Content Marketing for the Uninspired
by Melanie, on 19 May 2020
For the past several weeks, I've dreaded seeing my name on our content calendar. And, not only is there a digital calendar, but I also update a whiteboard that hangs in our office with our upcoming posts. I have large handwriting, so there's a loopy "5/19 - Web Analytics - Melanie" looming over me while I work and I see it every time I walk into or out of the office. The date is in green and the topic is in blue (even our white board color palette follows our brand guidelines!), but "Melanie" is in red, and it feels aggressive.
I began working in marketing in 2008, so I'm part of a very digital generation of marketers. Believe me, I've drunk the Kool-Aid on content marketing and its utility for any and every type of business - from a food brand selling to consumers to a heavy industrial company selling to oil and gas operators that leans heavily on direct sales rather than marketing. I I fully believe in the value of content marketing.
Yet, as much as I can tout the stats and give advice, I'm finding it very difficult when I sit down to actually write something - which is extra weird for me given that one of my hobbies is creative writing.
Perhaps I should start writing short stories about marketing and entrepreneurship and growing companies and posting those? It wouldn't surprise me if you found those posts more entertaining, though perhaps they'd be slightly less useful.
Although I truly believe in our company's vision and purpose - and I enjoy what I do - I just don't love to talk about it. I love to do it. The aspects I wouldn't mind talking about are so focused, they would make for an exceedingly boring blog.
Here's the conversation I'm having with myself right now:
Have a content bank of topics you can draw from so you're not deciding last minute where to start.
While we have a content calendar and content bank, COVID has really thrown me for a loop. Many of the topics we had slated - like, 'how to raise your prices' or 'advice when firing someone' - would be completely inappropriate to write about now.
Pretend that you're talking to one person (or at a dinner party with maybe 10 people) - What's one interesting thing that you'd want to discuss?
I can think of lots of questions I'd want to ask. But the things that I find interesting right now are the same things that a gazillion other people are writing about: the move of companies to an ever-more digitalized environment, how to build a resilient business... you get the point (and damn you, Matt Bell, for getting to these topics before I could! Just kidding... you did a great job of covering them).
It doesn't matter if lots of other people aRE Talking about the same thing - people need to hear your version of it. There is somebody needing to hear it from you, via your unique approach.
On good days, I think this is very true, but I'm having a day where I'm a bit more skeptical. Do we really need another blog post about Google Analytics?
We probably do, though, because other blog posts are soooooo long that my eyes glaze over as I scroll down them. Plus, I'm not in the mood to write about something dry.
Think about what INSPIRES you and write about that.
Except, right now, I'm not feeling terribly inspired. Productive, yes; inspired, no.
I'm also over the emotional game of ping-pong between feeling panicked about the future of business and growing our businesses and surviving and feeling all right and then back to panicked again.
There's so much noise out there right now and it's making me f-ing anxious, so I need to tune it out. This is a good decision for my mental health, but not so good for finding inspiration in other sources.
PERHAPS a lot of people feel that way, so why don't you write about that?
This brings me back to not wanting to contribute to the noise.
I could talk about the importance of having a routine, boundaries for work while working from home, or meditating and keeping a journal. For me, these are key things every day, not just in a crisis, but hey, if it takes a crisis to get other people to try some of them, that's fine.
However, there are so many eloquent people writing about those topics and I don't want to insinuate people should feel anxious if they're not or pretend to be a mental health expert.
Maybe I'll tackle this topic when we're not getting bombarded with 'how to get through this'.
If writing a blog isn't working for you, why NOT try video?
Yeah, good point. I should try this. Maybe next time! I'll get over my vanity of not having had my hair colored in far too long.
My advice - to myself and to you if you're feeling the same way - is:
Feeling uninspired is totally reasonable given everything that's going on in life, as well as when you're spending a lot of your day flexing your creativity muscles.
I know you still care about your clients and your cause, but that doesn't mean you feel like talking about those things right now. Maybe shine a light onto others who are doing great things?
Here are some of my favorite resources and people I still feel like connecting with right now:
- Lilie Lab for Entrepreneurship/Rice Entrepreneurs Organization (Super excited for OwlSpark and RED Labs to start soon!)
- Russell Brand's podcast Under the Skin. Not work-related, but I do find his commentary very interesting.
- HubSpot Solutions Partner Facebook Group (members only). I truly love geeking out about HubSpot
- Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix
I'd love to know: where are you turning to stay inspired? Please share in the comments below!