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3 New Year’s Resolutions For Content Creators

January 6, 2021

How to create great content like Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa being curious, observing life with binoculars, indulging fantasy thinking about deluxe ice cream sundaeblank vertical space, 24 pixels highYou know that enigmatic little smile on Mona Lisa’s face?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s the story: she had just made some New Year’s resolutions and was thinking: “Yeah, right, like I’m actually gonna keep any of ’em this year…”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Just kidding. 😊blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

But if she did make some resolutions, she’d be smart to go
to school on her famous creator, Leonardo da Vinci
, and resolve to be curious, observant, and not afraid to kick logic to the curb and give free rein to her imagination.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Be Curiousblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

We need to be curious (and daring) enough to try new things. Are we learning new skills? Keeping up with our peers and competitors?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It doesn’t have to be something huge, either.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I recently learned how to create multiple-image PDFs. I can upload them to LinkedIn, and they function as slideshows– a handy way to share information. I also learned how to link to a PDF in a blog post so people can download it.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I’m sure I’m late to the party in both cases, but I suddenly know some things that will allow me to market myself better.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

We also need to be curious about our business, and our customers. Has our industry moved on? (A lot of businesses have in response to COVID.) Have our customers moved on? Are we still in a position to help them solve their problems?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Tough questions, but they need to be asked– and again, that requires curiosity and courage.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Observe Attentivelyblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Look at what you do with fresh eyes– is there some aspect of your business you take for granted? something that might be of interest to prospects? something that might help set you apart from competitors?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Well, then, write about it! Be attentive to what makes you unique.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Observe your target audience, be attentive to their needs– then create content that addresses those needs.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

(You’ve heard that one before, right? And it’s easier said than done. Most of us would rather run around putting out fires than think about what’s causing the fires in the first place.)

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highSome things are hard to see– and sometimes we just dismiss them. Seth Godin recently wrote a post about pain. blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Pain is real. And it is unevenly distributed…blank vertical space, 16 pixels highIt’s easy to dismiss the pain that others report, physical or emotional, if it differs from our experience… Even if you can’t imagine the feeling, it’s still real for them.

Pain ignored is still pain. And pain acknowledged is a first step toward easing that pain.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

For me, that’s a reminder that it’s not enough to be attentive to someone’s pain– you need to be emotionally intelligent about it. Dismissing someone’s pain because we don’t “get it,” is one of the worst mistakes you can make.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Case in point: I had a client contact me recently and say, in essence: We love the images you created for us, but we’re having a hard time figuring out how to use them.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

My first thought: You mean you didn’t have a plan for them when you commissioned them?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Did I say that? No.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

My second thought: I’m being asked to spend more time on this– I should charge an extra fee.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Did I say that? No.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

My third thought: This is a great client, it was a lucrative
and fun assignment. Offering some suggestions would demonstrate my commitment to customer satisfaction.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

So I made some suggestions and my client was happy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I suppose that was listening attentively rather than observing attentively, but they’re closely related. As are thinking things through and adopting a service mentality.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Indulge Fantasyblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

When it comes to creating content, “indulging fantasy” is nothing more than giving your imagination free rein.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Go crazy. Throw out every wacky idea you’ve got. Don’t stop and ask yourself: is this realistic? practical? doable??blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Don’t spoil the flow. Time enough to edit yourself later.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I once wrote a post called Make Your Thinking As Funny As Possible. Same idea.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Humor frees up the mind. It encourages free association. It produces a lot of ideas– stuff you’d never think of if you were being sober and serious. Sure, you’ll throw a lot of it out.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

But somewhere in there you’ll find something you can use– something new and different.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

A few years ago, I was doing blog post illustrations for Coca-Cola. One day I got thinking about stop-motion animation. I had an idea for a Valentine’s Day video.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I was fantasizing because I’d never done any stop-motion animation.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I figured out enough to patch together a rough-cut and pitched the idea. A few weeks later we had the story of a Coke bottle’s epic journey in the name of love.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Indulging fantasy. Free association. Thinking funny. Doesn’t matter what you call it. It helps you create new content.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

So go ahead– make those resolutions. Happy New Year! 😊blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       * blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing.
My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Doug Busk, VP Communications, Emory U. former Global Group Director Social Media at Coca-Cola

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blank vertical space, 40 pixels high

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2021 11:17 AM

    🙂 As a matter of fact, all bloggers should observe things around them attentively (That helps in making them a much better blogger).

    Do have yourself a fabulous 2021, Mark.

    Like

    • January 6, 2021 2:22 PM

      So true, Renard. I’m convinced there are lots of great ideas and lessons hiding in plain sight right under our nose. We don’t see them because they’re too familiar (sigh).

      But all that’s gonna change now that you and I have brought it to everyone’s attention!! Well, maybe… 😊

      Thanks so much for your kind comment and for stopping by– I wish you much happiness and success in the coming year!! 👍

      Liked by 1 person

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