Do you want to improve your content creation skills but don’t know where to start?
Are you already starting to doubt your ability to achieve your blogging and content marketing goals this year?
When I started Pushing Social, I used 5 techniques to rapidly gain the skills I needed to grow a “blog about blogging” against some awesome competition.
Here’s my playbook.
Stalk the Winners
Actually this should say “Watch, Stalk, and Steal From the Winners.”
The key word here is “Winners”. Too many people empathize with and slowly pick up the habits of the whiners in their niche. For example:
They won’t promote their posts because they community frowns on it.
They won’t sell a product because their peers feel that they should “give until it hurts” and other nonsense.
Getting good means learning how to compete with the best. Some people derisively call these folks A-Listers. I call them “Sensei”. I never tire of discovering and adapting A-lister tactics to Pushing Social. The champions keep everyone else on their toes and striving for more.
Find your winners. Give them the lion share of your attention.
- What type of content do they publish?
- What unusual tactics are they using to promote their content?
- How are they managing and growing their community?
- What type of product are they selling?
- How are they positioning themselves as experts?
Next, invest in…
The most important marketing book on my bookshelf is “Million Dollar Mailings”. This book has 497 pages of the best direct response marketing copy ever written.
Since April 1st, 2011 I’ve copied about half of this book by hand into about 10 yellow-page notebooks. Why?
I was an awful writer when I started blogging. I needed to get good quick so I decided to emulate the masters (AKA Stalk the Winners). The writers in my Million Dollar Mailings book are masters. I copy their text to get a feel for the rhythm, word choice, and feel for truly awesome copy. I’ve also copied the text of several Malcolm Gladwell New Yorker articles for the same reason. This is how I deliberately practice.
Riddle me this –
What part of your blog, content, or business could you be better at? Pick the area that would benefit the most if you got good real quick.
What are you doing to deliberately practice the skills you need to master?
Try this next tip –
Avoid Tactic Overload
Have you ever heard the term “boiling the ocean?” It’s a great way to say that you are working too hard for a questionable return. I see bloggers do this when they try to become the #1 fitness , health, paleo, beauty, marketing blog. They burn themselves out trying to do too much.
Instead, try focusing on one objective for a specific amount of time. For example, “Consistently promoting my posts with valuable contributions on Facebook, and Google+”. Give yourself 30 days to get momentum and evaluate your performance.
During that time, put Twitter, LinkedIn, and the others on autopilot.
Your focus will get you faster results while giving you the time saved from taking a brief hiatus from other potential distractions.
This next one is my favorite –
You Improve What You Measure
Recently I talked about the value of knowing your “Numbers”, the metrics that chart the health of your blog. It’s important and you should do it. But there is something else I didn’t mention.
Measuring personal performance seems to be the key to quickly getting better results. The act of charting your number and asking yourself, how can I improve, starts a chain reaction of “good moves” that lead to improvement.
I believe that’s why top athletes are constantly quantifying their performance and setting new goals.
I challenge you to measure three areas of your blogging performance.
1. # of posts written.
Why: Marketing success is built from consistently and frequently creating interesting great content. A blogger who write 12 great blog posts will beat the blogger who publishes 4 post.
2. Time it takes to write a good 500-700 word post
Why: Speed is a sign of experience, skill, and preparation. I wrote this blog post in 45 minutes because, I’ve written 600 blog posts in the last 3 years and I started with a tried-and-true blog outline/template. I developed the template because I wanted to write a post in under an hour (my lunch hour when I had a day job).
3. Started and completed content creation projects.
Why: I believe the days of succeeding by just writing blog posts are over. I agree with Copyblogger’s Brian Clark that successful businesses and brands (personal and corporate) are media companies that tell their story on many platforms.
Measuring your content project completion stats puts the focus on uncovering good ideas, turning them into content, and publishing them. For example, I set the goal of recording 50 content marketing podcasts before the end of 2014. This goal is forcing me to “ship” the podcasts while short circuiting my impulse to dilly-dally until everything is perfect. What will be your content creation goal?
Seek Constructive Feedback
Last night, I watched American Idol for the first time in 5 years. I boycotted the show when the judging become more important than the talent, but this year’s judges are genuine music icons. Plus, I still try to sing (badly) Harry Connick Jr’s “Heavenly.”
There were a few contestants that didn’t get a ticket to Hollywood. They were bad singers even to my tone-deaf ears. The judges told them so and sent them back home.
During an one one one clip, Keith Urban said that the best gift they could give contestants was an unvarnished critique of their poor performance.
He continued saying,
“Learning from their mistakes is the only way they will get better. Most of these guys have been told they walk on water and they haven’t grown.”
My blog didn’t get better until someone I respected told me that my writing was selfish, light-on-practical details, poorly constructed. I used that critique to get better.
When was the last time you received a critique?