In a sea of content, how do you make your stuff stand out?
This was one of the questions I was asked during the Burning Questions Panel at this morning's C2 MTL conference. In short, my answer was: Be awesome because mediocrity is very obvious in a world where everybody can publish. On June 28th, 2008 (nearly four years ago), I penned a blog post titled, Mass Media Or Mass Content - What's Worse? In this blog post, I stated: "I don't comment and share as much as I would like to. I skim, graze and peruse everything. Because there is so much Mass Content, I'm beginning to feel like I'm not even able to give the truly great stuff the time it well deserves." Even back then, it was becoming abundantly clear that for all of the amazing things that social media has brought us, there was an increasing amount of content for people to consume and connect with. So, while we were busy lamenting the strict limitations of traditional media (i.e. three major television networks who are telling us what and when to watch), the trade-off to a world where everyone can create and publish content may have brought us to the same, frustrating, conclusion: there's a lot of stuff and we can't capture it all.
The book of awesome.
Neil Pasricha's The Book Of Awesome has become a runaway international best-seller. In the spirit of its simplicity, here is The Blog of Awesome (or, how to start thinking about your content in a way that may enable it to reach a wider and more interested audience)...
The Blog of Awesome.
- Awesome isn't easy. If nobody is reading or connecting to your content, you have to either change what you're writing about or dig deeper to find an audience that will connect with it.
- Awesome is the long haul. There are no short cuts. Some capture lighting in a bottle, but they are the rare exception. Most people who have become awesome have put in their 10,000 hours worth of Malcolm Gladwell Outliers-esque practice.
- Awesome is obvious. There's a famous line from a government official who was asked to define "pornography." His answer was: "I know it when I see it." Awesome is the same. You know it when you see it.
- Awesome takes time. If you're just banging out a piece of content, it probably won't fly. The stuff we all qualify as awesome takes time and nurturing to create.
- Awesome is a function of creativity. If you think you're not creative and your function is to create content, you're starting off in a bad place. This is your art. You art must be creative.
- Awesome is fun. I was stopped during a break at the conference by a peer who asked me about my blogging regiment. They were saying that their team members can't even produce as much content as I do. I asked if their team is having fun doing it? They replied that it's their job. While blogging is a part of my job, it's much more of a joy than work. People who create awesome are having fun (even if they're tortured during the creative process).
- Awesome is universal. It speaks to anyone and everyone, everywhere. This doesn't mean each and every human individual, but it does mean that it universally applies to everyone that it is targeted too. I'm hopeful that my content resonates as much with someone in the United States as it does to someone in Romania.
- Awesome is not big. In a big world where everyone is connected, awesome can be universal to a very small, specialized and select niche group... and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Awesome demonstrates skill. Skill is not originality. Skill is aptitude and ability. There are a handful of individuals who don't create much original content, but they are curators extraordinaire (I'm thinking, in particular, of people like Jason Hirschhorn and his Media ReDEFined feed).
- Awesome is now. Slowly, over time an audience builds (hopefully). But in a Twitter-speed world, Janet Jackson sung the gospel with her words, "what have you done for me lately?" Awesome is now. I know many a-listers who were awesome... but they're now just not that interesting. Awesome is also hard to maintain.
- Awesome is not tactical. I do not believe that there is a roadmap. I do believe that awesome is as subjective as art and music. My awesome will be your drudgery. Your awesome may be of little interest to me. It's a big, brave world and there's lots of room for everybody to find an audience that thinks that they're awesome.
I am not awesome.
It's nice to be complimented and I love it when a blog post, podcast or client work at Twist Image starts to spread, but I don't think of myself (or this blog) as awesome. I'm humble enough and have the humility to know that what I do connects with a select audience, and that's just fine by me.
Are you awesome?