I recently attended a well-known digital event from the sanctuary of my home office.
There were tons of knowledgeable speakers and plenty of tips to pick up and implement (some of which I’ve started already), but I noticed something that irritated me – which is why I‘m writing this.
The speaker of this particular talk was a content marketer (like myself) who strategizes, makes and directs content for other brands. It was a good talk, and there were plenty of things to learn from, but there was a 2-3 minute spell near the intro that got me.
The topic of this small section of the intro was ‘This is Why You Should Create Content’.
For a moment, I allowed myself to switch off – but a burst caught my attention. It sounded a little like this:
“You should create content because it will build a presence for your brand online. It can bring you followers, engagement, build a community and capture leads”.
^^^This is not verbatim, just a vague recollection. ^^^
Whilst I don’t disagree with any of the points made in those two sentences, I’m pretty sick of hearing the same easy lines about content marketing, and to be honest, when you start out on this footing, it limits what you’re able to achieve with content.
Answers like this aren’t wrong – they just view content from a very ‘zoomed-in perspective’. I believe you have to see content through a much wider lens to truly appreciate how you can make it work for you.
The Beauty of Content
Content allows anybody (yes, that includes you) to:
1. Do the things they love for a living.
2. Centre their lives around the things they love for a living.
If you’re an entrepreneur, writer, illustrator, designer, artist, videographer, presenter, creator, philosopher, strategist…anybody who is passionate about making stuff, the rise (and demand) of digital content has given you a much greater opportunity to make that thing your full-time profession.
And, if you’re truly passionate about something, have a hobby that sets you on fire or an obsession that you’re known for, you can use content as a medium to make that thing your life too. If you love computer games, you can use content to game all day, if you’re a sports fan, create content about it, if you love fashion or food or make-up, or fitness, spirituality, writing, creativity, movies, music, tap-dancing…anything, content can make that passion your life.
The only thing you need to know is the real reason why you should create content. After that, it takes dedication, consistency, high-aims and a few other secret sauce ingredients (that I’ve shared in other guides on Einstein Marketer and inside the Studio!).
The Balance Sheet
The real reason that you should create content isn’t found on social media, your website or even in your target market. You can find the explanation by using something from a business’s balance sheet – Assets & Liabilities.
For the rest of this explanation, you’re only going to need to understand what ‘assets’ are, but for housekeeping sake, let’s clear up the meaning of ‘liabilities’.
What is a Liability?
A liability is something that takes money out of your pocket without returning anything. For example, your phone contract is a liability, as are insurance bills, utilities and even your rental/mortgage payments.
A liability costs money. It’s as simple as that.
Most of us have many regular liabilities (usually monthly) that take money from us.
What is an Asset?
An asset is something that provides a positive income into your bank balance. For example, if you work a job, your salary is an asset, as are businesses and investments.
An asset earns money.
Most people have just 1 asset (their salary) that provides them with a fixed income. They use this asset to provide for everything they want in life.
AUTHOR’S ADMISSION: Nothing I’ve said about assets and liabilities is original. They can be found in any business’s balance sheet, and have been extensively covered in an awesome book by Robert Kiyosaki called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Read this book if you haven’t already.
The Real Reason You Should Create Content
When you create and publish stuff online, this content does one of two things:
1. It becomes an asset
2. It creates an asset
Let’s look at each of those in more detail:
1. Content as an Asset
When you create content as an asset, the content itself provides you with a positive income. What we’re talking about here is something that you’ve made, earning you money.
If you wrote a book that made sales, it would become an asset. If you recorded a video training course, that could become an asset. If you created a paid subscription-based newsletter, that would become an asset. If you wrote an eBook that generated leads who (later) bought stuff from you, that could be tagged as an asset too.
In effect, these pieces of content become limitless products that aren’t hindered by supply, demand or production. They’re made once, packaged and sold for as long as an audience is ready to purchase them.
Content shouldn’t be viewed as something that just ‘gets followers’ or ‘builds engagement’, it in itself, can become a profitable asset for a creator or brand. Visit your favourite content publisher’s profiles and websites and I’m pretty sure that you’ll see plenty of examples of content assets.
2. Content Creates Assets
The majority of the content published online isn’t an asset, most of it is used to create an asset.
In this case, the content itself doesn’t earn a positive income, what it creates does.
There are many different types of asset that content can create and all of them work in different ways. The main thing to remember here is that without the content, the asset would not exist. Let’s look at a couple in more detail:
Content generates attention. When relevant, targeted and high-quality content is published on a consistent basis, more attention is captured. This attention is usually measured in things like follower counts and engagement levels.
Attention can be sold as an asset, especially to brands and marketers who want to purchase the attention of a creator’s viewers.
Brands that typically rely on attention as an asset are social media influencers. These people build up a channel using content, capture the attention of a specific market and then sell attention placements to the highest bidder.
Others include YouTubers, bloggers and podcasters, who benefit from revenue streams like sponsorships and advertising placements.
Content drives traffic. When great content is published on a website it drives visitors, and when it’s done over a consistent period of time, it drives loyal, repeat visitors (via direct traffic).
High traffic websites control the eyes, influence and attention of their visitors – creating a lucrative asset.
Brand’s that typically rely on traffic as an asset sell advertising space, share affiliate links and promote their own products.
The most important thing to know about traffic as an asset is that you must own the place that the traffic visits. This will give you complete freedom about how you monetise it.
Traffic can be retargeted using social media ads, which creates highly qualified advertising audiences (another example of an asset that content creates!). Content that drives traffic will help advertising AI learn more about visitors and increase a brand’s chances of achieving their business aims via advertising, e.g. awareness, lead generation or sales.
Get It Now?
Publish content to create an asset or become an asset. If you can, do both.
If you’re building your own profile as a creator, create content assets as well as using content to build assets.
Or, use content to increase the value of a business’s assets – aim for more attention and traffic, and from there, strategise the journey of the cold visitor to a loyal customer.
When you look at the production and publication of content from this broad view, it’s much easier to make it work in your favour.