I love discovering some new piece of fantastic content and thinking about what makes great content great.
And one characteristic just keeps emerging. I won’t be spoiling our recent SlideShare deck by telling you what it is: It’s Confidence.
(Okay, maybe I will be spoiling it a bit. Sorry.)
Check out the deck and let’s meet down below for a chat about the things that kill this critical ingredient for making content great.
Confident Content: What’s Killing Yours?
So why aren’t we all making great, confident content? Here are some things that hold us all back:
You’re not confident about the idea itself.
Because you’re talking about something outside your sweet spot -- something beyond your area of authority. If you start here, you won’t get to Confident.
You’re not confident about your communication skills.
This undermines a lot of marketing. At least one person on the team needs to be a student of communications, content, and persuasion. This is an essential starting point. At Velocity, we like to say, “Convince us and we’ll convince anyone.” Because we know how to convince. Do you?
You’re not confident with the medium.
Maybe it’s your first video. Or ebook. Or infographic. It takes time to understand each new medium. To figure out what it’s good for and what it’s not so good for. Our first SlideShares weren’t very good. We didn’t get that it’s a linear storytelling medium and that the job of every page is primarily to earn the next click. Now we do and our SlideShares are better for it.
Someone in power does not have confidence in you.
That’s crippling and there’s only one answer. Make that two: earn their confidence or find another job. You can’t do great work until you fix this.
You listened to too many opinions.
Committees and consensus can kill great work by sapping it of its confidence. Get feedback, by all means, but don’t be a slave to it. I like to listen for people’s honest reactions to a piece (especially if they’re the target audience) but I happily ignore their opinions about it. When it comes to communications, their opinion is not as good as mine. When it comes to widgets, they win.
You’re convinced that each piece is your only piece.
If you believe that no one will ever come back for more content, you cram your entire story into everything you do, thereby ensuring ... that nobody ever comes back for more content. Pick off a juicy topic and nail it. Leave the kitchen sink in the kitchen.
You’re embarrassed by selling.
You feel funny about the ‘hidden’ agenda behind most (well, all) content marketing. You shouldn’t. It’s okay -- and it was never really hidden. If you believe in your products, selling is a kind thing to do. Like sex. (See page 49 above).
You’re scared of something.
“Fear sucks” (page 33). Ask yourself what you’re really scared of. If it’s getting fired, go for it. Getting fired for doing great work is a noble thing and you’ll land in a far better place. If not, the nice folks at HubSpot will cover your monthly expenses till you do. That’s my solemn promise.
The bottom line.
As a writer, I know when I’m feeling confident about what I’m writing. And I know when I’m feeling a bit shaky. I guess I’ve been in this long enough to know that I shouldn’t even start if I’m feeling shaky.
Great content starts with a big, bold, burning idea that you just can’t wait to get out into the world. So stoke the fires first, and flip the content machine to ‘produce’ only when you know you’re going to slam dunk the topic.
Doug Kessler is co-founder and creative director of Velocity, a London-based B2B content marketing agency. He’s written a lot about content marketing, including the Content Marketing Strategy Checklist and the B2B Marketing Manifesto.
Originally published Sep 27, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017