Simply put, our approach to documenting vs creating is:
"Document, don’t create" is a monster of a concept - popularised by Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s left a lot of people inspired and eager to give it a shot themselves.
The idea of not having to come up with creative blockbuster content pieces on a daily basis and still be top of mind and build a following may sound too good to be true, and yet we are surrounded by examples of it.
Me and my brother (co-founder) often take popular topics he drops and provide tactical notes on how we would apply it. If you are unsure where best to start documenting, or feel like it might be easier said than done, this article is for you.
I'll go through some of our own thought processes and ideas when I think about out how best to document vs create.
Before we jump right in, a quick rant:
Do you remember the golden days where you still had to convince those around you of the importance and "ROI" of content marketing?
Today, simply put, if you are not putting out good content regularly all across the web and social, you don't exist. People understand that, but to rephrase Biggie:
"mo content mo problems" .
You may be thinking:
My competitors’ content is ranking pretty good, I have no chance.
Should I create better quality, more creative content?
Should I post a lot more often than them?
Wait, should I do both of those?
And if so, how will I build that into a scalable process as I continue to grow so I can teach others?
Slow down tiger.
Noble as it may seem, unless you have a big content team that will never run out of all-original daily hits, it's not sustainable to always come up with creative ideas. That's putting a ton of unneeded pressure on you and your team.
A common misconception founders and marketing directors have is that you have to increase quality and quantity to beat the competition. While we cannot fault that, this is zero-sum thinking, along with all the other myths of becoming an influencer.
So what are we to do?
For every 1 quality piece, create multiple micro-content pieces. As unpopular as it may sound, quantity trumps quality, and I can explain.
As Garyvee advocates, I would rather create one long-form masterpiece content that manifests itself in multiple forms of micro-content, such as a podcast video show that is also a Spotify track, an Instagram story, and a Quora article. We detail how we do this in our ultimate guide to episodic content, which I recommend you check out.
And so back to our original question - how do you document your long-form masterpiece content?
People often overthink what to document, which is ironic given that the whole idea of documenting is to save time and resources trying to think of creative hits to churn out day by day.
I've recently started one here, if you want to follow it on YouTube.
A simple way to think of documenting is to let people in backstage on your work process.
Nobody enjoys a movie where we skip to the ending, or the resolution. Same goes for content. Don’t be polished. Show people the process, the making-of, the “struggle”, the plot twists, and finally the resolution (or keep it open-ended).
Naturally we may be inclined to polish it up first. Do maintain a certain quality standard for sure, but focus more on consistency and quantity.
If you’re a perfectionist like me - think about it: the more content episodes you put out, the less individual pieces will be up for scrutiny. Besides, that would be great feedback to keep iterating and doing more of what people like.
When you think of documenting, adopt the mindset of giving them a backstage pass into your world. Some examples:
Beginning, Middle, and End:
If you’re on instagram, I have a question for you. When was the last time you actively engaged with a brand that you’re following. How many brands do you even consciously follow?
My guess is not that many*.
As humans, we primarily are about what other humans are up to, and how we relate to them (more on that in a bit). We see some of the world’s best (small and large) online businesses take this opportunity to showcase the people behind their brand.
Do you have in-house experts on different topics?
Why not make personalities out of them?
Why not turn them into mini-influencers that people may even start to follow by name?
This is the equivalent of following the guitarist of your favourite band, the chef of your favourite restaurant, or the entrepreneur behind your favourite company. Not to mention it makes them love their work more (that’s a separate topic).
Your company profiles on social may not be the only way (let alone the most effective) routes to your customer. Consider your personal brands as well.
When documenting vs creating, definitely talk about your topic of expertise and add value, definitely talk about your product when a natural opportunity presents itself - but don’t miss the opportunity to build a lasting connection (read: a strong brand) by familiarizing people with the people behind your company, including you!
What’s your CTO’s favorite Spotify playlist?
Who in your team went on the craziest trip to date?
Don’t worry about being categorically correct. For example thinking “Im a SaaS company, it will be random and I won’t rank if I talk about my favorite chicken wing restaurants”
Truth be told, I used to think the same as well. I realized that traffic is traffic, and interesting content is interesting content - people will eventually read your bio or come across your website and see what you do for a living. Kevin Hart doesn’t have to remind his fans that he does comedy. You can catch him on social at the gym, at company meetings, with his family, etc.
This one relates to the point above, but is important to discuss separately.
No one likes a show-off. Even Batman and Superman movies are written with a universally relatable story at it’s core.
If you pay close attention, this is often what film trailers focus on to grab our attention as well. We do not care for Batman’s cool hi-tech basement as much as we care for his relentless willpower to act his truth in the face of tough adversity. Pick your favourite fiction (or nonfiction!) movie and you will find that the relatability piece is one of the reasons why it has performed well.
It’s no different with your content.
Audiences on the other side are just like you, and vice versa. Highlight the commonalities, the down-to-earth-ness of what you do, the uncertainties, your shared values to do the right thing, to do what you are passionate about, and so on.
Having said that, every business is different and it may be difficult to come up with a good idea to start documenting your way to successful, client-generating content.
We can help you brainstorm, for free :) Simply fill out this form for a call-back or chat to us.
If you had good experience documenting vs creating, let us know! You may get featured :)
Want to brainstorm together? Chat to us now or book a call below
P.S: No time for content? Me and my brother built a done-for-you content service subscription box. We help you document, produce and distribute episodes of your own podcast or video show - simply show up and be the topic expert.