The Content Flywheel: Peddling Knowledge

In this post I'll explain the difference between owning knowledge and owning content.


The first part of this post's title "Content Flywheel" came from a series of tweets from Jordan O'Connor you can read here.


By taking the core concept of that Twitter thread and expanding on it in my own words, I'm exemplifying the whole idea behind this post.


Let's dive in.


Everyone has competitors that are offering a similar product.



You Don't Own Your Trade, You Own Your Process


Let's get humble for a second.


Whether you're a marketer, fitness coach, graphic designer, musician, whatever your occupation:


The knowledge you've picked up from studying your industry is available to others.


What I know about copywriting, UX design, and lead generation isn't a secret.


I don't own that knowledge, and I'm not the only one offering it.


What I own is my process — which is crafted from not only experience but who I am as a person.


The fact that I didn't learn these things through a formal education program helps to differentiate me a little bit.


But what makes me truly different from competitors is my personality:

  • Where I'm from

  • Who I know

  • What I did growing up

  • How I learned what I know

  • The way that I talk (and write)

These things make me different, and I own them.


It's not until these things come out in my process, that my process becomes intellectual property.


(Don't take this in the sense of "I own everything I publish and nobody can recreate it without paying me.)


That's not the case, especially when it's on the internet.


Everything I know is a mix of knowledge from other bloggers, teachers, thought leaders, etc.


When I'm publishing, I'm taking that knowledge and repackaging it with my own perspective, experience, and voice.




So in a way, what I'm saying is you don't really own the information within your product, you own the packaging.


A great way to develop your packaging is to use a "Content Flywheel".



What's a Content Flywheel?


A content flywheel is a way to document your knowledge as you acquire it, and package it into a portfolio (in my case a blog) to develop authority.


Here are the steps in Jordan O'Connor's words:


  1. Write concise, valuable content on very specific topics

  2. Publish those pieces natively on a platform

  3. Bundle the specific topics into larger "pillar" content

  4. Promote pillar content to capture & convert attention

  5. Engage w/ audience throughout

  6. Repeat


It's important to know that people have been using this concept for years.


And while Jordan doesn't own the concept, he did (to my knowledge) coin the phrase "Content Flywheel".


(That's how he packaged it.)


Let's break it down using me as an example (not because I'm a genius that's got it all figured out — but because this is something I'm trying to get good at).



Seriously, this process takes years, and I started in October of last year... I've got a LOT of learning and publishing to do.


But what I want to do with my life is leverage what I know as a storyteller to help other business owners tell their own story (and market their brand).


I enjoy writing, so a blog seemed natural.


But I didn't want to just write about random things that happened during my day.



(Great show btw... no shame.)


But I wanted to be able to make a living from my writing.


When I started researching how people turn blogs into cash flowing businesses, I started to learn about content marketing.


That's when I realized that content marketing was really a combination of the different, seemingly random tasks I had been doing at work: web writing, email marketing, data analytics.


But for anyone to pay me, or even trust me with their businesses, I knew I needed to develop some trust.


I needed to demonstrate what I already knew, and continue to demonstrate new skills as I picked them up.


So I started publishing content around what I had learned.


Step 1: Write concise, valuable content on very specific topics.


While content marketing can be (and should be) applied to any business — the technique behind content strategy is actually fairly specific.


These smaller pieces of specific knowledge are what show people you know what you're talking about, and that you can explain it to anyone.


Step 2: Publish those pieces natively on a platform.


I built a website around my blog, and publish my posts there.


This provided me with a platform — a domain that I own that people can visit to engage with my content.


Step 3: Bundle the specific topics into larger "pillar" content.


I have 5 "pillars" on my site:


  • SEO

  • Content Strategy

  • UX Writing

  • Product Development

  • Lifestyle (motivation)


Eventually, as I continue to build these out, they'll demonstrate a bigger vision I have behind my entire content marketing process/strategy.


Step 4: Promote pillar content to capture and convert attention.


I'm guessing most of you are driven to my posts from my Instagram.


Whenever I publish a blog post, I promote it with a corresponding Instagram post and graphic.


Step 5: Engage with audience throughout.


Here's my motivation behind my promise to respond to every single comment I receive on these posts.


I want to create a community around my content.


I want you guys to ask questions, let me know what you think about each post, and know that I base my posts off what I think is most valuable for you and your time.


So please, don't be shy.


Even if you hate something I said and need to file a complaint.





Step 6: Repeat


Consistency is key.


I try to post 1 or 2 blog posts a week, and I also Tweet or post Insta stories everyday to help you get to know me and my ideas.


This is content marketing.


Start by gaining specific knowledge, and then publish concise writing on that topic to educate others.


Keep gaining knowledge, keep writing pieces.


Learn as you go. Write as you go. Bundle as you go. Engage as you go.


"Eventually, you become an expert, and are seen as an expert.
You don't *start* as an expert. You start as a student. You start as a teacher of the things you're learning right now.
As your audience grows so does the reach of your content." - Jordan O'Connor


As Content Creators, We're Peddling Knowledge


And I don't mean selling things illegally.


I chose the word Peddling because I kind of like the definition "to sell without a license".


The reality is, we're all heavily influenced by mentors and the world around us.


The content we create and the processes we use are, in a way, borrowed from every experience we've had.


"I was the world's shittiest writer when I was an infant. I was only slightly better at 25." - Jason Pargin

You develop your skills as you go, while learning from others and using their perspective to develop your own process.


And you'll get better with every iteration.


So don't worry about adopting techniques from others.


As long as you're not actually ripping content off word for word without credit or acknowledgement, you're gonna find it pretty easy to develop your own content.


Your own process.


Your own packaging for the information that's inside your product.


BUT ALSO:


Don’t ask for permission to start your own blog, social channel, website, business.


If you're waiting for a time that you won't be judged for producing content around something you're interested in — you'll never do it.


You don't need a license to sell.


Give yourself the permission.


Until next time (or when you finally feel comfortable lighting up my comments or DM's),


Ben.

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