I hate to be the one to break this to you, but …
Your audience does not need your ideas.
Sorry to disappoint you.
It’s true though.
Your audience is exposed to plenty of ideas. Everywhere they turn online and offline, they are bombarded with ideas. Ideas, ideas, ideas. Mostly filler and fluff.
Think about yourself. Do you need any more ideas to consume and consider?
What you need are someone’s best ideas. And what your audience needs — in fact, all that your audience needs — are your best ideas.
- The ideas that cut through the crap and clutter to make a difference
- The ideas you’ve thought through, spent time with, and sculpted
- The ideas that are closer to finished products than initial impressions
And you should invest more time distributing these premium ideas further and wider, in different ways and in different places. You shouldn’t simply hit Publish and then run to the next idea.
This way you can meet more of your current audience members where they are and you increase the likelihood of reaching potential audience members with your best work.
Let me show you an example of how I’m doing this on one of my sites …
It all starts with a blog post
Given my responsibilities here at Rainmaker Digital, and being a new dad, I don’t have a ton of extra capacity for side projects.
So when I do have an idea worth sharing over at The Assembly Call, I want to maximize the impact and distribution of that good idea. I can’t afford to spin my wheels.
In the immortal words of Sweet Brown:
“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
This is why I’ve shifted my strategy and begun taking one well-thought-out idea and repurposing it into several different types of content, distributed in many different places.
The idea is given birth in a blog post. Why? Because I do my best thinking when I’m writing.
Writing forces me to clarify my thoughts in a way that I’m never able to by simply ruminating, or even talking.
A lot of the fluff, filler, clutter, and crap gets removed, and then I feel much more comfortable turning the idea loose in the world.
(This process also makes me more prepared to speak extemporaneously about the topic in the future — a very useful side benefit for a project that involves a podcast and radio show.)
You may be different. You may thrive working it all out in your head. You may find that you clarify your ideas best by talking them out. I urge you to learn what works best for you and follow it.
But for me, it starts with writing. Hence why I began a blogging series titled “3-Point Shot” — where, basically, I take a topic of interest to IU basketball fans and come up with three useful observations about it. Simple. Consistent. Repeatable.
Sometimes I know what the observations will be before I start writing. But usually the process of conducting basic research, and then synthesizing it into three clearly articulated ideas, reveals new insights that are useful to me and, in turn, to my audience.
I write the first draft. Sometimes I rewrite or rearrange parts. Then I edit and proofread. Soon thereafter I hit Publish. The entire process usually takes 60–75 minutes.
One piece. One format. A few distribution channels.
All done? Hardly. I’m actually just getting started.
The beautiful part of this strategy is that the most difficult and time-intensive part is now done. I developed a high-quality idea — it’s not just something I slapped together in 15 minutes as a cheap traffic grab.
Next, it’s time to leverage this fully-formed idea into a blitzkrieg of distribution.
The blog post becomes a podcast episode (and video!)
Keep in mind as we go through this example that the specific steps and channels that work for me over at The Assembly Call may not necessarily be the steps that you need to take.
That site is built around a podcast, and we’re also trying to grow our YouTube audience. Therefore, getting content out to our podcast audience and publishing more content to our YouTube channel are priorities. That might not be true for you.
But the big idea that I’m describing here — combining the power of quality over quantity with repurposing and smart, widespread distribution — will work for you. Just take the basic principles and apply them to your situation.
The next basic principle for me is this: turn the blog post into a podcast episode … and there just so happens to be a way that I can do that while simultaneously creating a video version too. Score!
When time is of the essence (and when isn’t it?), you have to take any chance you can to work smarter, not harder.
So here’s what I do:
- Double-check my microphone cables and settings, and do a test recording. (Always, always, always do a test recording!)
- Open up my Assembly Call episode template in GarageBand, so I can record locally.
- Create a YouTube Live Event to broadcast the recording live.
- Open up the blog post in a web browser, so I have it ready for reference.
- Tweet out the link to the YouTube Live Event, so anyone who is interested can watch the live recording. (For what it’s worth, I’ve never had fewer than 16 people watch live online, and occasionally that number is up in the 50s and 60s.)
- Hit Record in GarageBand, hit Start Broadcast on the YouTube Live Event, welcome the audience, and start reading the blog post.
From time to time while reading, I’ll interject something extra — the kind of comment that might have been a footnote to the written piece. But for the most part I just read the blog post verbatim, trying to sound as casual and conversational as I can.
I was worried when I first starting doing this that our podcast and YouTube audiences wouldn’t be too enthused about this content since it’s just me (without my co-hosts) and I’m basically just reading something they could get on the blog.
My worries proved to be unfounded. The response has been unequivocally positive.
I’ve received numerous tweets and emails thanking me for finding a way to deliver this written content in the preferred consumption medium for podcast listeners, which make up the majority of our audience. These folks would never get to see or hear the content otherwise.
And it is so easy to do. The entire time investment to record and post the podcast is about 30–35 minutes:
- 5 minutes to set up
- 15–20 minutes to record
- 10 minutes to publish the podcast (the YouTube Live Event is automatically archived on our YouTube channel for on-demand viewing)
Furthermore, while our blog posts only publish in one place — our blog — we are set up to distribute our podcast episodes far and wide, with only a few button clicks required.
Every episode goes to:
- Google Play
- TuneIn Radio
This doesn’t even account for the many individual podcast apps that scrape places like iTunes for podcast feeds. (For example, I use Podcast Addict on my Android device, and The Assembly Call is available there even though I never signed up or submitted it there.)
And here’s a fun, little side benefit …
One of my favorite bonuses about tweeting out links to podcast episodes over blog posts is that people can consume the content right there in their Twitter feed.
Look at this tweet. All someone has to do is hit the play button, and the episode will play right there in the Twitter feed. Less friction, less distance between my audience being intrigued and then actually consuming my content.
Turn one quality blog post into a traffic and attention engine
So if you’re scoring at home, we’ve now gone from one blog post, one distribution channel, and a few traffic sources to:
- A blog post
- A podcast episode
- A video
- At least 11 different distribution channels
- Countless traffic sources
And here’s the crazy thing … it could be more.
- Repurpose the blog post someplace like Medium, or as a guest post
- Create a slide presentation for SlideShare
- Find additional video channels besides YouTube
- Extract clips of the audio for a service like Clammr
- Make clips or GIFs from the video to post in visual channels like Instagram
And on and on.
The main reasons I don’t do those are a) time and b) because I’d get diminishing returns.
I’ve tried to be strategic about investing the limited time and effort resources I have for this project into the channels that will deliver the best and most immediate returns. SlideShare, for example, isn’t going to do much for a sports audience, but it may be a great option for you.
What’s been the impact of all this? It’s only been a month, but already:
- I added 400 new email subscribers
- We doubled our YouTube subscribers (in just a month!)
- Traffic to our blog increased by 31.91 percent
- Podcast downloads in just March of 2017 (the majority of which was during the off-season, when attention is usually lower) were nearly equal to the combined total of January and February
What you should do next
Ask yourself if you’re maximizing the distribution of your best ideas.
Not your best blog posts, but your best ideas.
Because if you have an idea that’s a winner, but it’s only distributed via text as a blog post, then you’re missing out on a wide range of additional attraction options.
Can you turn your blog post into an audio recording? Can you then turn that audio recording into a video — even if you just use a fixed image rather than filming yourself (like I do here)?
Or, if you have a great podcast episode, can you go the other way and turn it into a blog post? If you already create transcripts for your podcast episodes, this is incredibly simple to do.
The bottom line is that rather than focusing on the quantity of the content you publish, you should invest more time in creating fewer, higher quality pieces of content … and then find efficient, scalable ways to distribute these high-quality pieces to as many nooks and crannies of the web as you can.
You’ll reach more people with your best ideas in the way they’re most comfortable consuming content.
And there’s no better way to build an audience and authority, brick by brick, than that.