“The truth is, mediocrity is natural. You don’t have to do anything to get there. It just happens. But if you want to create a truly WOW experience and if you want want build your platform – then it is going to require courage” ~ Michael Hyatt, Platform
The only logical place to start is the beginning.
I haven’t always been a content marketer. Now that I think about it, that might actually be obvious to you.
Truthfully, until a year or two ago I didn’t know content marketing existed. I certainly had no idea the Kung-fu grip content marketing would take on my life or the atom bomb impact content marketing would have on my career.
I’m a Math major. And I’m only a Math major because the curriculum allowed me to continue my three favorite university pastimes: Playing baseball, boozing and chasing women (most certainly in that order).
At 19 you make strange decisions and you definitely aren’t listening to anything other than your baser instincts. Math came easy to me, easy meant less time studying, less time studying meant more time… well you know.
The Light Bulb Moment
At 19 my eyes weren’t open wide enough to see the activities that brought me intrinsic joy…
I love teaching or maybe better put I love helping people. Not like teaching high school, I enjoy teaching people who actually want to learn a subject that will have some positive impact on their lives.
Maybe this is why I love being a speaker so much (more on my speaking services). It’s the light bulb moment. Anyone who does public speaking will know what I mean.
The Light Bulb Moment is when your point or argument or message finally hits, when the switch is finally thrown…
The room actually becomes a little brighter.
But at 19 I had no idea I wanted to write and speak and help people. I wasn’t in tune with the core of my being, so I took the easy path.
In school, in work, in life… I felt that “Your calling” should be easy. I was under the devastating misconception that my purpose in life, that thing I was put here to do, whatever it was I would know because it would be easy for me.
I would be a natural at this thing and I would know, “This is my purpose.”
Naive… ignorant… dumb.
My belief couldn’t be any farther from the truth or more detrimental to the growth of my soul.
Yet by fate or coincidental circumstance I found writing… or maybe writing found me.
Either way, at the beginning, writing was hard. The nuances of the written word frustrated and confused me. I could visualize the story I wanted to tell in my head but my fingers struggled to create the correct sequence of words that would bring my story to life.
The vast majority of my early work was complete crap (and mind you, I’m writing about insurance. Bad writing about insurance equals double crap).
Becoming a Content Marketer
Even though I was terrible, I loved it. I began to study content creation… I lived on sites like Copyblogger and Goins Writer, read book after book and social media stalked every content marketing and copywriting thought leader I could find.
But mostly I wrote…
…about insurance, business, marketing, life, the topic didn’t matter as much as putting words on the page.
Somewhere in between all the keystrokes, I had my own Light Bulb Moment. I realized content marketing isn’t just keywords and meta tags or producing content, adding images and hitting publish. Content marketing isn’t just creating information products, teaching people some trivial skill and driving traffic to a squeeze page.
Content marketing is digitizing the soul of your business.
Content marketing is an art. It’s a craft… a religion. You inhale it like a menthol cigarette at 200am, drunk, standing on the front steps of a Frat house in dead of winter, somewhere in Upstate New York.
Last month I speaking to an audience of insurance agents. One of the audience members asked me, “What are we trying to accomplish everyday with the content we create? Increased traffic? Higher conversions? A loyal customer base?”
My response was “Yes. Yes. Yes. But…”
These are the vitally important monetary reasons for implementing a content marketing strategy within your business
But after having written over four hundred blog posts last year between this blog, my insurance agency and various guest posts and magazine contributions I can say with earnest: There has to be a deeper motivation.
We must be working towards a culture of content. Marcus Sheridan calls this the “Honest Economy.” But understanding that today’s Connected Generation is a “self-service consumer” I’d rather refer to it as The Teaching Economy.
We must have a deeper motivation because there are easier ways to make a quick buck and there most certainly are more heralded and respected careers than content marketing.
Yet brilliant people take to their computers every single day to share their experience and expertise with the world…
…I call these people artists.
There is a deeper yearning inside of the successful content marketer than what it would appear on the surface. At their core content marketer’s are campfire wizards twisting stories with childlike candor and enthusiasm.
Today, a little over two years into my journey, I now wake up thinking about the stories I’ll tell that day. Maybe I’m not Steven Pressfield or George RR Martin, but every day I get to mix technical internet marketing techniques with copywriting and storytelling to help my audience and grow my business.
Today, I’m a content marketer.
Thank you and Good luck,
I am Ryan Hanley.
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Drop Some Knowledge
How do you find your art? What does content marketing mean to you?Confessions of a Content Marketer by Ryan Hanley