I’m (still) reading Ultralearning by Scott Young. In it, he uses Benjamin Franklin’s approach to improving the quality of his writing (identify a weak area, isolate it, drill it with rapid feedback, repeat).
Scott uses the concept of a “rate-determining step” in chemistry to describe why doing this is so important, describing it as the slowest part of a chain reaction that forms “a bottleneck that ultimately defines the amount of time needed for the entire reaction to occur.”
He says our ability to learn quickly is threatened by a series of rate-determining steps, like vocabulary in learning a new language or understanding algebra to do calculus.
Which of these is most like your current approach to building an audience around your content?
- Write content for your audience. Repeat.
- Write content for your audience. Repeat. Separately, do promotional things to generate top of funnel interest.
- Identify and validate a content opportunity. Plan a structure and way to amplify it. Write content. Amplify. Repeat.
Depending on where you are in your expertise journey, you have holes to fill in in your content with knowledge you already have (hygiene content), you have work to do getting a rhythm and consistency of quality and pace (hub content), or you’re reasonably successful but comfortable, and need to be making a much bigger move (hero content).
What if “content strategy” wasn’t this big hairy idea, with loads of spreadsheets and editorial calendars color coded by campaign and topic and promotion, but instead it was experimental and iterative.
You go from where you are, continue to work within that framework, but cull bad habits, run experiments for 10 to 30 pieces of content at a time, and treat each batch as distinct.
You get to lean out on the edge of your expertise and write about a topic for a while, until you have a cluster of posts around that.
You do it again, but as you do it, you keep a checklist handy of the most commonly searched subtopics around it, have an understanding of what others have written, and maybe most importantly, how they’ve generated visibility along that subset of content.
What rate-determining steps can you isolate, resolve to be better, and then drill improving upon? I bet removing that bottleneck would be huge.