But, I do know that I do write awesome stuff on a regular basis, because you tell me I do (and you are the judge). I often get emails or tweets that say things like, "I was struggling with this exact problem today! How did you know that?" or "I agree with you 100% but could never say that in my office. Now we can talk about it, because you wrote about it."
So I am doing something right, at least part of the time, for some of the people. And honestly, that's the best you can hope for, since awesome is always in the eye of the awesome-gauge holder. What you think is great flew right by a whole bunch of other people who couldn't care less. Maybe next time you'll impress them.
Here are my not-so-secret tips on creating awesome content.
I am a sponge for needs, concerns, wants, angst, and excitement of nonprofit marketers. I am constantly listening (which is often actually reading) all the time to pick up what's going on in our professional world. I do it by paying attention to questions and reactions on webinars and in workshops, by reading comments on my blogs and others' blogs, by following nonprofits in social media, and more. Creating awesome content is much easier when you know what your readers are thinking about.
2. Find Your Way to Add Value.
But listening is really just the first step. To create awesome content, you have to go beyond just aggregating a bunch of ideas or topics, and to figure out a way to add value. I'm pretty good at seeing patterns, connecting dots, and boiling a whole bunch of stuff down to its essence. That's how I can add value. You need to figure out what your brain is good at, and then apply that to what you are hearing to create value of your own, which you then share in your own awesome content.
3. Put Something New into the World.
I like to do a few big surveys each year of hundreds of nonprofits, and often do smaller polls during webinars to capture anecdotal information, and then I share that information on my blog. I report back on various experiments of my own, from what happened when I gave donations to 20 national nonprofits to the impact of daily blogging. Think about what new information you can help bring to light. Don't get all hung up on whether something is statistically significant or scientifically accurate. As long as you explain your methods and don't overstate your claims, even sharing anecdotal information can be very helpful to people.
4. Show the Thinking Behind the Result.
I see my role as not only showing you how to do things, but helping you see how I came up with the process in the first place, so that you can think through your own problem solving. For example, I could have just given you the agenda for the recent board retreat I did on marketing, but I don't think that would have been nearly as helpful as giving you the adult learning and participation principles I used to create the agenda.
5. Take a Position - And Get Out There with It.
If you can write something that people can't say for themselves for whatever reason -- because the thoughts just haven't coalesced in their own heads yet, or because it would be politically unpopular in the office -- they will love you for you it. Strong opinions are also naturally more interesting and engaging, even if you don't personally agree with them (if you have any doubt about this, you obviously don't watch cable news, which is based entirely on this reality.)
One good example is the post I called My Communications Director is an Idiot. On timely topics, it does pay to get your views out there quickly, instead of just being another "me, too" voice. My blog post that received the most comments ever is one where I shared a strong opinion, and was one of the first to do so, in The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure.
6. Add Some Clarity.
This may be the most important tip of all. People are so overwhelmed with information, and details, and all the ifs, ands, and buts that they are often paralyzed by it all. If you can add some clarity, so people know where to start and where to focus, they will love you. That's the whole goal of big projects like my six-month mentoring program, and little blog posts and graphics, like the "Is My Message Relevant?" Checklist.
That's how I do it.