Are you part of Generation X, Generation Y (Millennial), or Generation Z?
How important is the idea of creating and sharing content to your ability to be viewed as an expert in your industry? How important is it to the success of your business?
Like a lot of millennials, my career goals were thrown off by “The Great Recession” (late 2007) and the fact that I wanted to work in one of the first industries hit by recessions—the advertising industry. In the end, what I thought would be a 3 to 6-month job search took much longer.
How much longer, you ask?
Well, my career as an advertising creative officially began in November 2011 — almost two long, stressful years after I graduated from ad school. Looking back, my career started pretty strong. I even sold my first ad campaign within my first month on the job!
But after a few years, I realized I didn’t feel as happy as I thought I would or should. I didn’t feel the most confident in my work. And even outside of work, I didn’t feel like myself.
As I did a lot of self-interrogation to get to the root of the problem, I discovered I wasn’t very nice to myself. I was someone who put a lot of my worth into my productivity and accomplishments. And I had internalized all the rejection, negative comments, and not-so-constructive feedback I received between 2008 and 2011.
In an effort to change how I spoke to (and about) myself, I started researching and trying every self-care and self-love activity I came across.
Out of this desire to be kinder to myself came the idea to start a blog with the purpose of helping people feel good about themselves using affirmations and color psychology. This was mostly because I had a feeling other people needed to learn to be nicer to themselves too!
But instead of sharing my story, I spent a lot of time worrying about proving I was worth listening to when it came to self-acceptance and color psychology.
I ended up overcompensating by often over-explained color psychology and leaning way too hard on my background as an ad creative.
All that overcompensating made it really hard to consistently create and share meaningful, actionable content. It was also unnecessary because people were already intrigued by the idea of pairing self-acceptance with colors.
The more I spoke to people, the more I realized I didn’t have to work so hard to prove myself because the best “proof” was me and my story!
So what do content and marketing have to do with my story?
I’d like to answer that question with a question…
How will you share your story with your audience?
If you thought, “through my content,” you are correct!
In the context of marketing, content refers to individual pieces of visual, audio, or written media used to achieve a business goal (like growing your audience).
Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, and sharing content via channels like social media, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, online and print publications, and more. (Via HubSpot)
When it comes to brand storytelling or sharing your story to connect with and grow your audience, it’s important you know
Who you’re trying to reach through your content and where you can reach them,
What types of content you need to create and share in order to reach them,
How you will efficiently plan, create, distribute, or share content with them,
And why you’re using specific channels to share information about your products or services with them.
What does my generation have to do with my story?
You don’t have to be someone you’re not in order to reach your audience. You don’t have to hop on trends. You don’t even have to use the hot, new platform.
Our ages (and even our places within our respective generations) mean we tend to view the idea of creating, sharing, and interacting with content much differently from one another.
And even if we don’t have the same life experiences or aren’t in the same life stages, we will still have similar points of reference when it comes to global events and pop culture based on our age at the time.
Your own relationship with creating, sharing, and interacting with content can (and should) inform how you share your story. It can also inform how (and where) you go to reach your audience.
Remember, it’s always better to do what works for you and your audience! Forcing yourself to create content you don’t enjoy will burn you out. Sharing content your audience can’t relate to will push them away.
I often share my career story for a few reasons:
A lot of people around my age had a similar struggle when it came to starting their careers.
A lot of people who aren’t my age remember that time in their life and how it affected their own life.
And it explains how I personally discovered the power of using storytelling in your content!
Just as I decided it was time to start sharing my story and experiences with practicing self-acceptance, all the anxious feelings I thought I had worked through came back.
I worried about whether what I had to share was actually enough to help people.
I didn’t think that many people could relate to someone whose biggest issues revolved around money and learning to detach their worth from their productivity and accomplishments.
And I worried people with worse lived experiences wouldn't even be able to find value in mine.
Despite being a person who naturally shares stories to connect with people, I realized that I hadn’t started sharing sooner because I just wasn’t ready to share that part of my story yet.
It took me years to share the beginning of my career story without tearing up.
But after I started sharing my story in my social media content, in workshops I hosted, and in general conversations about my business, I learned there were (and are) a lot of people dealing with and learning the same things!
Even if it’s not career-related, there comes a time when so many of us realize the things that we decided meant we were successful or that we "made it” in life doesn’t automatically mean we’ll be happy.
I learned that jumping through hoops and living in a constant state of stress and exhaustion wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be.
And I learned (or confirmed) that all I really needed to do was share stories around what I knew and what I’d experienced to support and back up anything I shared.
Before I started sharing my story, I always struggled with figuring out what kind of content I wanted to share with my audience.
After I started sharing it, creating and sharing content became much easier because I had this endless resource (my story) to pull from.
And so do you!