Why You’re Not in the Content Business (and Why That’s a Good Thing)

Create Transformation

Originally posted as a Facebook update from FinCon in Dallas (video below)

In my opening keynote at FinCon last night I challenged the attendees to think about how their blog, podcast and video content could potentially be changing people’s lives.

You see, many of us see ourselves as being in the ‘content business’. But I think it’s better if we start seeing ourselves as being in the ‘transformation business’.

Great content leaves a mark on people. It moves them from one place to another.

The the creators of that content do it in various ways – teaching, giving information (such as news), entertaining, providing motivation, and giving their audience a sense that they’re not the only ones and providing hope for a better future.

We can all probably think of content that’s changed our lives in some way. For example, I can personally think of podcasts that inspired me to eat better and exercise, and probably added years to my life.

Some content creators see the change they’re bringing to their audience in flashing lights. It’s obvious, like the example I just gave. But some of us think the changes we bring are smaller, or even insignificant.

For example, at Digital Photography School we teach people how to move from being stuck in Auto Mode with their cameras, and help them get creative control and take better photos. It’s a transformation, but it’s not on the scale of adding years to someone’s life.

Or is it?

Here’s the thing. While giving someone creative control over their camera doesn’t feel that ‘big’, it can actually have a far bigger impact than you might imagine.

Since starting that blog I’ve had emails and conversations with readers who have told me that by bringing about that transformation in photography they’ve:

  • found new creative outlets that have helped their mental health
  • built new skills that have led to promotions at work
  • developed confidence and overcome fears
  • grown new income streams
  • learnt how to take images they can use in meaningful ways as gifts to family and friends, and to serve their community groups.

The point is, you never quite know what impact your content will have on people. But when you create content that brings about change, it can potentially have ripple effects beyond the changes you’re aiming to bring.

The other thing to consider is that sometimes you create changes in your readers on a scale you could never imagine.

ProBlogger, for example, is a blog all about helping bloggers start blogs and grow income from them. We attract a lot of bloggers at the beginning of their journey, and as a result hear a lot of great stories from them that reflect this stage of blogging.

It’s really satisfying to hear those stories from newer bloggers taking their early steps. What we don’t always hear are the stories of those who read ProBlogger in the early years of their journey and went on to do bigger things.

But just because we don’t hear the stories doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And the last few days here at FinCon and our Success Incubator event was testament to that fact as I bumped into some of these ProBlogger readers who went on to bigger things.

Without naming names, I met:

  • a person who credits an article I wrote on ProBlogger to saving her marriage, and helping her and her husband to build a business that earns several million dollars a month. (The article was nothing to do with marriage, by the way.)
  • another person who landed a job on our job board that led to a freelance writing career where he earns a seven-figure income each year.
  • yet another person who tells me that reading ProBlogger seven years ago, and later writing some guest posts for us, helped him build a business with a revenue at the mid-eight-figures level a year.
  • a person who found the first edition of the ProBlogger book in an airport bookstore back in 2008. She read it from cover to cover on a long-haul flight and started a blog the next day that helped her become a full-time author and speaker.

Each time I heard these stories I was taken aback, and even found myself getting emotional. Sometimes people take the content you create and the products and services you offer and run… or sprint with it. You may never know the end result, but you may have just played a part in changing someone’s life.

So stop seeing yourself as being in the ‘content business’, and start thinking about what you do as ‘transformation’.

When you do, you’ll find it has a number of impacts.

  1. What you do will become more meaningful, and be more motivated to do it.
  2. The content you create will be different. You’ll stop writing ‘about topics’, and start writing ‘for people’.
  3. It will probably also become more empathetic and passionate (something your readers will notice).
  4. Your audience will become more willing to engage with you (and each other).
  5. Your content will be easier to promote (as people are attracted to content that gives them a win or a benefit).
  6. You’ll find your blog easier to monetise (particularly if you create products and services that also bring about transformation).

So don’t just create content. Create a transformation!

(Un-mute to listen!)

Image Credit: Dan Gold

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