How to ruin your content by overthinking things

overthinking things

By Mark Schaefer

It’s honesty time.

I was a content screw-up in my early years because I made everything too complicated.

  • When I started teaching, my college classes were FAR too packed with information. I made my students dizzy because of the information overload.
  • My blog posts were too self-absorbed because I thought I had to be smart all the time.
  • I was paralyzed on Twitter because I thought I needed to add value on every tweet. Believe me, that’s exhausting!

I was spending too much time on too much crappy content because I was overthinking things and making it too complicated.

I had to learn the hard way … which is a good thing, because now you can learn the easy way! Here are a few pointers to help you relax and create content the easy way.

1. Write it, don’t just think it.

When I write a good post (it has happened!) without exception, somebody will comment: “How did you know I was just thinking that?”

The difference is, I put my thoughts into words and then publish and others don’t. Just that simple tip of acting on your ideas and thoughts can become a breakthrough for you. Other people may think it … be the one who writes it.

2. Be unsure of yourself

I would over-think things because I wanted to NAIL IT! I wanted to be right and I wanted to be epic. Let’s be honest. How often can you be epic? Sounds exhausting to me.

Some of my best blog posts have been along the lines of “I don’t know where all this stuff is going — what do YOU think?” Sometimes, you don’t need all the answers, a great post sometimes means asking the right questions.

You receive a lot more engagement when you don’t have all the answers!

3. Watch the clock

Here’s another way I ruined my content — I took too long to write a post. Maybe it was a lack of confidence but I would let things stew too long. I’ve now trained myself to think in simpler terms. I KNOW when a post is in good shape. But instead of going back to sweat over every word, I look at the clock and give myself a deadline — I will work on this for 15 minutes and then this post is completed!

Is it as great as it could be? Well, it may not be Ernest Hemingway, but it can be a pretty good Mark Schaefer.

4. Just make one point

I was recently coaching an executive about creating content to build her personal brand and she said, “I just got back from this event and there are so many things to say about it. I don’t know where to start.”

It doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Just riff on one single point. Take one new idea and write a 50o-word essay about it. That’s a blog post right there. Just share one inspiring moment, one feeling, one thing you learned.

A mega event like that may inspire 20 blog posts you can use throughout a year. Frankly, that would probably be better and more fun to read than a 10,000 word post!

Keep it under five

There seems to be this trend out there to create gigantic blog posts like “One thousand Pinterest tips from the pros!”  I mean who could read such a thing?

Try five good points. Don’t overthink, don’t over-stretch. Just give me between 3-5 interesting things to chew on. I can process that!

So there. I kept this post to a list of five things. I made one major point. I wrote this in 40 minutes. Haven’t I come a long way?

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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