Content creation that establishes connection and trust with those you serve.
It’s a foundational pillar of your online storytelling strategy.
We live in such an amazing time to promote and run a business thanks to the internet, in general, and social media, in particular, for affording us the opportunity to spread our messages of service.
I often wonder what would’ve happened if I started my branded lifestyle portrait photography 30-40 years ago.
How the hell would I promote myself?
Sure, word of mouth referrals existed, but, how would I get the ball rolling in order for my happy clients to spread the word?
The freakin’ yellow pages?
Walking around New York City with flyers in hand?
Stand with a full-body sandwich board on the side of the highway?
Who the hell knows.
But fortunately, I never have to find out, :)
Now, I’m not saying that creating a memorable and referable online presence through content creation is a walk in the park.
Far from it.
But, the fact that you have the chance to promote your specialized services in front of those who need your help most on a 24/7 basis is a pretty amazing opportunity.
It’s a huge piece needed to build a successful and sustainable expert-based business.
The key to maximizing the time commitment needed to develop a memorable and referable online presence is to understand how to create a storytelling strategy that shares who you are, who you serve and why you do what you do.
This type of content creation builds a connection that goes beyond the work, which goes a long way to creating trust.
Once someone trusts you, they’re much more likely to pay for your services.
So, how do we build trust through content creation?
HOLD THAT THOUGHT - LET’S EXPLORE WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO FIRST!
One of the biggest mistakes that plagues many speakers, authors and other expert-based businesses is that they randomly post content to their blogs and social feeds without any strategy or thought behind it.
They simply post for postings sake.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are thought leaders who create an entire strategy around one type of content format.
For example, I’ve seen social feeds where it’s entirely filled with fancy graphics and celebrity quotes.
In both cases, these business owners are doing themselves - and their marketing efforts - a major disservice.
For the random posters, the lack of consistency raises a red flag for potential clients.
If you’re not consistent in your content themes and schedule, then what motivation are you giving potential clients to follow you in the first place?
For the one-trick-pony posters, it’s boring as hell to look at the same content format day-after-day-after-day. I point this out to my headshot photographer colleagues who only post portfolio pieces ALL THE TIME!
Also, posting the same format everyday feels extremely spammy and manufactured.
Not the type of impression you want to leave with an audience full of potential clients.
In order to develop a connection and rapport with people you serve, entertain, inform and inspire the hell out of them with the content that you create and share.
Provide them with stories that speaks to their heads while also to their hearts.
ILLUSTRATE YOUR EXPERTISE
These types of social media posts and blog articles show off your fancy magic tricks to those who need to hear and see them most.
Share your experiences, insights, methodology and framework in order to clearly illustrate to your audience how exactly you can help them get past what’s holding them back in relation to your sphere of authority.
Creating content in this vain speaks directly to the needs of those you serve, and it helps them determine whether or not you’ll be able to remove this point of friction from their businesses and/or personal lives.
Expertise-driven posts also clue them into the experience that they’ll receive when they work with you.
By tickling them with the feather of consistent content, that helps them to continue envisioning working with you.
They’re more invested and will, as a result, follow you more closely and that will keep you top-of-mind when they’re ready to get into a buying position.
EVEN SUPERMAN TAKES HIS CAPE OFF FROM TIME TO TIME
Although it plays a huge role, exclusively sharing content that illustrates your expertise with your audience is not enough to solidify the relationship.
In fact, that would be a mistake.
If you simply show off your superhero-esque qualities, you’re separating yourself from your audience.
When you strike a careful balance between being seen as a valuable resource AND relatable to those you serve, that will help create a heightened sense of connection and rapport, which, over time, will develop a bond built on trust.
ILLUSTRATE YOUR LIFE AS A BUSINESS OWNER
One powerful way you can strike that resource/relatable balance is by sharing the ups, downs and turn-arounds you experience on a daily basis while running your expert-based business.
Allow your audience to celebrate business-related wins with you.
Give them the opportunity to cheer you on while simultaneously wondering to themselves how it would feel if it were them celebrating that win.
That FOMO vibe is real, folks - leverage it, :)
With regard to the missteps, some people scoff loudly at the idea of sharing their failures. I should know because I was one of them for many years.
I didn’t see the value in sharing how I got my ass handed to me through all my failed attempts at creating visibility for my business.
And then one day, it clicked while reading a colleague’s article about her failed business attempt.
I saw her in a different light because, up until that point, I hadn’t had many personal conversations with her outside of the content she posted daily.
I no longer saw her only as an ultra-successful speaker who knows her shit…
...she’s also someone like me that fails all the time, :)
By her sharing this particular story, it placed my own challenges, hurdles and failed attempts to grow my business into a new perspective.
They’re not failures, they’re merely stepping stones to success.
Long story short, it’s empowering to be vulnerable - not just for the content creator, but for those who read the story, as well.
It gives them hope that if you can get past what’s holding you back, so can they.
ILLUSTRATE YOUR LIFE AS A HUMAN BEING
As a way to build on your stories related to being a business owner, nurture the relationship through relatable stories you share with those you serve, offer aspects of your life beyond the work:
Also to consider - what are the interesting wrinkles in your life?
What are the habits, routines and activities that are part of your personal life that others might find interesting and even inspiring?
Think about these and write them down.
While you might assume that they’re mundane factoids that no one needs or cares to hear, it’s these interesting details that make you memorable and keep you top-of-mind with your audience.
You’re unique in your expertise, experiences and interests outside of your business. Offer them as a way to give those you serve a relatable entry point into your life.
There is no hard and fast rule with sharing personal stories. I certainly don’t share every aspect of my personal life in my content, or in public, at all.
I only put out what I’m comfortable sharing.
Keep this in mind as you start to think about the types of personal stories that you want to integrate into your online presence.
SOURCING CONTENT CREATION IDEAS
So, based on everything you’ve read up to this point, are you ready to write a year’s worth of content from scratch right now?
Ugh jeez - that would be a mind-numbingly overwhelming task, wouldn’t it?
Fortunately for most, if not all, of you reading this, you don’t need to rack your brain for ideas to get the ball initially rolling.
Have you created any of the following?
Presented a keynote, workshop or presentation?
Been interviewed on a podcast?
Taken part in an on-camera interview?
Contributed blog articles to outside sources?
If so, then here’s a magical starting point for you to source relevant and valuable content for those you serve.
Here’s what you need to do next:
Comb through these various assets and highlight compelling phrases, sentences, passages and chapter titles that can be shared with those you serve.
This is the raw material you can leverage to create a massive chunk of your social media posts and blog articles.
The various phrases and passages you collect can either be lifted and used verbatim, or you might need to develop an added level of context around them in order to provide your audience with a teachable moment through storytelling.
On a more technical note, for the video and audio-only content, it would be in your best interest to have them transcribed in order to be able to quickly scan the conversation for relevant content ideas.
You can cut up the video clips based on the soundbites that you want to share, or, you can go with the transcription and go text-only.
With respect to creating the transcription, you can either send the audio/video files out to a service to be transcribed, or you can take care of it on your own with this fun Youtube option.
Regardless, when you leverage past interviews, presentations and articles, you’re giving yourself a huge head start with creating a large amount of social media posts and blog articles that will help you grow a community of those who need your help around your area of expertise.
But, inspiration for creating content doesn’t begin and end with ideas you’ve already shared in one form or another in the past.
THE IMPORTANCE OF IDEA NUGGETS
You know those interesting and seemingly random ideas that strike you throughout your day?
While walking down the street, an idea you were wrestling with suddenly becomes clear and focused?
Perhaps you were on a call with a client and they said something that deeply resonated with you?
As you were reading a colleague’s daily newsletter, an interesting point made by the author sends you down a creative rabbit hole that leads to a series of interesting ideas.
While taking some time for yourself at the bar having a beer, an intriguing thought pops into your head from out of nowhere.
These are what I refer to as idea nuggets.
It's really important you write those ideas down the moment they strike because these words that miraculously fall out of your head and onto the page or screen could lead to some amazing pieces of content.
Even if you only remember a portion of the idea before it exits your mind forever, it’s a starting point.
And starting points are better than, “dammit, I forgot that idea I said I was going to remember!”
We’ve all been there, and none of us want to go back!
ADDED BENEFITS OF IDEA NUGGETS
Raw ideas are pliable and extremely flexible, and it’s up to us to create their relevance and context.
Once you get used to consistently conceiving and writing down ideas as they come to you, you’ll notice that more and more ideas will present themselves throughout your day.
I speak from experience.
Once your idea muscles get conditioned to pump out ideas on a more consistent basis, you’ll notice that content pieces aren’t the only idea nuggets that pop into your head.
Perhaps a new program offering will present itself?
A workshop framework?
New talking points for an upcoming presentation surfaces?
An idea for a new business offering?
When you rewire and condition your awareness to be mindful of interesting and compelling ideas so that you can write them down as they enter your consciousness, it’s a wonderful and productive mindset that has far-reaching benefits beyond content creation.
TYPES OF STORYTELLING FORMATS
Thus far, we’ve discussed mining content ideas from past published work and media appearances, as well as idea nuggets that find their way into your consciousness throughout your day.
So, now that you have the raw materials to create some magic, how do you mold and shape them into entertaining and informative pieces of social media content and blog articles?
As I mentioned earlier, some of the content that you identify in your interviews, talks and past blogs is ready-made to be posted verbatim, while some of your ideas need context created around them.
For the ideas that need more development, this is where storytelling strategy really comes into play.
Have fun with these idea nuggets. After all, you’re imparting an important lesson to those who need to hear it, so present it in an interesting and compelling way to captivate your audience’s attention.
Before you develop an idea nugget into a social post or blog article, decide what would be the most effective tone to convey the message that you want to share with my audience?
Is it humor?
Are we going to tug at the heartstrings?
Is this best served as a rant?
Or, do I keep it straight-forward, simple and factual?
Keep in mind that although it’s important to inspire your audience to think, they are more likely to invest in you and your services once they’re emotionally invested. Make ‘em laugh, cry, or both - just make them feel SOMETHING.
Once you decide on the tone, shape the beginning, middle and end through a variety of different storytelling formats:
In your clients own words
Once you decide on the tone and the format, you’re off to the races. Always look to vary your storytelling formats as a way to keep your audience guessing and to not bore them.
Keep true to your personality - don’t write something that falls outside your voice because the way you show up throughout your online presence needs to parallel how you are in real life.
There’s no need to force it - those who are aligned with who you are and appreciate how you serve them will present themselves without the added pomp and circumstance in your posts :)
The image content that you choose to visually punctuate the sentiments of these stories will go a long way to inspire your audience to stop the scroll and read the post.
The maturation process of an idea nugget into an actual piece of content is an interesting one.
I mean, I educate clients on the process so I’m kinda biased, :)
But, once you’re aware of the work involved, it demystifies the process and allows you the opportunity to see yourself taking the bull by the horns and diving head-first into the process.
When you dedicate your time and creativity to develop valuable and memorable content that serves to benefit your audience, you’re investing in the long game.
Although your articles and posts might not be read by everyone every single day, you’re leaving a wealth of intellectual property throughout your online presence so that when people are introduced to your magic, they now can truly get a sense of who you are, who you serve and why you do what you do.
Your content represents your expertise, business and life, and I applaud you for your effort in sharing it with those who need to hear it most. It represents a gigantic portion of your online presence, and it needs a lot of attention as you continue to develop and evolve your thought leadership.