There is an old saying about not bringing a knife to a gun fight. I think that is good advice, and in a way, the saying applies in the content creation arena, too. Knowing which medium to use to best present the content you are creating is a big part of the battle.
Stated differently, don’t bring your blog to a video fight.
We feel that audio works best to either offer a quick 1 to 2 minute overview of a blog or article or to offer market updates that need to be pushed out with regularity.
Talking is something that comes pretty naturally to most of us, and fortunately, the tools and technology required to capture and distribute audio are both fairly inexpensive and relatively easy to use. Being able to create audio, and create it in large batches, requires nothing more than a quiet place and the standard tools that exist on pretty much any laptop or smart device. When you combine that with about a $10/month subscription to one of the podcasting platforms, you have an easy, cheap and wide-reaching medium to help you connect with your audience.
Demonstrating this in no uncertain terms, look no further than the rise of the podcast, the on-demand recorded conversation between two or more industry insiders discussing a topic in depth. The podcast has allowed a great number of smart people with quality insights to reach an audience that had been unreachable prior to the advent of these types of networks.
Blogging, Narratives and White Papers
Writing has multiple uses but is especially effective when used to increase organic rankings (SEO). Writing also offers the best chance to offer insight into complex topics and can offer links to other articles on the same topic.
To write, and write well, takes practice — along with a considerable amount of editing, and re-editing, and re-re-editing. Like any form of content creation, writing for public consumption takes time and effort in order to do well and is not as natural as it would seem.
It has also been my experience that most of us are scared of putting our thoughts into the Blogosphere for fear of saying something that is factually incorrect or offensive. For what it is worth, I think the fear of writing is largely unfounded, but getting people to write and write consistently is a challenge, despite the recognized benefit.
Know that your audience (as well as Google) loves to read — and they love it more than you think. While not every reader dives into each article with the veracity of your freshman year English Composition professor, they do absorb more than you think and when they are serious about a subject, they will read your articles thoroughly. When you help your audience better understand a nuanced topic or simplify a complex issue, they see intelligence, capability and mastery — all of the things you would want any potential client to see in you.
And of all of the ways to create content, writing is the least expensive. Blogging platforms are free, word processing is free, PDF creation is free and Google indexes your site for free. When the budget is limited and need for content is great, make an appointment with yourself to get up a little earlier than normal, before the phone starts ringing and inbox starts dinging, brew a pot of coffee and get your thoughts on paper (ok, digital paper.)
Of all of the forms that content can take, video is the hardest to create but can be one of the most effective.
The time, effort and expense of video necessitates having a clear understanding of the purpose and application of the finished product. Good video is powerful, but costly and difficult to do well — but screwing it up is easy and extremely expensive
Know that video requires a level of production that the other forms do not. Video requires multiple people, a lot of expensive and difficult to use equipment and a controlled environment to film in. Many a good video has been ruined by poor lighting, poor audio quality, background noise or some other ‘technical difficulty’ that has was not recognized until long after the set was taken down and the people went home.
Remember, you also have to be good in front of the camera! While formal acting lessons are not necessarily required, you need to have a high level of comfort and confidence when the camera is pointed at you and the red light is on. Freezing in front of the camera is not fun — especially when the meter is running and you are spending money. And having subjected myself to video on multiple situations, being able to say your lines naturally and without hesitation — even when you are only saying what you have said to clients a thousand times — is not as easy as it seems.
Simply put, good video is hard and it is expensive.
Yet despite the fact that video is the hardest of the three basic forms of content to create, when done correctly, it can be extremely powerful and effective. All of the platforms that we use on a daily basis are increasingly demanding and rewarding video content. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others (like Zillow and Trulia) are all not only encouraging their users to create video, but making it simpler. They know that a good video (or important video) creates engagement in a way that the other forms do not. In the same way that TV replaced the radio and radio largely replaced the written word, video content stands to reign supreme — provided the ability to produce it continues to become easier and less expensive.
At the end of the day, it feels like each successive generation demands, engages and creates video more than the prior. Those who learn to create and produce quality video easily and at low cost stand to win more and more as we move forward.
But Remember — Stay with It!
At the end of the day, you need to know your medium and apply it correctly. Each form has its own best practices as well as an associated difficulty and expense — so learn to use the correct one for the correct situation.
And above all else, make sure to keep at it. Regardless of how hard or foreign it may seem when you fist start, it does get easier and you will improve. Like anything else, don’t judge your first efforts at writing, audio or video against those who have been doing it for years. Their efforts when they first started were probably pretty rough and unrefined — and just like everyone else, they have probably long since removed them from the web and buried them in the back yard.