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.

Recommended resources and other news

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

145 thoughts on “014: Is Content Really King? [Podcast]

  1. Hi Jeff,

    I think content and audience play the same role on the Internet and I wrote a post on this a couple of weeks ago. My opinion is that without content it wouldn’t be possible to convey ideas and brands and users couldn’t be reached and stimulated. But without readers asking for content, content would have no reason to exist. Good content generates relationships and sharing. Bad content doesn’t satisfy the readers and makes them click on the “back” button. I would summarize these little thoughts as follows “Build a loyal audience by creating and organizing valuable content”.

  2. Thanks Jeff,
    Good common sense commentary. Just as the old adage goes, “Its not what you know but who you know”. Not totally true because the what you know gets you the business but without the relationships the front door will remain shut.

  3. Content matters. Quality matters. But only when that quality content actually gets read does it have potential to begin a conversation that people are willing to stay engaged with. Writing books or articles is exactly that–a conversation with the reader. Marketing what you write is important and necessary, but it becomes more effective when we view it as building a relationship with our readers–who expect quality content. I’ll agree content is not king, but neither is marketing or advertising or design. All are strands in the net we’re weaving to try to capture people’s attention so we can share our message. 

  4. I don’t like to say it, but I agree…content is only half the work. But marketing is what you make it and does not have to be as sleazy as some make it out to be. It’s calling out a message, and if your message is your ministry, or your message is life-cultivating, thought-provoking, challenging, by all means–get the word out. 

  5. Jeff, I love how you said content is not king but a prerequisite. I’d never thought of it in those exact terms before, but I agree. Great content is super important — a must, a starting point. Then we best pay attention to relationships (marketing) and the other strands that Keri mentioned as well.

  6. Such a good point. Content is important but not the only thing. As an introvert, I hate meeting people. I’d rather hole away at home with just me and my laptop. But one of the beauties of the internet is not having to actually “meet” people. Although face to face contact is still totally important, it’s a lot less exhausting to “meet” people online. At least for me.

    1. I think you’re right. I’ve reached out to a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise introduced myself to in real life. The interesting thing is that this eventually led to a real-life relationship (in person and everything!).

  7. You’re definitely right. I read you’re blog the first time because Michael Hyatt recommended. I read it the second time because you seemed to care about your readers. I keep reading because you are involved. You’re not simply just “writing”. 

    It seems the bigger some people get, the less they stay involved with those who helped them grow. Makes me sad. 

    If you can’t take the time to talk with those who comment on your blog, for instance, what does that say about your relationship skills? 

    Thanks for staying involved. 

  8. I agree, a lot of people say that only by having excellent writing can you build an audience. Yet I have seen average writers build their audience because they understood that writing was not the whole, but a part of.

    Interesting to read the comments here. What about the fact that a writer often writes for themselves and not for their intended audience?

    1. Of course, that’s true. But a lot of writers are liars (myself included). We write for ourselves, but we want an audience, too. It’s a two-sided issue chock full of paradox. That said, if you want to write just for yourself and don’t want any readers (I know exactly ZERO writers who want this), then don’t worry about relationships and marketing.
      However, if you want to write for yourself AND get an audience, you better realign your expectations. That’s having your cake and eating it, too. It doesn’t work, and it’s just plain lazy.

      1. I think being a liar is a pre-requisite for writing,  I always said as a kid – “it’s not lying, it’s imagining it how it should’ve happened” ;), that serves the writer well 🙂

  9. Thanks Jeff. Writing as well as you do is remarkable enough. Add being socially relevant and having some marketing chops…  Seems like impossible requirements.

    Then a little shiny-headed dude lit the way.

  10. It is about relationships.  It’s easy to forget that you’re not looking at a screen and writing for the web.  You are writing for the one person who’s reading.  One person at a time.  If you think about your writing as a conversation with one.  It makes it easier to form those relationships.

  11. Most of the great writers of old wrote for the purpose of changing the world – but that can’t be done if no one is reading your work. Excellent post Jeff. Content AND Relationships/Marketing are co-Kings.

  12. I like seeing marketing as building a relationship.  When I think of marketing, one of my first thoughts is selling and personally, I’m not too big on sales.  But relationships, I’m all about that.  Thanks Jeff.

  13. Love this post. I did start writing to connect with people quite indeed. Having gone through a painstaking process to become more extroverted, I am now actually looking forward to the part where I get to connect. 🙂 First have to get my prerequisites in order though, haha. 
    Please keep writing, I love reading your thoughts!

  14. This is one of the best posts on the importance of content I’ve read. If I was only after content, I’d skip a lot of posts. What drives me to blogs, books, etc, much of the time are the connections I’ve made with the bloggers and authors.

  15. Of course you want a good product, but if that is the case; it should be easy for first time writers to get published. I received advise from a published author about how to submit a manuscript and it was all outdated, you can’t do it that way.

    Relationships are key. In writing, in ministry, in your job. Whatever it is, wherever you are relationships are not dead.

    Community still survives

  16. Jeff…this is great!  I just completed a book about this very topic, although a bit more broad than just writing.  The book is called Bigger than the Widget.  It is about the need for companies to go beyond their products and establish meaningful relationships with their communities (https://www.biggerthanthewidget.com).
    Ironically, my book is just a widget.  By itself it will not spread…somehow it must be bigger.  As such, I am donating all of the profits from the book to The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  My abe my book can spread because it is attached a cause that is much bigger than just my book.  You can read my story here https://biggerthanthewidget.com/my-bttw-widget-story/

    By the way, your blog was sent to me through one of my connections.  The inter-net at work!

    Thanks again!

  17. I’m conflicted because I know how important marketing is (I sell my book on my website) but if you read a website like https://zenhabits.net/ Leo talks about how content is king and that’s why he has nothing else on his site. Seeing how he has 230,000 subscribers, he must know what he’s talking about. But the question is did he get all those subscribers with just content? This is why I’m conflicted!

  18. Fantastic observation – the best marketers tend to nurture relationships with their customers and prospects. They also make a ton of “deposits” in their customers before they start making “withdrawals”….great stuff!

    1. Thanks, Tor. I think it’s very much about deposits and withdrawals. And if you find yourself withdrawing more than you deposit, you’re in trouble.

  19. Excellent points. I know many aspiring authors who are struggling with this right now, with the idea they’re selling themselves and not their novel. We keep bantering about networking and what place – and how much – it has in our literary aspirations. The amount is probably still up for discussion, but your arguments here are sound. Must forward this on. Thanks for posting!

  20. Content is a generic cop-out. It is mediocrity wrapped in plain, white paper with a well-used stamp of conformity across its face. It is the pursuit of the lowest common denominator; it is discount fare; it is the least expensive bag of plain potato chips on the bottom shelf.

    I tend to avoid the marketing thing simply because I believe products and services truly worth owning sell themselves. Delivering lasting, meaningful benefit is such a rarity in our post-modern society, we’ve come to consider those random, viral success stories the exception rather than the rule.

    Relationships are the key to it all. I pursue them in all aspects of my own business ventures, but where “marketing” paints these relationships in shades of hucksterism, however positively spun, The Golden Rule reminds me that, when I make the needs of others my priority, it’s only a matter of time before enough of them reciprocate.

    And I’m happy to wait.

    1. Great call with the Golden Rule, Brian. I’ve found this to be especially true in my life. My dad said it like this: “What goes around comes around.” (I am pretty sure he didn’t coin this.) Turns out, he was right.

  21. This is so true!  The writing is the easy part.  It sometimes can be effortless.  The hard part is the journey of making the “right connections”…  Discovering where to find those relationships is the battle.  Do I do it online, in my community or through a mass mailing packet.  I have come to understand that the path that I am on, will lead me to where He intended.  I just needed to realize that I have been on this path my whole life.   Psalms 37:4

  22. When I began blogging, I resisted social media. I cringed at the idea of being constantly surveyed, inspected, and judged. That’s what social media felt like to me. Little did I know that engaging with my readers, caring about their issues like they were my own, and then responding like a friend would become my favorite part of “writing.”

    I believe marketing flows out of a desire to be excellent. No one cares if you wrote the next Pulitzer Prize piece when you fail to gain the interest of others.

    This post is brilliant because it is honest. Content is perhaps the court jester. It makes you look, laugh, listen, stay a while, but relationship truly is king.

    Thanks Jeff.

  23. I think you make a good point, Jeff. I believe there was a time online when content was king; you needed good content to rise above the all the content flow. Now, with the overwhelming tsunami of information, even good content drowns. The relationships we build online are the markers we use to distinguish good content from bad. Consequently, value shifts from just the content to the  network of real relationships. 

  24. I think the visual is what captures attention. Content must also be there and must be good content that is easily readable to keep the attention. And please, no auto-anything. Getting music or a video slapped in my face the minute I hit a site is sure to make me leave it without even considering design or content.

  25. Jesus had it right all along. Regardless of the communication tools, it’s all about relationships. Great article Jeff. Blessings!

  26. Great post as usual, Jeff. I would say that the online world is shifting towards content NOT being king with every google algorithm change. And with that I mean that spamming and building sites just to make a buck or 50 000, is different. You need to actually give value today to get noticed and in my world that is a good thing.

    Value = showing passion = building relationships = making a difference.

    (And doing it with a smile on your face).

    Keep up the good work. Cheers / Jonas

  27. Absolutely fantastic post Jeff. I remember reading this post before but stumbled upon it again and had to say something this time around!

    Like you say, it’s so easy to trick yourself into thinking by posts regularly with ‘quality content’ (how can you even define that?) that it’s just a matter of time. You only grow by making connections in the offline world, so why is it any different online? Anyway, great stuff!

  28. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for busting this myth of ‘Content is King.’ Even marketers get this one wrong! You do what you do to get a message out and to connect. Not because you just enjoy cranking out content… people throw the “Content is King” line around without ever stopping to ask if it’s even true… Content is a necessity to voice and brand, but no way is it king.

    Gahh… there are so many of these “facts” that people state these days, and get spread as viral wildfires that have no base in actual truth… It’s so frustrating.

  29. Great post, Jeff. Content, alone, isn’t enough. The marketing and relational piece is vital in today’s noisy world. I used to think that it’s who you know instead of what you know. But, a friend of mine told me, it’s not who you know, but who knows you. The more I think about it, it’s so true. Investing in the relationship currency for the sake of helping others is key!

    Paul// Leadership Blogger, http://www.paulsohn.org

      1. Oh, I LOVE this, and am going to quote you at our next networking tribe meeting in our village. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  30. You make an excellent “callout” about writer relationships. I know this is DEFINITELY true in my little corner = horse-blog world. I work hard to post quality content (you know, between my actual job and running the farm and taking care of accident-prone horses, I even eat occasionally, ROFL), but part of the job is maintaining connections which translate to visibility and “brand” (I’m not a business, thankfully, since I suck at accounting) recognition. Part of me is sad that writing about what I love, in part to keep a training journal for myself, in part to let other working adult amateur riders with no money know they are not alone, includes, bleh, marketing, but I do also enjoy learning new things and the skill-set is not a bad one to have!

      1. It’s a BRILLIANT thing! 🙂 And you know, that’s what makes all of this worthwhile in the first place, the people, the connections, the friendships and well, the love darn it, the love! 🙂

  31. Jeff – great post. I just passed this along to all of our coaches. It’s great to be knowledgeable and competent, but without connections nothing happens. Thanks for framing this so clearly.

  32. Jeff, thanks for getting me thinking. So many of us don’t have people in our lives who are willing to say the hard stuff, and it’s refreshing to read it. (i.e. “Frankly, I was just scared and lazy.” Yes, me too!)

    Having said that, though, I have to believe content actually is king. The fact that we need relationships doesn’t negate the importance of content. You said this yourself. The relationships add to the power of the content, without a doubt. Still, content is at the top of the food chain, not who we know or what we do with it. If I were to know all the most influential people in my niche and have nothing to say, I have to believe eventually I would be found out. Conversely, if I have a lot to say but nobody’s listening, I can only build on it. I might not change the whole world, but I can change the world for the one person who hears that message. So content without influence holds more potential to change the world than influence without content.

    I’m thinking of my college professor who never took attendance but filled his classes with stuff we needed to know vs. the prof who based our grades on attendance but filled the time with what I could have learned by just doing the required reading. The first one had more ability to change my world because he had something to say while the second one used his influence alone, and all he could do was change my grade.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment. It’s good for me to think this through here. Thanks for inspiring it, Jeff.

  33. Jeff, I love the three points. Really, they stand alone. I also love nearly everything you write and greatly respect your ideas. I am inspired by your honesty and have grown as a result of many of your messages. As for connection and content…

    There is a reason many writers do not splash overmuch in the shallow pool of the world, and I believe it may be because they realize it would draw them away from their authentic selves. The world at large is a mass of consumers at the mercy of trends and marketers – shepherdless sheep forever contorting themselves in order to conform, perform, ultimately voluntarily negating their own selfhood. The world at large is not in search of truth, originality, sincerity, beauty or virtue. Those things are threatening to the shallow and false identity most people are clawing to attain and maintain.

    No, as a writer of any caliber not given to baseness or sensationalism most likely people at large will not receive you and they definitely cannot sustain you. All writers figure that out at some point. The realization does not keep us from sharing our craft with the world, but it does preserve us from diluting or disfiguring it for common consumption.

    And I don’t know about holding up Hemingway. Apparently he never found the legitimacy he tried to pull from the world and finally renounced life altogether.

    A few, or even many organic, ordained connections can make a world of difference for a writer, and of course we do not strive for solitude. As you do so gracefully, we engage the world and influence it with our hearts’ cry on a page or a screen, and “He who has ears let him hear”. We know we will be misunderstood, overlooked, misjudged, misquoted and maligned. I don’t mind any of that – as long as those things happen for the right reasons. Let it not be because I gave in to grown up peer pressure to satisfy the lower and forsake the higher.

    I hear you. I’m happy I found you and I want to hear more. Of you. And let the world be the world.

    1. Jasmine, that’s beautifully stated. And I agree with much of what you say but I also think the idea that popularity and being true to your artistic voice are not necessarily mutually exclusive. And Hemingway, regardless of his personal choices, is clearly an example of a commercially successful writer who was also regarded as an innovator of the craft.

      1. Point taken, and thank you for your insight. I am just so glad you’re doing what you do, Jeff Goins. I am better for this exchange today and will definitely keep listening.

  34. I think content is king, but a king should have a queen; a relationship. So if content is king, his queen is marketing and networking.

    Great post Jeff as always! Now, I’ll go and listen to the podcast. 🙂

  35. I just realized you called writing a “business” and a “game” in your article. Wow, if I ever say something like that I would hope someone – anyone – would say something like this: It may be time to examine the connections you’ve made so you can trace back the reason you could describe such a wonderful expression of the human soul… like that.

    1. I like games and don’t think there’s anything wrong with business. To be fair, writing for me is a craft and an art. But there are business aspects to it (that much is clear, at least when it comes to publishing). And the game analogy was a term I borrowed from the Hemingway book. But to each, their own. 🙂

      1. I can tell from your writing that you consider it a craft and an art. Both come through. Commercialism is a machine that only accepts certain ideas and promotes mediocrity. There’s a fine line that lots of people lose sight of. It’s the line between selling yourself and selling out. I know you’re not in danger of that – you take what you do very seriously. But you know, many don’t. And many, like me, don’t want our depth to suffer by trying to appeal to a crowd half-asleep and afraid of true expression.

        1. Of course there will ways be those who misuse and abuse these principles. It has always been my aspiration with this blog to help great writers get the attention their writing deserves. Understanding some of these principles can help magnify the reach of quality work without watering it down. That’s my belief anyway.

          1. Ok, I see where you’re going. Thinking too much about the machine can lead to “why try?”, when there are those awake and hungry few who crave the real thing. And you’re helping to bridge the gap. Cool. Preach on, Jeff Goins.

  36. Unfortunately, you are right Jeff. Mediocrity rises above greatness on the backs of relationships all the time this is the way of the World.

      1. Yes, I thinks so. I believe the stars have lined up and great content has value – not for it’s greatness but for it’s economic value and as a result new ideas are being exchanged – do we really care why?

  37. Jeff, seeing you in Midlothian Texas was proof enough how much you understand the importance of relationship. You were genuine, honest and available. Thanks

  38. Percipient analysis as always, Jeff. I delayed putting up a website of my artwork for years, believing there was enough mediocrity and I wanted to refine my content. Same with my writing blog. What a mistake. Putting the work out there has accelerated my growth and grown new relationships. Content is important but you have to show up, and often, to be heard over the cacophony.

  39. Hi Jeff, I can so relate to this article as that is exactly what I am struggling with. I read somewhere that the hardest part of writing a book isn’t the writing part (though that can be such a bear, especially editing and revising, oh my goodness!) but it is the getting your book read that becomes the tough mountain to climb. I have found there is much truth in that! I have given about 30 books away so far (I wrote a Christian fiction about a former foster child who ages out of the foster care system and suffers the stark hardship of homelessness. He then finds the hope and redemption he has needed all along through an unllikely source.) and probably need to give away how many more, 100? I also have a question on #3. Forgive my ignorance, but I am not quite sure what you mean when you say, “When the time is right, ask.” Ask who, what? Thanks, Elizabeth Yalian

  40. Elizabeth- I think Jeff was saying that you first need to connect with readers (via a blog, for example) and give away great content to build that on-line relationship and trust. Then, when you’re ready, you “ask” your readers to consider purchasing one of your books or products. That’s how I understood it.

    1. Thanks John. I do have a couple of blogs and have had giveaways through a week- long blog book review someone did on their blog, but most of the books I have given away have been to people in my area. I also have had great reviews on Amazon, however, marketing is certainly a weakeness of mine as I enter into what for me are uncharted waters.

      1. Yep, I understand, Elizabeth. Marketing is unfamiliar to many creatives, but there’s plenty of on line experts to offer guidance. Like Jeff Goins’ site, for example!

  41. While I agree, it also goes the other way still. What do we get in a scenario where everybody is great at building relationships? Well, the only ones who will be distinguished are the ones with great content.

    I feel like this whole mantra of thinking goes in cycles. 10 years ago networking was king. Now it’s content. Now it’s going back to networking again. How about both complement each other?

    1. You’re absolutely right, Mike. That’s why I didn’t say, “Content is irrelevant.” It’s not. It’s extremely relevant. A necessity. As I put it, a given. You HAVE to have great content. But your words, in and of themselves, are rarely if ever enough. You need relationship to magnify the content.

  42. I like how you qualified that good content has to be a given. You can be the best networker and form great relationships but if those people come back to your content and it’s bad, you’ve wasted their time and yours.

    I also feel like you shouldn’t spend all your efforts trying to connect with the people at the top of your industry in hopes they give you a shoutout. I love what Chase Reeves says about the third tier: https://fizzle.co/sparkline/third-tier-theory-networking.

  43. Your podcast was the perfect companion on my morning walk, and I couldn’t have heard this message at a better time. I’m starting over with my blog and trying to figure out how to reshape it to put the focus on others instead of just what I’m doing or thinking. Forming lasting relationships is far more important than putting all the focus on creating great content. In fact, forming rich relationships is one key to creating great content. How else will you recognize ideas that will resonate with others? How else can you stay in touch with their needs? Each time I meet one of my online friends face-to-face, the relationship goes so much deeper, and new ideas emerge. Thanks for this message, Jeff.

  44. Nailed it Jeff. Love this! I started to realize this at the end of 2012. I chose for my one word theme in 2013 “connection.” I, too, was not putting enough priority into my relationships. Honestly, I think I got lazy.

    Back in 2009-2010, it was much easier to figure out what Google wanted (SEO) to get great rankings and traffic. I think this is why “Content is king” became so popular. What worked then, doesn’t work today.

    I’d rather hitch my wagon to two things that no one can take away from me: 1) my own email list 2) the amazing relationships I’ve built with other influential people.

    Awesome post/podcast….

  45. Excellent post Jeff! We can create the most amazing art on the planet but without a network of people helping us to share it then it doesn’t matter how amazing. Of course for longevity it needs to be great content but without a community we don’t get far.

  46. Absolutely True Jeff. Relationships do in fact rule the web. For people who think they can get rich from their living room is far from the truth. As the internet gets more mature, we now have this community with the same idea. Getting rich from home.

    But the basics still apply, the one with the most connections wins. It’s never been easier, but the distractions have never been any worse than today either. What you do offline does affect the online world. So the good news, yes you make money and work from home. But you got to work like crazy to get that point.

    If you think you’re going to be a recluse, change the world, without communicating with people…. You’re about to hit a brick wall. Called reality.

    Good podcast Jeff. First time listening to you.

  47. Jeff, your post really resonated with me and connected with what I have been studying for the past several weeks.
    I was quite struck by your reference to Hemingway’s Paris years and the reasons that he traveled there: not to network or self-promote, but to learn from a professional community of writers. What Andy says in the podcast in Hemingway’s case is absolutely true. He didn’t just head down to the airport and several hours later found himself in Paris. He traveled across the Atlantic on a twelve-day Cunarder with his wife and small child, without any prospects, but with a dream – a dream to learn from this community of people who shared a common interest, an interest in writing.
    While I have had an aspiration to become a writer for an extended length of time (+20 years), it is only recently though the application of self-regulated learning theory to my aspirations that I have been able to begin to develop the self-efficacy necessary to motivate me to transform my aspiration into a goal. I could not have done this without a network of supportive individuals who were helpful in my process of defining a goal that was specific, proximal and challenging but achievable – namely the completion of the first chapter of my novel within a defined timeframe.
    The relationships that you speak of aren’t just helpful for marketing, but when we consciously connect with a network of professionals, we gain insight from their experiences and develop opportunities to make ‘critical friends’ – those who are interested in helping us to advance our goal and willing to provide honest feedback to ensure our success.
    The process of writing is a personal and creative journey. It is also a journey about learning. Learning the craft, learning about the industry and building connections which inspire us to move forward in our dream and therefore increasing our sense of accomplishment and ability through effective learning from peers and mentors.
    Like you, I also thought that all I needed to be was a great writer. I now know in a more rich and full way that the business of writing is complicated. What I also now know is that writing is about learning. Learning about the craft, yes, but learning about how I am proceeding in the work by the use of conscious processes designed to increase my effectiveness. The development of mentor/protégé relationships is one of the ways that writers can grow and achieve progress toward realizing their goals. Hemingway made effective use of this to his great advantage.
    I would love to see posts about the development of mentoring relationships or local communities to help aspiring and developing writers to grow. If you have previous posts on this topic or would consider focusing on this in the future, this would be very interesting to me.
    Thanks for your post, and I am really enjoying your blog. It is helping me to learn and grow as a writer.

  48. I’ve always been suspect of the content-is-king notion. First, I don’t trust alliteration. Certain well crafted constructions can sound valid and not be valid, but we’re seduced by the sound it makes. On the flip side, we also love to be against things, to debunk myths. So content-is-not-king seems just as delicious to us. But there is another element to consider. Execution. The discerning writer, the writer who respects his audience and his craft will consider execution with the same gravity he does content. To use your metaphor, you might think of it as a shared monarchy, a joint enterprise. If someone has genuine command of a topic (content), and if they take the time to craft it well (execution), I will go along for the ride. If, however, poor attention is paid to the writing, if it reads woefully like a first draft, I will move on and not subject myself to what this person has to say. Real nobility in a text, whether a book, blog, or tweet, lies in a cooperation between great content and great execution.

  49. Dear Jeff, thanks for this great post! I listen to your podcasts now too, and I feel like I’m being mentored by you and your great guests. You got me thinking about who I should be learning from in the field of writing–particularly the area of blogging and my other specialty, Children’s Storybooks. I’m beginning my list!
    Linda at http://www.writing4funblog.com

  50. Love this post! It’s so true. Content – yes, it matters. But to even know what content connects with people, we have to build the rapport and trust. I like how you distinguished writing to “feed your soul” which is fine solitary work, and writing to be read and have people connect with your words, which cannot be done without interaction on a wide scale. To write what really matters to people, we have to listen and find out what really matters to people, then intersect it with what really matters to us. Then the soul gets fed and we can also put food on the table. 🙂

  51. This post actually helped me get over my old thoughts about content and the online world. Very beautifully expressed. The more I read your posts, more i get inspired. You are an amazing person Jeff, not only with words but with thoughts and ideas. However there is one hindrance to my writing success, i have no clue on how to build relationships on the web. I have read a lot about it but it doesn’t apply when I actually am trying to approach people and writers on the internet. How do you do that?

  52. I have always believed that Content is King in Writing. I have been writing and not Connecting , because i have always trusted that my Content will get The ball rolling. Thanks for spending time to clarify. I must confess , i am still having problem forming an email List.

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