I previously wrote a blog post titled “Why I Content.” That blog presupposes content is a worthwhile endeavor. I think it is. You might not be convinced. So let’s drop the “I” from the equation and answer a more foundational question: Why content to begin with? And within that: Why content as a business? Why content as an individual.
Here’s my 10-part answer:
Why create content as a business
- Content compounds. Creating and distributing great content (e.g., original thought, smart brevity) begets customers. These customers boost your content through social media, backlinks, and word of mouth, which begets more customers—who then boost your content to their networks. Go through this cycle a few times and you have a self-sustaining source of lead generation.
- Content is cost effective. Great content works hard for you at a lower marginal cost than ads. An ad will generate leads for only as long as you pay to run it. Its impact is ephemeral. Great content compounds, so it will work for you in perpetuity, with barely any upkeep.
- Content is a signal. People care about who they do business with. Business that create content pull back the curtain on how they think, what they believe, and what they stand for. For a customer stuck between you and your competitor, this can be a difference maker
- Content creation is simple. Every text and IG story is an act of content creation. It’s not hard. What’s hard is having ideas worth creating content about. But the truth is, very few people have original content ideas. Most good content is simply repackaging ideas shared elsewhere in a new and interesting way. If you feel stuck because you lack ideas, try arbitraging: curate content from other sources that are relevant to your target audience, translate difficult concepts into layman’s terms, or summarize a more in-depth study in a compelling / pithy way.
- Content is good for the world. Great content that addresses a need is a net positive for everyone. You’re sharing your knowledge with readers and building trust and authority, and your readers are becoming more informed and developing awareness of a solution.
Why create content as an individual
- Content is a lighthouse for like minded people. Writing online helps engineer serendipity. Through my writing, I’ve been connected to influential people and made new friends. The writing coach David Perell says writing is a “guaranteed way to shrink the world. A well-written article can change your life because the internet rewards people who think well. Each post is an advertisement for the kinds of people and opportunities you want to attract, and if you have a voice, you can build a platform.”
- Writing content helps you think clearly / articulate ideas. Good writing is good thinking. If you can’t explain something in 100 words, chances are you don’t understand it. Writing helps me refine my understanding of a subject until I’ve uncovered the most salient parts. This is why I journal most nights. Journaling allows me to dump all the ideas in my head onto a page, and mull through them so I understand why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. I’m un-censoring my brain to thoughts I may not have wanted to address otherwise. If you’re ever trying to analyze a situation, understand what you want, or find the best way to say something, try writing it down first.
- Content is lucrative. The reasons content is worthwhile for businesses also make it lucrative for individuals. Good writers—the ones who can think well—are in high demand because they can create a compounding growth channel for businesses. Motivated writers can create content for themselves, use it to build a dedicated following, then monetize that following by selling an asset (newsletter, online course, investment opportunity, etc.). Examples of people doing this well: David Perell, Julian Shapiro, and Packy McCormick.
- Content creation is therapeutic. Aside from sorting through your own thoughts, writing is powerful because it requires complete focus. That isn’t to say you can’t get distracted. But the act of writing (or typing) words on a page requires full concentration. In a world where our attention span is constantly challenged, I find it great for my mental health to enmesh myself in a singular task.
- Content is pure creation. Humans are creative beings, and writing is one of the most creative formats. Every word is a choice. Writing is willing something new into existence that is pure concentrate you. I admire great creatives like Quentin Tarantino and Haruki Murakami not just for their filmmaking or writing skills, but because they produce content that is unmistakably them. I can think of no better legacy to leave behind than your own pure creation.