Neil Strauss Talks About Mastering the Game of Storytelling

    by Brian Halligan

    Date

    May 26, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    neil strauss As far as content creators come, Neil Strauss is one of the best there is. As a six-time New York Times best-selling author, Strauss has time and time again given us a look into the lives of celebrities who, before Strauss, had been hidden behind the veil of stardom. His books include The Dirt  with Mötley Crüe,  How to Make Love Like a Porn Star with Jenna Jameson,    and most recently, Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead , which documents incredible moments Strauss experienced during his interviewing career for publications like Rolling Stone and The New York Times .  

    In his   Rise to the Top   interview with David Garland, Strauss shares some of the tactics he's used to develop such interesting stories. Although most inbound marketers will never find themselves in a position to interview such notorious celebrities, many of his strategies can be applied to everyday content creation. 

    Be patient.   For his book, Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life , Strauss spent three years amongst survivalists, tax-dodgers, and billionaire businessmen in order to accurately portray those whose lives he considered to be "in danger." Although some ideas and content creation will come quickly, it's likely that your best work will take a decent amount of time to create. Don't sacrifice quality for speed in order to get something out the door.  

    Choose your medium wisely.  The publisher of Strauss'   The Game  really wanted him to include photos in his book. Strauss pushed back hard because he felt that pictures would take away from the audience's ability to see themselves in the situations he was describing. Instead of choosing the first medium that comes to mind or the one you are most comfortable using, take the time to think about which one allows you to best share that specific idea, and use that. Video, audio, interactive presentations and many other types of multimedia are giving content creators an entirely new arsenal of tools to use at their disposal. Neglect them, and you could be missing a huge opportunity.  

    Tackle difficult topics.  Once Charlie Sheen exposed himself to the world, people quickly lost interest. Try to answer the hard questions that no one has answered yet. Like the lives of Jenna Jameson and Marilyn Manson, every industry has topics that are relatively not discussed, with much to be uncovered and shared. These are the pieces of content that will allow you to establish yourself as a thought leader and will most likely be shared among members of your community. 

    Listen.   Even though Strauss is a professional writer, he spends most of his time listening. Take the time to listen to others in your industry. Listen to customers. Listen to competitors. Listen to partners. This will give you an excellent idea of their interests and what you should focus on.

    You can watch the full interview below for more details on what has made Strauss such a good storyteller. You'll even see him flip the interview and make Garland take the hot seat for a little while, which is just as interesting.

    Strauss himself has reached a level of stardom, but that hasn't been what he's striving for. He even talks about how he wants his work to get the attention, not himself. It's this devotion to creating high quality content for his readers that has allowed him to reach the pinnacle of success. By exercising   patience , by listening , and by challenging yourself , you too can improve as a content creator and an inbound marketer.


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