Here’s how The Man From Mars helped me become a better content creator.
Anyone can start a blog, fire up Twitter, or launch a YouTube channel. None of it is difficult, nor does it take much time.
Unfortunately, setting up a content channel doesn’t mean you’re any good. And for many years, I was also able to lay claim to being an expert at sucking at content creation.
Here’s why it sucked, and how The Man From Mars saved me from online obscurity.
A Tree Fell In The Woods
When I launched my first blog on Blogger, I was lucky that nobody knew I was doing it. Even if they had, I’m sure nobody would have read beyond the first few lines.
I wasn’t saying anything new, nor was I saying it in a particularly new way. My article on the basics of Chapter 7 bankruptcy could have been ripped from the NCLC book or the US Trustee’s website. Dry, meant for a lawyer’s eye, and using nothing but the vernacular of a bankruptcy lawyer.
Just like a proverbial tree falling in the woods when nobody was there, my blog may as well have not existed.
The Man From Mars To The Rescue
About the same time, I started rereading my old Robert Heinlein books. It was a habit I’d had during my college and law school days, but time and the demands of a busy law firm had kept me from my beloved Valentine Michael Smith and Jubal Harshaw.
By the end of the first sentence I was hooked again. The tale of a Martian named Smith from when the world was young drew me in and kept my enthralled from start to finish, twisting me through the plot as if I’d never read the book before.
And it struck me, about the time in the book when Mike visits the Fosterites, that I knew what was missing from my own content.
A story that hooked my readers, making them stick around and come back for more.
Finding Mrs. Kravitz
From that point, I began to look for stories to use in my content creation efforts. Tales from fiction, nonfiction, television and movies surrounded me – all I needed was to see them through the prism of a lawyer.
At first it wasn’t easy. The news of the day, financial woes of the rich and famous, and breaking down the most recent opinions of my local bankruptcy court day after day was so boring even I couldn’t bear to read my own work.
So I turned the story writing process upside down and inside out. I decided on a topic, and would think about it in terms of my own unique brand of pop culture.
For example, I wanted to write about permissible purposes under the Fair Credit Reporting Act after a client railed about how nosy debt collectors shouldn’t be able to look at his credit report.
That made me think about nosiness. And who’s nosier than the neighbors? And what neighbor was nosier than Mrs. Kravitz from the old show Bewitched?
So was born my post titled, Can Mrs. Kravitz Get Your Credit Report? As of this writing, it’s the article that has the lowest bounce rate of any piece of content I’ve ever posted on that site.
Find The Stories Around You
People read things that interest and entertain them. No matter how badly they need your help, nobody is going to read your content if it doesn’t spark their curiosity and engage them.
For me, Mrs. Kravitz fit the bill when it came to my FCRA article.
Read, watch and listen to the world around you.
Keep yourself open to knowledge from outside the legal field, and take notes when inspiration hits. Use a notebook, a pad of paper, a voice recorder, Evernote … whatever suits you. Remember as much as you can, and draw upon it for a storyline that suits your content creation needs.
Image credit: J.Gabás Esteban