We live in an information-soaked world right now. It used to be that articles were only found in magazines and newspapers, but now anyone (and any company) can start a blog and start writing. “Content marketing” has become a key tool for companies trying to capture shares on social media and better Google rankings through their articles. And professionals trying to share their personal brands have also jumped on the bandwagon.
But what about content marketing for people who aren’t writers or marketers?
In talking with many salespeople and entrepreneurs, I hear a lot of push back against creating content. They say that it takes too long and that they are too busy. And if they wanted to be writers, they would have become writers. Besides, when you get right down to it, writing is hard. (At least, writing well is).
So there’s this tension: Sharing your message with your network of prospect, clients, and peers is key piece of your personal brand, but it takes too long to write.
But there’s a way out of this bind. The trick is to broaden your definition of content creation beyond writing blog articles, LinkedIn posts, or white papers. There are actually many ways that salespeople can create content that don’t require sitting in front of a blank Word document.
Over 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube.
That’s a whole lot of content consumption right there. And that’s on only one of the many video platforms available. Put yourself into the mix and let your audience hear your ideas straight from your lips.
Record a Video Blog
One of the easiest ways to get started with video is to create a video blog (vlog). Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo allow you to create a home base for your videos easily and with little effort. If you don’t like writing, creating video is a simple way to “speak” directly to your audience.
The style and topics of your videos are limited only by your imagination. You can create quick, 2-3 minute tips in your area of expertise, or long form videos that dive deep into nitty-gritty blueprints of topics in your field. Webcams are relatively inexpensive, and ironically, there are a lot of great videos available on how to take great videos of yourself. A small investment in money and learning can turn any room of your home or office into a recording studio.
“Video helps your audience connect with you —and your brand — through a more true to life experience. It is an extremely useful way to provide a clear voice and personality to your brand. One great way to start is to get your community involved instantly and have them contribute questions, which you can answer directly on weekly videos.”
And if you don’t want to worry about the hassle, there are numerous freelance video producers that will help you record and edit your videos. As of right now, search engines have problems indexing video, so make sure that you create video descriptions that are keyword rich and at least 300 words so that your videos can be found.
Stream Live Videos
The boom in live streaming started a few years ago with Twitter apps Meerkat and Periscope, and it reached a new height with the arrival of Facebook Live. The ability to jump onto a video platform with nothing more than your smartphone and a social media app is incredibly powerful.
You can record videos while at events like conferences or meetings. You can create a weekly series where you talk about common problems that you solve for your prospects and customers. Or you could even share your perspective on industry news.
“The important thing about live video is to be authentic and consistent. Have a plan of what you want to cover and don’t expect to hit a home run on the first episode. By the 10th or 50th episode you’ll hit your stride, your audience will grow and you’ll be moving the needle in your business.”
One of the advantages of live streaming is that it doesn’t require the same production standards as pre-produced video. But that doesn’t mean you want to create videos that are poorly-lit or that are created with a weak connection. The more consumable and shareable your videos, the better.
If you sit on the El train during rush hour in Chicago, it’s eerily quiet. That’s because everyone has their earbuds in and they are listening to their smartphones. Maybe they’re listening to music, but there’s a good chance they’re listening to other audio content. Podcasts have been around for a few decades, but they’ve exploded in number, variety, and quality in the past few years.
Start Your Own Podcast
Get a microphone, headset, and computer and you are ready to take over the world! It might not be that easy, but there aren’t many barriers to entries either. A quick search on “podcast equipment” will give you all of the guidance you need to get started. You can spend as much or as little as you want to begin the process
There are two types of podcasts that you can start. You can either go solo or create a interview-style podcast where you invite other people onto your show. You can even go back and forth between the two. Recording by yourself gives you the freedom to talk about whatever you want, but requires a lot of preparation. Interviews are a great choice if you don’t want to spend as much time planning your show because you are letting your guest do most of the heavy lifting.
“What’s great about podcasts is that they can be re-purposed well beyond just the show itself. The audio can be transcribed and turned into a blog post on your site, LinkedIn, or Medium. You can use snippets, sound bites, or quotes for social media posts on everything from Instagram to Facebook to Twitter. And if you use a camera to record you can even post it on YouTube. I even used mine to create the foundation of a full-length book!”
Remember to keep your podcast focused on the topic you want to be known for in the same way that you would keep a blog or website tightly centered on your niche. It might be tempting to talk about your professional wrestling fandom, but if you are trying to be known as a graphic design expert, it won’t help much.
Get on Other People’s Podcast
If you don’t have the time, experience, or desire to start your own podcast, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create great audio content. Just let other people do the work. With hundreds of thousands of podcasts available, there’s an insatiable need for podcast guests.
Identify the topics you want to talk about and the perspective you can add. Podcast hosts won’t bring just anyone on their shows. They want someone who will provide interesting information and who will entertain their listeners. By being clear about what you can add to their show, it’s much easier to reach out to potential opportunities.
“Podcasts have done wonders for my career. There isn’t any other content that can be more powerful for sharing value at scale than doing guest podcasting on someone else’s channel. They take you to an audience for free that you couldn’t get to in most cases (or at least not as fast). Connection is made through value and podcasts are a way to easily scale both.”
Jack Kosakowski, Creation Agency
Do a quick Google search on podcasts in your industry or area of expertise. Look at the podcast lists on Itunes or Stitcher. If you are a podcast listener yourself, go through the shows on your podcatcher to see if there are any candidates. And don’t feel that you have to be on a “big” show for this to be successful. Every time you are on a podcast show, you have a piece of content you can share with your network.
Enlist Others to Help You Write
What if you want really want to have a blog (or already have one) but you don’t know if you can write enough content? Maybe you do enjoy writing, but you don’t know if you have the time to be consistent. Or maybe you really want to take advantage of SEO opportunities, which are still the province of written websites (it’s easier for search bots to go through them).
Let other people do the hard work for you.
There’s a reason that newspapers have always been filled with written interviews. They are interesting to readers and they are easy to do.
You could reach out to industry leaders, your current clients, or prospective clients. You aren’t an investigative reporter, so they don’t have to be hard questions. Just email them 5-7 open-ended questions and give them a deadline for when you need the responses. Let them know you’ll edit their answers lightly for content and flow, and voila! You have a blog post.
“It’s important to know why you’re doing the interview. How will this interview support your brand? How will it help the person being interviewed? And, most importantly, how will your customer (your audience) benefit from this interview?”
This (along with all of the other collaborative methods of content creation) is a great way to build your business network as well. It can be hard to get someone’s attention in our busy world, but when you ask to interview someone, you play on the natural ego that everyone has. Asking for their opinions makes that person feel important. And now you have the beginnings of a relationship that you can continue to nurture.
Instead of thinking of writing as a solo effort, why not make it a team sport? You might be one of the many people who find that conversation and collaboration get your creative juices flowing. Why not take advantage of that to create content?
There are many ways that you can create collaborative content. You can reach out to other influencers or content creators in your industry. You can write an article and ask for quotes that you can bake into it (guess what I did for this article). Or you can poll experts in the field for their ideas on a specific topic, and then synthesize those ideas into a comprehensive article.
“For one content collaboration project, we reached out to a much larger company that had done some proprietary research. We wrote a great post about the research, which they shared through their social network. And it was great for SEO! Ultimately, they did all the legwork on the research, but we both shared in the rewards.”
If you work within a larger company, there’s a great opportunity to reach out to your colleagues to work together. For example, if you sell for a larger company, this is the perfect chance to partner directly with your marketing department.
Create Content and Share Your Ideas Today
Whichever method you choose, start today. Creating and sharing content is an important part of building your personal brand in the marketplace. That brand is important when it comes to influencing others that you work with.
Whether it’s selling a prospective client, getting a promotion at your current position, or finding a new job, your ability to position yourself as an expert depends on your ability to create content. Just because you don’t like to write, you don’t have to miss out. Get creative, think multi-media, and put your voice out into the world!
A version of this article originally appeared on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog. You can read it here!