Three years ago today, I had yet to publish a blog, deliver a presentation, or record a single informational video for an audience like Strength Faction. My potential as a thought leader existed only in my thoughts.
That’s the way it begins for all of us.
Since the spring of 2015, I’ve been spreading my experiences and ideas all over the place, with the bulk of this content living in my blog. I’ve published more than 100,000 words on the business of fitness, and learned plenty along the way.
I want to share some of these lessons on written format content creation in this 15th edition of Summer Strength Faction Fit-Biz insights. Here are three tips to help you get the wheels in motion if you’re considering launching a blog, or possibly bringing one back from the dead:
1 – Rigidly Structure Your Approach to Reading
I shoot to finish a book every two weeks. This typically translates to 30 pages of personal or professional development material each day. I read with a highlighter in-hand with the intention of gathering as many blog ideas as possible.
Once I’ve completed a book, I head over to my “book reports” excel file, where I document every single thing I highlighted throughout the text. I then categorize each cell based on its value to different content platforms. The quick-hitters go in the Twitter column, the more expansive concepts fall on the blog content category, and the potential presentation concepts are categorized as such.
This file serves as a continuously growing database of creative inspiration for someone who is all too familiar with writer’s block. Instead of plowing through books and then popping them back up on the bookshelf to collect dust, consider this tactic to structure your information consumption and accumulate your wealth of newfound knowledge in a single place.
2 – Curate Content
When I started my website, everyone wanted to remind me about how important it was to build my email list. They went on and on about click-through rates, conversion rates, list growth rates, and every other metric that email marketers choose to get caught up in.
I collected emails as I was told, but have yet to attempt to monetize my list. Instead, the surprising value I’ve taken away from the process is the creativity that has resulted from curating content to populate my newsletter.
At the end of each week, I fire off my “Friday-4” email, featuring four pieces of business-specific content I’ve consumed over the course of the previous seven days. I meticulously comb through just about everything I can find on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Business Week, and a handful of other sites in search of newsletter material. The process is arduous, and I wade through my fair share of mediocre content, but the habit has proven to be rewarding.
I derive a great deal of blog ideas from the content curation process. I also challenge myself to step outside of the fitness bubble in doing so.
I am not the only person in our industry who thinks this way. When Tony Gentilcore publishes a “Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work” installment, he is effectively illustrating the resources he uses for inspiration toward a fair amount of his own original material.
Be it for a newsletter or blog post, the content curation process is a great way for you to stimulate creativity. (Self-serving request for newsletter sign-ups here)
3 – Embrace Short-Form Content
When was the last time you read a 100-word blog post from Seth Godin and said to yourself: “That single idea was brilliant, but the blog sucked because it wasn’t long enough”? It hasn’t happened. That’s because a good idea is a good idea, regardless of word count.
I used to bury half-finished blogs because I was convinced that anything under 1,000 words wasn’t meaty enough to publish. The result was a constantly growing collection of disconnected but valuable concepts and a failure to publish every Thursday as I intended.
I decided to stop sitting on solid content with the hope that additional complementary ideas would suddenly materialize, and it’s paid off. If you have an idea that can help a single person, share it now. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how much easier it is to churn out material once you embrace the “short posts work” mentality.
I Understand Your Hesitation
I second-guess myself every single time my mouse hovers above the “publish” button in my blog.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s completely normal to question the efficacy of your output. Self-doubt, however, is an unacceptable excuse for staying on the sidelines. I recently heard Godin say “you become a winner because you’re good at losing.”
So, how are you going to accumulate losses to learn from if you never click “publish” in the first place?