Dave Baldwin of Raleigh (author/editor and content producer extraordinaire) is my guest blogger today and gives four takeaways on how you can beat writer’s block by taking the focus off of yourself. Enjoy this blog and learn more about Dave at the bottom of this post.
In the last ten years, social media, YouTube, podcasting, self-publishing, blogging and other platforms have created a huge opportunity. It is easier than ever to reach an international audience with your message. At the same time, there is more competition than ever for people’s attention. We are all busy and we have extremely limited time. We have messages coming at us from every direction, trying to influence us to buy this or vote for that. Getting in front of a large audience is fairly easy. Coming up with something interesting and relevant to say is hard. Convincing people to pay attention is an uphill battle.
But it does not have to be as hard as we usually make it.
I have worked with a number of business owners who reached out to me for help producing content. Most of my clients over the last nine years have been people who do not consider writing to be their strongest skill set. In my experience, there is one issue that causes people to burn out and quit producing content—although few people know how to recognize it. The problem is simple: when people don’t read or look at your stuff, you are going to have a hard time motivating yourself to keep making it. After all, what’s the point of writing a blog that no one reads or producing YouTube videos that no one watches? It can be a frustrating experience.
If you want to produce content to brand yourself as an expert in your field—but have struggled to build an audience, you may want to try a simple approach: helping other people share their content. You can conduct an interview by phone, in person or even by email (you can email someone a set of questions and publish their answers). Or, you can share other people’s content on your social media channels. You can quote other experts in your blogs and mention them by name when you post it on social media.
Regardless of the specifics, the idea is to focus on promoting other people instead of just promoting yourself. There are a few simple reasons why this works.
It takes the pressure off.
When you put the spotlight on someone else, you no longer bear the burden of coming up with all the ideas or providing all of the expertise. If you conduct interviews, you are only responsible for directing the conversation by asking the right questions. This is especially helpful if you struggle with self-doubt or find yourself questioning whether or not you are really qualified to call yourself an expert. (Just about everyone struggles with this, at least in the beginning). You are not asking people to listen to you—you are giving someone else an opportunity to tell their own story.
It helps you reach more people faster.
In 2013, when I worked with a group of business owners to start the Triangle Lunch Talks, for example, we invited different speakers to present each week on areas of their expertise. The group still meets monthly in Raleigh. We asked every speaker to share the event on their social media pages and send emails to their distribution lists. Most of the speakers were very cooperative—and we found that a sort of cross-pollination developed over time. We had a few folks who might show up to see one particular speaker and keep coming back to see others.
It creates an external deadline and accountability.
I recently started up the Introverts in Business Podcast, a series of interviews that I am producing on video and will eventually publish in an audio-only version. As of now, we’ve produced the first eight episodes and seven of them are online. I have the next batch of interviews scheduled with the people I’m interviewing—and this is a sure-fire way to guarantee that they will actually happen. I have found that when I make a promise to someone else to do something by a specific time and date, I will get it done. If I only make a promise to myself, I am prone to blowing it off. I might as well be honest about this; after nine years of creating content for my business, I’m still human!
It builds goodwill.
When you help other people reach a greater message with your audience, they appreciate it. They’re in the same boat that you are in, after all. We all have a message and we all have limited resources to carry that message to the people who can benefit from it. It takes a concerted effort. I can’t guarantee that everyone will appreciate your efforts equally or that everyone will reciprocate, but if you make a regular habit of plugging other people, it will pay dividends back to you over time.
Motivating yourself to keep going is not easy, but it is a lot simpler if you focus on creating a team effort and rallying the support of your tribe. For some additional inspiration, watch Sting’s 2014 TED Talk, where he shares about how he found inspiration by using the craft of songwriting as a means of telling other people’s stories.
Dave Baldwin is a writer and business consultant who lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina. He works with business owners develop strategies to drive revenue through social media. Click here to learn about his upcoming 8-week video mastermind.