Today I interviewed Derek Halpern from Social Triggers for an upcoming post here at Think Traffic.
As usual it was an insanely useful conversation. As we were talking, my mind kept wandering with ideas for things I need to implement and change on my own sites. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the interview.
Derek is one of the smartest marketing guys I’ve ever met. Seriously. I have a new breakthrough after nearly every time we talk, and this was no exception.
Derek has grown his blog from nothing to over 17,000 subscribers in just 11 months. His blog has grown faster than almost anyone I’ve seen come online in the past few years.
The interview will go up in the next week or two, and this is definitely one to watch. Sign up for email updates from me so you don’t miss out.
But something else also happened today.
After I hit “stop” on the recording button, Derek and I kept talking for another half hour. I asked him for some advice about some big changes I’m planning to make in the coming months.
(some of the best conversations happen before and after interviews when the cameras aren’t rolling — maybe I’ll start secretly recording ’em for you )
Anyway, I wish we had kept recording during that last 30 minutes today because Derek and I started talking about what it takes to get to the “next level” (whatever that might mean for you right now).
Something stood out in our conversation that I want you to think about right now.
This thing is so obvious and so easy to change that you’ll be able to use this advice right away.
Your content has a job to do. It has to do something much deeper than just attract retweets or rank for a search keyword.
To build a thriving audience of true fans who keep coming back, tell the world about you and buy from you, your content has to educate, inspire, entertain and change lives.
You have to deliver results for your readers and customers if you want to experience results yourself.
Yes, we’re talking about writing epic shit here, but hopefully you already know you have to do that.
Let’s look at this problem from the opposite angle today.
Let’s talk about fluff.
What is fluff?
Fluff is what you publish when you’re not focused on helping your readers achieve results. It’s what you publish when you’re just trying to make a deadline. It’s what comes out when you copy someone else’s ideas instead of using your own creativity.
Fluff happens when you let your guard down or stop challenging yourself.
Fluff equals failure.
We’re all guilty of publishing fluff from time to time. I’ve done it plenty of times. Even Derek has done it on occasion.
What matters is your fluff-to-epic-shit ratio.
What’s your ratio right now?
How many fluff posts do you publish for every epic post?
The better the ratio (fewer fluff posts to each epic post), the bigger and stronger your audience will grow.
In the beginning, your ratio is even more important. When you’re new, you don’t have a backlog of epic content to maintain your reputation for you. Every post you publish is critical.
When you’re starting out, too much fluff can kill any growth potential you might have.
Eventually as you build a reputation, fluff won’t damage you as much, but it will keep you from growing very quickly. It’s the two-steps-forward, one-step-back phenomenon.
Each fluff post you publish is a step back.
Fluff damages your reputation and hinders your progress. It stagnates your growth and keeps you from reaching the next level.
The more competitive your topic, the less you can afford to publish fluff.
Don’t freeze up.
One reaction to thinking about the fluff you’ve published might be to freeze up and start worrying that nothing is worth publishing.
Don’t do that.
Instead, start by thinking about your best content. What made is special? What were you trying to accomplish with it?
Then, be honest and take a look at the fluff you’ve published. Where did you go wrong? How did the fluff slip through the cracks?
Now, commit to not publishing any more fluff.
If that means missing your content schedule, so be it. If it means you have to work harder on each post, do what it takes.
Before publishing any post, honestly ask yourself these questions:
- Would I take the time to read this post if someone else had written it?
- Would reading this post be worth my time?
If the answers are “no,” there’s a good chance the post isn’t worth publishing.
Back to the drawing board.
Of course, you have to put yourself in the position of your readers. If you’re writing for beginners but you’re no longer a beginner yourself, think back to when you were starting out and ask yourself the questions above as if you were answering back then.
What fluff isn’t.
Don’t confuse fluff with posts that just aren’t well received.
Sometimes you have the best intentions and a post still falls flat.
That’s bound to happen.
Start with the right intentions before creating every piece of content and your writing will become much more fluff-free.
You have to experiment wildly with different types of content in order to find out what works. Some of these experiments will succeed and others won’t.
This experimentation is necessary. Fluff isn’t.
Make sure you understand the difference.
The Fluff Antidote
Ideally, you should ask yourself the questions I proposed above before you start creating each piece of content.
Before you start writing a post, shooting a video or producing a podcast, think about your goals. If you’re just hoping for a retweet or search ranking, think again. If you’re just trying to fill a hole in your schedule, hit the brakes.
Aim to inspire, educate, entertain and change lives.
Think about the actions you want your readers to take. Think about the results they might get from taking those actions.
Start from that point of mind and your fluff ratio will improve dramatically.
Don’t write just to fill a schedule, write to effect change.
Now take action.
Go take a look at your content archives.
Be honest with yourself.
How much fluff have you been producing? How can you improve your fluff ratio?
You know you have some incredible content inside you waiting to be shared. Don’t give yourself any other option but to let that incredible content out.
Ditch the fluff and start growing your audience like never before.