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Creating Intentional Content

When I’m talking to business owners about their content, I hear this a lot: I don’t know what to write about.

Despite being a professional blogger and copywriter, I completely understand this feeling. Sometimes you’re so marred down in the day-to-day tasks of running your business you don’t even think about the different processes you have in place, or the philosophies you apply to your work – they just come naturally to you! However, these amazing insights don’t come naturally to everyone else, and that’s exactly why you’re so valuable.

That being said, I see this, “Where do I get started?” point as a kind of crossroads for the newbie content producer. You’ve got two options: creating and promoting content that’s valuable, or creating and promoting content that’s garbage. It seems like a no-brainer that you’d want to create and promote valuable content, but surprisingly, this is not the path that a lot of content producers pick. Why?

Creating and promoting fluff-pieces is easy.

That’s the sad, honest truth. Creating content that is nauseatingly self-promotional, publishing third-party articles or external links to fluffy pieces (or worse, pure click-bait) isn’t hard to do. And, honestly, it’s not always easy to tell that you’re putting content out into the world that is, in fact, garbage. It feels so good to be on top of a content marketing plan, to have an editorial calendar, and to be scheduling your social media posts, that you get distracted. You lose sight of why you started doing this whole content marketing thing to begin with, and you fall down the rabbit hole of retweeting pieces that won’t have an impact on your audience, and writing blog posts that don’t actually say anything.

So, how do you avoid it?

When in doubt, always return to this: Is this piece of content that I’m putting out into the world going to reflect my values as a business owner, and is it going to bring legitimate value to my audience? If the answer is no, or even if the answer is “maybe,” walk away and refocus. It might seem tempting to publish content just for the sake of publishing. After all, statistics show that the more regularly you update your social profiles, post to your blog, and “interact” by sharing different posts, comments, you name it drives traffic up. And who doesn’t want more traffic?

The key takeaway is that when you create and promote content that doesn’t reflect what you think, how you feel, or the values you believe in, you’re straying from your true self. Your audience isn’t dumb, they’ll see that you aren’t being genuine, and you will drive them away. Worse yet, you may attract a following that doesn’t value what you do, who you are, or what your business is about. They won’t see the value you provide, and they won’t be an interactive tribe. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the point of content creation?

Instead of getting wrapped up in the idea of content marketing, slow down. Get intentional.

In a lot of ways, this may be the most relaxing piece of advice you ever receive on the subject of content marketing: slow down. It’s when you get wound up about posting six times a day, having multiple accounts with multiple posting or scheduling programs, and writing a blog post a day that you’re most likely to stray from your original purpose. When you feel yourself panicking, or are worried that it’s just too much to do but you need to do more, stop. That’s a surefire sign that you need to back away and reassess your reason for diving into content marketing in the first place.

If you’re a business owner, I know your first priority is your client base. You want to see them succeed, thrive, and improve as a direct result of working with you. Isn’t that why we all do what we do?

Now, ask yourself: What kind of content is going to help me achieve that original goal?

The answer will probably vary depending on the clients you work with, the struggles they face, and the information they value. However, I can tell you one thing for certain: fluff-pieces and click-bait is not adding value to their lives, and so it’s not adding value to your business. Why would you continue investing time and energy into something that isn’t adding value to your business? There aren’t enough hours in the day for that.

The good news is that intentional content makes your life easier.

When you eliminate the rush and the pressure surrounding the “do more, be everywhere,” mentality of content marketing, you’re left with just you, and your valuable insights and ideas. This is where garbage ends, and intentional content creation begins. If it means you scale back to blogging once a week or a few times a month, so be it. If it means you only post to your social media profiles when you find an article, idea, or quote you genuinely connect with, that’s fine.

There is no hard and fast rule that says you need to abide by an intense posting schedule, or that you need to publish to your blog daily to drive traffic. A big following is awesome, but I’m a believer that tracking valuable engagement means way more to the success of your business than growing your following number alone.

As soon as you become intentional with your content, you’ll see more interaction. You’ll find that your “following” isn’t just skimming your blog post, they’re engaging with your content, connecting with you and your business, and finding exciting new information. They will continue to return to you, they’re more likely to work with you, and they’re definitely more likely to spread the word. Doesn’t that sound awesome? It’s kind of the dream. I know you’ve got it in you to make it happen.

So, let’s ditch the content marketing panic that doesn’t produce results. Instead, let’s get intentional.