Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

014: Is Content Really King? [Podcast]

You’ve heard it before, repeated again and again all over the Internet, as if it were gospel truth: “Content is king.” The problem is it’s just not true.

Content Is King

Photo credit: Kevin Chang (Creative Commons)

Content is not king. Content is a fat, dethroned monarch, dis-empowered of his royal ability to influence. And he lost that power a long time ago.

In other words, your words aren’t enough. I almost wish they were. In this episode of the podcast, I’ll explain why.

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Even Hemingway’s words weren’t enough

Plenty of brilliant writers don’t get the attention their work deserves. I’m learning this as I read Hemingway: The Paris Years.

In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway moved to Paris. Now, he knew Paris wasn’t a magical place. He knew the city itself wouldn’t make his writing better. He didn’t move there for the view; he moved to Paris to get better connected.

Hemingway realized the game of being a writer didn’t involve just writing. It involved knowing and learning from influential people. And that is just as true today as it was a hundred years ago.

Will all those brilliant writers eventually get noticed? Maybe… some day. But why not now? Why not today? Because we’ve been believing a lie.

I said I “almost” wished content was enough, because now I know the secret to why some writers flourish while others do not. It has to do with relationships.

Relationships rule the web

Think about it. This is the Inter-net. The World Wide Web. These are social networks. This whole stinking thing is predicated on the idea of relationships and connection.

So why in the world would little ol’ you on the couch with your laptop be able to make a difference without stepping one foot into the deep, scary waters of relationship?

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Networking is the best marketing

I used to be terrible at relationships. I thought all I needed to do was write. But I was wrong.

Frankly, I was scared and lazy. I didn’t want to meet people; I just wanted to write. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. So why would I think for one minute the web might be different?

Even in “real life,” it’s not just what you know that matters, but who you know. In business, the best way to promote an idea, product, or service is through relationship.

We all know this, because in the Information Age, when we are all over-saturated with media messages, we don’t buy what advertising tell us to buy. We buy what our friends recommend.

What you know needs to be magnified by who you know. (Tweet that)

Relationship is why we write

Here’s the bottom line: Without putting yourself out there, your work doesn’t get found. You have to connect and converse. You must engage.

Although that may feel like a hassle for some, it’s not as bad as it sounds. After all, it’s why many of us got into the business in the first place. Wasn’t it? To relate? To connect? To influence?

If you’ve longed for your words to make a difference and been disappointed with the results, then you had better get started. It’s time to build some relationships. And please, let’s stop believing the lie that content is enough.

Sure, it’s a good start, but you’re going to need more than content.

Content is a given

Yes, you need to write. And yes, it needs to be good. But that’s the bare minimum, the prerequisite to making the kind of connections your work was intended for. You need to learn from the people you connect with. You need to serve and gain trust and earn opportunity.

Whatever you do after reading this, I hope you stop believing that sitting in a cabin somewhere with a pen and paper is enough to succeed. It’s not. It may be sufficient to feed your soul, but it’s not enough to sell books, make a living, or even get your words read by another human being.

What you need is attention. And the only way to do that is to get in front of people, to build relationships.

To put it in less savory terms, you are going to have to market your stuff. What does that look like? Simple:

  1. Help as many people as you can.
  2. Give away as much of your work as you can.
  3. When the time is right, ask.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? If you do those things, you will be on your way to earning an audience. People will read what you write, because you have taken the time to get your words out there. Because you did the tough, scary work of marketing.

And maybe that’s not such a terrible thing, after all.

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What do you think? Is content king? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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