As a creative business owner, producing content all on your own can feel a lot like Sisyphus rolling a rock up a hill: lonely, tiresome, and unending.
If you’re struggling to keep your content rolling, try the Content Buddy System.
We introduced the concept of the Content Buddy System on the Start Some Shift podcast (click here to listen). In a nutshell, the system is a foolproof and collaborative way to build community around your content, network like a pro (hello, two birds one stone!) and generate content that solves a real-world problem.
Here’s how it works:
1. Find a buddy.
Thanks to ease of access to just about anyone, anytime, social media has made it easier than ever to find a Content Buddy. We love groups like Being Boss, The Secret Team, Building Your Brand, and The Joyful Entrepreneuer because there’s an endless stream of insightful chatter and a multitude of friendly faces to get to know.
2. Ask your partner questions about their business that you're naturally curious about.
Let your natural curiosity about your buddy’s business take the lead here. What do you wonder about? Are you curious about their creative process? Dying to know how they solve problems for customers? Itching to find out more about what their brand stands for? Ask away. Set aside some time to jot down meaningful questions that lead to thoughtful conversation. Avoid binary, yes-or-no questions and start your questions like, “How do you feel about…” or “Tell more more about how…” to get to the most out of your time together.
When you’ve both written your questions, put them in a “brain dump” document where each other can access them. This will act as a scratchpad for suggestions, alternate questions, or more questions you can save for another interview.
3. Set up a consistent “interview” schedule.
Remember, consistency is key even when it comes to collaborative content. Set up a once monthly (or weekly if you can swing it!) Skype call to “interview” each other. If your Content Buddy can only make it once a month, have a few on rotation that keep things interesting and provide a variety of angles, such as process, finance, creativity, solving problems, and so on.
4. Get it on the record.
If you’re doing a Skype call, be sure to install Voice Recorder, a free software that will record your session as an audio file that you can send for transcription afterwards. Once you hit record, you won’t have to do anything else with the file, since it’ll automatically save to a specified folder afterwards.
Once you’ve finished, you can outsource the transcription to a site like CastingWords, or make notes on your own. Don’t try to mold or shape the interview just yet – just let your most quotable sentences and unstructured thoughts flow onto the page first.
5. Transform the conversation into content.
A lot of us are better at speaking than we are at writing. Remember when your professor would ask you to explain something to the class as a way of outlining your final paper? It’s the same principle. It always helps to get out of your own head and explain what you do, who you serve, and how you solve problems to someone that works outside of your business.
What makes it work?
So what is it that makes the Content Buddy System so effective? Four things:
1. It helps you verbalize your work in the voice you would normally speak in.
Not only are you able to explain a process, product, or solution from the ground up – making it sound more articulated – you’re also using a natural voice that sounds authentic to the way your brand speaks. This also helps when people ask, “So what do you do?” or invite you to give an elevator pitch. You’ll have been there, done that and extracted some content along the way. And you never know. Being asked to explain your work to someone else might give you some ideas for improving your existing content that already lives on your website, social media, or other dark corners that live under the hood.
2. It helps position you in front of valuable collaborators, partners, or potential clients by offering symbiotic value.
The best thing about the Content Buddy System is that it’s a two-way street. Everyone leaves happy and satisfied, and a new relationship has been formed in the process. Since there are literally no downsides to this process, you’re showing up to established communities with something specific, valuable, and provoking that gives everyone something to talk about. The result? People will know you (and thank you!) for it, while getting to know your story better along the way.
3. It teaches you to stop taking what you know for granted.
Being interviewed is a surefire way to feel like an expert, which is exactly what we’re going for here. If you can speak like an expert, you can create content that positions you as one, too. Every business owner faces moments of doubt (“I have nothing valuable to say!”), but interviews break assumptions about value and extract expertise naturally.
4. It helps ensure that your writing solves a real problem.
Content that misses the mark by offering off-target subject matter is content that often lies unread. By having someone ask questions from the outside-in rather than creating content in a silo from the inside-out, you’re ensuring that you have a peripheral view on your business. You might even be asked a question that you never would’ve thought of yourself, which is why the Content Buddy System is so valuable. By getting out of your own assumptions about what potential clients and customers know about you, you’re creating content that solves a real problem by informing, educating, and presenting in a digestible way.