The reluctant storyteller :: Why we aren’t getting art into the world

Todd SchnickThere is a storyteller in all of us.

It is just that most people choose not to tell their stories, and I don’t know why that is.

Are we scared? Are we afraid that people won’t like our stories?

Are we lazy and just don’t want to do the hard work of getting this art out into the world? Are we intimidated by the hard work to build an audience for the stories?

I don’t know. Probably some combination of all of that.

But here is the thing about storytelling: it is how human beings thrive. Kids love stories, it is one of the things they love most about childhood. Adults love stories, that’s why we love to grab dinner with friends. People love stories, that’s why we read books, listen to music, and watch television and film. And business loves stories, that’s how we sell to the marketplace, and get people to take action.

The world revels in it. And yet, so many people hunker down and come up with countless reasons not to put out stories, or they overcomplicate things and over think it, taking all the joy out of their stories.

There is a debate that rages everywhere, in my organization, and probably in your organization, about creating content, and dripping it out over the long-term, editorially speaking. For example, creating four pieces of content, and putting them out once a week for the next month…

To me anyway, this makes sense only some of the time, such as with a methodically and strategically time-sequenced autoresponder email marketing campaign, for instance.

But if you have a story to tell: a blog to post, a video to share, a podcast to publish, get the damn thing out there. Why oh why would you wait?

The content is doing you no good sitting in the unpublished file. There, it isn’t getting indexed on Google. It isn’t getting searched for and found on Google. It isn’t educating your market. It isn’t building your audience. It isn’t gaining you (or your guest) exposure to a new market. And it certainly isn’t being shared around the world by you, your guest, or your audience.

Final question (and potential subject of a future essay) for you to ponder: Is a story a story if no one hears it?

Sign-up for my FREE Content Marketing Course here, and learn how to tell and share better stories!

Photo by me.

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5 Things To Do With Old Blog Posts

Spent a few hours this morning looking through all 588 blog posts I’ve published here since I launched this blog in Fall of 2008.

Wow. 588 posts. That’s probably around 176,500 total words assuming an average of 300 words per post. But more importantly, that’s a lot of content that for the moment, is sitting around dormant and underutilized.

What to do?

Here are five things one can do with old blog content:

1. Update the posts. There is a post I published in January 2009 that is my most-viewed post. And I hate it. It wasn’t as well-written as I would like, and my opinions have changed on the subject matter somewhat since then. So, I’ve made some plans to do some minor modification on the post itself. I will update the text to a small degree, add a picture, add links to more current and related content, plus add an invitation to sign-up to my mailing list, which did not exist back then.

2. e-books. After my exercise this morning, I have four e-books that are now content-ready. They just need to be edited and packaged. This is the immediate next step for me. But if you’ve blogged for a while, and have content organized into categories, you probably have some e-books in there. All you’ve got to do is carve it out of stone…

3. e-newsletters. Just this morning, I identified 18 older posts that I will repurpose and insert into an existing autoresponder program I am running. These were 18 articles that I loved writing, were proud of, were well-received at the time, but probably haven’t been read in over a year (or more). Time to get some function and use out of year(s) old content!

4. Repurpose old content into current guest posts. If someone invites you to guest post on their site, and you should usually accept offers to do that since it is a great way to expose you and your writing to a new audience, you can repurpose old content from your blog. You don’t necessarily have to write new material…

5. Print book. The list of bloggers who turned blog content into published print books (traditional and self-published) is growing longer by the day.

If you have blogged for a while, just remember this: there is gold in them hills. And you have lots of options on what to do with that old content. Get creative with it, and see your old content come back to life!

Plus, any other ideas?


[want to learn more about content? sign-up for my FREE content marketing course]

[drawing by hugh macleod]

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Announcing My New Workingman’s Content Marketing Course!

Today, happy to announce my new Workingman’s Content Marketing Course!

This is a free, thirty-day course, conducted via email. Once you sign-up, you will receive one lesson per day, for thirty days straight.

[You will, of course, be able to unsubscribe at any time, and your email will NOT be sold to anyone...]

And of course, would love for you to forward this course to people who could use it.

Who needs it? People who blog, but don’t know how to leverage it. People who send out “email newsletters,” but really just spam people and ask for sales. People who aren’t effectively leveraging common tools such as social media, podcasting and YouTube to their fullest advantage…

If someone really isn’t interested in engaging in a content marketing program for their business, this course will be a waste of their time…

If you “sort of” get content marketing, or are dabbling with bits and pieces here and there, perhaps this course will be helpful to you.

And finally, if you KNOW you should be integrating content marketing into your organization, but not really sure what it is, or how, this course is for you.

Thanks for your interest. Email me here if you have any questions on the 30-day free course!


[drawing by hugh macleod]

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50 Reasons Why We All Do Content Marketing

I talk a lot about content marketing, and its importance. But a lot of you tell me that you don’t produce content on a regular basis, whether personal or business.

You. Are. Wrong.

1. What does your business card say?

2. The words you type in your emails.

3. When you publish a blog post.

4. What you jot down on a post-it note.

5. That hand-written thank you note.

6. That voice mail you just left.

7. White papers.

8. Hard covers and e-books.

9. The youtube video you just recorded.

10. Scribbled meeting notes in your moleskine.

11. Company instruction manuals.

12. Menus.

13. Scribbles on the conference room white board.

14. The podcast you just recorded.

15. The comment you left on someone’s blog.

16. Your e-mail newsletter.

17. Billboards.

18. Scrolling messages on blimps.

19. Your screensaver.

20. Captions on photos and drawings.

21. Notes in the margins.

22. Receipts.

23. Road signs.

24. The voice message you just left for someone.

25. That 404 error message on your website.

26. Your website’s “About Us” page.

27. Your journal or diary.

28. Your TO DO lists.

29. Price tags.

30. Your speeches.

31. Your webinars and seminars.

32. The conversations over Starbucks coffee.

33. Skype.

34. Your bio. Online or otherwise…

35. The greeting cards you send.

36. Tweets.

37. Other status updates.

38. The bumper stickers on your car.

39. Vehicle wraps.

40. The text messages you send.

41. Product labeling.

42. Art. However you define or produce it.

43. Fliers and pamphlets.

44. Promotional marketing stuff like stress balls, key chains, and coffee mugs.

45. The company brochure and other collateral.

46. Customer comment cards.

47. Your retail store marquee.

48. Print and digital advertisements.

49. Event promotions.

50. Your elevator pitch.

OK. Do you now understand why you need to think more about your content strategy? Or do you at least have some new ideas on where you can get creative with content?


What have I missed?


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Is Paid Content The Answer To Your Prayers?

I have just launched a new project. I have started my first paid subscription-based newsletter. It is called Be An Intrepid Marketer…Or Die. You can sign-up for it here.

The gist of this new newsletter is to continue the conversation about marketing…but to do it with an edge. NSFW, perhaps. To provide a forum where people can discuss the stupid things people do in marketing, but more importantly, have an honest, no holds barred conversation to talk about how to fix these things. In the end, we will all learn from one another. And have some fun along the way…

There is a growing list of people who believe that paid content is the wave of the future as far as online revenue is concerned. That remains to be seen, but I will tell you this: Many of the people I have followed for years are suddenly coming out with subscription-based content. So the future is here.

Now. The questions remains, how does this apply to marketing a business or organization?

I have recently subscribed to several sources of paid content. And I also subscribe to a bunch of (free) blogs on my RSS. And what I know is this. I read every word of the content I pay for. If I have time, and if the content seems meaningful, I will read a (free) blog post. Heck, I don’t even always read the books I sometimes buy for myself.

The future of the web is secure. It will dominate our future. And the only problem will be to determine how best to wade through all the content that will be available. Paid content may be one way to break thru the clutter, and reach people who truly want your content. A smaller audience, yes. But perhaps the true dedicated audience we clamor for.

I have long been an advocate for distributing free content on the web, from sources like a company or personal blog. That won’t change. At least anytime soon. And I will continue to publish free content.

But I am curious to see what happens with my personal experiment, and the whole notion of paid content (in this context, paid content via micropayments).

I see all kinds of chatter that blogging is dead. Namely, I suspect, from people who don’t like the process of generating content.

I, for one, do NOT think blogging is dead. In fact, I think we are only just beginning with it’s possibilities. I do think, however, how organizations leverage the content to move their constituencies to action will continue to evolve. And, I think we have only begun to see what’s possible.

But that said, a quick survey on Twitter yesterday afternoon indicated that MOST people are not ready to start paying for content that is currently found for free. Will this change? I think it can. I assume it is fair to assume that not long ago people weren’t willing to spend $1 on iTunes to buy one song. But will this micropayment acceptance for music translate to content? Especially content that is likely to be read ONE time? I could see a way where online news is delivered via micropayment (25 cents for a news story?). I don’t know. We’ll see.

I don’t deny that I’d love to make a living simply sitting in a coffee shop writing content all day long. That might be possible someday. But, the fact remains, the world is slowly setting us up to build a living that way.

The bigger question for me is this: Is it possible that all the (free) blogging, Facebooking, Twittering that we do simply becomes a feeding system to move people into making the decision to purchase your paid content? I mean, it certainly can be. In fact, that’s how a lot of people move people into buying e-books, or subscription-based products. Will it reach down to micropayments for single pieces of content?

I see so many possibilities down the road: really niched content about how to conduct B2B sales on social media, how to run a bricks + mortar retail establishment, how to fully leverage geolocation apps for retail, etc… The list goes on. I think this could work for really niched “how to” content.

So, I am curious how my experiment with paid content will work out. I will obviously keep you informed on how it plays out. But I don’t think we can deny this is where the direction of content distribution is heading. The only question may be the pace it happens.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?


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