Extending yourself through content creation allows you to leverage the most valuable asset you own - you - to work for you while you sleep.
As a unique individual, you have a monopoly on your ideas, experiences, and skills.
When you start sharing these with the world in the form of content, it can give you otherwise impossible opportunities.
When pursued deliberately, it can even earn an income for you.
But lets first explore what "content" is.
What is content?
Content has a broad meaning, looking at what Wikipedia says:
"... content is the information and experiences that are directed toward an end-user or audience. Content is "something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts". - Wikipedia
You see, pretty broad.
The Word Factory (TWF) has a more concise definition which I think fits very well for our purpose:
"Content is the presentation of information for a purpose to an audience through a channel in a form." - The Word Factory
TWF does a great job to summarize this in five components:
Much more specific now, right? But I think we can make it even more clear by using an example, this blog post, to explain those five elements.
A little META, yet here we go:
Information - The meaning of the words you are reading now, in this article.
Purpose - To inform you on how you can use content to create more opportunities for yourself.
Audience - You, the reader, interested in using your unique view of the world to create content on your own.
Form - In written form (as an article).
For who should you create content?
Here you have to answer the components one, two, and three of what content is in your circumstance. Starting with #3, your audience.
For who do you want to create content? (#3)
The audience you want to speak to is very personal. You can 'niche-down' as they say, to a very well defined audience, e.g., "Old women that have more than ten cats."
I'd recommend creating content for an audience that you can relate to, though. Because it is likely, you will understand your audience's struggles and successes.
And when you feel part of your audience, you are much more likely to get opportunities that are in line with your own goals.
With what goal do you create content? (#2)
Now you have to define with what purpose you create content.
You already determined who your audience is, and found out what struggles they have. So creating content for them to help them with specific problems is an easy way to find a purpose for a piece of content that you will create.*
Essentially, find the pains your audience has and offer a solution through content.
*As a side note, you may have a purpose of your own (like selling a course) for which you write all your content, but what I'm talking about here is a bigger purpose not linked to only one piece of content.
What message should you create? (#1)
As we said in the last element. Offer a solution to the pain of your audience through your content. That's it, really. (Nothing more to it, you know. Just filling this up more with words to make it seems like I create a lot of content, well, maybe I should just scratch this then... 😅 )
In what form should you create your content?
Content can take different forms. Again looking at Wikipedia for some examples:
"Content can be delivered via many different media, including the Internet, cinema, television, radio, smartphones, audio CDs, books, e-books, magazines, and live events, such as speeches, conferences, and stage performances." - Wikipedia
It's a little dated, as you can see. Because you can add things like Podcasts, Vlogs, Blogs, Infographics, and Courses.
Plus, way more is possible.
The type of content you're going to make does not matter that much. But what is of great importance, is that you like to make (and consume) that type of content. If you love creating videos, do that. If writing is your thing, write!
Seriously, let your content-form be driven by what you love creating because that is what you can keep up creating over the long haul. By the way, almost all types of content rank well when distributed to the right channels (which are up next!).
Through what channels should you distribute your content?
I wrote extensively about content channels in a previous blog post. But I will summarize it here anyway.
To quote myself from the article I linked to above:
"Because this [secondary] channel will be a place where you immerse yourself in a community, where you will post content daily (or even multiple times a day)."
You can publish (parts of) your content on different channels. But what's important is that your audience hangs out on those channels. Or else you can't reach them.
Also, choose a channel that you love hanging out yourself.
If you hate Instagram (like me), for example, don't make it your primary or secondary channel to publish and communicate. Love Twitter, however? Use that!
A secondary point in choosing a channel is that it fits with the content type you create. Youtube lends itself entirely for Video but not for written content (obviously).
Extra - I also wrote a bit on how you can (semi)-automatically distribute your content on different channels.
When just starting, you may want to do it manually. But if you're curious, please do check out how to save time in distribution.
How do you utilize your content to profit from it?
Profiting from the content you create, be it through the opportunities that come your way or through possible monetization options, is such a vast topic. So I will keep it short here, in the form of a list.
(I promise that I will write about the different types of income and opportunity streams in more detail in future posts, though.)
Examples of opportunities:
- More work opportunities
- Speaking gigs
- Cooperations with interesting people
- A following that provides you with their value
Examples of income streams (through selling):
- a service
- your skills
To summarize, have you thought about your audience, purpose, message, form a channel? Are you ready to start creating content to leverage your unique personality and skills?
My big question for you: What kind of content would you like to create? And why?