I can’t read your blog.
In fact, I almost don’t read any social marketing blogs out there, because I’m done with wave bathing in the echo chamber. I’m done with it — people echoing echoes everywhere.
They read Seth Godin, a bit of Brogan, maybe a bit Gary V for the attitude, mash it all together and slam out another samey samey blog post. Bloggers in factory-mode.
I know this, because I was on this mode too. I kept repeating common advice, but I had nothing original to say. After a while, I burrrrned out. Like a TNT stick with both ends lit. Frizzzzzle. I knew it, and more importantly, my audience knew it. And after cranking out yet another lackluster post, one long-time reader remarked:
“Stop regurgitating, it’s getting pathetic. Tell me something original from your experience.”
It hurt, but the patient needed the medicine. I thought I was following all the blogging success advice, but it was leading me astray. Why ?
The answer may be James Altucher, who’s a notorious investor, entrepreneur and blogger. I don’t always like his work, heck, I often don’t even understand it. He’s irreverent and vulnerable, a human fly on my peripheral vision.
But he breaks every “blogging rule” there is to break, and breaks even the ones that don’t exist yet.
But there’s something magical about the way he writes. It’s like the wind, you can feel it but you can’t see it. His content is so unique and disarmingly honest you can’t help but smirk. It’s touching human hearts, and 5,000 to 10,000 Facebook likes per post(!) confirm that.
What’s the secret?
He doesn’t reside in the echo chamber. Everything he writes comes from him — his one-of-a-kind experience — the way he sees the world.
And that’s what inspired me to write the following anti-guidelines to craft content that’s not just another blasted re-hash on the perfect post, but a reminder of what makes great content truly special and compelling.
Now, don’t treat this like an exact formula, that would defeat the point of the whole post. Rather, it’s food for thought, by yours truly.
1) Everything’s related to everything. Use that to your advantage.
Without going too deep into meta-land, here’s a not-so-far-fetched revelation: People who only blog about what they read from other marketing bloggers have the scope of a tunnel view inside a straw.
They’re wallowing in the pool of idea incest. Instead of reading the same-old-same and echoing, extrapolate your niche knowledge from unrelated places :
- I have read posts from people talking about happiness when they’re stuck in a wheelchair, 24/7.
- I have read customer service advice from people dealing drugs on the street.
- I have read psychological advice from food decorateurs.
Every lesson you want to share with the audience can be linked to a more original example. Chose a unique experience from your life, and connect it with the point you want to make.
What has your recent Thailand journey to do with content marketing?
I don’t know. You tell me.
2) The more you systemize, the more you robotize
By now, there’s probably more blogging advice than bloggers out there. Follow it all, 1-2-3, and then you’ll succeed with viral posts that exceed 1,000,000 views. Right?
Nope. It’s the fast lane to mediocrity. The more I tried to find the golden formula of blogging, the more personality and emotion I lost between the lines. Whoosh.
Just as in Hollywood, most people (online) pretend, but nobody knows anything. The more systems and formulas you infuse, the closer you’ll robotize. Your post will be like an instruction manual for vacuum cleaners. Meh.
3) Cut to the core. Hack away the unessential.
This does not only mean a terse writing style, but also means finding the elephant in the room. Most people skate along the ice surface, but they don’t get below into the frozen water depths. All those shiny blog flares, like which share button to use or whether you should tweet at 9 or 9:05, are distracting you from making a point that will make your audience pay attention.
Give me the essence, baby, the one core thought that most people are afraid to address, but deliver it in a way only YOU can.
4) Style over substance. Sort of.
A lot of people will disagree with this, but here’s the thing — If all you provide is helpful information online, you’re competing with Wikipedia and thousands of robot algorithms that out-inform you. And with an unlimited choice of informational content, we humans pick the one that emotionally appeals to us.
So, style and attitude is what we come back for – whether it’s Seth Godin’s unabashed and clear writing, or James Altucher’s irreverent and vulnerable guide to life.
5) Allow your personal truth to shine through
Another biggie I struggled for almost two years — Keeping a cool, perfect and professional online presence seems to be the way to go, but it also got the emotional pulling power of a frozen brick. Marketing is all about evoking emotions.
It’s tough to go personal and open yourself up, especially with all those trolls out there, but that’s the only advantage you have over robots and computer-generated content. In a world where your potential customer and reader is a click away but also countries apart, separated by lifeless screens, there’s a huge emotional gap.
I want you to close that gap.
Before you create your next content, step back for a second and be still.
Are you creating an original piece of work, or are you merely soaking up the sound waves from the echo chamber? Tell yourself the truth. Then slap your face left and right.
Forget about all the average posts about which WordPress theme to use, how we all should have a tribe, and why we need a manifesto.
Been there, done that.
Instead, craft a post from the edge of your mind, with all the mojo, vulnerability, personal experience and original opinions — a little, uncomfortable masterpiece only you can come up with.
Give it to me.
Original illustrations by the author.