The Content Buddy System

Listen to the audio version of this post:

The Content Buddy System is a concept we've been championing for a few years now to get people outside of their own heads enough to see the value in what they already know.

The core idea is simple. It can be really challenging to get an outsider's perspective on your skills, expertise, experiences, work, or business to really understand what you know that's useful to others, and why exactly it's useful to them. It's extremely likely that your friends, coworkers, and colleagues all feel the same way about their own work, too.

The "Content Buddy System" approach to solving that problem is to get together with another curious person who can benefit from having access to your brain, then let them ask as many questions as they can think of.

Don't take notes during the conversation. Instead, take out your phone, set it to "Do Not Disturb" so the phone won't ring and cut off your recording, open a voice recording app like Evernote or the one built into the iPhone, and hit record.

Focus on the conversation, and let your phone capture every word you say. If you capture now so you can reference it later, then you can focus 100% of your attention on pouring value into the conversation instead of worrying that you'll forget something. That means more time to give value to your content buddy, which translates to even more value for yourself when it comes time to turn that conversation into content.

Capturing the conversational plain English language you use to talk about your work is the secret weapon here. As you explain your work, they'll ask questions about things that might not have occurred to you if you were writing something entirely on your own.

Or, they might ask you to clarify details they don't understand, and that you didn't realize you weren't describing very well. That will provide you with a lot of live, useful feedback about how you describe your work and what is or isn't clear to someone who's new to your world.

Let the conversation go on as long as possible, and try not to adhere to a rigid list of questions or an agenda. Letting the conversation meander in whatever direction your Content Buddy finds helpful will lead you down side paths and rabbit holes where you'll rediscover a lot of details, experiences, and expertise that you've completely forgotten about because of how ingrained they are into your everyday work after years of doing it the way you do.

You're filled with details like this that you take for granted, but that other people might find helpful, useful, or fascinating. A conversation like that can teach you so much about the value of what you have already done and what you already know.

Once that conversation is over, grab a few sheets of paper, listen to the conversation on your own, and break down all the points of conversation and all of the nitty-gritty details into content ideas and buckets: blog posts, case studies, process pages, newsletter campaigns, audio lessons, and whatever other kinds of content you could make, based on what came out in that recorded conversation.

It's really hard to start writing from a completely blank page and have to pull something out of thin air. With all of this discussion to use as your own reference material, and all of the notes you'll have written out by topic or detail you'll have a really solid starting point for some specific pieces of content you can create for your website, your Facebook page, your newsletter, or even just to refine your own sales pitch.

If you don't have a large network of people you can reach out to geographically, you can find a lot of the same kinds of conversations in a really good Facebook group. Find a really high-quality one that's packed with people in your field, one where there are a lot of friendly and helpful experienced members, but also a steady flow of new members who are early on in their careers and have a lot of good questions.

Seek out those questions, answer them in as much detail as you possibly can, field follow-up questions, and even elaborate on the other answers based on your own experiences, what important points you think are missing from the conversation so far, and why you think they matter. Every time you give an answer to a question, capture your answer in a note-taking app on your computer or phone so you can use that as a jumping-off point for creating some kind of content later.

Or, invite those people you've connected with privately to ask for a Private Q and a call with you anytime they have questions, Record those calls with a tool like zoom, And use that recording as a reference to the same way you would with your voice recording app when you meet up with someone in the "real world."

When you seek out those questions, and you start to see some of the same ones over and over again, you'll develop a lot more self-awareness around how valuable your knowledge is, and how valuable it can be to become the person who's not afraid to spend a little time giving really great answers in extreme detail. 

The Content Buddy System is a good proof of concept to show that your own content doesn't have to be difficult to create, in order to be valuable to the people who consume it. You just need to learn to stop taking what you know for granted, and find ways to make it easy for it to flow out of you without doubting its value. Just because you learned how to do something a year or five years ago doesn't mean the information isn't still valuable to someone else.

Every question another person could conceivably ask you about your craft is an incredible opportunity to turn something you already know into something you can share.