On Talking The Content Talk (But Not Walking The Content Walk)
I owe this content blog (and you, dear reader) an apology. It’s been far too long since my last post, and it’s not the first time I’ve lapsed in walking the walk that I talk so well.
I remember a few years ago, I was pitching my content consulting services to a potential client. A big part of what they needed was a content strategy that would extend to Instagram, so I put together an excellent proposal, packed with strategies that I knew would make a difference. But as I was walking through the proposal, I noticed the client wasn’t fully present… He was looking down at his phone. I paused for a moment, and he looked up.
“Sorry, it’s just… you’re not doing any of these things for yourself.”
He wasn’t wrong.
But here’s the thing. I knew how to run an Instagram account. I knew how to create a strategically sound content calendar, how to stick to a set of consistent post topics, how to sculpt a cohesive feed, how to maintain consistency, how to leverage hashtags, and how to generate both growth and engagement by optimizing against performance analytics. I was doing all those things… I just wasn’t doing it for myself.
It’s like that old adage: “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”
At that point in my life, I suppose that my own Instagram has become my shoe-less child, while I crafted fabulous feet for other folks across town. Now, in that particular instance with that particular client, I was able to simply point to several other Instagram accounts I had created and executed content strategy for. (My favorite was @mynytimes, which I started as a passion project back when I worked at NYT.) Problem solved.
But I’ve struggled with this same phenomenon on various platforms over the last 5 or so years.
As a consultant and speaker, I put so much of my time and effort toward helping my clients with their content. And I should. That’s what they’re paying me for, and that’s why I do what I do: to help brands and marketers create better content and tell better stories.
And yet, the more great content work I do for my clients—the more I make true on my brand promise—the more my own content creation and strategy tend to fall by the wayside.
I know I’m not alone in this, and not just because of the cobbler quote.
I’ve heard hairstylists talk about their own split ends needing some love. I’ve heard web designers lament the sorry state of their own site. I’ve heard distressed chefs confess to grabbing takeout on the way home, and coaches of all types lament that they don’t always practice what they preach. (I bet sometimes even Marie Kondo’s house is secretly a mess, and Martha Stewart probably uses mismatched dishtowels at home, and maybe Rachel Ray secretly loves Dominoes.)
It seems to be a universal struggle amongst teachers, creators and providers to balance the needs of our clients and customers with needs of our own. More often then not, others’ needs seem to win out.
And look… I wish I could make some grand promise that it will never happen again and I’ll update the blog every day with useful content marketing information, and helpful brand storytelling tips, and gems of creative thinking genius for all of eternity. But I know that’s not realistic. So I’ll spare you the empty proclamation
What I can do, though, is make a conscious effort to share more readily and more freely.
One of the things that I work with clients on, pretty often, is overcoming this fear of content creation as some big, scary, gigantic, dramatic and time consuming thing. I talk about how to adapt content creation and distribution for your budget and resources—however limited—and how to bring content down to a scale that feels manageable. Anything can be content, and content can be anything.
And yet, I find that one of the primary reasons that I choose not to put out a blog post is because it feels like it needs “more” than I can give at that moment. That’s something I can change. I can pull that intimidation barrier down, and make this blog something I contribute to in bits and bites, and not just epic sagas.
So here’s to creating more, at a scale that makes sense.