Content is NOT just another task to be checked off the list. And it shouldn’t be something you do because you think you’re supposed to. Because it is not the only path to business building. Plenty of people thrive at their work without writing blog posts or starting podcasts. It DOES however, help a LOT.
I’m Illana Burk, CEO of Your Life’s Workshop, coach to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs across dozens of industries and host of Good Business. With nearly 20 years experience helping hundreds of clients create profitable, ethically driven and sustainable businesses based on their life’s work, I’m here to teach you how to do great work, make great money, and make a positive impact without feeling like you need a shower afterwards.
Hi everyone. Today’s episode is the first in a three-part series on content production. Now, I am by no means an expert content marketer. I am definitely in the mediocre at best category when it comes to regularity, which is part of why I’m doing this series because I want to talk about something that I happen to know a lot about but fail to leverage with a huge amount of consistency. So yes, my inconsistency is extremely consistent and those that know me tease me about it on a pretty regular basis. I’ve been told I should write more. I’ve been told I should produce more, for most of my career. It’s something I think about a lot. I pay attention to a lot. I contemplate a lot, but it happens to be something that I am not very good at.
The actual content itself, I’m good at that part. I have a lot to say. I have a lot to offer, but doing with regularity has always been challenging for me for one singular reason. Anytime something tells me something is an absolute necessity, that I positively have to do, I immediately run in the other direction. Early in my career, I got the impression that I had to produce content with an intense amount of regularity. I was the person that when I first started in the blogging world, if somebody said one post a week is good, all I heard in my head was, “Oh, well if I do one every single fucking day, then that will be better.”
I remember when I started, I created this massive, insane content calendar and I broke down all the ideas, and this was huge, we’re talking every single day. I spent like three days creating this monster content calendar of like all the posts I was going to write every fucking day. I made it three days, maybe two, maybe three, before I just threw in the towel. My whole content calendar went out the window because what I realized, for the way I’m wired, I couldn’t produce content unless I felt profoundly inspired by something. I needed a really deep spark to sit down and do the work. When do write, when I do produce content, it’s heavy, and it’s deep. It requires a lot of me. It tends to be on the creative side. It tends to be funny and expressive, and I don’t say that to be ego-like about it. I know that’s true about me and it’s stuff that’s served me well in my career. I’ve always said to people when I used to blog a lot, when I wrote, I got clients. It was like clockwork. I would write, I’d put something out, it would get heavily shared, I’d get a few new clients. It was easy for me, but I had to be super inspired. If I wasn’t super inspired, it not only wasn’t it easy, it was impossible. I just couldn’t do it.
What I want to talk about first, is why we produce content in the first place. Content has become such a necessity that it’s almost a given; you have to do it. You don’t have a choice. Well, of course, you have a choice. I want to talk about why you create content in the first place. The reason why the title of this episode is The Necessity Myth is that I want to break down the fact that it is a myth that you have to produce content to be successful. That you have to do it with regularity, that you have to do it with consistency because those things are not true. I’m living proof of that. I’ve been in this business for ten years, and I produce content whenever I fucking feel like it.
My podcast is the beginning pieces of me shifting into a new phase of my career, and bringing a sense of discipline and order to something that I’ve always only done when the spirit moved me. What I’ve realized is that for me, that’s done a disservice to my business. I’ve come to a place where the level of service I want to provide for the people I most want to help, need something new from me than they ever needed before. They need consistency. You need consistency. You need to hear from me regularly. You’re coming to me for guidance. You’re coming to me for learning and leadership. For a leader to be stable, to be viewed as someone who’s going to be there for a long time, that level of content consistency starts to shift and from inspirational to necessary.
That’s where I want to be. So that’s part of why I produced this podcast that you’re listening to right now. I want more consistency. I want to be there for you more. This is a challenge for me. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. Putting stuff out on a regular basis is not a simple thing. When you’re somebody who is heavily influenced by inspiration, I wait for things to strike me. That’s what I talk about. That’s what I write about. That’s what I think about. That’s what I produce for the podcast. I find it challenging to sit down with a calendar and map it out and go, here’s what I’m going to talk about this week. Here’s what I’m going to talk about next. But I’m doing it, and I’m pushing myself and what I’m finding is once I get over the sit-down and fucking do it part, I do have a lot to say about a lot of different things, and I can sit down, and I can do it. I’m challenging myself to write a new story when it comes to that and write a new story about how I view it. Again, today’s not about that. That’s about my challenges around content creation and consistency.
Today is about the fact that it’s not necessary unless – there’s a big “unless” every time somebody does a myth breakdown – unless you want a certain set of things. Content is something that you do when you want to grow. Content production is what you do when you have a message you want to get out. It’s what you do when you want to make more money. It’s what you do when you want to build an empire. It’s what you do when you want to offer something new. It is what you do when you want to prove yourself, when you want to prove your credibility, and where maybe your pedigree doesn’t do that for you.
Sometimes your words are all you’ve got and producing content and putting it out there is pretty much the only way to do that. Now, of course, we’re going to get into outlets and how you choose the pathways, in deeper episodes. I’m not doing that today. Today we’re just talking about when it’s a necessity and when it isn’t. So to do that, let’s talk about when it’s not. If you have great business relationships in your field that you can leverage to find clients, to find growth, to find business, then you might not need to produce content. If you have an incredible referral pipeline, you might not need to produce content. That’s where I’ve been for the last ten years. I have an incredible referral pipeline. The people that come to me and hire me stay, and they refer people to me with an incredible amount of regularity. I feel very blessed, but that can only take you so far. Now, I want to point out that it can be far enough. You can create a thriving freelance practice, or a thriving coaching practice, or a thriving design business, or if a service provider, with JUST referrals and not produce any content and not put yourself out there as standing for something specific. You don’t have to do that. If you do good work, it might be a slower road, but you can have a great business sustainably for a long time without blogging and podcasting and YouTube-ing and social media-ing and all the ing-ing. That’s totally possible.
This is where I want to show you what my motivation is behind talking about this beyond my patterns. I want to talk about my opinion on this. The world is full of people producing a lot of garbage. We pump it out. Our consumption for content is a voracious in our culture now. Content production is everything. Everybody is trying to produce more and more and more and more, and the quality is going down and down and down and down and down. I still have a habit. We all have these funny habits that we develop around the early days of the Internet. I used to have a Yahoo email address a million years ago. It’s probably still active because does anybody fucking know how to shut down an email address? I don’t know.
I have a Yahoo address, and over the years, I consistently would go to the home page of Yahoo to log into my email. I still have this weird habit when I’m zoning out on the Internet, and I’ll go to the home page of Yahoo, which is garbage town. It’s the garbage dump of news stuff. It’s gotten progressively less interesting over the years, not more. Now, I was saying to my husband the other day, I’ve noticed that they have a daily Amazon ad written like an advertorial, but they don’t tell you it’s an ad. They report quote unquote like I’m doing air quotes right now. You can’t see me, but I’m totally air quoting. They do this thing where they say, “Check out the dress that 20,000 Amazon reviewers say is the most flattering dress they’ve ever bought.” It’s an article about Amazon reviews. How fucking ridiculous is that?
That’s how desperate Yahoo is for money for one thing. Also, how desperate are we for content, that a lot of people see that and don’t realize it’s an advertisement meant to garner affiliate dollars, and they don’t see the content engine behind it. The actual content marketing piece of it. They’re reading it as, “Oh, I want a pretty dress. That’s flattering.” I see these every day. I see content based on other content, based on other content, based on other content. There’s nothing newsworthy in it. There’s nothing interesting in it. There’s nothing even anywhere near relevant to our day-to-day culture. But I keep going. Yahoo’s become a train wreck. I go to poke at it and go, “My God, how fucking terrible can this get? ” It’s clickbait. It’s non-news. It’s fake. It’s ridiculous. It is the absolute display of our voracious need for more and more and more and more and more, more stuff to fill our time — more and more uninteresting garbage.
This is the rise of fake news, the rise of social media, the rise of all of the various outlets there is to produce content. We’ve created more and more and more and more outlets to say the same thing to a different audience or even sometimes the same audience but just differently. Our appetites for content have changed so much in the last few years that us as business owners, as solopreneurs, as content producers, are feeling more and more and more pressure to level-up, to produce more and more and more, which is resulting in far more diluted, far less interesting ideas, far more watered down garbage.
We’re all doing it. Everybody I see is doing it, myself included. As I said, I was like seriously planning out my Instagram posts around this podcast, and I’m realizing, “Okay, I need to have some something on Instagram every single day. So, therefore, instead of having one good punchy statement on one day, I have to come up with something that’s maybe a little bit more diluted so that I can have something to go up every day.” You’re going to see it in support of this very episode. I can appreciate the irony because it’s necessary, and everything’s moving so fast that we have to have something that shows up on a regular basis or the people that most want to hear it won’t hear it, let alone the people that you haven’t even connected with yet.
Once you start, it gets hard to stop, and it gets hard to be relevant all the time, to have something deep and important to say all the time. We do it with increasing levels of certainty and a lower level of aptitude and inquisitiveness and curiosity.
That’s why I’m talking about this today because I want to see more curiosity. I want to see more aptitude. I want to see more assertiveness of education and progressive concepts. I’m not talking politically. I’m just saying progressive was a good thing before it got co-opted by politics. The idea of being progressive means that you are thinking ahead. Let’s do more of that. Let’s think farther ahead and produce content that does that. I want more good stuff in the world.
Most of the things I talk about are selfish in some way. We’re selfish creatures. I want more good stuff in the world and less garbage. So by pointing out to the vast number of people that are going to listen to this and might listen to what I have to say, and might think about it accordingly, and how they market their businesses and how they think about making money in the world, I want to challenge you to simply do better. You don’t have to produce content. You can build your business another way. That’s why I’m talking about this today. Plenty of people thrive in their work without writing blog posts or starting podcasts. It does, however, help a lot. That’s the kicker. You produce content, and you grow faster. We all know that content creating helps, but great content, the kind that can change the way that the world sees and experiences your work, should be great. It shouldn’t be garbage. It should come from a plan. It shouldn’t come from a plan that’s designed to manipulate or leverage. It should come from your core.
I’m not saying you don’t do social media. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it to promote this episode. You might have seen one of them before you got to this place, listening to me right now because marketing is still a necessity. Content creation is part of the deal. You create, you create content, then you have to create more content to support your content. The core idea underneath it has to be something real. It should simplify complexity. It should streamline hard ideas. It should clean up messes and convey ideas and inspire and educate and entertain. I’m going to talk about that a lot more in a later episode.
Content should do more than just five things to do X, Y, and Z, or, here’s an inflammatory, clickbaity, nonsense title that gets you to click on something that’s a bunch of garbage reporting on dresses on Amazon. Instead, when you go to create content, I want to challenge you to start with service. With values. My favorite word. With a desire to help, at your core. Don’t worry about marketability first, worry about helping first. Your content becomes more than just content. It becomes the backbone of your work in the world. It becomes something that people can use to connect more deeply with both you and your work. They can use it as a gateway to explore something entirely new if you light the path.
I want to challenge all of you to light a path with your content because it’s not a necessity to produce content for content’s sake. It’s a necessity to produce content that’s going to be indelible, that’s going to last longer than you are. I want to challenge all of you to do that. I hope I’ve illuminated that path for you because that’s my goal for you today, to show you there might be another way to do this thing that we all take for granted as being an absolute necessity, non-negotiable. Challenge yourself to serve first, help first, lead with your values and let the rest come together on its own.
All right everybody, I hope you’ll join me for our next couple of episodes. We’re going to be talking about content a lot over the next few weeks. I’m going to dig into what makes good content versus bad content. I’m going to talk about how to think about breaking down ideas so that you can use big ideas in a more leveraged way, so you can take your core concepts in the world and offer them up, in way that’s a more granular, digestible, and easier way to consume. We’re going to talk about learning styles, and we’re going to talk about how to access new audiences with your content. There’s going to be a lot, and I hope you’ll join me. Until then, have a wonderful day and good luck building your businesses and creating excellent content. I know you can do it.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me today. For more information, visit www.thegoodbusiness.co or www.yourlifesworkshop.com.
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