If money and time were non-factors, what would you absolutely love to learn about?
Taking a step further back, how do you feel about learning in general?
Some people love it. Others can’t stand learning by trial and error. They want to get it right the first time every time, so they spend a lot of time with books and strategies trying to work everything out to the T, sometimes even getting stuck in “analysis paralysis.”
But life is messy, and it’s constantly changing the rules of the game on us as we go. Your willingness and ability to learn is really a measure of your willingness and ability to grow.
Think about it: Have you stopped learning? Stopped growing as a person?
Have you given up changing?
Be a tree, not a wall.
When a man builds a wall, it’s a finished thing. A brick wall doesn’t grow. It doesn’t adapt. It just is.
On the other hand, a tree can live for thousands of years. And during that entire time, what is it doing?
It’s growing. Pushing new leaves out of old branches every year, expanding its trunk, shoving roots down into soil, seeking nutrients and water, thickening its bark, and pushing ever taller.
A growing tree adapts to circumstances, sometimes growing sideways to get to the light, sometimes breaking concrete to get to the soil underneath…
Or even destroying a brick wall if necessary.
That’s life in nature. Life never settles. Life never reaches a point where development stops.
How does this affect your content marketing?
If you’re hoping to create and grow a viable content marketing strategy, your attitude toward learning in general, and learning about your chosen topic(s) specifically, is going to have a huge impact on how successful you are.
Content marketing is an evolving field based to a large extent around the fact that you can never finish learning. For that reason, someone who is dead set against learning new things, new ways of operating, and new methods of success is not going to make it in content marketing. They’re simply not a good fit.
That doesn’t mean that success in content marketing has any specific connection to your IQ or your level of book smarts. And it’s not connected to a degree or level of formal schooling either.
It has to do with your willingness and desire to learn and, by extension, to help others to do so.
So, let’s strip away the theoretical baloney and get down and dirty with an action plan for making ongoing education a part of your busy schedule:
1. RSS is your friend.
Sure, it’s a little old-school at this point, and there are hundreds of mobile and online apps that put their own little spin on it. But finding quality information in your areas of interest and having it automatically delivered to you is absolutely priceless.
Set aside a certain amount of time every day to scan the headlines from your personal list of trusted sources and read at least a few articles in depth.
2. Curate the best of the best.
As an addendum to the last tip, review these blog posts, videos, and podcasts with an eye toward finding that “diamond in the rough” that really resonates with you and your audience as well. Then, pick it out, shine it up, and share it!
Approaching your feeds with a critical eye will help you consume information with a more discerning and active mind, rather than just mindlessly scanning. And, as a bonus, it boosts your social media output and thought leadership.
3. Stay on top of trends.
As you know, marketing is a dynamic industry. If you’re not talking about the newest and best in your given niche, you’ll lose credibility quickly. Use Google Trends, Talkwalker Alerts, and any of the numerous social media search tools available to keep an eye on trends in the industry. Then, when creating your content, you’ll know what items to discuss, what areas are probably saturated at this point, and how to differentiate your content from everything else that’s flying around out there.
4. Invest in yourself.
Arrange your business budget to allow for at least one major educational effort per year: a conference, a class, a coaching program. Whether this means convincing your boss or allocating dollars from your own earnings, invest a portion of your company’s revenue or personal income in learning. I guarantee you’ll see return on that investment.
5. Scout out the free stuff, too.
There are always free and low cost opportunities popping up for educating yourself in your chosen niche or more general business and marketing topics. Free webinars abound, white papers are published, and excellent books and ebooks are written every day. In-person events in your local community are often free as well – just do a search within the listings on Eventbrite and Meetup. Try to include at least one new resource of this nature each month. More, if you can.
6. Give back.
Many content marketing pros can tell you that they learn at just as much as their audience does every time they write a blog post or host a webinar. So, although it seems obvious, take conscious advantage of this little perk of doing what we do: As you create engaging content, learn from the entire creation process as well as from the response you receive. Then turn those valuable lessons into more valuable content.