If your building an audience around your thinking, how indispensable you become is ultimately a function of the value of your content.
The worn path here is to start talking about how you need to “make quality content.” But that’s not at all it. If you’re reading this, the assumption is that you don’t have a “quality” problem. Instead, I’m referring to the value of your content as it’s surfaced and influenced by context.
In fact, context is the ultimate determinant of it’s value. “If a tree falls in the woods,” if a majority of your content is silo’ed, if there are no signposts for users to find it, if the signals search engines rely on are weak or missing for search engines from to adequately surface for
Aside: I love the quote from Shari Thurow referenced in a recent email, “content is king, but context is the kingdom.”
If you have an audience you’ve built around a steady stream of content output and have accumulated a list of products, the business value of your content lies in your ability to map users to those products effectively, e.g. selling them things.
Your ability to sell them things hinges on how well you do your real job. What’s your real job?
Helping someone in a tough situation when they’re in that situation, because, you know, you’ve dedicated yourself to developing deep expertise for just that kind of person in just that kind of situation.
You already have a smattering of content that could help the right person at the right moment, but it doesn’t.
Because your content’s value is dependent upon it’s ease of accessibility by that person in that moment.
Saying to everyone, “forget about yesterday, here’s what I’m thinking about today” is a world apart from taking the time to consider who’s paying attention, the people behind your traffic numbers, the needs of your list members, their situations, goals, problems and your ultimate responsibility – figuring out what’s required to put them on the right path and link them up to a solution according to their quest.
This is what I’m most concerned with.
How do you organize your content in a way that best serves your audience?
- How do you earn the trust that comes with understanding where they are, serving them answers on the smaller harder edged problems they care about when they first find you?
- How do you use available data to inform organizing your content in a way that gives them the opportunity to establish a more meaningful relationship with it as a next step?
- Once you’ve established a relationship, after an initial email sequence or content asset, how do you effectively personalize to maximize their odds of success?
How do you ultimately get them where they want to go, ideally through a transformational experience with a product?
Why a product?
Because a product is already the most organized, structured and thought out version of your thinking on a problem. That’s the value of our content.
You start out and it’s actually pretty easy.
You publish free content, free content, free content. People subscribe. It becomes brain food for you. It’s symbiotic because you’re getting that audience feedback through interaction and validating your direction on thinking.
At a certain point you say, “What I have is now important enough to organize into a product.” Usually a book or course.
The first time you do it, it’s easy to imagine helping one person in one situation with your thinking.
And that’s where funnels and email launch sequences really shine. It’s a linear conversation: thinking through content + audience feedback + solution organized into an info product for that audience.
Almost elegant in how simple it is.
But rinse and repeat for a few years, step back, and now you have that content + audience + sometimes a new product multiplied by 20 to 30 threads you’ve been pulling on.
Factor in all your content, all your products, all your audience’s related problems and it becomes an instantly overwhelming problem and your linear solution of thinking about one problem at a time, selling one thing at a time, for an evolvingly mixed group of people starts to fall apart.
I mean, okay fine, it doesn’t “fall apart,” given you only need a tiny portion of your list to buy the new thing and you don’t even know how people find your old products, but they do, and that helps.
But it puts you at a crossroads. Be a one trick pony or be indispensable.
I graduated from a different kind of high school. For the last 6 months of school we had something called senior evaluations, the goal of which was to take the deepest look you ever had or would at yourself and the person you wanted to become.
As one of the exercises, you would get put on a hot seat in front of about 50 to 100 seniors and faculty and answer questions about the path you’re on in life as it relates to one question:
Deep change or slow death?
The idea being that there is no in-between. You’re either off-track, on a treadmill, or walking your path.
You’re in a loop, thinking about something, making it into a product, selling it, rinse and repeat, or you are committed to maximizing the impact of the body of work you’ve put so much into.
There is nothing wrong with putting on the blinders and deeply focusing on a problem or trajectory. But without the reflection part of the action-reflection cycle, you go from moving forward, moving forward, moving forward, to moving in circles.
If you can say, “I have a body of work,” and “the work I do matters,” your job is now to figure out the optimal way to get the most amount of people that are within this array of target groups to solve this pattern of problems.
And do it in a way you can make enough money to permit yourself to further that mission of more deeply solving the tough important problems on which you’re focused.
Do the first part right and the second will follow.