On value

Image: Cel Lisboa

You hear it all the time in ‘content marketing’ circles.

By the way, I swear, if I see another faceless, soulless, incestuous, self-congratulatory, ‘serial entrepreneur’ podcast, I’m gonna…

Breathe, Jonas… Okay… I’m good.

They say it all the time, “You have to provide value in your content.”

Now, just let me say, on one hand, they’re absolutely right. If my words don’t give you something, you flat out will NOT read my shizz. You have a million other bits and bops vying for your valuable attention — why would you want to read mine?

But the problem is, a bunch of shallow-minded jerkoffs (breeeeathe, Jonas, whooo-saaahhh) have narrowed down ‘value’ to mean ‘actionable information’ or ‘how to get rich in 17 easy steps/grow a massive audience overnight’. This is why you see so many listacles and clickbait headlines starting with (drumroll, please) “HOW-TO”.

Now… How-To’s have their place. They really do. But, largely they belong in Google searches. Like when I’m searching, “How-to-boil-corn” and your ‘value-added content’ pops up first, I’m stoked. And then I boil my corn. And I’m done with you. I never got to know you because I didn’t care. I just wanted to boil my corn.

If this is the kind of content you want to write, keep on keepin’ on. But if you want to connect with me on a human level, and frikkin’ move me, well, let’s talk more about ‘value’, shall we?

The real problem is, this whole notion is paralyzing people from sharing really cool writing online. Writing with an original voice and a human story is being stifled because people are scared they aren’t “providing enough value” with it. And it’s poppycock. Yes, poppycock.

I read a great blog post from Laura Belgray today that got my wheels turning. This post of mine is actually just a riff on hers (which you should check out here). In it, she totally nails it with my frustrations above and goes on to describe a few other ways to ‘provide value’…

  • Make me laugh
  • Give me goosebumps
  • Get me riled up
  • Gross me out
  • Make me drool
  • Show me something pretty, or something f’d up
  • Inspire me, or at least make me think I’m inspired (enough to do that thing later)
  • Give me a 10-minute reason not to do my work
  • Make me feel like I’m not the only crazy one
  • Make me feel a little smarter than when I woke up
  • Tell me something you shouldn’t be telling me
  • Tell me about a movie, book or TV show that’ll be my new favorite

…and more (again, check out her post here).

I’ve really taken this on as my crusade lately. I’m so sick of lame, soulless ‘content’ (and by the way, can we stop using that word, please — ‘content’?) and I’m out to eradicate it. I’m tired of it clogging up my feed.

The web can be way better. Your blog can be way better. Writing has so much potential. Through simple, powerful words, we can do so much, it’s just... Ugh!

So, value, schmalue. Sure, give me value, but go a layer or four deeper than the usual “actionable advice you can implement to skyrocket your life and business.”

*(This post was originally titled ‘Value, schmalue’, which I’ve renamed to a more fitting title)

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