How Logging Off Makes You a More Productive Content Marketer

Blake Snow

Blake Snow, author of Log Off, joins the Content Experience Podcast to discuss how logging off and offline rest foster creativity in digital marketers.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Blake Snow

Why Boredom Is Good for the Brain

How can digital marketers stay relevant within the noisiest media culture in history? By disconnecting from the digital world entirely, says Blake Snow.

Blake, author of Log Off, is an expert on the many ways that offline rest benefits our ability to process experiences, form new ideas, solve problems creatively, and absorb new information. Stepping back periodically, Blake says, is the key to building the stamina required to stay visible in a content-saturated culture where “you’re only as good as your last post.”

In this special one-on-one interview with Randy, Blake breaks down the process of stepping back and broadening your perspective on content marketing. Disconnecting may seem counterintuitive in a fast-moving digital world, but as Log Off proves, it’s the key to longevity for every marketer.

In This Episode

  • The experience that awakened Blake to the life-changing effects of logging off.
  • How periods of boredom help us process ideas and nurture our creativity.
  • Five truths for building successful, memorable content.
  • Advice for creating meaningful work in the most crowded media market in recorded history.

Quotes From This Episode

“Most failing content campaigns only talk about themselves.” – @blakesnow

You're only as good as your last post. Click To Tweet

“When we break away from what we’re doing, it gives our intellect a chance to breathe and exhale and process and take things in.” – @blakesnow

“‘Brand’ has lost some of its value. Now, we only care about great content.” – @blakesnow

Resources

Content Experience Lightning Round

What’s your favorite location to go for a cultural food experience?

Blake loved the culinary experiences he had during a recent trip to the Dominican Republic!

See you next week!

What Great Brands Do That Good Brands Don't in Content Marketing

Okay content is easy. Killer content is hard. This nifty eBook shows you the difference, based on our real-world work with dozens of brands. A must-read!

Episode Transcript

Randy Frisch: Welcome to the Content Experience Podcast. I am Randy Frisch. Usually at this point, I'd say, hey Anna, how's it going? How did you enjoy that podcast? But today Anna is on vacation. She is taking a little bit of time enjoying. I'm actually going on vacation too, tomorrow. But it's actually a great topic because this podcast with Blake Snow, who's an author and freelance journalist, content creator is actually all about taking time to disconnect. He wrote a book called, Log Off, and that book looks at how to stay connected after disconnecting.  
His whole point is, is that sometimes we're so on the go every day. We feel a need to check our LinkedIn thread, our Twitter posts, our Instagram. If we're not researching what's going on in the industry in which we work or how our friends are doing, then how can we possibly relate? But his point is that if we actually take that time to disconnect, we become more productive, we become more creative.  
Even as marketers, we start to create better content and understand more what our audiences may be looking for. I'm really excited for you to join us over the next 20, 30 minutes. We're going to dig in here. I know ironically, you're going to be listening to digital media. But hopefully try not to look at your street, try not to look at other ideas and challenge yourself to come up with that extra idea. Just disconnect, let your brain explore and who knows what you're going to come up with on this podcast. I thank you so much for listening. It's going to be a fun one here we go with Blake Snow.  
Hey, Blake. Thanks so much for making time. I'm actually really excited about today's show. Because we got your book to talk about, we've got content creation to talk about. But before we get into any of that, because I know a little bit your background, why don't you share for us how you got into the whole content world. Where does your journey start, if you will?  
Blake Snow: Yeah, thanks Randy and thanks for having me on the show. I got my start back when blogging was still cool. So, circa 2005, is pre-Facebook, pre-social media, pre-YouTube.  
Randy Frisch: Are you saying that blogging is not cool anymore?  
Blake Snow: Well, it's not trendy anymore. I'm a big believer in blogging and all the latest stats that I've encountered to say that it's still an awesome way to reach people, but it's not the hypey way like a vlogger is-  
Randy Frisch: That's fair.  
Blake Snow: That's when I got my start. Not offending any bloggers. I'm a big believer blogging, I've been doing it for almost 15 years now. That's when I got my start. I backed into it because in college I strongly disliked writing based on two not very good English teachers that just didn't make the subject fun. I just naively, as a 20-something college student thought I didn't like writing.  
Randy Frisch: We won't make you call out those teachers?  
Blake Snow: No, they meant well. Anyway, I had this one last English class I had to take, I don't remember what it was called. But I could take it whenever. It wasn't like in the core that I had to do it the first part, before declaring a major. I just push this off to literally my last semester, I was a senior, and I get in this class, and this guy just sits down and goes, "Hey, this is going to be really unlike any other writing class you've taken. You get to pick the subject matter. I'm a big believer that when you write about something you're passionate, your writing's more interesting, better and you'll reach more people."  
That just flipped the switch. I went on and graduated. But ever since, I was like, wow, I really do like writing now. That's when I started a blog on the side, did that for a few months, caught some traction. And then at the time, for any old school readers out there, AOL reached out and was like, "Hey, we'd like you to be a tech gadget blogger." I was like, "Sure. You're going to pay me to write? I would do it for free."  
So, I started writing for them. One thing led to another, I became a freelance feature or explanatory journalist is a fancy way of saying it, for lots of U.S fancy publications in the U.S, mostly online. Some print back in the day, but now it's all online.  
Did that until the economic financial recession of 2009. At that time, I pivoted to starting reaching out to Fortune 500 companies. They started hiring me as a consultant writer to help tell their stories, find their voice. For about the last 10 years I have been doing that mostly for Fortune 500 companies. But I still do stuff for mainstream consumer media just to keep the feathers in my cap and plus it's fun to try to reach mass audiences in the millions. It's always a challenge. That's how I arrived at where I am today.  
Randy Frisch: Very cool. For everyone who listens to this podcast, they know that we bring on content marketers or people who understand the value of content and delivering it in a better experience. I want to come back to content, but we're going to take a bit of a fork in the road here. People are going to wonder where the hell we're going with this, because you wrote a book, but the book on the surface doesn't seem like it's for content marketers. We'll get to that in the second half of the show. Why don't you first line up what this book is all about, and how you got to the point of writing it.  
Blake Snow: About 10 years ago like most 20-somethings, I was burning the midnight oil, I was a workaholic, no doubt about it. I was seeking my fortune. Very cliché, common human thing to do in your 20s. I've been online, I think I calculated like 1300 consecutive days just couldn't break away. I was addicted to comments and just couldn't break away from work, it was my life. Fast forward to, I had this week in Montana with friends and my family, and I was really apprehensive because there's still parts in Montana, I know Canada as well that they'd have dial up or no cell service. And I was going into one of those situations just outside of Yellowstone National Park.  
Anyway, I went there, I was blown away by the dynamic, what it did for me personally. I knew that hey, I want more of this. I don't want to just go on vacation to have this incredible feeling of being in the moment and connecting with those immediately around me.  
That made me start to tinker with the switches in terms of how I engaged and worked on a daily basis and started experimenting with backing off my technology, using it in very meaningful ways but literally I'm moving towards a more local or technology diet. Then it had an immediate impact on my outputs, my reach, my marketing, just, my career really started to take off after first breaking in to content.  
At that point I was like, hey, maybe I'm onto something. So, I started interviewing a bunch of psychologists about how our smartphones and the internet compulsions or addictions are really messing with our ability to produce and contribute, and hopefully publish really inspired content.  
The research is overwhelming that constantly staying connected to social media and the internet not only makes us miserable, there's a lot of convincing evidence that shows we're just not very good workers. We're not good marketers. We're not good storytellers when we just go into the default, hey, let's let Google and Facebook and all these social media people dictate how I spend my day by interrupting me every minute of my day. As opposed to no man, you're going to work for me. These are powerful tools, but I say when I use you, you're not going to distract me. You're not going to sell my privacy for your gain. I'm going to use you as a powerful tool to do better work and live a more enriched, fulfilling, personal life.  
You're right, I get that asked often. What does this have to do with like a business professional? I would argue it has almost everything to do. That if you're taking off these boxes personally, you're going to have a more inspired output as a professional. That's certainly been the case in my career and from a lot of the evidence and research that I've encountered when writing this book.  
Randy Frisch: This is really interesting. The book is called Log Off: How To Stay Connected After Disconnecting. To be honest, at first when I saw it, it reminded me of the Arianna Huffington book that I actually bought for my wife lately because neither of us were sleeping well. I thought she'd read it and tell me how to sleep better. But it sounds like yours is ... Arianna is just at a high level as maybe how to disconnect at night. Yours is how to disconnect in the day but still be productive.  
It's funny as you described this because I often kid about has some of the best blog posts, and to your point it's not cool anymore, but I still do it. Some of the best blog posts that I write are on airplanes where I have no Wi-Fi. Where I have no connectivity, even though I curse it in that moment to say, I'm not going to be productive. But then I end up just being super productive whether I'm writing a blog post, I'm putting together my next keynote presentation. Sometimes not having all of those distractions can actually make us more productive and more creative.  
Blake Snow: Exactly. There's a lot of overwhelming research, Randy, that shows the physical act of being bored leads to inspiration. Your point about being on an airplane board leads to an inspired blog post, you're not alone in that. There's overwhelming research that shows that to be true. Have you ever seen Inside Out, that Pixar movie from a few years ago?  
Randy Frisch: I love that movie.  
Blake Snow: Great movie. Similar to that, that if we suppress boredom, which social media and constant connection to the internet lets us do it. Let us say I'm never going to be bored, I'm just going to always distract myself and just keep myself feeding on this digital Samba wherever I can, and it's bottomless. It's the same as like that movie, where if you suppress sadness, you can't really fully appreciate joy. It's the same feeling with breaking off online.  
I'm glad you realize that, but you're exactly right, it seems counterproductive. But the research is overwhelming that when we are able to break away and have these really good sessions of offline life, whatever you want to call it, but these long bouts of boredom or not being constantly distracted or fed information, we can really allow our brains and our subconscious to produce incredible results for whatever it is we want to do.  
I'll give you another example. Some of my best writing comes when I'm reading a classic, such as Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. Instead of a business book about how to be a better writer. I'm not joking in that, that when we can really break away from what we're doing, it gives our intellect a chance to just breathe and exhale and process and take things in. And then when we go back to work, and we get back to the keyboard or wherever it is you do your work, you're much more inspired with this kind of clear headed approach to producing hopefully, much better content.  
Randy Frisch: So, Blake, I'm fully into this now. I didn't even know where this podcast was going to go with your book topic, but it makes so much sense. We're going to dig deeper on this and take a quick break first and hear from some of our sponsors. We'll be back with Blake's Snow to talk about his book, Log Off and how that connects to us as content marketers.  
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Randy Frisch: Let's take this though more to the realm of marketing. Maybe you can share with us some of the findings that you have and the research that you did, or some of the examples of some of those great ideas that come when we allow ourselves to disconnect.  
Blake Snow: Yeah, it's a great point, Randy. I'm glad you recognize that, hey, when I'm driving, I can purposefully and meaningfully break away. That's what Log Off is about is not only just accepting and taking life's free little gifts of here, I'm going to force you to break way here. But consciously deciding to seek out more of those and set more boundaries for yourself that you can just experience that more on your own because you know it's going to lead to big results.  
That's, I think, the starting point in terms of becoming a better content marketer in my case. There's several points that we could talk about. Not long ago, I was invited to speak to this group of 50 CEOs in Silicon Valley. It was a really cool honor to go and talk to them. They basically just said, we want to know, you've been doing this over a decade, what can you tell us about content marketing in general?  
I guess there's five big points that we can maybe talk about or noodle on for this and see where it takes us.  
Randy Frisch: Yeah, why don't you give us all five and then we can maybe pick your favorite two to dig deep on.  
Blake Snow: Yeah, that sounds great. Yeah.  
Randy Frisch: Let's go through the list of five. I'll let you just random off and then I'll pick my top two. How's that?  
Blake Snow: Yeah, sounds good. Number one relates to content marketing, for any baseball fans, batting is a largely failing effort. I'll say this. Most of the research I've encountered is that 66% of content marketing campaigns fail. Meaning, you're going to not reach even half or a quarter of the audience you have these high hopes of reaching. It's just that's generally what I found.  
If your batting 300 in content marketing, you're doing a good job. That's the first lesson I think it's important to know. Second one is this has been really important for me in my career, it's better to offend one person and reach another than be forgettable. Far too often in content marketing, we're like okay, we want to reach the entire audience. What can we do? How can we bland and dilute our message so hopefully we don't offend anyone and everyone will pick up on our message?  
The takeaway there is that just doesn't work and that's the default targeting approach that we take. Whereas my approach is let's assume that your audience is two people. I know it's never going to happen. Let's assume you want your content to reach two people. It's better to offend one of those and really connect and resonate with another than to be ignored by both, which is sadly what most content marketing campaigns, and I think approaches take. That's the second finding that I've found in my career.  
The third is your customer doesn't care about your brand, at least not yet. Brand has become such a ridiculous cliché word that everyone's branding now. It's not even true because ... Well, I don't mean to say that, that's a stretch. I'm saying yes, branding has power but its come to the point especially in content marketing that the reason we publish content with regularity and greater cadence is to remind people why they should keep caring about us.  
Brand has lost some of its value. Now, we only care about great content. If you keep feeding the good content, I like your brand, I'll respect your brand, I'll do business with you. That's a big thing that not only people don't care about your brand, they only really care about what you've done lately for them as a brand. So, that's an important point.  
Randy Frisch: So, we've got two more here.  
Blake Snow: Yeah, the fourth one, you're only as good as your last post. That was related to the one I just spoke to. You can do great work. If you stop doing great work, people are going to stop listening, you'll fall in between the cracks, and be forgotten. If you want to stay relevant, you have to keep publishing great content, you have to keep telling great stories.  
The fifth and final is those who publish often reach wider audiences. Content marketing is basically a numbers game. Yes, it involves some quality, you want to tell great, evergreen, good stories, timely stories that are relevant to your audience. But again, you can't just publish once here and there and expect to find an audience. You have to be relentless and persistent in terms of here's something new, here's another new thing that I'm saying right now, here's what else you should care about.  
I found that those kind of five things have been the guiding principles in my career to find big audiences and connect with people.  
Randy Frisch: All right, those are great. We went into depth on it. I know I said I'd pick a couple. Let's pick one. I'm a numbers guy. So, I'm going to go to the first one you started off with, which somehow I still remember which was 66% of content marketing campaigns fail. Sadly, that doesn't surprise me. Especially when you look at the fact that some of your other findings areas that we have to keep trying with more content, or at least we feel that way, which is debatable on its own. As a result, it's not always going to work.  
Back to the idea of logging off. How does that help improve that conversion rate? One of the things I often think of myself is so often I'll start to create a piece of content, whether it's a post or a video asset, and I just go right into creation. I do my research and then I'm going to start typing or videoing or whatever that verb is. Is the argument here to actually just take a breath and just really think about what we're going to create first?  
Blake Snow: There's three specific moving parts to this principle. Here's how logging off can help you. Now, I got to pause here, Randy, and the marketer in me is just dying to share the URL of my audio book and paperback and the audible version and the digital version. It's logoffbook.com. If you just go there, it'll take you to all three of your favorite formats.  
Logging off can change these three reasons why I believe and what I've noticed, observed that why two thirds of all content marketing campaigns fail. The first is, most failing content campaigns only talk about themselves. When you're constantly plugged in and phoned into your own life, your own operation, your own business, of course, you're going to be self-centered.  
That breaking away and finding balance, this isn't all about me, I'm not the center of the universe and getting off and disconnecting from my everyday operations is a great reminder of that. Once you're in a good habit of breaking away, you can start to see the world in okay, I can't just talk about myself. We all say we know we're not supposed to, but some of us don't know how to do that when we're constantly just focusing on what we're doing, how we're moving our cog in this big huge world.  
That's the first way that once you break away, you can start to become more aware of the other issues that interest your audience, or the other obstacles, so to speak, that why should they care about what I'm doing? Yes. I think it's great because I believe in this, this is what I've dedicated my life's work to. But everyone else's distracted, how might they approach what I'm trying to tell them differently? That's the first I think, piece to that logging off really helps.  
The second is I'm fortunate that I got my start with journalism. I'm a big believer that the more we move towards credible journalism as content marketers, the better it works. In fact, I'll go on record to say that newspaper journalism were the original gangsters of content marketing before even called it that, 1700s. They were the ones that decided, hey, if we start telling these credible, informative, true stories, we can sell ads and things alongside these stories. That's basically what we're still doing today. So, how can logging off help us become more credible journalists?  
Again, related to the first, it helps us step back and see the world from a broader perspective where it's not just about what we're working on. That informs our ability to tell more convincing, more informative, and hopefully more relevant stories. And then lastly, and this is a big one, where, Randy we are ... Most content marketers know this, but we are in the loudest, the most distracting media market since recorded history. There are more voices not participating in this online conversation or just the conversation in general about what's true, what's fake news, what's real news, what's conspiracy? There's just an unending number of voices.  
The last way that logging off can really help us break through that really loud and really destructive market is if we're not in that spinning our wheels and playing that same game in terms of hey, we're just going to start yelling and throwing a bunch of stuff out there and hopefully something sticks. We can really step back and realize, okay how I'm going to fit in if I do believe this is the loudest market ever. How do I have to change what I'm seeing to stand out in that really noisy media market?  
That's really powerful to know that you can do this but you have to be even more strategic about how you're going to stand out, because it's just a way more distracted world now.  
Randy Frisch: Blake, this has been a ton of fun, and really challenging us in terms of how we spend our day and how we approach the more strategic step by actually taking a step back and almost stopping to try to be so strategic is ironically what it sounds like. And just see what's happening around us and give some time to reflect. I've really enjoyed chatting with you.  
Usually, this where I would give you the chance to do a plug, pretty much already did that. We know to go to logoffbook.com. That takes you right to Amazon as I tried myself, and looks like a nice, great, short read. Its got some great reviews. I encourage people to go and check out that book on Kindle or get the paperback and definitely make sure you take that time. It sounds like audio book too, which allow you to almost log off a little bit more in the background, right?  
Blake Snow: Yeah, that's right.  
Randy Frisch: Exactly, I like it. All right. What we're going to do Blake, we're going to get you to stick around for a minute, we're going to get to know you a little bit for a couple minutes. So stick around on the Content Experience Show, we'll be right back with Blake Snow.
Randy Frisch: All right, Blake, thank you so much for sticking around. I feel like we've been talking about all the things that you should be doing when you're not working without actually talking about what you do when you're not-  
Blake Snow: Right on, man. Yeah.  
Randy Frisch: That's usually what we save this part of the show for. I usually have a really clever Zig or for someone catch them off guard. But it would be ridiculous if I didn't give you an opportunity to talk about what is one of those, out there in the wild things that you do when you log off from technology? Where do you find you do your best personal thinking?  
Blake Snow: That's a great question. I think there's a couple of things that come to mind. As most of us, I freaking love food, Randy. In the last few years, I've become a bit of an amateur home chef. Working on a keyboard in front of a screen so regularly throughout my day, it's such a wonderful break to be able to bust out a knife, cut onions, consult the rest of your ... Now getting to the point where I can just make my own creations and see how they turn out and just totally disconnect.  
So, cooking is a big one for me. And then the second, another cliché popular one is travel. I firmly believe that we live on the most incredible orbiting ball in the observable universe. I want to try to see as much of it as I can, because it's inspiring. I do so by hiking or surfing or snowboarding, or basically any way I can go out and experience the outdoors, I'm up and game for it.  
Randy Frisch: All right, so let's combine those two. What's your favorite location to go to for the purpose of some sort of cultural food experience?  
Blake Snow: Oh, that's a great question. I read this book about cooking. I tend to believe the assertion that 70% of the culinary techniques that we use today come from Vive La France. I would say that that's true. If you want fine dining and pay homage to this wonderful cuisine, the Western cuisine that most of us enjoy, it's hard to beat Parisian food.  
There's a couple of other places though that really surprised me in terms of their food. I just got back from Dominican Republic and was very surprised by their take on beans and rice and their plato del dia as they say. Basically, it's this really simple chicken with beans and rice. I would even argue it's ... I lived in Brazil for a while, I would almost argue it's more flavorful than some of the everyday Brazilian beans and rice I've had. That was cool to see that.  
But oh, man, there's so many places. I think that's what's so cool about travel is you can travel with your palate as well as your other senses. That's what's cool combining those two hobbies.  
Randy Frisch: Awesome, Blake. Well, this has been a ton of fun just to learn how you disconnect, to see how you're encouraging people to do so. The funny thing about all that is the ironic outcome is to be more productive and have better conversion rates on our content and everything that we do in our day. I thank you so much for challenging as. For everyone who's listened in on this podcast again, definitely go check out Blake's book at logoffbook.com. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, iTunes, wherever you find your podcasts. Especially when you can leave us feedback, please do. Until next time. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Content Experience Podcast. I'm Randy Frisch, Anna Hrach is usually with me, enjoying a day off. We thank Blake Snow for joining us.  
 
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