What do I tweet about?
How do you create content with everything else you have to do when you’re building a product? With the reading, ideating, drafting, editing, promoting, “Making content” feels like building a whole separate business. Who has time for that? Luckily, I may have found another way.
I’ve never been able to share my work as a consultant. Everything’s under NDA. Working on my own product, now I can share all the numbers. I thought this was going to be a game-changer. Engagement on my account has nose-dived. It’s just more information. There’s no story.
A friend who follows me on Twitter asked me how Chirr App was going recently. This was a bit of a kick in the teeth. I need to understand how to help people relate to what I’m doing.
I’m going to figure the shit out of “content marketing”. Signed up for a few courses. Bought a bunch of books. The todos are pilling up now. This would be fine if making content was my only job, but I’m in the middle of building a product. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I told someone I think of social media as “scraps on the cutting room floor”. I forgot where the phrase came from but it’s stuck with me for years. I found it in a book called “Show your work”. Austin Kleon talks about content as a natural byproduct of your work.
At the heart of his approach is the idea that you have to share something small every day.
- talk about what the goal is
- why you decide to work on it
- what you want and how you’re going to do to get it.
- what your influences are
- share pictures, sketches, and prototypes.
- if your work isn’t something you can take a picture of then share your method.
- tell us where you are with it now.
- If everything feels like chaos, share your doubts and confusion and talk about the mess you’re in.
- share what you made
- show us how people interacted with it
- talk about what you learned
- show us what the impact has been
- tell us where you’re heading next.
Some days you’re stuck in back-to-back zoom calls 🤷♀️ That’s why it’s important to have other pieces of your story on the back burner for rainy days like these. Two great forms of backup content are
- teaching what you know and
- curating your tools.
The idea with teaching what you know is to picture yourself two years ago and help that person figure out whatever they were stuck with. Get into it and share details, put together a step-by-step walkthrough if you have to, aim to out-teach the competition.
The idea with the second approach is to curate your influences, list out your tools, make a reading list, put together a useful set of people to follow. Your bookmarks and reading history are sawdust you can repurpose here.
Let’s be clear, this is all going to be hard work. It might feel less daunting than “making content” but being open about what you’re working on is not the same as letting it all hang loose.
Kleon’s advice here is to pretend anyone reading your stuff has the power to fire you. Grammar, tone, relevance, coherence, you bring your “A” game. His pro tip is to let things marinate in draft for a while before you post them.
The reality is that I haven’t been doing any of this. I don’t have everything figured out and I’m sure I’m going to make a bunch of mistakes along the way. But I’m looking forward to getting started. Sharing what I’m actually doing. One day at a time. That I can do.
What I love most about this approach is that it becomes a feedback mechanism for where I’m heading. If my content game start to drop again I don’t need to invest more time into making content, the solution is to do more interesting things at work and focus on making better decisions for the people who use Chirr App.
So that’s it, just one little question every day, “What am I working on?”. There is no content machine to build, I’m just keeping track of what’s going on and being open about what I’m working on.