I create a lot of content, and I talk a lot about content with clients, colleagues, and organizations. One of the things that I am always interested in is the number of people who are resistant to content or who are resistant to the idea of doing what it would take to make their content more effective.
If you ask them what their goal is for their blog, social media, or other content, they would, for the most part, tell you "connecting with potential clients." In reality, however, when we talk about the kinds of content that would spark genuine connection, get attention, and get results, the conversation ends or shifts to more generic topics and strategies.
I understand this well, since my business has been built on content creation. I recently started creating video as well as written content, and it was a process that was fraught with angst. I don't mind saying that I am utterly confident in my writing ability -- after all, my company is called Writing Real Estate.
What I was not confident about was, well, everything about appearing on camera. As a 49-year-old woman, there are a lot of societal messages about what I should look like, sound like, and be like for me to climb over in order to put my face on YouTube.
I finally decided to go to worst-case scenario -- what would be the worst outcome that would make me the most embarrassed? If I could do that -- on purpose -- then nothing else could hurt me.
For me, the worst thing I could imagine was going on camera with no makeup, bad hair, and no real concrete idea of what I was going to say. That would involve embarrassment about the way I look and the way I sound, and the very real risk of making people think twice before working with me. But it would free me from my fears by forcing me to face them.
Here, then, is my first video:
Red face? Check. Bad angle? Check. Turkey neck? Oh yeah. Lots of Uhms and Ahs? Uh-huh. But you know what? I did it.
Creating content -- not just great content, but any content, I would argue -- requires something that we as a culture -- and as entrepreneurs -- try to avoid at all cost: Vulnerability. Ironically, vulnerability is exactly what you need in order to do what you say you want to do: connect with people.
Here are the reasons we fight vulnerability and the ways it can work for you if you will embrace it.
1. We fear looking less than perfect.
For many real estate agents, appearance-based marketing has always been a fact of life. The beautifully dressed, perfectly coiffed, jewelry-laden, Cadillac-driving real estate agent is almost a cultural archetype at this point.
Creating content can be messy. The wind may be blowing your hair around on that new video. You may feel silly talking to the camera. You may find that those crows' feet or the extra weight you're carrying makes you feel bad about yourself.
If you're still using a headshot from ten years ago that looks nothing like you, it's time to let go of your fear of looking older or fatter or not as cute. Authenticity is a totally attractive quality, and one that makes an impact when you are trying to build genuine connections with clients.
2. We fear looking dumb.
What about all of those "uhms" and "ahs" on my video. Don't they make me feel dumb? Well, yes and no. Do I wish I were more articulate? Absolutely. Do I wish I had the ability to spontaneously spew perfectly polished prose on camera the way I can in writing? Yes, indeed.
But guess what? I am getting better. As I continue to create content, I find that I am less hesitant and more natural. I may never be one of those people who is comfortable walking around and gesturing and communicating on camera -- I've spent too many years hiding behind a laptop for that. But I am improving and will continue to improve.
The people who watch my videos and reach out to me don't care that I'm not perfect, and they definitely don't think I'm dumb. They are learning things and connecting with the topics I'm presenting, not critiquing my imperfections. That's building community, and it feels great.
3. We fear looking unsuccessful.
In our culture, we equate success with glamour, perfection, and professionalism. I shoot my videos on my phone sitting in my Honda -- so much for glamour.
If you think that you can only create content in a studio with a script while looking perfect, you'll be waiting a long time to start getting that content out there. Success doesn't come from having a camera crew following you around all the time -- and it certainly doesn't come from waiting until you can afford a camera crew.
Being a beginner isn't a bad thing. Bootstrapping your marketing and content creation isn't a bad thing. Waiting until you're a mega-agent with a marketing staff before you start talking to people is a bad thing, I would argue. Time's wasting -- get out there and do stuff.
4. We fear looking weak.
If you're a control freak, you may fear the loss of control that comes with putting yourself out there. What if people don't like it? What if they think it's dumb? What if they *gasp* laugh? Won't that make you look bad?
In reality, the people who click on that video or read your blog or listen to your podcast sought you out. They spent time to consume your content. They are probably interested in what you have to say -- in your topic and your expertise. They're not perpetrating some kind of Mystery Science 3000 parade of ridicule on you.
Talk about the thing you're an expert in. Tell your story. Teach people. Communicate your passion. It won't make you look weak. It'll make you look like an expert on your market or your niche. It'll look like you cared enough to show up. It'll look awesome, for real.
I encourage you to find ways to put vulnerability to work in your content creation. Whether it's
admitting you don't know something -- then interviewing an expert who does
asking questions or seeking referrals from your sphere
taking a chance on developing a new skill, new platform, or new niche
admitting a failure or struggle and talking about how you got through it
you'll find that making yourself open and vulnerable will help you connect with your audience -- and new fans and followers -- in new and exciting ways. Take the risk; it's totally worth it.
For more on this topic, be sure to check out Brene Brown's amazing Ted Talk on vulnerability.