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What Content Will People Pay for?

After years of seesawing relevance and start-and-stop attempts at actually making money, two new Twitter features that allow users to monetize their content are opening up. Because I recently wrote about Substack and content monetization in general, this led me to ask: What content will people pay for?


Unique content that you cannot get anywhere else


I subscribe to the New York Times, Washington Post, Vogue and Food & Wine Magazine. The New York Times and Washington Post are two of the best news organizations in the country. Vogue’s articles are a masterclass in storytelling, while Food & Wine provides access to inspiring stories about restaurants, chefs, food trends, distilleries, breweries and wineries around the world.


Can I get news elsewhere? Yes. Can I read stories about interesting people doing interesting things around the world? Yes. But I cannot get the same brilliant combinations of news and stories that are relevant to me elsewhere. Therefore, I’m willing to pay for it.


This is the same reason my family subscribes to HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video. These media companies create world-class shows and movies that are miles ahead of network television. Yes, you do have to pay for network television – and you are rewarded by being bombarded with ads. Yay.


But now let’s look at this from a business and marketing perspective. Take a look at the business books on your bookshelf. Think about the workshops, webinars and events you have paid to attend.


Why did you pay for that content? Surely you can get it elsewhere for free. But you paid for those books, workshops, webinars and events because you trusted the source. And the content was relevant to you.


So, what does this mean for your marketing?


If you want people to pay for your content – a book, workshop, mastermind, whatever – you need two things:


1 – A community that trusts you above anyone else.


2 – Interesting, unique and relevant information to share.


It’s only two things, but those two things may seem hard to come by. They are – but only if you’re unwilling to put in the effort.


Let’s break these two elements down and talk about how to get there.


How to build a community


You form a community by creating trust and building relationships with people. Sound familiar? That’s also what marketing is. So basically, you’re marketing yourself, aka, your personal brand.


How to do this? With persistence.


Get yourself out there, both digitally and IRL.


Blog consistently. Share your blog posts on the social media channels where your audience spends time. Doesn’t matter if you don’t use those channels. They do, so now you do, too.


Email out your blog posts in a brief and useful newsletter. Use Substack if you want!


Ask vendors and partners to share your blog posts with their audience and offer to do the same for them.


Piggyback on other people’s platforms. Research podcasts and apply to be a guest. Likewise, look for guest blogging opportunities.


Host or co-host a workshop – online or in person.


And speaking of in-person, events in spaces with other people are back. It might be quiet this summer but expect an explosion of events in the fall. Get out there and meet people.

If guest speaking is your thing, apply for a spot at upcoming conferences.


Now, you don’t need to do all of the above. It depends on your time, interests and, most importantly, where your audience is and how they love to consume content. But you do need to pick a few things and commit to them.


And by the way, building a community is two-way communication street. Ask them questions, listen and respond. Always respond. This is key to building trust.


How to create content people care about


Whether you think so or not, you have a unique voice, perspective and way of doing things. Just ask people you trust – clients, vendors, partners – what makes you different. They’ll tell you.


Want to know what makes me different? I tell it like it is and make you laugh at the same time. I’m also really good at what I do. (If you’ve ever looked for a quality copywriter, you know how hard it is to find one!)


It’s also really helpful to poke around and see what the competition is writing about. What topics are people responding to? What are people asking? Mark Schaefer calls this finding your space.


My space is sharing a very personal marketing and copywriting point-of-view. I tell you how I do things (see this article), what I’m curious about (this article), what has worked for my clients (like this article) and generally sharing my opinion (which people really responded to – check out this article on LinkedIn abuse).


It might take you time to find your space, but it’s worth it.


Now you have content people will pay for


Do the above and do them well. Stick to it, because building a community that rallies around your awesomeness takes time. Once you get there, people will start shelling out for your brilliance.


One of my clients regularly appears on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money and speaks at top industry conferences. He runs a quarterly masterclass on options trading and always has a waitlist.


Another client has a niche business helping other business owners write non-fiction books to use for marketing purposes. For those who don’t want to commit to her full-service program, she runs two popular workshops.


I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s doable.


Need help creating all that content?


We help small business owners and marketing departments in larger companies create and share content that will form connections with their target markets. If that’s something you’d like off your plate, give us a holler.


Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

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