How To Create Amazing Content

Path to Awesome Content -- Publish more, Notice what gets shared and loved, Bring success factors into future.

Do you yearn for your content to be well-loved, shared widely, and deeply impactful for your ideal audience?

Here is the path to content quality...

1. Publish more content (e.g. write articles, post on social media, or upload videos.)
2. Notice which pieces of your content get shared & loved.
3. Bring those success factors into your future content.

Repeat this cycle as frequently as possible, and your content will become more engaging, loved by your audience, and naturally shared, without you having to ask them to do it.

In this blog post, I offer you my encouragement for applying yourself to this worthwhile path, as well as specific tips on how to create better content.

The Two Fantasies of Content Creators

I've noticed 2 kinds of illusions that content creators suffer...

1. Delusion of Content Grandeur: This happens whenever we are baffled why more people don't love our content as much as we do.

2. Forgetfulness of The Path: This is when we have great taste, but know that our content falls far below that ideal standard, and thus we don't publish more content.

Which of these 2 problems do you experience?  

I personally experience both, at different times.  My advice to you (and me) is to follow the path to content quality that I shared at the top of this post.

When suffering under the Delusion of Content Grandeur, there are 2 possibilities:

You aren't in-touch with your audience's sense of taste, and therefore, you need to create more content and observe what your audience likes.

The other possibility is that you aren't talking to your ideal audience yet!  If you're not sure, then ask yourself who is buying (or most likely to buy, or most likely to refer) your services/products?  Those are the people it makes sense to create your content for.  That is your ideal audience.

If you don't have anyone buying your products/services yet, then you need to share your content to different audiences and see who responds the best to you.  Then, it's time to diligently (with joy!) follow the path to quality content.

Sometimes you'll also experience the second illusion I mentioned above: the Forgetfulness of The Path.  You'll know you're experiencing this if you keep procrastinating on making & publishing content.  You're waiting until you make the perfect thing before you share it.  

You forgot that it takes a lot of practice and observation of feedback (which requires you to publish more!) in order to become better at content creation.

The Parable of the Ceramics Class...

Parable of the Ceramics Class
Ceramics artist image:
When you need inspiration to stop procrastinating and create content, read this…

The book “Art & Fear” has a wonderful story about a ceramics course — it can teach all of us about how to become great at what we do.

At the beginning of the week, a ceramics teacher divided her class in two groups of students.

The teacher instructed Group A to create a large number of pots.  This group of students will be graded solely on the quantity of pots they produce.  They don't have to worry about quality.  

Each one simply has to make as many pots as time allows.

The students in Group B, on the other hand, were instructed to create the perfect pot.  Each student in that group would be graded solely on the quality of the one pot he or she made.

At the end of the week, both groups of students were instructed to put all their pots in one place.  The teacher, without knowing which pots came from which group, put the pots in order of their quality.

Interestingly, all the best pots were made by students in Group A — that is, the group instructed to make as many pots as possible.  

Because their goal was quantity, they had a lot of experience with the process itself.  They really learned how to work with the materials and the tools.  They had practiced turning their ideas into reality... first poorly, then better and better, more and more aligned to their ideal vision.

Due to their experimentation, they had become more skilled by the day.

While Group A was busy creating, Group B — the ones instructed to make just the perfect pot — was busy planning and designing the ideal thing… they were thinking a lot, but not really creating.  A lot of them had become paralyzed by the task… afraid of producing anything less than perfect.

(I feel badly for Group B … I hope the teacher helped them get out of analysis paralysis!)

Learn this well:

Through quantity, you’ll come to quality.  Make lots of content, keep experimenting.  Publish a lot.  As you create & share many pieces, some of them you’ll be especially proud of, and a few of them will be loved by your audience.  

The problem is: you won't know which pieces your audience will find engaging.  So the answer is to publish more.

Over the last few years of publishing content, I've become a content agnostic: I cannot predict with accuracy which of my pieces will do well.  I'm "too close" to my own content.  All I can do is humbly present my work and let my audience tell me what they love.

If you'd like further encouragement, below you'll find a video that shares a powerful lesson by one of the top content creators of our time, Ira Glass of This American Life.

Ira Glass re: "Taste"

One more encouragement, from another highly successful content creator: Seth Godin.  He has been blogging every single day (yes, a new post everyday!) for more than 7 years continuously.  He practices what he preaches: don't assume what you make is amazing.  Make and publish more stuff and notice what your audience loves.
Don't go around insisting that you made something remarkable. Go around testing the different things you make, to see what your audience thinks is remarkable. Seth Godin

​Tips for Making Your Content Great

Hopefully by this point in the article, you believe that it's the practice of creating & publishing content, that will eventually make you a truly great content creator.

The question now is: What skills to develop?

Some thoughts on what to practice...

Practice your observation skills...

1. Go to the social media profile (e.g. Facebook page) of your ideal clients.  What are they sharing?  If you also create/share that type of content, you are making what they might want to share.

What content are your niche mates sharing?  Of their pieces, which are getting the most engagement?  Emulate that type of content.

3. Advanced tip: observe the types of people engaging in your niche mates' content -- are they your ideal client types?  Notice what your ideal client types are engaging with... including from your own content.

What makes your content indispensable?

To have a loyal audience for your content, to think about how to make it indispensable.  Here are 2 questions for you to work through...

1. Your content is the best ________ ? (fill in the blank)

What are you genuinely excited to fill in that blank with?  Here are some options to choose from...
  • Would you like your content to contain the best research? 
  • Do you want to be the best teacher / create the best How-To content? 
  • Are you interested in making your content the most entertaining in your industry?  The funniest?  That includes beautiful art unlike your niche mates' content? 
  • Are you energized to have your content contain the most passion, compared to what others publish? 
  • Is your content the best for a particular type of person?  or a particular stage of someone's transformational journey?
  • Does your content champion a particular worldview that isn't seen enough?

It will take some experimentation (by publishing more!) for you to become clearer about your answer.  As you come to understand what makes your content "better" than the content of your niche mates, in what way your content could be "the best", then focus on practicing those factors until others say your content is the best.

My example: I am working towards my content being truly excellent business & marketing advice, yet infused with a deep caring for my audience, ethical values, and a spiritual worldview.  That makes it rare, and hopefully, indispensable for my ideal audience.

2. Who is not getting the information they need to make improvements they want in their lives, work, or relationships?

For me, it would be holistic counselors, ethically-based consultants, and spiritually-oriented coaches.  It's easy for them to find mainstream marketing/business advice, yet those are often devoid of heart, values, or deep ethics.  My audience would love to receive effective marketing guidance from someone whose values they can trust.  I aim for my content to fill that market gap/niche.

What about you?  Think about your ideal audience.  What content are they already consuming, but are dissatisfied with?

For additional nuances, watch the following talk. 
(Otherwise, skip the video and keep reading!)
Any questions about making your content indispensable?  Comment here.

​The importance of emotions...

This is one of my learning edges: eliciting emotions from my audience.  A big reason I'm not so good at it, is because I am overly cautious about manipulating others.  I want to genuinely share what I know...

However, I would be remiss if, in teaching marketing, I didn't bring up the huge importance of eliciting audience emotions.

The more you are able to elicit (strong) emotions from your audience, the more your audience will remember your content, and the more likely they will share it forward.

Emotions that could emerge from your content include:
  • Humor
  • Awe
  • Beauty
  • Anger
  • Gratitude
  • Fear
  • Empathy

In other words, try to add more "color", heart, or artistry into your content, and your audience will appreciate it.  

To do this consciously, without manipulating, you might take a moment, before you create content, and connect with the heart of your ideal audience member.  Imagine their state as they consume your content.  Imagine how you'd like them to feel after consuming your content.  Then, you'll more naturally add emotion & color into whatever you are creating.

​Chances are that you will find yourself wanting to add more stories & examples into your content.  Those tend to create more emotion because they connect with the experience of the reader.

Useful, Attractive, Digestible

Another way of thinking about quality content is to make it more Useful, more Attractive, and more Digestible...

Below is a very comprehensive mindmap.  Next to each idea below, you'll see a plus-sign.  Click it to expand the idea.  Then, you'll notice the sub-ideas can also be expanded.  You can also click & drag to move around the map...

​Drafting versus Repurposing

Here's a way to help you relax into your content creation.  Think about 2 modes...

DRAFTING -- "thinking out loud" which can be done various ways, e.g. through stream of consciousness writing, or through talking casually on video, or being interviewed by a trusted colleague.  Using video is how I "draft" my content.  First I write some quick notes, then I think-out-loud through my videos.  

For other people, they like to draft their content by writing a social media update, or sending some thoughts to a client, colleague, or friend.

Then, anytime in the future you can take that draft and repurpose it...

REPURPOSING -- this is where we take our Draft and turn it into something we're more proud of.  Examples of repurposing content:
  • Turning a casual video, into a blog post (this is what I do)
  • Curating & editing your blog posts into a book (this is what I will be doing)
  • Editing a series of live presentations into a paid course

Important: even though it’s not the final product, I do recommend publishing your Drafts in a low-risk way.  For example, share your thoughts on a social media page where you don't have a lot of followers, or share it with a specific list of friends.  Another way to "publish" your draft is to give a live talk in front of a tiny audience.

A great reason to "publish" your drafts is to get the feedback from your audience, so that you can make the next version better.  Think about it as co-creating content with your audience’s engagement.

I find that it's important to "schedule" both modes into my calendar, so that I am consistently drafting, as well as repurposing.

All content is a work in progress…. All content is really Draft.  Even re-purposed-content can be improved and re-purposed more in the future.  So don’t give yourself too much pressure.   Publish your drafts.

For additional nuances, watch the following talk.  (Otherwise, just skip it and keep reading.)
Any questions about Drafting & Repurposing?  Comment here.

No one will remember any of your content -- except the good stuff -- so share from the heart!

You can comment on this video here.
​When it comes to content creation, here is a harsh truth... but at the same time, truly wonderful:

No one is going to remember any of your content, except the few pieces that are really good.

​For example: musicians. They are known for their most popular songs.  Their unpopular or "bad" songs?  No one remembers or cares.

This is true on social media as well.  Facebook only features the popular stuff in the news feed.  Barely anyone will see the posts that got few or no likes.

Same thing when it comes to blog posts: If people love it, they will link to it, and Google will notice that post and therefore bump it up in the search rankings.

What does this mean?  You can feel liberated to share more of whatever you believe to be helpful, important, interesting, funny... anything you believe is worth sharing.

...because it's not up to you to decide.

Your role is to create and share something.  It's your audience's role to decide whether that content is worth remembering!

If it is worth it, they will let you know by their likes, comments, and shares.

If, however, you don't see much engagement -- if you hear silence -- then it's your audience's gentle feedback that they didn't think much of it, no matter how important it felt to you.  So what you do is simply move on to create and share the next thing.

(The other possibility is that you aren't sharing that piece with the right audience, so if you felt it was important, find another audience to share it with.) 

Believe me, there have been many things I've shared that I felt were really important... but you (my audience) didn't think so.  There was silence as a result.  

Nobody is to blame.

It's simply the constant illusion that we content creators experience: the delusion of content grandeur.  Just because I created a piece of content, it feels important to me.

Same for you: if you spent time recording a video or writing a blog post, it naturally more important to you.  The more time we invest in something, the more significant it seems to us.

Sometimes, we get lucky and our content is loved by our audience.
(We can dramatically increase our luck by sharing lots of content!)

When that happens, our content will be picked up by the internet and social media algorithms, and generously shown to others who weren't part of our audience... new people who might then decide to join our tribe.

However, most of the time -- this is simply statistics -- most of our content doesn't go viral.  It might be barely liked by our audience.

But here is the silver lining:
Nobody will remember those "meh" pieces of content.
You are therefore liberated to share as much content as you want!
...taking into account not to inundate your audience with too much frequency, however.  Here's a basic guide about how often to share.

There is an important foundational point:

As long as you ground yourself and your actions in a spirit of service and helping, then you can only win.

Whenever you share content, you are learning, simply because you are practicing.

If your audience happens to like it, you win because more people are seeing it.

If no one likes it, you still win because by simply creating or sharing content, you are getting practice expressing your voice and experimenting how to resonantly share your ideas.  And, you feel good sharing something you think is worthwhile.

However; if you do not ground yourself in a spirit of true service and helping, but instead you come out of fear, or grasping, and you take advantage of people by trying to manipulate them into liking, sharing, or buying, they will remember.

I made this mistake in the first few years of my business.

I shared content and offers primarily out of a fear that I wouldn't make enough money or get enough popularity, or out of greed (wanting to make even more money or be even more popular)... and in those early years, I ended up taking advantage of people.

Back then, I was freely sharing only teaser-content, not the real stuff.  That good stuff?  I made my audience pay for.  I pretended to give "free trainings!" but they were a carefully designed ploy to get them to buy the real content later.

Many of those previous audience members have not yet forgotten...

Even though I'm in my 8th year of business, it feels like I really only began my business 3 years ago, when I started to share content freely.  Because I shifted my intentions to true service & helping, it was like I began to build a new audience, one who could truly trust me.

It was a painful realization about what I had done in the beginning, but I am glad to see that now. I am grateful for the growth I've experienced.

Now, it feels like a blessing to create and generously share, from a spirit of service and helping.  It fills everyone's hearts.

​If all that isn't enough to get you going, I have one more video for you...

To make comments on this video, go here.


All of George Kao's content, including this post, is in the Creative Commons: CCBY license.

If this blog post made a difference for you, or if you have an questions, I warmly welcome your comments here.

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