What Are You Selling?
One of the frustrating parts about life is that business and work changes.
In some generations, the change happens fast and often.
In the future, as people live longer and technology changes more rapidly, people are going to have to get comfortable changing jobs, careers and businesses.
One of the frustrations with changing work is the idea that hard work should be monetarily rewarded. Or in a different view, that time put into work should be rewarded.
That’s not necessarily the case…
Farming to Factory to Services
In the 1800s and into the 1900s, many Americans were farmers. It would be difficult to find someone that would argue that in these times, farming was very hard work.
But for many reasons, including the farm machinery, demand for hard working farm laborers went down. Many Americans that needed work found it by working in factories.
The Midwest became a hotbed for factory workers in the mid 1900s. But as the century went on the supply of workers exceeded demand. Technology improved. For a time, factories moved to the Southern US where people would work for cheaper wages. Then factories moved from the South to other countries where workers would work for cheaper wages.
In the late 1900s and into the 2000s, the services industry has boomed. Workers work hard to provide a variety of services to businesses and consumers.
Now, this is certainly a generalization, but the point is that work changes. All of these industries required hard work, but the nature of life is that just because something requires hard work doesn’t mean it pays well. You can hoe weeds in a field all day and it’s incredibly hard. But nobody is going to pay you well to do that when they can rent a machine for very little to do the job just as well (if not better) and far more quickly.
Hard Work In The Content World
Creating content has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.
Today, you’ll often see journalists mention their struggle to earn a living writing or creating video or audio. And it’s true. But what’s changed is that people can access nearly unlimited content online. They don’t need to pay for a way to consume content.
In the past, you needed to pay for a way to read content. So you bought books or newspapers.
Content itself is rarely the product. There are a few instances where is shows signs of working. But anytime there are people, like bloggers, willing to create content for free, it lowers the price. Your article better be exponentially better if you’re going to charge for it while numerous others are creating content on the same topic for free.
What Are You Selling?
Many individuals and businesses struggle with creating content. For one, it’s hard work. Brainstorming, researching, writing, editing, etc. It’s not easy. It’s not for everybody.
But for two, it’s difficult to comprehend that you do all that hard work to create content only to give it away for free. It feels like that hard work should be rewarded with pay.
But there is so much content, really good content, that it needs to be free in order to compete.
One way I like to think of content is to answer the question: What am I selling?
Usually, your company is not selling content. Or if you are you probably shouldn’t be.
There are a lot of musicians going through this transition. Thanks to technology, listen to music is basically free. That’s a difficult change for artists that were used to the CD being the product. But many artists today have switched gears. They realize that their product is their live show. So they make create songs and promote the songs as a way to sell more tickets to their concerts.
Or the artists will create and promote songs as a way to get sponsorships and endorsements. Their personal brand is the product that they sell.
The companies that are going to win with content and content marketing are the ones that won’t charge for it. They realize that content is not the product. Content is the way to reach people. It’s a way to earn trust. There has to be a different product that you sell to the people you reach.
Call it content marketing. Call it branded content. Call it whatever you want, but don’t be deterred that you’re not getting paid for creating content. That’s not where the money comes from.