Don’t freak out.
I’m in Cleveland.
At Content Marketing World.
And I’m just now writing the intro to today’s issue. It’s 7 a.m.
I’m pausing the anxious mental prep that goes into speaking—today at 1 p.m., by the way—to send you something worth opening, reading, and clicking so that you, too, can kill it at being a last-minute writer when you need to.
And, yes, I do typically write this intro (ahem, prologue) the day we send it. But by the time I hit send I’ve done the most energy-depleting thing of my day. That’s just not the case today. I’ll have the pre-speaking jitters until 1:30 :)
Sometimes this write-the-intro-the-morning-of-sending strategy leaves me staring at a very white screen begging for a narrative I find extremely challenging to deliver.
We literary folk are always looking to “find the story.”
But sometimes the story is hiding under a rock, right?
And NOTHING comes to us.
I think this happens especially when we want to write something amazing.
Like when I’m at an event and people are actively subscribing to this newsletter.
And you should have planned something far in advance to be extra amazing but instead you (well, I) left it to chance.
And then… THE BLANK SCREEN.
And though all the little conversations and powerful keynote sessions of the previous days are swimming through my brain I can’t quite pluck out a story.
What do we do when we need to write but we’re unable to find that ever elusive narrative?
Here’s what usually works for me:
Stop thinking big and start thinking small.
Scan your memory bank for one little meaningful moment.
Instead of telling a BIG STORY, tell a tiny one.
Somehow, that lifts the pressure off in a way that lets me also focus on the tiny details of the tiny story.
And, if I’m still having trouble getting started, I’ll do one of two things:
- Picture a climactic moment in the story I’m considering and start there, literally in the action. People don’t mind a disorienting start. It can feel exciting and fun to read on to figure out what the heck you’re describing.
- Start as if you’re catching up with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a few days. See if typing begets more typing and helps you find a point (that’s what I’ve done here). It’s not the most exciting start but, for a weekly newsletter, I find the assumed intimacy can be endearing. I can always cut the first lines if I used this approach to clear my throat and can’t stand it after I get out a draft.
I feel like either of these has the power to pull people in.
And with newsletters, the goal is delivering quality at cadence and allowing the time, efforts, and little stories to compound into a more meaningful relationship with your readers.
Think of newsletters (and content in general) more like an ongoing conversation (more on this in the Marketing section today).
Wish me luck today.
I’m speaking with Dennis Shiao about counterintuitive email marketing strategies.
And, of course, please enjoy the goodies below (which I did take time to curate earlier in the week).
Prioritize These Content Marketing Strategies
It’s no secret that it’s easy to get caught up in lead capture as a content marketer. However, the reality is successful content marketing requires a holistic approach focusing more on brand and reputation building and less on everything else. Here are a few ways you can keep your priorities straight.
Measure The Best ROI
Are you wasting time measuring ROI on a single piece of content? In his TikTok, Chris Walker explains why it’s a better idea to measure success based on channel instead.
Create Truly Great Content
If your concerns about rankings, competition, and oversaturation are keeping you from creating great content, John Bonini offers some encouragement about why nothing is preventing you from doing it.
Content First, Traffic Second
In another LinkedIn post, John Bonini urges marketers not to get caught up in solely driving traffic. Here’s what he says to do instead: “build the scaffolding that will not only drive traffic but also works to build influence and loyalty with the right audience.”
Focus On The Long Game
What is the duration of your content marketing program? Derek Flint lays out 8 reasons why a short (1-3 years) approach will create a flawed strategy.