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Back in early 2010, I didn’t consider myself a writer at all.
But I knew good writing when I read it. Masterful writers inspired me and made me want to improve my skills.
Today, I’m lucky to count many of the people I read over the years as colleagues and friends. Before I wrapped up writing my new book, Master Content Marketing, I reached out to them to see if they’d share some words of wisdom with you.
They responded with tips, techniques, and encouragement. Here’s a selection of their answers.
“What do you do to stay excited about your topic of choice after all these years? How do you keep yourself inspired?”
One issue content marketers struggle with is how to keep their interest high even though they’re writing about the same topic for months and years. Here’s how master content marketers handle this challenge:
For Darren Rowse, it’s about the people he serves:
“The thing that continually inspires me to create content for my blog and podcast is regularly meeting my readers both in person and online. Talking with a reader about the dreams that they have and the challenges that they face gives me both ideas for content but also renewed passion for my topic.”
Bernadette Jiwa just has to imagine her readers:
“What excites me is the people on the other side of this computer screen I’m reading from as I type. People I have never met, from all over the world, in places I may never visit who are searching for something. And I have the opportunity to help them with nothing other than 101 keys and an internet connection. Thinking about how the world used to be and that one person I might be able to reach is what keeps inspiring me to keep going.”
Chris Ducker’s interactions with his audience fuel his content ideas:
“I stay excited about my topic of choice — and just inspired, in general — by hanging out with my audience and my community as much as I possibly can. I’m a big believer that if you listen to your audience and pay attention to what they are saying, your job as a content creator and a content marketer becomes even easier over the long haul.”
For John Jantsch, empowering others with his content gives his work meaning:
“Most of what I write about comes from doing and helping others do, so what keeps it exciting for me is working with clients and training consultants to work with clients.”
Joanna Wiebe gets inspired by what she finds in her inbox:
“I thrive on emails from people who are new to copywriting. All of their questions remind me that the stuff I may take for granted or think the whole world knows is actually pretty mysterious to a significant portion of the planet’s seven billion people.”
Demian Farnworth thrives on the novelty of new topics:
“The challenge of tackling a new subject, uncorking difficult problems, tackling new technology — that’s how I stay excited: I conquer and move on.”
Jay Baer knows that our ever-changing marketing environment will provide an endless stream of content inspiration:
“The great thing about creating content about marketing and customer service is that disruption never ends. There’s always a new trend, a new best practice, a new case study. There is no end to the lessons and the learning.”
For Joanna Penn, choosing a topic area that was broad enough to hold her interest for the long haul has made a difference:
“I made the mistake of making [my first two blogs] hyper-focused on one niche, where I soon became bored. But by opening up the focus of my blog to basically include anything on creativity — although it is specifically book and writing related for now at least — I was able to give myself unlimited scope.”
Sean D’Souza excavates his topics to find new inspiration:
“I dig deep into the subject matter. I won’t stay at the topic level. For example, I’ll start with a topic like ‘headlines,” but at a sub-topic level, I’ll examine how to dig through your testimonials for great headlines. You have to be like a geologist, always digging.”
And Kelly Exeter thrives on continuing her education:
“I read everything I can get my hands on in my area of interest. As long as I’m learning new things, I’m excited about what I am writing about (because I’m sharing what I’m learning) … and that excitement comes through in my writing. The day I feel I have nothing left to learn, or I’m not interested in learning more, that’s the day I know it’s time to move on.”
“What weird tip can you share that you use to create effective content?”
After you’ve created content for a while, you may develop your own set of habits that work well for you. Here are the unique habits and methods my colleagues have developed that make content creation easier.
Darren Rowse says it’s easier to tap into emotions if he writes with a soundtrack that inspires him:
“Sometimes when I write I find a playlist of aspirational, orchestral movie soundtracks on Spotify and I pump it up loud to get me in the mood to write.
This music has been composed with the intent of making moviegoers feel something. It engages the emotions, and I find that it puts me in a place that makes it easier to write from the heart.”
Kelly Exeter says taking pen to paper helps her sort through her ideas:
“Write your first drafts longhand.”
Sean D’Souza believes giving your brain time to rest makes you a better writer:
“Sleep. I sleep more than ever before. To create efficiency, I don’t work harder — I sleep. I’ll nap during the day, take weekends off. I’m on full charge when I work, or I don’t work.”
Joanna Wiebe finds that this specific writing technique makes her content stronger:
“Leave gaps. Readers and viewers need to have some questions left unanswered. If your whole argument is tied up neatly in a bow or if you hit on every single way to do X in your listicle, then what are they going to comment about?”
John Jantsch reads broadly to find concepts he can apply to his own content:
“I read articles or even books that are totally unrelated to my field, looking specifically for crossover ideas I can apply.”
Courtney Seiter takes inspiration from children’s inherent curiosity:
“Be like a toddler: Ask ‘why?’ Again and again and again.”
Chris Ducker shared a weird tip he uses to make recording video much easier. First off, he keeps it simple: he records video using his phone camera. And to avoid sounding scripted, he does this:
“I use sticky notes, and I usually have no more than three bullet points that I want to go over in a two-minute video. I just stick the sticky notes to the phone where I’m recording so that I’m not distracted by looking at myself on that reverse camera. I hit record, sit in front of it, and boom, two minutes later I’m done.”
“If you could go back in time and grab your newbie content creator self by the shoulders, what crucial piece of advice would you pass along?”
Everyone starts somewhere, and my colleagues all remember their early days as content creators. If you’re just starting out creating content, they have some advice for you in their answers to this question.
Joanna Penn urges you to take heart. Content marketing won’t give you instant results, but over time you’ll see the payoff:
“Everything takes time, so have patience. It’s true that you will overestimate what you can achieve in a year, but in a few years’ time, you will look back, and your life will have changed in unimaginable ways!”
Darren Rowse says practice makes perfect:
“Create something every day. The more you do it, the better you get.”
Kelly Exeter recommends getting comfortable with expressing yourself:
“Stop trying to write like other people and just write like yourself!”
Jay Baer is a big believer in video content:
“Get better at video, faster.”
Courtney Seiter says to be courageous:
“Be brave. Make yourself uncomfortable. The scariest stories to publish are the ones that will connect most with people and make you love writing all over again.”
Jeff Goins urges you to cultivate your voice:
“Voice matters more than your topic. It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it. Don’t just pick a topic; find a worldview, a unique way of sharing your message. Say something worth disagreeing with.”
Sean D’Souza realizes that success doesn’t unfold in a straight line:
“People think that you go from good to great. Instead, you go from good to hopeless and then back to good before becoming great.”
John Jantsch says it’s not about you — it’s about your reader:
“Make the reader the hero of your story and stop obsessing over how cute and witty your writing is (ouch, that was a bit cathartic!).”
Chris Ducker shares how you can avoid duplicating efforts by thinking about how you’ll repurpose your content from the very beginning:
“If I could go back in time and give my newbie content creator self a bit of advice it would be to repurpose, repurpose, and repurpose. Back when I first started creating content, boy oh boy, was I wasting time. Now almost every piece of content that I create is repurposed in some way, shape, or form.”
Karyn Greenstreet says just get started (despite your fear) and let momentum carry you the rest of the way:
“Just write. The consistent habit of writing is crucial. Waiting for ‘inspiration’ will kill you.”
And finally, Joanne Wiebe says … relax! And have fun:
“Don’t take yourself too seriously! For the first years of my blogging life, I counted comments and shares on every post, which sucked all the joy out of writing for a living.
Have fun! Don’t count! Don’t compare! Let yourself screw up, and then do it all over again. Even if it chases away people who said they loved you!”
I think “don’t take it too seriously” is a great way to end this article.
Mastering content marketing can be one of the most creatively fulfilling things you’ll ever do. Don’t forget to have fun!
Remember, pre-order Master Content Marketing at your favorite bookseller to attend the exclusive webinar, Scary Good Content Marketing Tips Direct from Master Content Marketing.
Wise owl art by the amazing D.J. Billings.