How To Start
There’s no reason in today’s world not to be creating content online. Whether that’s your vlog on Youtube, pictures on Instagram, articles on Medium, or a podcast on iTunes. My friends, the key to content success online is you’ve got to start doing. Let me tell you how. Just Start.
There are only three steps to content creation
What Are You Going to Talk About?
What do you want to be known for?
Look yourself in the mirror right now and ask yourself “What do I want to do every day for the rest of my life?” Do that. Do it now.
People are stuck because the fear of losing trumps the excitement of victory.
This is insane! You have one life. You have to do.
Everyone who ever did anything had to start. Most people don’t begin with a grand vision. They start with an idea and an action. Through the process of doing they build something greater. No one thought Facebook would succeed to this level. The vast majority thought I couldn’t sell wine on the internet. No one believed that computers would be in every home. All ideas are considered insane until executed. The key is to just start.
The truth is that in today’s world, you don’t need much. The cost of being an artist, or starting a business, or connecting with an influencer is practically zero. If you have a smartphone and access to the internet, anything is possible.
There are really only three ways in which humans can communicate. Either through audio, video, or the written word.
It’s fairly simple. And the only thing people need to understand is that the the platforms have changed. Before it used to be writing a book and now it’s on Medium. Before it was drive-time radio and now it’s a podcast. Before it was reality tv and now it’s a vlog. That’s just the truth.
STEP 1: Start With Your Manifesto
You have to start with your manifesto. Your “what” and your “why.” What are you into? What do you want to do? Do you like health and fitness? Do you want to be in strategy? Do you like social media? Are you trying to sell sneakers?
Tell me where you are and where you want to be. It can be a document, a video or a voice memo. Find your medium and create.
Once you decide where you want to be, you need to share your story and whether it’s your mission or who you are today, it has to be your truth. Don’t tell me you’re an entrepreneur if you have never sold anything in your life. Tell me that you’re aspiring or interested in business.
Tell the world exactly what you are thinking about it.
The practicality of defining your voice is powerful. If somebody made a video eight years ago that said they think fashion should be high/low, and that people should wear expensive clothes and inexpensive clothes together in one wardrobe, they would have been the queen or king of the vision of the fashion industry just by making a 2 minute clip.
It’s pretty cool. That’s what legacy is about.
Whether it’s a video, article or Instagram story, you just have to tell the world and speak your truth.
And by the way, things will definitely change. You may like soccer today or entrepreneurship tomorrow or art the next day. It doesn’t matter. Just get your thoughts out there. Done is better than perfect.
For me, it’s just painful because I create an obnoxious amount of content discussing strategy but none of you actually act. You just keep watching. Scrolling through my stuff. Keep being entertained by my “energy.” Keep being inspired by my “message.” But the fact of the matter is you just don’t do.
If you want it, your actions have to match your ambitions. Don’t have dinner at seven o’clock and drink two beers. Don’t watch entire seasons of House of Cards. Don’t spend 45 minutes on Facebook talking to Rick. Especially if you’re telling me that you’re going to build a business.
The reason I say these things, is because I hear every single day how bad you want it, and how much you’re going to work for it, and then your actions don’t add up. And don’t get me wrong, if you are happy and content then none of this advice is for you. Ultimately I want you to reverse engineer your own wants and needs. You need to define that for yourself, not on what I say.
The only way to know is to stop talking and start doing. You have to put something out.
Now that you know your What, you have to know WHERE.
STEP 2) Where to Create
There are so many people in the world that shouldn’t be producing video because that is not the best way they communicate. Only a decade ago, if I was writing this article, all I would be talking about is blogging. Yet, there are people reading this that are caught up by Instagram and Youtube as the only form of communication. The thing they don’t realize is that they are tremendous writers, and if only they were posting on Medium, they would win. When your strategy is right, everything starts to happen.
If you think about it, there are really only three mediums: Video, Audio, and the written word.
For Audio: You can create a podcast, a radio show, a voice memo, an interview, a phone recording, or music. And if you’re really fancy you can create an Alexa Skill ;)
Video: This is the most rich and all encompassing medium. The possibilities are practically endless and we live in a time where almost every platform can play and support video content. You can post on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or just make short films.
STEP 3) Distribution
This is the last pillar of the equation. How are you going to spread the word?
A lot of people can tell me the what and why. Many can choose a platform and start to create. FEW can actually get anyone to see it.
This is called distribution. How do you get individuals to actually consume the content you create.
There are really only 2 ways. Hacking culture and buying ads.
The latter is simple. Deploy $100 against your content on Facebook and you will attain reach. Now there’s no guarantee that people will follow you or buy your product but it’s 100% guaranteed that someone will see it.
You can target a specific audience by age, geography, likes, and more. The possibilities are basically endless.
Facebook targeting. I mean, that’s it. You can literally put your business address, run a radius around it, and everybody in the 07081 zip code or the 08802 — Asbury, New Jersey ;) will see it in their feed. It’s a piece of cake.
The second and much more difficult way is hacking culture. A lot of you don’t know what this means but let me explain. One of my favorite social stars at VaynerMedia is 19. His name is @eliot and you should all go follow him.
I sat down with Eliot to discuss distribution. After building his IG Following to 6M+ in high school here is what he had to say.
Offering Stuff for Free in Exchange For Exposure
If you have a physical product, this is a no-brainer. You can literally DM every influencer in your space that has less than 50 thousand followers and ask to send them a free sample.
If you don’t know how to DM — Please read my last article “How to Network on Instagram DM”
The one thing to understand is that the quality of the follower might not be as high. When you attracting followers from outside networks, you have to be strategic about who you are after.
If I decided to give away Garyvee clothing to women’s makeup accounts, I might not get a lot of response. The same thing goes for giving away money or cars on IG.
That’s why I giveaway books and meetings and 5 minute facetimes. It makes sense for my ambitions and it makes sense for my brand.
So…You have to be willing to give stuff away. Unless you’re Oprah, or The Rock or Louis Vuitton you can’t be romantic. You can’t choose. What’s the alternative?
The power of leveraging influencers in your space is enormous. Imagine you are a fashion company and you make t-shirts. If you get one influencer with 500K to wear your product and tag you on Instagram, you are going to have sales. Honestly that is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of male and female models on Instagram that have a million to 10 million followers on their page. 1 photo from them tagging you might just change your life.
Eliot is smart and recommends that you don’t ask first. Simply reach out, offer a t-shirt and see if they respond. Don’t ask them to tag you or feature you if you have real patience and legacy ambitions. They know what you want and it should be up to them. What if they don’t like your product? Then obviously they aren’t going to endorse it.
You have to go through this process with ZERO expectations. Use words like “it would be nice if” and “I would love to send you something AND if you like it, it would be great for you to feature my handle.”
So many people are just in it for the quick dollar. You have to realize that the individuals who run these accounts are people too!
And don’t get me wrong, there are still a million reasons why 90% of these people won’t respond, or won’t tag you, or will just say no. It’s all part of the process, the only thing you have to do is try.
So What if I Don’t Have a Physical Product?
Collaboration: This is the number one way to grow your account regardless of what you’re offering. Whether it’s a product or service, app or podcast, collaboration is key.
You have to be able to provide someone else value. If you want to grow your account, start collaborating with other people on Instagram. Write quotes for their posts, take photos of their product, make images or designs for free.
If you aren’t providing value then you won’t succeed. No one on Instagram is going to shout you out simply because you asked them to. This is insane. What did you ever do for them?
I worked my ass off for 20 years to gain 2 million followers. Do you think I’m really going to share a post on my account promoting your app?
So how can we work together? How can we collaborate? Obviously at this point there is not a whole lot that I need. But there are plenty of people with larger followings than you who might need a hand. Do something about it.
If you have 200 followers, you need to message every single person in your city who has more followers than you and see if you can provide them value. Find a way to work together and get to it.
Trading work for exposure is the quickest way to grow.
Well, Gary What if I’m Already an Influencer?? How Do I Grow From 50 to 150K?
That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked.
Here are a few things you can do.
#1 Use Hashtags:
When you are already an influencer, #hashtags can be a powerful thing.
Whenever anyone searches #coffee — The top 9 most engaged and most recent posts appear.
If you can be in the top posts for a certain #hashtag each day, you are going to win.
There are 79 MILLION posts. This is a big deal.
#2 Continue to Collaborate:
Seriously, don’t be fancy. If you have 50K and you want to grow, then keep collaborating. At this point you have some influence so things will get a lot easier. The same methodology applies. You need to keep hustling and make it work.
#3 Be Consistent:
You really need to post everyday. The biggest miss for people trying to grow their account is frequency. If you aren’t giving viewers a reason to think about you each day then you are going to lose.
If you are posting and engaging constantly, you will grow.
How Do I Build a Community on Instagram?
Perfect. This is actually the most important.
This section will be about building a community vs having a following.
So many people can amass a following. They can get 10,000 people to like them on facebook. They can get a ton of followers for their account. But none of them actually build a community. None of them actually care or engage.
That’s why you see accounts on instagram that have millions of followers and a disproportionately small number of likes and comments.
It’s all about engagement aka — how many people care.
I guarantee that the VaynerNation engages more with my content at 2 million followers than most people who have 10 million. It’s because I care. I make room for my community and I engage with them every second I can.
It’s always about depth vs width. I am far more proud, of the people that support me when there is something I’m doing or the 500 people who show up to my keynote or the 2000 people that show up to my shoe release beyond liking my photo on IG.
There are so many people that like their page but don’t actually do the thing they are actually looking for. I know my community has my back. And that’s what’s important to me.
I’ve done it since the very beginning. Whether you have 500 followers or 500,000, the biggest mistake you can make is not engaging with your community.
Say hello, say thank you, ask them who they are and where they are from.
All of this matters. You’re not some stupid instagram account or brand. You’re a human being. Start acting like one.
The more 1–1 engagement you provide, the more people will care about what you create.
It’s truly a gift to have someone’s attention. Use it wisely.
What Else Can I Do To Distribute My Content Online?
Here’s where I’ll share a bit more advice.
One of my favorite hacks right now … If you’re a good writer and you want to build up a profile for your business or for yourself, I highly recommend you start blogging inside of Facebook and Instagram. I literally mean writing 7 to 15 to 25 sentences in order to create three to four, to five paragraphs of written content within your feeds that people will consume.
I just started to post my articles on Facebook natively as a status. My engagement is up 2–3X.
This is all you need to figure out. How can I connect? How can I engage? How can I entertain and how can I get people to care?
The key is simply providing other people more value. I just don’t see people doing it. It blows me away and it is absolutely the only way to win.
Either you pay in Facebook ads, Instagram ads, sponsorship deals, YouTube pre-rolls, or ads against people of your interest i.e fashion, food, wine, sneakers, technology … Or you reach out to people that have audiences. Search hashtags, click them, look at the account, then see how you can bring them value. DM them, go in soft, bring value, rinse and repeat two, three, four, 5,000 times.
You try, and you learn. There’s no report. There’s no white paper. Maybe this could be the whitepaper? But generally, there’s no modeling metrics that are going to teach you how it’s all going to work. When you’re a pioneer, you just have to taste it.
We’re just living through this incredible era and nobody is actually doing. Start fucking executing.
So what does that mean? That means you should write a Medium blog post every week. Content, podcasts, video, written, quotes, pictures, and then focus on distribution.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are ABC, NBC, and CBS, and what I’ve figured out for the last decade is how to make M.A.S.H, and the Andy Griffith Show, and ER, and Seinfeld.
These are the Things That Matter:
What do you want to talk about?
How are you going to communicate it?
Written, audio, or video?
And how do you get people access to see it?
Are you willing to bust your ass for 34 views? I am and I did in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 . What’s the alternative? When you have nothing, all exposure helps.
Getting started is always the hardest part. It’s just so difficult for so many people. That’s why I have created this post to give you a detailed step one, step two, step three.
It’s a really valuable framework that I think will stand the test of time. What, How and Where?
I hope this helps.