Turning your knowledge into content is free, and it creates the most sustainable, consistent, and scalable marketing strategy in existence. When you look at brands who truly rise above, that really “make it”—like Marie Forleo in the world of online education or Patagonia on the product side—the commonality is the consistent creation of content based on their knowledge.
But the struggle I witness most with Interact customers who have a depth of knowledge to share is that they want to already be at the level of Marie or Patagonia. They find it difficult to begin at the place where they are.
And that is totally understandable. This guide will walk you through creating content based on your unique knowledge—without feeling like it has to be perfect.
A: Accept that you’re not perfect
There’s an interview floating around out there with Jim Cramer, the Mad Money guy. Regardless of how you feel about him or his style, the lesson from that interview is that he has written every single day since 1955.
Every morning, he writes an article about stocks. He often writes one in the evening as well. At this point, after decades of practice, he’s probably pretty adept at writing great articles on a daily basis, but we can only guess how bad his first ones might have been.
To give another controversial example, go back and watch Joe Rogan’s earliest podcast episodes. The production quality is not better than a home video, with him and a friend sitting in their living room, chatting about random topics. Fast forward to today, and he’s made over $100 million from podcasting.
The first step to turning your knowledge into content is accepting your imperfection; the next is acknowledging that no one else is perfect, either. The thing that connects us all is our humanity, which, by nature, means we are imperfect.
Practical step: Try the Tonglen meditation technique. It will guide you through connecting with other people, which will calm fears around not being perfect.
B: Believe you have value to provide others
According to renowned author Eckhart Tolle, our connection with other people is the collective energy that gives us the strength to be our best selves, which includes creating content. This means, practically, that when you know your content is helpful to other people, you’ll feel energy when creating that content, which can help you rise above your fear and doubts. And so, you’ll be able to put forth your best work.
When you know that what you are creating will assist other people, it doesn’t matter how well it performs, whether people share it, or if it will grow your business. While, of course, those are the long-term goals, the short-term doesn’t hinge on immediate results beyond just knowing that you are solving a need for people.
Practical step: Talk with your customers, or your potential customers, about what is going on in their lives. Listen as they share their needs and struggles. Identify areas where your expertise can be helpful. Finally, create content to answer their questions.
C: Connect to the people who can benefit from your work
Know your audience and keep them in mind as you create. Doing this will help you craft the tone of your writing and make sure it matches their needs. For example, maybe your audience is strapped for time, and they just need you to get to the point. Or maybe your audience needs a lot of data to feel safe making decisions; if so, you’ll need to include a lot of data points in your content.
Focusing on your audience when creating content can be motivating because you’ll know exactly where to send it once it’s finished.
Practical step: Make a habit of having conversations with your customers at least once a week. Set aside an hour and talk about what they’re trying to accomplish with your product or service and build from there.
D: Distill your ideas into pieces
Another area where I see people struggle is when they feel the need to pack too much knowledge into their content. They have so much expertise to share, and they want to express it all so their audience doesn’t miss a thing. This is well-intentioned, to be sure, but the result is content that is too long, which leads to readers not taking it all in because they’re not engaged with it.
This pain point can be especially challenging because it also hits on ego. How dare you tell me to turn my knowledge into a short article/video/podcast? I’ve been studying this subject for 20 years! I think this is a natural first reaction.
However, if we let go of our egos and focus on what it must be like for the person engaging with our content, it becomes clear. They don’t have the time to sit and learn everything we know, but that makes our job even more important. Our audience needs us to break down everything we know and distill it down into digestible pieces.
Practical Step: For any subject, aim for three to ten sections of content. These sections will become paragraphs or bullets in what you publish. As you’re writing each section, limit yourself to a few sentences. Use this article as an example: I’ve distilled each letter in this process down to a short section, breaking up the article with sub-sections and adding imagery so it flows.
E: Use Examples
One of my favorite books starts with a story from a man imprisoned. Despite his circumstances, he’s able to find joy and mindfulness by changing his view of his situation to that of an escape. The rest of that book is dense and quite hard to follow, but, because I know what the goal is from the beginning, and I have a story to tie it to, I’m drawn in and actively engaged.
Practical Step: Whenever possible, use stories and examples to illustrate your points. Examples and stories help to personalize content, so people connect with it. However, be sure to intermix these examples with data so you’re not just telling stories.
F: Finish your work on a timetable
I write a new article every other day; some people publish once a week; as noted above, Jim Cramer writes one or two articles each day. Every great content creator I’ve come across works on a timetable—and they stick to it.
There’s not a mysticalness to this. It’s just practice. Practice is the process of learning and developing over time. When you repeat a process over and over again, while slowly chipping away at making it better, you’ll improve and become more efficient at whatever it is you’re trying to do.
There’s an excellent Ted-Ed video about it that perhaps explains it better than I can. I encourage you to check it out.
Practical Step: Put yourself on a cadence and stick to it. Even if you’re embarrassed or don’t feel like you’re ready. Think about all of the amazing content creators you know today who started out publishing sub-par work.
G: Grow by listening to feedback
Let people critique you. Even if they’re not great at giving feedback, what they’re saying is probably still helpful. As shown in the book, Thanks for the Feedback, research shows even poorly provided feedback can help with your process. The points being made can still assist your growth.
Give people the opportunity to tell you how your content impacts them, or doesn’t, and keep growing. I still have vivid memories of when people told me my content was too wordy, too all over the place, confusing, overwhelming, and a bunch of other things, but it was helpful every time.
Practical Step: Ask people for feedback. Put your work in front of people who you know will offer you feedback. It’s rough, but you’ll get better over time.
G Part 2: Go and create
Go make something you’re good at. It could be writing, a podcast, a video, graphics, whatever. The process of making content when you know it will help others not only creates a long-term and sustainable marketing strategy, but it also grows you as a person and gives you energy.