If you're going to promote your business online, there's one thing you can't get around... you're going to have to create content.
Along with this realization often comes this one, big question: “What do I say?”
I hear this question a lot and unfortunately, it stops many people in their tracks. That’s because this question isn’t as straightforward as it sounds; It can mean a few different things.
If not knowing what to say is holding you back from creating content, too, here are three answers for you, depending on the source of this question:
“What do I say?” = What are the TOPICS you should write about?
This is the literal translation of the question. It is possible that the thing holding you back is topic generation. When you could literally write about anything, it’s difficult to drill down to a specific subject that resonates with anyone.
If this is your challenge, your best thing to do is back up a bit.
First - Get clear on what is on and off the table.
You can’t literally write about “anything.” And if you think you can, you need to back up even further. The more broad your topic, the more you water down your message and the less it will resonate with anyone.
Next, start listing: Create a list of topics based on what is on the table.
So how do you build that list? Here are a few prompts to get you started:
- What are some common questions that you hear from customers and prospects before they buy from you?
- What questions do prospects not ask, but should?
- What are some of the best successes you have from your customers? Tell those stories!
- What do you especially like about the work you do?
- What is something people tend to get wrong about your work or your industry?
Keep that list where you can access it easily and add to it whenever ideas pop up. This list will stop you from ever staring at a blank page; Even if you don't use the ideas that you've come up with, they'll inspire new ones that you can use.
“What do I say?” = What’s the RIGHT thing to say?
It’s possible that you’re not lacking topic ideas, but you’re short on clarity. Out of all of the ideas you have in mind, you’re wondering what is right for your particular audience.
This is an important question and if you are thinking about it, you’re on the right track!
To be clear – by “right for your particular audience,” I mean that it will resonate with your audience and get you the results you’re looking for.
The challenge here is that you need to move forward in order to find this answer.
That’s because you can’t truly know what resonates and what works until you start creating and putting your content out in the world. The only way to know what’s “right” for your audience is for them to tell you through how they respond to your content. In other words, you need data.
So if you’re wondering what the “right” content is for your audience, start creating and see what they say. Their response is your data and it will tell you what you need to know.
Oh - one more thing... consider letting go of the idea of creating the "right" content. There is no perfect piece of content. There's only what resonates with someone at any given time, and that changes constantly.
“What do I say?” = What could *I* say that anyone needs or wants to hear?
This last translation is subtle and invasive. It can be the hardest to get past because the question is not about your content; it’s about you.
The question you’re asking may sound like, “What do I say?” but deep inside, it sounds more like this:
- No one wants to hear what I have to say
- What I have to say isn’t valuable
- This isn’t going to work
- They’re going to judge me for it
- I’ve got the wrong ideas… but I’m not sure what the right ones are
If this is what’s going through your head when you wonder what to say in your content, the challenge is not the content, it’s your confidence in your content.
So first, I want to tell you: This is normal.
When we put our social media, blogs, videos, and emails out into the world, we are standing up as an authority on the thing we specialize in, and that can be scary.
What if they don’t agree? What if they judge me for it? What if they don’t care?
These are all very real questions and we ask them because we’re feeling vulnerable and intimidated by the idea of voluntarily putting ourselves in an exposed situation.
What matters here is how YOU answer this question for yourself.
Here’s what I want you to know:
You’re not wrong. Some people aren’t going to like what you have to say. It won’t resonate with them and they may not even care. And that’s ok because those people are not your audience so what they think doesn’t matter, in this case.
But someone will care, and they’ll like what you have to say. Your message will resonate with them and what you say will help them. What they think does matter because these are your people! This is your audience.
So this isn’t a question of being right and helping anyone and everyone. It’s a challenge to find the right people. Your people. The people that you can help.
That is a very, very small segment of “everyone” and the only way to find them is to put your message out there where they can see it.
Putting content out in the world takes practice. You aren’t going to hit it out of the park on the first swing or even the second swing, and that’s ok.
The things you need to learn are not just about how to create content, but about what your audience needs. And you can’t learn that until you start talking with them. You do that by putting your content out there. You share some things you think they need to know, and you ask them questions. You talk with them.
So if confidence in yourself or your content (or both) is your challenge, I urge you to just get started. Take your best guess, put it out in the world, and then repeat. See what your audience says… and then focus on the people that like what you have to say.
I labeled this third translation of “What do I say?” as invasive. Here’s why: If you’re worried that people may judge you or that they don’t want to even hear what you have to say, your focus is in the wrong place – it’s on you.
I encourage you to shift that focus:
Who are you here to help?
What do you think they need or want right now?
If you don’t put your content out there where they can access it and it can help them, are you doing them a disservice?
Because you can’t help them unless and until you put your content out there for them to find.
Which one of these 3 translations of, “What do I say?” is the one holding you back? Let me know in the comments!