The O.K. Musician Theory

The cliche of the tortured artist is true. Well, it was for me anyway. During my undergrad and grad work, I would spend 9 hours a day telling myself how horrible something sounded. How that note was wrong, or it could it have been shorter, or resonate more, or whatever. I’d repeat a passage over and over and over, each time hearing a new flaw that needed to be ironed out.

Not the healthiest mindset… But it did make me better. That constant critical ear allowed me to create a more polished product.

But it also hindered me. Hearing those imperfections made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I wouldn’t promote myself because I “wasn’t ready yet.” I didn’t audition for spots or suggest myself for gigs because I knew there were better people out there. Being good enough was an always moving finish line that never came.

Imagine my surprise when those gigs were given to people (and this will sound horrible) who I knew were worse than me. What gave?

I came up with the “O.K. musician theory.” O.K. musicians didn’t have that hyper-critical ear, which kept them O.K., but they also didn’t beat themselves up to the point of becoming agoraphobic. They believed their product was good enough and would put themselves out there. Their product was good enough, so they would land the gig. The secret to success wasn’t another 20 hours in the practice room… it was hustle and self-promotion.

The lesson applies to content marketing.

Content is king! Right? Read any number of blogs and you’ll walk away believing that if you just create incredible content that perfectly solves someone’s problem — you’ll be a success. This has started a content race where more people are spending more time writing more stuff. Check out these stats from Andy Crestodina.

Time has consistently gone up. The study also shows that posts have gotten longer. More companies are using blogs for their business.

In content marketing, there is an 80/20 rule. Basically, it says that if you want your content to be a success, you should spend 20% of your time creating content and 80% promoting it. (SearchEngineJournal has a great article on it.)

Having the best content isn’t enough. You also have to have a great distribution plan and some hustle. Have we seen growth in distribution efforts that mirror the time investment of content creation?

Definitely in paid, but not as much in email marketing, influencer marketing, or SEO. What about organic social? Yes, it looks like it has kept up with the growth rate of time spent on authoring the post, but if we are going with an 80/20 rule… and the world is getting noisier, shouldn’t we see more dramatic growth?

What if you don’t need more content, rather you need the right content in the right hands? This is not a call to spam your content. There is never a time for that. This is a call to remember the other half of our title as a content marketer and to spend more time on the conscientious engineering of the delivery.

If you spent the average of 3 hours and 20 minutes writing the piece… and that was 20% of your time… what could you accomplish if you spent 12 and a half hours working on your distribution? If you try it, let me know. I’d love to hear the results.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to share this article everywhere.

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