You probably know that business and marketing are moving in a new direction.
You know that it’s based on producing high-quality content that attracts an audience and nurtures prospects.
And you might know that, increasingly, the author is going to be at the center of it all.
There will always be anonymous copywriters grinding out words for pennies.
But now there is a very potent option for decent writers to start re-inventing themselves as content producers. In other words, as highly qualified, valued professionals who are forces to be reckoned with.
So as 2013 kicks off, it’s time to make a decision.
Will you stick with the old path, grinding out dull copy for dull websites representing dull companies? Or will you venture onto the new path and see where it can take you?
It won’t come as much surprise that I would encourage you to do the latter. This is a great moment to reinvent yourself — or, rather, re-package yourself, taking your strengths and wrapping them up in a great new presentation.
Why choose the path of a content producer?
Well, you might be attracted by factors like more money, more freedom, more prestige. There’s nothing wrong with any of those — they’re all very pleasant.
But you may also find that you’re more fulfilled when you play to your own strengths and start doing work that only you can contribute. For me, that’s the deeper pay-off, and the one that remains more satisfying. You might find the same.
So how do we get there? Today I’m going to talk about some of the first steps on the road to becoming a content producer in the age of authorship.
Column A: Identify your resources
The first thing you must do is figure out what you already have going for you.
If you can write something another person wants to read, you have a giant head start. Most people can’t. And, I’m sad to say, that includes a lot of people who make a living as copywriters.
Authorship of great content isn’t about producing correctly-spelled verbiage for a brochure website. It’s about writing words that attract, entertain, inform, and engage.
You may have some resources and assets you haven’t considered. For example, you might:
- Know how social media works
- Be able to write high-quality audio scripts
- Have good design skills and a good “eye”
- Have friends with larger audiences
- Have a good sense of humor
- Know how to produce decent-looking video
- Know a lot about a subculture or a niche topic
- Understand copywriting and content strategy
- Be passionate and enthusiastic
The hardest part of this exercise is recognizing strengths and assets that you take for granted. This week, spend some time writing down all of the assets you might be able to bring as a content creator. Include time and money, if you have any.
Column B: Identify your constraints
Even if you’ve got a lot of brilliant qualities, there are going to be important aspects and elements of content production that you don’t have. You need to be painfully realistic about what those are.
For example, you might:
- Have no patience for social media and no desire to figure it out
- Feel intimidated about writing for the spoken word
- Have no design skills
- Not yet know anyone who’s built a larger audience
- Be entirely humor-impaired
- Be clueless about video
- Be confused about how to make your writing serve a business purpose
- Not feel you know enough about any given topic to create valuable content
- Be out of time, money, enthusiasm, or another “must-have”
Figure out how to make up for any important Column B deficits
Here’s why you’re re-inventing yourself as an authoritative content producer and not just a writer or even a content creator.
As gymnast and powerlifter Mark Reifkind once said, “Work on your weaknesses, but compete with your strengths.”
First and foremost, market what you’re great at. Put it front and center, and make sure your audience knows exactly what you specialize in. And don’t forget to add in those Column A assets. You may take some of them for granted, but they just might be the deciding factor for your customers.
Second, use your creativity and energy to fill in any important gaps from Column B. You don’t have to master everything on the list I gave, but be honest with yourself about any deficiencies that are holding you back. You know what they are.
Often, you’ll fill in key gaps by working closely with another person who has complementary strengths.
That might mean you hire someone. It might mean you develop a network of freelancers with skills that mesh well with yours. It might mean you simply barter your expertise — your great writing on a white paper or some cornerstone content, in exchange for a good-looking site header and some advice on your site’s look and feel.
What if your constraint is that you can’t write?
Remember, authorship is at the center. If words aren’t your thing, you must find someone who can use language to get a desired reader response.
Oddly enough, many of those people hang around here at Copyblogger. Look around and find bloggers or other online writers who have a voice you enjoy. Expand your network of writers, and discover people you enjoy working with who can help you fill in that deficit.
And stay tuned, because we have a few nifty new resources coming for you in 2013 that will help you make those connections.