Why should you create your own content?
What do Dharmesh Shah, Jeff Weiner, Warren Buffet and nearly every other C-Level executive have in common?
Each and every one takes the time to create their own content and share it with the world. Each of the three I mentioned have shared their distinct personal style, thoughts, hopes, dreams and cultures with the world in their content. Take Dharmesh’s passion for developing a healthy, world leading culture at HubSpot and follow his and Katie Burke’s work to develop the HubSpot Culture Code. This is way more than a slide deck, this is one of the major marks on the story of his career.
Almost every regular amateur blogger, photographer, videographer and more, have seen both personal and professional growth due to their content. Isn't it time for you to join them?
Below is a guide to kickstarting your content creation, how to write, build, develop your own ideas into content that can help you grow, so there's no better time than now to get started!
Identifying the different types of content
When we think of creating online content we usually first go to writing our own blog, but really why do we do that? Writing is a great option but we need to open our minds to all the other possible platforms we can fill our personal websites with. Below is a list of the different mediums of content we can create with nothing more than our laptops and our smartphones, really we should never feel stuck for great content ideas.
The Written Word
Okay, let’s start with the obvious one shall we? Anyone can easily start a blog but often we find ourselves struggling to understand what we should write about or the even deadlier trap of feeling like a personal blog needs to 'personal'.
So what can we write about if we start a personal blog, well like Maria in the Sound of Music, start by thinking about your favourite things! Do you love to cook? Then write about your favourite recipes! Check out the ‘How to get started’ section below for a list of different topics people can base their blog around, go ahead give one a try!
Visual content? Surely you mean photography and videography?
Well not always. In today's world there's always a lot more than meets the eye to the images you see out there. Learning some new skills and trying out some photo manipulation. Far from this being some harmless fun, these skills can be really helpful when building presentations. This is a gateway to basic data visualisations which are always important and can give your pitch the last nudge it needs to be amazing.
Go out and get yourself the photos you want and buy yourself a subscription. Now, it's time to make your photos all the more incredible, or hilarious!
Using photoshop to manipulate your photos is a great way to show your creative and technical skills, you may even find yourself a cult following.
Another simple but effective example of visual content is the always beloved inspirational quote photo. Check out the one below. I quickly put this together using Canva at absolutely no cost. Have fun with these tools and post the results to an instagram page, you would be surprised how quickly you’ll gain a following.
Have a story you need to get across but you're afraid no one will read it? Why not try build an infographic, infographics are brilliant ways to share a lot of information in an informal way that doesn't rely on text. Check out Airbnb's founders story below to see a very clever and really effective infographic. The best tools for getting started with infographic design are Canva and Piktochart. Both websites offer free apps and memberships with templates to get you started with and when you feel brave enough, you throw yourself in and start from scratch!
So that local youth centre needs a website while you need to practice your HTML & CSS, why not do some good and put your skills to good use? Put together a few simple pages, help the youth centre upload your content and suddenly you've created something.
If you've just asked yourself what CSS or HTML stand for, fear not! There are other tools you can use to build websites. Companies like Squarespace, WIX & Wordpress all offer really simple website design solutions. These companies provide ready made web page templates where you can fill in the blanks to share your information with the world and simply drag and drop to change the shape of an individual page.
Building websites from scratch isn't all that difficult but it will look great to show employers and those without technical skills may even see you as a magician.
Content creation isn't just for the business minded professional, if you're a developer who doesn't want to write or play with photoshop why not put your skills to the test. Build a basic game and host it on your personal website.
Check out Robby Leonardi's online resume. Inspired by his love of Super Mario, this is an amazing example of how content creation can express itself in one hundred different ways.
Content doesn't always have to be fresh and new, why not go back to your old college projects and see have you left some golden nugget behind for yourself. You could easily come across a new idea or a fresh perspective on some old work.
How to get started
Step 1: Finding The Right Platform For You
What kind of content should you create is the first question you need to ask, and to answer you need to consider several factors, below is just a few examples of these factors:
What do I want to achieve?
Are you trying to learn a new skill, show off your writing or impress my employer? Knowing your aim before you decide to start writing is vital for the next step.
Who do I want to reach?
Well, if your aim is impress a future employer should you write with a style that mimics their company and makes you seem a good culture fit for them? If you’re sharing what you love isn’t best to connect with those who share that passion? Finally, if it is all about learning a new skill, make sure to find yourself a community filled with fellow learners and seasoned professionals who can help you develop your skills.
How does this fit my personality?
No matter how many hours you pour into your content, if you don't care about the subject matter, will the reader? Make sure whatever you take the time to build is something you’re passionate and excited about. This will come across in the quality of the finished piece and will earn you more credit than any other step.
Step 2: Finding Your Inspiration
Book Reviews - Tell the world what you thought of that book you just read.
Food Blog - Share your favourite recipes with the world, don't keep those cookies to yourself.
Restaurant Reviews - Don't leave it up to the big websites to find out if brunch at the new restaurant is really the best in town, find out for yourself and then share it!
Product Reviews - Did you get something new on Amazon and don't want to see your review buried in thousands of others, have your say on your own blog, hell even come up with your rating system for it!
Share your story of success like the founders of Airbnb did. Create an infographic of your life to date as a starting process, then break down to the stories behind each icon!
Go to Reddit and play pretend on r/photoshopbattles to put your skills to the test, then take the best of your work and add it to your blog with some how-to guides. Sharing your expertise is a great way to get involved in a community.
This one is pretty self explanatory, the website you create will speak for itself but always make sure and link to your work from your personal website, who knows, you might get an SEO boost!
Reddit is a great source for this kind of content. There are lots of Subreddits out there devoted to people testing their skills, try r/dataisbeautiful where you'll be sure to learn something new! As an example, check out this animation of how the Berlin Subway Map corresponds to the city's geography, why not try something similar with a city of your choice. It's a great point of conversation with anyone, especially interviewers!
Give Github a try! Try out a challenge or enter a competition to try something new, then once you've finished upload your code to GitHub. Here experienced developers will take a look at your code and help you improve your next iteration of it. This sort of work always requires a community and GitHub is one of the most active. If you want to find some competitions just try out Kaggle.com.
Step 3: Analyse The Response And Update Your Piece
So you’ve published your piece, now is it time to forget it exists and move on? Hell, no!
Monitoring what you’ve produced in the past can lead you to important insights into how to maximise the impact of your work in the future. In future posts the insights analytics can provide will be explored in depth but for now let's say this, do you really think the business leaders you want to impress are reading posts at 3.30am on a Sunday?
Monitoring past posts can help you optimise your content making all your effort worth it. The aim for everything you publish is to maximise effect with the resources you have available, analytics is a major stepping stone on this journey.
Time to Kick On
I hope this helps you to get started on your content creation and personal branding. In later posts we’ll go more in depth on functions like analytics, reporting and optimising your content so this is nowhere as comprehensive as it could be. If you have any questions feel free to reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.