Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 22, 201111:34 PM

9 Glorious Truths About Creating Great Content

Marketers don't like to make mistakes. People don't like to make mistakes.

Content has become a core ingredient in the Marketer's recipe for success. The challenge is that creating great content is like creating art: it's not a perfect science and it requires both time and commitment before you start getting good at it (and great results). Like art, some people never get good at it. There are some core lessons that can be learnt from brands who create great content (and some of them ain't pretty).

9 Glorious Truths About Creating Great Content:

  1. You are not a machine. While your factory may be able to pump out those widgets, human beings are not machines. Therefore, you will make mistakes. You will have days when your writing is not all that interesting or when you struggle to find your voice.
  2. You may be great but you are not perfect. Think about it this way: even some of the world's best authors have written some pretty bad stories during their careers. This is going to happen to you and your brand. Your only recourse is to keep at it.
  3. The bad stuff only happens after you start. You're not going to make a bunch of mistakes and then start pushing your content out there when it's ready for primetime. Much like writing, when you commit to it and get serious about it, that's when the crappy work starts coming out. It's a natural part of the process, you just have to be ready for it.
  4. Expression is important. Arianna Huffington likes to say that, "self-expression is the new entertainment." It's true, but know that self-expression is also a huge part of what makes us human. We want to express our thoughts and views with others. When you're thinking about your company and your content, think about whether or not the content has that true expression coming out of it, or if it's just thinly veiled marketing blather.
  5. Great content can't be taught. There is an important distinction here: you can teach anybody how to create content, but you can't teach someone how to create great content. Meaning: you can teach people a few moves and tactics, but what makes content great is a great imagination and that's, quite simply, a gift that some have (and others don't).
  6. Editing content is hard. Creating great content (post imagination) is a series of decisions... the challenge comes in the editing process. The people who create great content have the ability to edit out the decisions that were bad... that don't work.
  7. It's not the start of the content creation that is hard. Many brands struggle with this: they feel like they just don't know how to start. They feel that starting is the hardest part. What you learn as you create more and more content is that it's not starting the work that is hard, it's revising it, reworking it and re-editing it that is not only the hard part, but it's the part you should (learn to) love the most. Great content comes from the reworking of those initial ideas.
  8. Complex is bad. For some reason, brands think that for something to be serious, it needs to look and sound complex. I'm not sure why that is, but the best content is not complex... it's honest. And, if you think about it, honesty comes through best when it's kept simple.
  9. Be a part of the culture. When you're creating content, think about it as your art (because it is art). Always remember that the best art plays some kind of role in our culture... in our humanity. Take the time to think about and figure out what your role is in our culture.

What would you add to this list?

(this Blog post was inspired by the movie, Bad Writing).

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Steve Jones
    Mitch Joel

    Accept that mistakes and imperfections are actually important and valuable. People cannot possibly bond with perfection, because none of us are perfect. Your faults and how you handle them - as a person or as a brand - can be a vital part of what makes you endearing.

    Reply
  • Posted by Don O'Connor
    Mitch Joel

    Great insight, Mitch! Thanks, again!

    Reply
  • Posted by Joey
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,


    I would suggest a deep understanding of the platform is perhaps overlooked in creating the content. It is always (hopefully) considered when "customizing" content, but if content is created with a knowledge of how it is to be used, it becomes that much more effective.

    What do you think?

    Reply
  • Posted by Todd
    Mitch Joel

    I believe, depending on the industry and how bad your mistakes are, being human can help build relationships with customers. Being robotic and perfect in a ridged and corporate way won't connect you with people the same way.

    Reply
  • Posted by Don McAllister
    Mitch Joel

    Love your art and it will love you back. I'm constantly working in writing to express, not impress. Great list of truths here! thanks.

    Reply
  • Posted by Gerald
    Mitch Joel

    You're being quite the American.

    As true as these points are, it is only in the last that you almost come to the one great problem: even if you as the author are the one who's writing, it is the readers who decide whether your content is great or not.

    If Van Gogh wasn't popular in his time, he didn't "create great content" in the opinion of his contemporaries...

    Reply
  • Posted by Connor Keating
    Mitch Joel

    Wow! Thanks for the great post and great information. Of the nine things mentioned here I'd like to say that the most striking to me is the first. I remember reading in one of Yuri Mintskovsky's articles something similar and indeed this is the truth. Some of us are trying to act like machines and in the rare occasions we can actually compete with machines we are losing the personal touch that mad cyberspace so popular.

    Reply
  • Posted by Atul Vhale
    Mitch Joel

    Even bad writing sometime can be great content, agree great imagination is the triumph of great content. There are so many reasons which spoil the great content even if you have ability to create it.

    Problem with me always having laziness and confused where to start. Proper execution of ideas is very important to compose great content.

    Great content found here and you deserve it. Kudos keep coming.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ted Miller III
    Mitch Joel

    Great content comes from the truth...now a great way to find the truth is to get into a rant. I mean a full on RANT and record it. Freakout a bit and don't give yourself time to moderate, edit or think and get your rant on. Review the video for the key points and watch it move yourself as you realize how powerful your true message is and send it out for others to connect with. This works brilliantly. Dare to try it?!

    Reply
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