
Comments received when I first posted this in Nov 2017:
“Ok here’s my response before I hear yours. Even if the content is relatively the same, everyone brings their own frequency to how they express it. It comes through in the persons countenance, the tone of their voice, the ordering of the words, the environment etc. I may hear a similar message from someone else, but it might not inspire me in the same way. Also there’s the issue of relevance and timeliness. Marie Forleo may have talked about the exact same thing 6 months ago, but if your new video on the topic pops up in my notifications at the time when I’m looking for the guidance, I’m going to watch your video… and not necessarily think to go searching for the answer from other sources.”
— Sandy Freschi
“The simplest answer to your question: other than Marie Forleo, I have no idea who those folks are. And I have no idea who those folks are because they’re not that relevant to what I’m trying to achieve. Folks like you, Marketing for Hippies, Heart of Business, Pink Elephant, Awarepreneurs ARE relevant. And I agree, I love being able to provide personalized care for my audience. Whenever someone gets so ‘big’ or ‘busy’ they need to start delegating the interaction that drew me in the first place, it changes things for me. I get that step might be necessary to scale a business, but it becomes a different experience for the audience.” — Pamela Alexander
“I’m drawn to people I can relate to who are just up ahead of me on the road. I find inspiration in content and writers that are still out here on the playing field…” — Annie Radha Holcombe
“Why do we choose to have one friend and not another? It’s the same. So many people online say the same thing but they say different way, some have more energy, some less, and each person resonates with others differently. Recently I listened to a video about each of us being unique. I have heard this message many times, but her way of saying it, accompanied by her own story, got to me because we are alike.” — Miriam Llamas Garcia
“Before I see your answers, here are my thoughts: I watch your content and also celebs. The difference lies in personhood. Although you all know things I don’t, I don’t much enjoy learning from over-confident providers who imply that I should emulate them to be successful. I prefer your content because it is more of a sharing rather than a top-down teaching. When I want entertainment, I can go elsewhere.” — Dechen Yeshe Wangmo
“I rarely follow the “gurus” closely as I do love the actual down to earth material you & others provide while engaging with your audience. I can tell you care about your work & take notice that you engage with people on your posts. Not everybody does that (even when they aren’t “gurus”). Your content is given in such a way that I can understand and be able to implement in my own life/business. It has substance. It’s not the fluff/feel good that coats the surface to accommodate the general population to gain popularity. I like that you take a stance & have depth.” — Sharon Lawlor
I hope that these comments have inspired you!
Here are 3 thoughts I'd like to highlight…
People will follow your content, and not just well-known thought leaders, because:
1. You are more accessible than the gurus in your field.
While your audience is still small, you are willing to be directly accessible to people who are checking out your content.
To demonstrate this, engage with most (or all) of the comments on your posts. Getting a reply from a content creator makes a difference to people. They feel heard. They feel they are interacting with a real person.
Also, those who are checking out your content will be pleasantly surprised to see that you are responding to others’ comments. Since you seem accessible, they will be more likely to comment or reach out to you as a result.
(The bigger your audience gets, the less you’ll be able to do this.)
As you continue caring by commenting, some of your readers will come to see you as a friend, not an inaccessible thought leader. They will keep following your content because they care about you — because you first cared about them — and not following you just for your content’s sake.
This is different from gurus, which some readers may eventually discover “they don’t really care about me as a person… I’m just a number to them.”
2. You share your truth.
You are willing to passionately share your truth, which is sometimes controversial… ideas that the bigger gurus aren’t willing to say because they want to maintain their mass popularity.
Or at least, you have a slightly different viewpoint, or a different way of saying things, because you have had unique life experiences that you can share.
3. You are relatable.
Whatever stage of development you’re currently at, you can relate to the previous stage better than experts who are further along. Use this precious time in your journey to document your learnings by creating content consistently. You’ll be helping those a stage or two before you.
In any field, in any market, there are always way more beginners than there are advanced people. And there are intermediates in between, both in quantity and skill level.
So before you go further, know that you are able to relate better to more people now than when you’re further along and develop the curse of the expert.
Be authentically yourself, rather than trying to copy some guru. Allow your natural strengths and style to shine through your content.
Your ideal readers will resonate with you. They will trust how real you are, compared to thought leaders who may feel a need to front a persona, or be more polished, to keep their big audience.
As you grow, how to authentically keep your audience?
If you have grown your audience with authentic, consistent content, then over time, you will have experienced more and more of your authentic voice, message, and power.
By tapping into your authentic power, you become more naturally charismatic. And that becomes one of the reasons people decide to follow you.
So even while you lose the ability to keep up with replying to comments, you will develop your authentic attractiveness (depth of content and skills of communication), if you keep creating content consistently.
Start from where you are. If you’re building an audience from the beginning, then care more than the gurus are able to. That is your unique advantage. At every stage, keep sharing your authentic voice consistently.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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