Content cringe. Do you suffer from it?
Does the thought of putting pen to paper freak you out?
Maybe you think: Meh, who'd want to read my garbage?
Or maybe, writing's part of your marketing strategy - but you'd rather eat your own socks.
If that wincing feeling sounds familiar... Enter: Content Cringe.
Gregory Ciotti of HelpScout talks about the pain of creative cringe; he suggests we should only be worried if we don't feel the cringe - because it's the calling card of overconfidence and a lack of improvement.
"If you aren't cringing, you aren't improving."
Amen to that, Greg.
So if you're one of the 61% of marketers struggling to produce decent content, it could be time to embrace that flinching, hot-cheeked feeling as your hand trembles over the publish button. In fact, with 66% of us committed to upping our content game this year, we ALL need to find a sustainable way to start producing regular, useful content - because sharing good content, as you already know, is the only way to grab the attention of ludicrously cynical buyers.
So if content cringe is blocking your goals, how do you leapfrog it and start creating?
Here are some tips.
1) Don't wait until you're a better writer
You've spent days churning ideas around, and you're finally ready to write. Trouble is, the words in your head are like helium balloons - floating just beyond your reach.
You binge read 'How-To-Write-Like-A-Pro' articles; make big plans to practice.
I'll just wait until I'm a better writer, you say - cringing hard.
But here's the thing: Do marathon runners wait until they've reached peak speed?
Nope. They get out there and participate, hustle - race. Every false start, every wrong turn, every sore muscle, mistimed pace, painful finish... it all adds up to valuable experience. It's the simple act of taking part that makes them better.
Just like your writing.
2) Remember: you're not an imposter
"Uh-oh, they're going to find me out now,' said Maya Angelou, after finishing each of her 11 books.
Do you ever feel like a fraud?
Do you have moments of crippling self-doubt?
Imposter Syndrome is more common that you think - even trail-blazing scientists aren't immune. World-renowned Physicist Athene Donald describes it as:
"...the feeling of certainty that your current position is a result of a clerical error rather than your ability to do the work."
Resonate with you?
Studies suggest that people wo suffer from Imposter Syndrome are more likely to be high-achievers. Chances are you're committed to giving your best and unwilling to settle for middle of the road. Not such a bad thing, right?
Next time you find yourself wavering over your content convictions, give these a whirl:
- Focus on your strengths. Look back at examples of your successful work, and remind yourself of your accomplishments.
- Take a class in an area you think your abilities are weaker. You'll learn what you need - or realize how much you already know.
- Be aware of your language choices. If you find yourself saying you've been 'lucky' a lot, hone in on what you did to get where you are now.
3) Critics don't matter a jot
If you're a savvy marketer, no doubt you're dragging your budget - and your strategy - to content in a mammoth way. You understand its value in reaching distracted, time-starved customers, but the obstacle is finding the time and resource, then motivating yourself and your team to write. Often people are reluctant because they feel it also puts them in the firing line.
The wonderful Bob Hoskins, passed on this valuable lesson to his daughter; and it's a beautiful reminder:
"Don't worry about other people's opinions. Everyone's a critic, but ultimately what they say only matters if you let it. Don't believe your own press. People can just as easily sing your praises as they can tear you down. Don't waste your time on things you can't change. Let it slide off you like water off a duck's back."
Next time you worry about being criticized, remember that great content produces scalable results. And scalable results mean more honey in the pot for you and your business. Take the good stuff. Ignore the rest.
4) You think you've got nothing new to say
I get it. Totally. I mean, who wants to read another post about content marketing? Yawn. Naptime.
But you're reading this, right?
They say it's impossible to write something original - everything's been thrashed out a million times already.
Yet, putting your unique stamp on a piece of content - your personality and your spin - makes it as individual as a snowflake. This means that everything you produce tells the reader as much about you as it does about what you're writing about - which is kind of what this content caper is all about.
So pick a topic, any topic, and write about it with as much punch and personality as you can muster, even if it's been done to death and back again.
Remember: Your goal with isn't to reinvent the wheel - although let's be honest, there's no harm in trying to be innovative. Your goal is to inform, reassure, inspire, uplift, distract, persuade, enthuse, motivate, encourage, add value - or simply to entertain.
"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."
- Maya Angelou
And once you get that simple principle, everything you do bears the potential for a lesson or story. Which means you have vast reservoirs of content, right here - inside your head.
So go on, I dare you, embrace your content cringe. Start wherever you are. Because as every mother, ever, will tell you, every marathon starts with a step.