I love it when the core of my work gets challenged, I realize I agree with the argument, and I feel all the stronger about doing what I do in a way that truly serves the greater good.
This is how I felt when I listened to Jonathan Fields of Good Life Project talk about “The Content Marketing Delusion.”
Jonathan's argument - wonderfully delivered in one of his short weekly “riffs”:
Content is more about sustained growth, positioning, and trust and, yes, eventually leads than it is a high probability vehicle for launch and accelerated growth.
Content is your long game. Hustle is your "now" game.
Challenging the "When all else fails, blog!" mentality
Jonathan goes on to talk about how hiding behind the blog page or the podcast mic and relying on content creation can be an act of self-protection. After all, hitting publish is easy. Gearing up for conferences or calling potential clients or influencers… <gulp!>
I launched my #365StrongStories because I loved to write and because I wanted to walk the content creation walk, yes.
A few dozen posts into my 2016 project, however, I saw that I was allowing a story-a-day to monopolize my energy because I felt safe in my private creative space. I was praying my stories would be seen, but also pleased that it was all on my own little marisagoudy.com terms.
That said, I have immense compassion for myself on this one. After all, mothering small children doesn’t exactly set you up to attend lots of snazzy networking gigs in the city.
And think about Susan Cain's book Quiet and what she taught us about introversion (and even the needs of gregarious extroverts). Depending on your constitution, putting yourself out there might require more energy than you can spare. Based on the reality of my own daily life, I just didn’t have the energy to do more or show up anywhere but my own blog most of the time.
All of that is OK, but you have to align your daily actions with the professional and creative dreams if you expect to succeed.
I wasn't building the livelihood my family needed by simply writing a lot.
"Just write" can't be the only visibility strategy for an entrepreneur with bills to pay. Writing and exploring ideas is satisfying, but it doesn't fill the belly. Marketing and connecting with people who will take action based on those brilliant words is what makes entrepreneurship work.
Oh yes, the hustle.
Jonathan’s message was big, fat moment of TRUTH - even though, upon first glance, his title it may look like a slam of my bread-and-butter writing coaching work.
The content writing that is worth your time is part of a broader plan
Not so long ago, this podcast might have sent me into a panic. How could I build a business around helping people tell stronger stories if content marketing is a “delusion”?
Blogs and guest posts and free reports do have a key role to play for many entrepreneurs and private practice owners. My work is vital to the right people who are doing the writing for the right reasons.
If someone is opening a brand new business or practice and expects to write some blog posts and expects the appointment calendar to fill, however, my #1 job is to remind them that content is part of a bigger puzzle.
Content connects, it strengthens relationships and establishes loyalty, but as Jonathan says, you gotta “hustle”
"Hustle" is a tricky word. When Brene Brown told us we didn't have to "hustle for worthiness" I was thrilled to leave all the stress of hustling in the dust.
But when you tune into Jonathan's quick episode I think you'll see the word in a broader, more constructive context.
Most of the time, you need that first digital or real life introduction. You need to move it and shake yourself out of your creativity cave and find your first readers who will love and share your content. You find them through conversation and asking the right questions, not by saying "hi, I wrote this, read it!"
It would be great to rely on "love at first blog post" but it's almost never that simple.
Again, this Good Life Project podcast came at the perfect time.
Right now, I am hustling in a way that feels great to me, connecting with my own ideal clients (and genuinely fabulous humans) on Facebook groups like The Practice of Being Seen tribe I co-facilitate with Rebecca Wong as well as Melvin Varghese’s Selling the Couch Community and Agnes Wainman’s Blissful Practice.
And, as my business matures and my family is able to do without me for a few nights, it is time to take that "hustle" into the real world. I'm booking a bunk at Jonathan's Camp GLP. (Will I see you there in August?)
Remember, the writing coach isn't telling you to quit writing
There's another side of content creation that Jonathan doesn't have time to address in his riff: the way that writing helps you develop your vision, your professional brand, your creative power.
Writing and content development are absolutely necessary as you develop your online presence and platform. They are fundamental to growth. Just be sure that you understand that writing and publishing alone aren't likely to catapult you to six figures or to whatever "enough" is for you.