Summary of Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Starting a business is always stressful. Whether you’re developing a business plan, a product or coming up with a marketing strategy, there’s a level of pressure to succeed. That is why it may come as a relief to you to know that you don’t necessarily have to have a product finalised before you create an audience. 

Content creation can definitely begin before you have developed your unique product. In fact, it might even be useful in your product development. You will be able to create products that appeal to the following you have gathered. This approach will work no matter if you are a solo start-up or a larger enterprise, you just have to know how.

In this summary readers will discover:

  • Identifying the sweet spot
  • Content tilt
  • How to choose the appropriate platform for your audience.
  • Harvesting Audience
  • Diversification
  • Monetization

Key lesson one: Identifying the sweet spot

Before you can get started with your content, you need to identify your sweet spot. This refers to the spot where your knowledge and skills meet your passion. It is possible to develop a sweet spot without considering what you are passionate about but passion is the thing that gives us our drive. Running a business is always easier if you are motivated by something you are passionate about.

The easiest way to find your sweet spot is to put pen to paper. Make two lists; one of all the things you are skilled in and another of all that you are knowledgeable about. Once you have these lists, then start thinking about what your passions are and what motivates you. Then you can start looking at ways to link them all together.

A great example of someone who found their sweet spot is that of Andy Schneider. Schneider had a unique skill – raising chickens. He was also passionate about teaching. Over time, he realized he wasn’t the only one interested in raising chickens. People were constantly asking him questions about it. Schneider saw the opportunity to combine his passion and his skills so he began having meetings about backyard poultry in Atlanta. These meetings grew over the years, eventually leading to workshops, a radio show, a magazine and a book! By finding his sweet spot and the right audience, he was able to start a successful business. Schneider stuck to his audience of homeowners with an interest in raising chickens and this is why he excelled. When you start your business, it is always better to focus on just your identified audience and worry about drawing others later on. 

Key lesson two: Content tilt

Once you have found your sweet spot, you have one more thing to do before you start on your content. You have to create your own content tilt. Content tilt refers to what makes your content different compared to whatever else is already out there. 

There are multiple ways you can achieve this. Firstly, after identifying your sweet spot, you can search online on various social media platforms to see what your target audience is interested in. If you know what they’re talking about, you can then begin to think about how to put your own spin on it to make it stand out. It should ideally aim to be fresh, unique and memorable. Secondly, you could possibly take the direct route and develop an online survey or face-to-face questionnaire to find out what your audience is looking for. 

When you have accomplished your content tilt, you can begin to put your product or service out to the public. In order to appeal to people who are genuinely interested in your product, your focus has to be on your niche market, highlight the special skills and expertise that you possess and it is clear to them what they can expect. 

When it comes to letting your niche know what they can expect, you can use a mission statement to share it with them. Darren Rowse, the founder of the Digital Photography School, includes his mission statement on his website for every visitor to see. He also offered amateur photographers simple tips for using their cameras. This content attracted visitors and allowed him to become a successful businessperson in the digital photography market. 

Key lesson three: How to choose the appropriate platform for your audience

The platform you choose should be the one that your target audience uses and would be easiest for them to find your content. So, how do you find the correct platform for your content? Well, it depends. Is your target audience more fond of videos or written content? This could be the difference between choosing YouTube or starting a blog. Or if pictures are more appropriate, maybe Instagram.  It all depends on where your sweet spot leads you. 

Matthew Patrick, for example, was a struggling actor with a background in neuroscience. He found his sweet spot, combining acting, science and a passion for gaming to start his video series on YouTube called Game Theory. He chose YouTube because he was comfortable making videos and figured that his gaming audience would prefer videos as opposed to text.

When you have decided on the right platform, you will then need a content calendar. A content calendar keeps your channel active and will allow you to stay organized and deliver content timeously. Also, by having desired outcomes on your calendar for every piece of content you put out, you can also track your goals. By keeping track of how your content performs, you will be able to see if any adjustments are needed. This could be in terms of sales, interest or even positive feedback.

Key lesson four: Harvesting Audience

Once you have chosen the right platform for your content and you start attracting an audience, your next step is to convert that audience into loyal subscribers. As much as you may be receiving likes and shares on social media, the best easy to contact your target audience is via email. 

Email subscribers are the most important people on your audience list. Once you are able to send content to these subscribers directly via email, you are not competing for their attention. You will no longer be just another post on their feed and will be able to contact them whenever you want to. An example of this is daily or weekly newsletters filled with your content.

Also important is your search engine optimization or SEO. Perfecting SEO techniques will allow search engines to easily pick up your content and attract more people. Without SEO, a search engine would not know to include your content in a user’s search of similar content. You have to remember to tag your content with relevant keywords. Also helpful, is to include links to other websites to help boost your SEO. 

Lastly, you can also increase your audience by working with influencers. If they mention your details and include links to your site and content, this will help to attract more followers and obtain more email subscribers.

Key lesson five: Diversification

Diversification is an option to make the most of your content. Once you have established a loyal audience on one channel you can begin adding other channels are a way to diversify. Think of it this way, many entrepreneurs offer content via a digital blog, print content by writing books and content in person by having public speaking engagements. However, it is totally up to you how you diversify. You can even choose to keep it purely digital and just add multiple channels to your current platform. 

Another way to diversify is to buy content assets. Content assets are content providers who already have a platform and their own audience in an area you want to expand into. This is a great option if you wish to expand quickly as you will basically absorb the content assets audience instead of starting from scratch. An example of this was when a photography supply store, Adorama bought JPG, a magazine. JPG was about to go out of business and had about 300 000 subscribers which boosted Adorama’s audience significantly.

Key lesson six: Monetization

Having content is all good and well, but how do you begin to make money from it? There are actually quite a few ways to monetize your content and you can actually try a few of them before figuring out which works best for your business.

Some people use ads on their YouTube channel or affiliate marketing on their websites. Affiliate sites will pay for the traffic you generate through their links. You could also consider crowdfunding sites or cross-media offers.  Cross-media offers simply refer to hosting a webinar or being a guest on a podcast. You could also consider things like eBooks, courses, products, premium content and coaching. No matter what you choose, just keep in mind that successful entrepreneurs have a variety of income streams. They do not settle for just one or two and neither should you. 

Try to always keep an eye of for new opportunities to monetize your content. As businesses evolve, so too do ways in which you can make money. Keep searching for new and exciting ways to monetize your content. They can even originate from your audience, so don’t forget to pay attention to feedback as well. 

You can make money right from the start of your content launch. The methods you use will change as your audience grows. You just have to keep evaluating as you diversify and expand. New opportunities will present themselves without a doubt.

The key takeaway from Content Inc. is:

You don’t need a product or service to begin putting your content out there. In fact, putting content out first is an excellent way to identify your target audience and their interests. You can thereafter tailor your products to these interests. By starting with the right content, you will get the right audience and develop products that will already be in demand. In this way, your business can grow by choosing the right platforms, gaining loyal subscribers and expanding by diversification. Monetizing your content is possible from the start, so be sure to explore the options available to you and re-evaluate as you grow. Content is the key to a successful business, so keep at it!

How can I implement the lessons learned in Content Inc.:

Once you have identified your sweet spot, target audience and platform, ensure that you have a content calendar to keep track of the content you put out. This will help you not only stay organised but also track the progress of your content. In this way, you will be able to check what is working and what is not. This will allow you to adapt your future content accordingly.

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