They say content is king.
One reason for this is that with so much noise on the web, the way to really get people’s attention is not to spam them to death but to provide them with high-quality, useful content to engage with.
It’s hard to find someone who routinely churns out quality content better than entrepreneur extraordinaire Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee on all the socials except Facebook where he is @Gary). Gary consistently puts out multiple pieces of outstanding content every day. Sure he has the money to have a team help him, but he has counseled countless others who don’t and has a good feel of what it takes to win the content game.
Over the past two years of consuming Gary’s content on social media, I have now heard him speak a number of times on how you can consistently put out quality content that people will love. I think I can distill his teaching into three key principles that will be useful to almost everyone from bloggers to YouTubers to social media influencers.
This is essential reading for anyone who knows how difficult it is to consistently come up with great content.
Here are the three keys to creating amazing content according to Gary Vaynerchuk:
1) Create from the top down, not the bottom up
“Bottom-up” creation is asking, “what should I create next?” It’s staring at a blinking cursor for a half hour without ever committing to your next move. It’s what most people do most of the time.
There’s nothing wrong with occasionally engaging in bottom-up content creation, but it’s far too exhausting to maintain for the long haul.
The alternative is a top-down approach where you come up with an overarching structure that determines how you will operate. Essentially, you put yourself on a schedule and give yourself creative constraints.
One easy way to do this is with “themed” days. There are some themed days that already exist on Social media, such as #MondayMotivation and #WednesdayWisdom, but you can create your own. If you are a yoga instructor, maybe you decide that you like “Meditation Mondays” better than the Monday Motivation approach.
Having a themed day helps bring clarity and helps get you away from perfection paralysis. Instead of asking what the most amazing piece of content you can create is (a question that usually leads to stalling), you ask yourself a far easier question: “what piece of content can I create around my theme?”
The creative constraint helps tremendously. If I I asked you on the spot to see if you could spend the next minutes telling me something interesting, you’d probably have trouble finding something that seems worth saying. If I gave you a specific topic and asked you to spend ten minutes telling me why your favorite sports team sucks, you’d probably be able to jump into a full-on rant on the spot.
In addition to themes, you can create a structure around what types of content you create. Maybe you decide to create three pieces of content a week, one day you do an interview, one day you detail part of your personal story, and another day you publish a “how-to” or an informational post.
One great way to create a top-down system is by answering questions. You never run out of things to say when answering questions. This is also a great way to get the feel for the pulse of your audience. You might think that you’ve talked about a subject too much, but if you run a Q&A and half the questions end up being on that subject, you know you were wrong and your audience is thirsty for more.
Gary has been using the question and answer approach effectively for a long time with the #AskGaryVee show.
When you have a system, you are far less reliant on willpower, creativity, and motivation. You still need those things, but you need them in much smaller doses at any given time, allowing you to go longer without burning out or running out of things to say.
For me it helps that I have three main areas that I write about. I started my own blog to chronicle my journey in becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise. Even just having these three categories lets me think about what I need to say in each one and helps keep me going.
2) Document instead of create
Speaking of running out of things to say, isn’t it funny how in real life you never run out of things to say, but when it comes to content creation you get writer’s block?
It’s hard to channel enough creativity to consistently come out with things that seem like they are worth saying. So one solution is to stop saying things and to start showing what you are doing.
One of the best things about social media is that it has given us all backstage access into the lives and habits of celebrities and creatives. People love getting the behind-the-scenes view of things and seeing you in a more vulnerable and relatable position.
So start documenting what you do. If you are a musician, you don’t need every piece of content you put out to be a finished product. Show a video of a recording session that went well. Show a video of a recording session that didn’t go so well. Talk about the lessons you learned. Flip the camera on when you are doing some of the less glamorous things that you do and talk about your process.
Try imagining that you’ve already made it big and now a film crew is following you around, constantly asking you what you are doing and why. Start creating bits and pieces of that documentary yourself and share them with the world.
You’ll never run out of content ideas if your content creation process consists of simply turning the camera on and explaining what you are doing.
The current state of social media is ideal for documenting. Facebook and Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours, a feature that Snapchat pioneered. The ephemeral nature of this content means that nothing is to small to share anymore. Content that may have at one time seemed like it wasn’t worthy of a place on your timeline can now be shared today and vanish tomorrow. There’s never been a better time to document.
I’m exploring more with documenting myself. Instagram stories are my preferred method (check me out: @thematthewkent). I will often share a picture of the book I am currently reading or sometimes a quote from the book, since that is what I am usually doing behind the scenes: learning and growing.
You can read Gary describe the strategy here.
3) Employ the “sawdust” model of re-purposing content
For years, sawdust was just the useless byproduct of woodworking. Then people started to realize it had its uses if it was re-purposed instead of thrown away. Finally someone realized that it was so useful that it was worth selling. Yesterday’s garbage became today’s profitable product.
Gary uses the parable of sawdust to point out that once you create a piece of content, there are numerous opportunities to re-purpose it for other mediums and platforms.
A blog post can become a podcast, a YouTube video can be transcribed into a blog post, etc.
Not only that, but there are numerous opportunities to create pieces of “micro-content” from the main “pillar” content.
For instance, you could take a short highlight from a longer video and put it on Facebook, or you could take an awesome quote and make a quote card and put it on Instagram.
Gary has two pieces of “pillar content” that fuel his micro-content: his daily vlog DailyVee and the #AskGaryVee Show. The brilliant thing about this system is that it makes his content creation natural and easy. The daily vlog is the perfect example of documenting instead of creating, and with the call-in #AskGaryVee Show, he doesn’t need to plan anything: the content is driven by the questions he gets. All his micro-content gets taken from these two pieces of pillar content, so the only time he ever needs to work on content creation from scratch the way most people do is when he is feeling particularly inspired to get something out.
He has an unbeatable system set up that keeps high-quality content flowing and keeps his very large audience coming back for more.
How could you set up a system where you can generate pillar content to recycle into micro-content?
The better your system, the more high-quality content you will be able to generate for your audience.
You can read the blog post where Gary talks about this strategy here.
The bonus 4th piece of advice: the 18 cent rule (aka the $1.80 rule)
This was something that Gary shared more recently in advising someone on how to grow on Instagram. It’s not exactly on the topic of creating great content, but it deals with attracting followers so that you actually have an audience to share your content with.
The specific advice was to pick 10 hashtags a day that you are interested in contributing to and to metaphorically leave your “two cents” by commenting on all nine of the top posts on Instagram. Thus on each hashtag you are leaving “18 cents” of input and $1.80 total for all ten hashtags (Gary called it both the “18 cent rule” and the “$1.80 rule”).
By becoming part of the community you will attract highly target followers, ones who are interested in what you have to say. You are also putting your name and face out there so that people get multiple exposures to you and will be familiar with you if they stumble upon a piece of your content down the road.
Also, this strategy doesn’t just apply on Instagram. It works just as well on Facebook, Medium, Reddit, or anywhere else people gather online. Find the community or hashtags where you would like to be shared or featured and start commenting.
It’s amazing how rare good comments are. There are the trolls and the self-promoters taking up a good amount of space, but even among the more genuine comments, most are very brief and shallow. There are lots of two word comments like “great pic” and “love this.” It’s not hard to quickly become the most valued commenter in most communities.
You can probably grow your raw numbers faster by spamming people with shameless self-promotional comments, but if you want an engaged audience that’s happy to be there, focus on providing real value.
You can read him describe the strategy here.
Chances are, you won’t become a content-creation machine like Gary Vaynerchuk overnight. These lessons will take some time to implement and refine.
Once you start getting into the groove though, you will find content creation easier than you ever have and you’ll be able to be more consistent and provide more value to your audience.
Your Next Move
If your serious about chasing your dreams, willpower won’t work. You need an unbeatable system to keep you consistent over time. Take enough steps forward and you’ll get where you want to go.
With that in mind, I wrote The Ultimate Daily Checklist: 13 Steps to Winning the Day.
Get it free here: http://thematthewkent.com/the-ultimate-daily-checklist/
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