You may know the feeling. You spot a Tweet, open a newsletter, see a link, and there it is: the exact thing you wanted to write. Damn, you think, she got to it first. Add that to the fact that it’s really taking off (dozens of likes, hundreds of claps, etc) and it can feel like you missed an opportunity. I’ve been there, and I’m sure many of you have, too.
But, we have to think about it differently. With content, what works for other people might not work for you. And that’s okay. Moreover, no one person will have the same exact point of view on any given topic. Don’t get yourself down if you simply couldn’t get around to putting pen to paper — especially if you’re new to making content and still in search of your voice.
Some people are amazing podcasters, others excel on Twitter, a few are producing incredible newsletters, and there’s a number of stellar bloggers. It can feel scary to get started, since you’ll have to make your way into the conversation. But, being successful at sharing your point of view and building your personal brand is in large part a product of finding a type of content and medium that works best for you.
When I meet with other content creators, or people in my network who are looking to build their brand, 99% of the time we end up lamenting the content we’re not making versus discussing what we are making. Especially if you’re new to creating content, it’s important to take it easy on yourself. When you start feeling guilty that you’re not doing more, remind yourself that this all builds over time.
I’ve written a bit about how to start creating content if you’re not sure where to begin, but now I want to talk about how to find what content works best for you. Whether you want to start a blog, newsletter, Instagram account, podcast, vlog, Twitter account, website, or explore endless other content mediums, here are some things to consider:
- Don’t do things just because other people are doing them. If you hate writing, don’t start a blog. There’s no reason to pour time and energy into something you don’t enjoy doing. Content is supposed to be a creative outlet, so don’t put yourself through creating a Medium account if you’re going to loathe logging in. If you’re forcing it, or it doesn’t seem all that authentic, people are probably going to be able to tell. Be honest with yourself about where on the internet you enjoy spending time, and consider how you can dig in and share more content there.
- Determine what differentiates you. Just because something is performing well for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s a fit for you. Find inspiration in what other people are doing, sure, but — depending on your circles — it might seem obvious if you’re copying ideas. Mirroring other people’s content won’t differentiate your own brand long-term, so it’s better to spend that time nailing down what you can do and say that’ll set you apart.
- Experiment with mediums. Once you start producing something regularly, be it a newsletter, podcast, etc. you might feel hesitant to stop, even if it’s not really working. Maybe you think people will notice, or you don’t want to admit defeat. But it’s absolutely okay to experiment. If you can’t keep up blogging every single day, you don’t have to. You make your own rules. If you’re halfway through a Tweet storm and think to yourself “I never ever want to do this again” don’t feel compelled to keep it up. Trying out different mediums helps you find what you like best. Sure, people might notice, but live your life. If you’re not enjoying or benefitting from what you’re doing, pivot. They’ll understand.
- Take it slow. Most of the time people create content for work, as a hobby, or, most broadly, to help build their reputation around certain topics or themes. An important lesson here is you can always create more content, but that doesn’t mean you need to, or should. People who are nervous to get started are the most likely to benefit from this, but also people who do this for a living: take it easy on yourself. If you only think about content in terms of what you’re not doing, you’re going to drive yourself nuts. It’s not productive. Anything you’re currently creating is more than what you were making before. And you have a long road ahead of you, so stress less.
I’ll leave you with some inspo: notable content I admire from people on the internet.
Maveron investor Natalie Dillon’s emoji-fueled, stat-driven tweets, CircleUp founder Ryan Caldbeck’s on point CPG Twitter threads, Oscar’s Nikita Singareddy’s thoughtful Negotiating the Terms blog, the very comprehensive Femstreet newsletter from Sarah Noeckel, and Product Hunt Head of News Taylor Majewski’s Gigi the Robot Instagram, to name just a few.
What’d I miss? Share what you think is important in content and brand strategy in the comments or tweet at me.