5 Simple ways to make like a content creator [even if you’re an overwhelmed business owner and content isn’t your thing]
We tend to think of a content creator as creative someone, right? Perhaps a graphic designer, copywriter, videographer, or website developer would immediately come to mind. If we’re a small, or even micro business owner, we may not automatically lump ourselves in the content creator bucket. Rather, we think of our business being built around what we do – the creation and delivery of our product or service offering; not the creation of content. We know content is one of those things we need for business, but it’s not the business. Nor do we tend to think of content as revenue generating in the same way our products and services are. But, in this article we’re going to cover the reasons why that viewpoint is not only dated, but could very well be holding you back. Yes, the times they are a-changing, friend. If you’re in business, particularly a business with a purpose, you are a bonafide content creator, which is why the sooner you wrap your head around this, the better. Why? Because it will help reduce the overwhelm and angst associated with the ‘whole content thing’ that tends to be the bane of existence for far too many business owners. Drowning in a sea of content? Let me throw you a lifebuoy in the shape of a mindset shift and four other reasons thinking like a content creator is a lifesaver in a business environment where content a very demanding king. If we work from the premise that changing what we do starts with changing what we think, then it’s necessary for us to start there. To do that, I’m going share a little story.
Want to jump straight to the action? Access the free business content audit template right here and start creating content consciously:
>>> Business content audit template <<<
First, think like a content creator [If dentists can do it, so can you]
I have learned a lot from dentists. In fact, I grew my freelance content creator business by writing *a lot* of blogs for dentists and dental specialists. I will always be grateful to my dental clients, not least because my teeth are now the best they’ve ever been. But good oral health is not the only reason I love these tenacious business owners. Working with them, I discovered some interesting things. For a start, heaps of people are afraid of the dentist. Maybe they had a bad experience as a kid, or they hate the sterile smell, or they just can’t stand the sound of a dental drill. If that’s you, think how it feels being the dentist. Right from the get-go you have a major PR issue on your hands. Add to that market challenges arising from an oversupply of peers and big-corporate-buy-outs. Pretty quickly you realise that any dentist who goes solo and operates their own bespoke practice is, well, a bit special. Let’s face it, if you’re prepared to operate in an officially difficult market, even though lots of people actively resist coming to see you when they should, you have what we call – ‘a lot of ticker’. Among the dentists I worked with I found courageous business owners who acknowledged the challenges before them, and despite this, focused on opportunities instead. One such opportunity was the creation of content, which was about as far as they could get from their professional training and practice.
To put it in perspective, to become a dentist requires five years of study, followed by many more years practising as an ‘apprentice’, gaining the hands-on experience of daily practice. And that’s just the technical stuff. If you’re a practice owner, there’s a bunch of other things to learn: accounting, systems, processes, KPIs, and marketing, which of course includes content creation. But guess what? There’s no dental degree that teaches marketing and content creation. Not one. And that means you gotta figure it out for yourself. Good luck with that, folks!
Imagine a practice owner’s surprise when they find the highly competitive world of dentistry demands they market like a boss, create blogs, post on Insta, and make new BFFs on Facebook. Hmm. Imagine. Having worked with other highly technical people like engineers and scientists, I can tell you explaining this imperative to a dentist can meet with more than a little resistance. Why? Because a dentist trained to be a dentist, not a content creator or marketer. As a general rule, a dentist won’t intuitively think this is high on their to do list. No, instead their natural inclination is to stick with the technical. But survival does funny things to people. When we realise our financial and professional life depends on change, we’re more likely to open up to possibility and potential. This is otherwise known as a shift in perception. We look at the same thing, but with different eyes. A simple shift in mindset works wonders and for dentists, it means they have the opportunity to awaken the latent content creator inside them. I believe this allows them to discover gold, however it takes a willingness to dig for it and to accept that content creation is a vital function in business. Period.
For a dentist this means instead of providing dental services only, they start to think of ways to connect more meaningfully with their patient community. If they’re really invested in evolving their relationships, they will even consider questions like:
What are my values?
What’s my philosophy of practice?
What are the biggest challenges I solve, who do I solve them for, and how?
How can I share all this so it makes sense to my audience, while still being true to me?
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say these are the very questions every single content creator should be able to answer, regardless of whether it’s their main gig or see the creation of content as a function in their business. Put simply, in business today it’s not enough to do what you do, for example, treat patients. In a noisy digital economy it’s necessary to be a content creator too, even if you’re a dentist and content is not your ‘thing’. Making that shift starts by getting it in you head the playing field is different now, and therefore requires a different approach. Making this mindset shift makes all the difference to how you approach marketing and content for your business – whatever your business is. Instead of a content creation headache, you’ll be on the hunt for content gold. The take-away here is: Remember, you’re a content creator, regardless of the business you’re in. Get your head around this and content creation becomes easier.
#2 Acquire, then hire the skills to be a masterful content creator
If you search for what it takes to be a content creator, you’ll come across pointers like: Work on your writing skills, stay abreast of trends, know your audience, and so on. Certainly, these are useful tips, but if you’re an overwhelmed business owner, how on earth do you stay on top of all this content stuff, as well as your core business? The simple answer is you don’t, at least if you plan to do create content all on your own. Now I’m not for a moment suggesting you outsource everything, however I am suggesting an approach that involves both acquiring and hiring. Let me explain.
Having seen the frustration that all too many business owners experience when they’re disappointed by the work of a content creator hire, I’ve come to believe it’s essential for every business owner to upskill just a little in the area they plan to get support. For example, if you need a website developer, invest the time to understand what’s involved in a website project. Maybe you need the help of a graphic designer. If that’s the case, be sure to research the graphic design process and make a point of documenting a brief. The same goes for any content creator hire.
Here’s why I recommend this approach. Often content creation projects need to be done yesterday. They’ve been on our to do list forever, then one day when we’re struck by lightning, we take action. Of itself, taking action is not a bad thing, it’s just that as an overwhelmed business owner, our actions often involve wishful mud-slinging at a wall. The antidote to this haphazard and less than effective approach is it rarely yields the kind of results we’d like. However, if we take the time to learn a little, not only are we better equipped to understand that process, we can also ask better questions of our content creator and clarify whether our needs are being met long before disappointment and rework have a chance to enter the equation. So, the take-away here is: You don’t need to work solo as a content creator, however you do need to invest a little time to learn enough to make informed decisions about the content creators you hire. While this is a slower process initially, it’s a smarter way to work. Through this process, you’ll quickly know who should become part of your content creation team, and importantly, who shouldn’t.
>>> Also helpful: There’s no content team like your own [How to choose your content team + win] <<<
>>> And this one too: Working with freelancers: Useful stuff business owners + technical people should know<<<
#3 Dig the ditches
Another thing I’ve noticed about overwhelmed business owners and their approach to content creation is they are all too ready to jump on a content conveyor belt. They create content for the sake of it, rather than being purposeful. Now I totally get that there’s a lot of pressure to create content. Sometimes it feels like we’re being pushed by some unseen content god who gets in our head and says, You gotta have content. And while I don’t dispute that content is necessary (I’ve already said as much here), even if we’re overwhelmed business owners, content creation can be approached in a conscious way if you start by digging the ditches. In content terms, this means taking the time (again) to understand some fundamental elements of content and communication for your business; defining things like:
- Your ideal customer or client
- What problems you solve and how you solve them
- Your brand voice and language
- Your most meaningful messages
- Your approach or unique process
- Themes or pillars for your content
- Your brand’s visual aesthetic.
Once defined, these should all be documented in a business content guide because they are the metaphorical ditches for your content. Instead of creating content in a vacuum, or just slinging mud at a wall, creating a business content guide sets the foundation for all content. It is also an invaluable tool for communicating to any content creator how they should create content for your business. And here’s a fun fact: almost no business owners invests in developing this important document, even though it saves time, leads to better content, and provides the basis for a shared understanding between the owner and any content creation hire. The take-away here? Before you start creating content, stop. Seriously. Just stop. And then become really, really clear about the points I’ve listed here. Once they’re clear in your head, you can then work at making them clear in the minds of people you want to connect with: your clients or customers.
>>> Access tools to help create your own business content guide right here <<<
#4 Build your content assets
We typically think of assets as equipment or machinery used in a business, but what most overwhelmed business owners don’t realise is that their content is an asset too. This is just another pointer to the reality that content and its role in marketing takes a centre-stage today. How do you know which content assets to create? You start with an audit, which is just a fancy way of saying:
- Look at the content you already have
- Identify the content you need and want (your content wish list)
- Identify the gaps, make a list, and shortlist the priorities
- Start creating.
It sounds simple, right? That’s because it is, however, we know that simple does not mean easy. It also doesn’t mean that people will do it. In fact, making the time to prioritise the creation of your business content assets can be hard because it does require a mindset shift (remember?). Because almost none of us tell ourselves what we need to hear, it’s a good idea to get some help with this exercise, which is essentially creating a content strategy. Here’s why getting help is the fast track. As an overwhelmed business owner, you might be thinking you should publish a blog every week because you read that somewhere, but maybe that doesn’t work for you or your audience. Or you might think you should do Instagram reels, but the thought of dancing and pointing to words on a video isn’t your thing (hey, I get it) or doesn’t fit your brand. And that is totally okay. Your business content strategy should reflect the intersection between what you want to say and what your audience needs to hear, delivered in a way that makes sense to them without the content losing its technical integrity. A content strategy should be tied to your business goals (for example, leads and conversions, product sales). It should also filter into a content plan that details the content, form, frequency, and platform through which the content should be delivered. I recommend to clients that they start with several pieces of long form evergreen content assets because these provide the opportunity to get down on paper (so to speak) what has been running around in the head of the business owner, usually for a very long time. This kind of critical thinking that formalises ideas is an essential solid foundation for meaningful content, but most people just don’t do it. But when they do, I see overwhelmed business owners evolve to become more confident, fluent communicators. The take-away for you is this: Creating content assets requires an investment, just like any other asset for business, so if mastering the ‘whole content thing’ is important to you, it would be wise to start building and valuing your content assets.
>>> Also helpful: How to find the right words [and write for business] <<<
#5 Use [and reuse] your content assets
It might come as a surprise to you learning that many business owners don’t realise the content assets they’re sitting on already. Instead, they feel compelled to create continuously, wondering why they feel overwhelmed about content. Most businesses have a website, yet many don’t think about how the content on every page can be repurposed into blogs, email campaigns, social media posts, and graphics – and that’s before they even get creative with new evergreen content. This is yet another reason it just makes sense to complete a content audit. By completing an audit, you know exactly where you stand with the content you have, need, and want for your business, as well as how existing content can be repurposed. Think of repurposing as the sustainable way to create content. Not only are you reducing the amount of work for yourself, you’re not contributing to the content black hole. Like a shift in mindset, upskilling, a business content guide, and content assets, repurposing your content assets makes good business sense. Again, most business owners don’t do this, perhaps because it seems so simple. Along with the other suggestions listed here, add this take-away: Make repurposing part of your overarching content strategy and plan. Attending to this consistently will mean you just make this part of how you ‘do’ your content.
>>> Also helpful: Telling stories in business: How to mine and evolve your content gold <<<
Now, because it seems like you care about content (I love that you’ve read this far), I want to share more content resources with you for absolutely nothing. I’ve created the foundation for stepping forward with confidence and competence in this bonus freebie: the Business Owner’s Content Checklist [20 questions about content every business owner should be able to answer]. Yes, there are more questions, but I know you’re a content gold digger and ready to harness the latent content creator in you.