The Myth of Being Useful

Do a search for creating useful content on google.

There’s enough opinion and education on the topic to make your head…

wait for it…


And that’s pretty much what my head’s been doing since I first heard this phrase.

Create useful content, Anne.

Waking me up in the middle of night.

Are you being USEFUL enough, Anne?

And off and on this whole year I’d look at other people’s content and wonder…

How the heck is THIS useful to the world?

I started pulling apart every blog post I’d see, challenging it to be useful to me, which is hilarious because as you know there’s a lot of useless but fun info on the internet.

And that’s when it hit me…about being useful…and why I wanted to dig in and discuss this moving target of being useful…

In this week’s episode, I explore:

  • What does being useful really mean in the context of your online business?
  • Who decides if something is useful or trashable?
  • Why is creating useful content a challenge to most online entrepreneurs?
  • And…what do you need to know about your audience in order to get even close to figuring out what is useful for them on any given day?

If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re being useful or not, listen to today’s episode of the Fearless Launching show and then leave me a comment below.

Ok let’s dive in!

What does your content do for your reader?

Before you can decide if your content is useful, take a look at four ways that content can help your reader. Think about what your content does for your reader by asking some simple questions.

  1. Does your content solve a specific tangible problem by providing a tutorial or step by step instructions?
  2. Will your content inspire and motivate action?
  3. Is it possible your content is guiding people in new direction or perspective on a known topic?
  4. Are you providing them with a path of mastery to your area of expertise (i.e. are you teach them how to fish so they can do it for themselves?)

Try this questions on your own blog posts, products, services, podcasts, social media messages and any other type of “content”. If you’re not sure, reach out to some of your readers and ask them!

How can you KEEP being useful?

Here’s why being useful is so hard. It’s a moving target in many ways. People are constantly learning, absorbing, living, growing, hurting, feeling, and dealing with life in general.

One day a tutorial on the Facebook power editor is going to be useful and the next your manifesto on overcoming overwhelm will be…and then hours later the need will change again to being a place to get the best gluten free cupcakes in Seattle.

We’re human…obviously our needs change constantly.

So does what we value.

So here’s a few ways to keep being useful without trying to keep up with those everchanging needs:

  • engage your audience by providing various types of “useful” (see question list above)
  • ask your readers, clients and list on a regular basis what is useful to them
  • when you get stuck, think about the people who have just found you and what they specifically need right now (it’s probably your core expertise)
  • remind people who’ve been around as clients, readers, etc. why they showed up, what they’ve learned, and why they want to stick around

Pick any of the above and simply brainstorm the first topics that come to your mind.

There’s really no wrong answer here – as long as you’re thinking about THEM and not you.

And that’s where being useful comes in…

Key Lessons You Can Take With You:

As I “hinted” above, there’s no real secret here about how to figure out what’s useful to people…It’s really all about your readers…and as soon as you start asking the questions about what will help solve THEIR problems, you’ll already be way ahead of others who are simply writing for themselves.

That’s why I’m so passionate about knowing what you (yes, actually you) find useful and also helping you find the same thing in your own audience. Here’s what I know to be true:

Wherever you go, there you are.

  • you have to meet people where they’re at – which means you have to get to know them and engage with them. There’s no way around that.

We’re not robots.

  • People need different things at different times…different concerns, different problems, different joys, interests… all you can do is remember this as you create and not worry so much that you’re hitting every single one.

Listening is the key.

  • It’s your job to prove that you are listening to them (instead of merely solving the problem).  Listening builds trust and the feeling that you actually give a crap about what they’re going through.

Talk to people often.

  • What’s the most compelling thing your audience needs to know right now? If you aren’t talking to people once per month who are current and past clients, you’re losing touch.

Links To Dive Deeper Into This Topic

Launch Toolkit

Creating Social Substance (interesting article)

Ep. 30 – Planning For Success (planning is all about knowing what your people want and need)

Ep. 10 – How To Become A Better Teacher with Jennifer Louden (love Jen’s take on teaching, especially since that’s what all content really does – it teaches!)

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