Improve your weaknesses but perfect your strengths.
— Joe Schmidt, two time Heineken Cup and two time 6 Nations winning Head Coach.
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When we approach our careers we always look to things we were good at in school, as our strengths but why do we consider them strengths? The answer usually lies beneath the surface, people’s learning styles can differ greatly and our strengths are usually derived from our preferred content types.

Learning styles will be covered in a later post, simply because there are too many different architectures to mention only one or two. This post will rather focus on how you can maximise the return on your efforts. As per Joe above, perfecting your strengths is important so if you can master one of visual, audio or written style in your self-publishing that’s the best start you can get.

What’s the payoff in knowing my preferred content style?

Well quite simply, if you know your preferred style, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself and make an impact. In fact let’s take an example, say you love essays and blogs. You really want long form content with lots of information and something to seek your teeth in, so you decide to go all in on your Instagram profile and post a picture every day. Is that a useful way to spend your time? Or considering you like to read, would it not be better to head over to Medium and start writing?

If you’re really not sure of what different social platforms there are, the best way to get started is to read 1st Gear in our Getting in Gear Series. This is a great opportunity to learn about where to be online and how each platform can benefit you differently.

How do I know which content I prefer?

This might seem like an obvious question but you might have the wrong answer. I love reading, I go through 3-4 novels a month, often rereading to see what I’ve missed but when in school or presented with a blog on a skill I need to learn, I usually lightly skim it and I’m done. When I’m learning I prefer to speak, argue and listen to debates. Below I’ve broken down out three types content orientation so you can make the right decision:

Visual

  • People who prefer visual content usually are moved by photos. These are the people for who images and colours can reopen a world of memories they had forgotten they ever knew.
  • Think back to school: Did you ever struggle with a problem then suddenly someone drew a diagram and it all made sense? Did you remember graphs better than stories or facts?
  • Usually the mind of avisual content oriented person will work like this.

Written

  • People who prefer written content usually have a notebook nearby to take down some thoughts while reading or could have a dog eared book with some scribbles in a corner.
  • Think back to school: Did you sit where you could see the board clearly? Were your notes tidy or numerous, did your friends ever ask to borrow them?
  • If you can see shades of yourself in either of the above statements, you’re likely a written content oriented person.

Audio

  • People who walk along silently debating ideas in their heads are everywhere, when they have a good idea they usually call a friend or leave a voice message talking through their ideas.
  • Think back to school: Did you never take notes but always somehow remembered things anyway? Did you question your teacher when you didn’t quite understand their statement?
  • These characteristics are both typical of an audio content oriented person.

If you see shades of yourself in all three of the above, that is to be expected. No one is made up of solely one style and over the years how we refer to consume content can change. It is usually advisable to revisit your preferences and learning every two years. Our aptitudes change often and on no aptitude or skills test will you receive the same score two years after first taking it.

What comes next?

When you’ve decided on what type of content will work best for you, it’s best to first test you got it right. There’s a million sources to get started from but here are some examples; for the readers among you -  Medium is one of the best blogging websites out there, for audio oriented people - grab a podcast, here is a list of the best to start with, finally for those who prefer visual queues - give Flickr a try. Exploring each of these communities will help you grow and help you decide if that content is truly right for you.

If you want to go a bit further with this process, why not check out our Kickstarting Your Content Creation post. This will give you an intro into the most popular content types out there as well as some cool examples of what people have built and published over the years. It even includes a guide on how to get started with your own content creation and the process to follow.

The goal of this post is to help you define where your comfort zone is and where you get the best from yourself. Remember these are just the first few steps, in later posts we’ll help you define your learning styles, strengths and how to get the most from your time. Let us know what you think in the comments below!


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