When people say Content is king, they don’t mean just any content. For your content to make an impact, it must have value for your audience.
The first thing you are taught about publishing professional content is that your content should serve your audience. It should help them achieve something they currently can’t or help your audience do something better. By definition, we write about things that we know and our audience might not, and by sharing our ideas, knowledge, and experience, we manage to bring our audience one step closer to their goals.
But what about us, the people behind the keyboard? When we share the content we write, we have some grander goal, whether a business goal or a personal mission. Creating and sharing original content is designed to serve that goal. But is that all there is to it?
When was the last time you learned something new as you created content for your audience?
I treat writing as an activity designed to enrich me first. I always have you (my audience) in mind. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to provide you with value. But at the same time, I try to learn and evolve as much as possible as part of the writing process. I try to gain something from my content even before it helps me achieve my business goals. Writing is an act of processing, thinking, and reflecting.
When I feel I’ve learned something new while doing my research before writing, I know I will also provide value for my audience. When I find myself surprised by something I found, I know I am on to something that is not trivial. And often, as I design my text, I come up with new insights to help me with my challenges. When this happens, I know I will be able to help others as well.
When you think of it, it makes perfect sense. If you are a domain expert and write for people who are not, you know more than them by definition. But this doesn’t mean that the content you share will necessarily be thought-provoking, surprising, or new to your audience. But if you write about something that has surprised you or created a new opportunity for you, chances are your audience will experience it as a revelation too.
Now, don’t think that to learn something new, you have to write about something you don’t know anything about. Our knowledge or understanding of a concept is not binary. Evolution is not binary. It can take the form of thinking about a nuance that was not apparent to us. Sometimes, I forge new connections between surprising domains, which help me generate new insights on the subject. Thinking of a new metaphor is a perfect example of an abstract relationship often followed by a new understanding of a concept (or how to explain it to others). And occasionally, I come across new data that either support or refutes a previous assumption I had.
Your content can still have value for your audience even if you didn’t learn anything new. But your content will have an even more significant impact when you aim to gain value for yourself as part of the writing process. Writing, in that sense, is just like reading: It helps you evolve your perspective and generate new insights. When you manage to do that as part of the writing process, you enhance the value equation.