Seth Godin’s Strategy on Creating Good Content

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  • April 20, 2016
Seth Godin

Whenever we create content, we can’t help but to face questions of doubt and insecurity. Is the content good enough? What should I write about? Is anyone going to read it? Will anyone look at it? These questions are inevitable regardless whether you’re just starting off or a seasoned veteran.

The term “writers block” exists because creating art isn’t easy. Creating art means revealing elements close to your heart and leaving yourself vulnerable to the outside world.

A little while back Seth Godin was a guest on the Tim Ferriss podcast. There were many good discussion points throughout the podcast, but there was one point where Seth started talking about creating content that I thought was worth extrapolating and expanding upon.

Seth Godin has a mantra to assist in his creation process and to overcome any blocks he may have. Whenever he writes a new blog post or book he asks himself the following questions:

  • Is it generous?
  • Is it going to connect?
  • Will it change people for the better?
  • Is it worth trying?

If all four of those criteria are met then Seth goes ahead to create and publish the necessary content. Now let’s dissect these questions in a little greater detail.

Is it generous?

Generosity is the name of the game in 2016. In a world where almost all information is free at our fingertips, we have to be generous in order to succeed in the online space.

Gary Vaynerchuk is always preaching this, whether it is in his books The Thank You Economy or Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World or in his interviews and speeches. He stresses that the minimum value he puts forth in any relationship is 51% – this illustrates the importance of generosity.

Generosity also applies to business; take the Law of Reciprocation for instance. In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini speaks about how we as humans feel the need to reciprocate and return the generosity of others.

Now I don’t know Seth personally, but from what I do know about him, I highly doubt his generosity is coming from a place gaining influence, rather it comes from his character and his values. He has a fundamental belief that his work should be generous. As you continue reading the following questions, you can see his intentions are coming from a noble place.

Thus whenever we create content, we should always be generous with it. When we are generous to others, people are more likely to reciprocate either through doing business with you or sharing your post.

Is it going to connect?

If we’re creating content, we are looking for an audience to connect it with. For example, this piece will naturally appeal more to Seth Godin fans and content creators due to its title.

Whenever we create content our hope is that it will connect to an audience.

As human beings, we have the basic need to develop connections with others, so whenever we create any content we should be keeping our audience in mind. Always know who you’re writing and creating the piece for. The more you can put yourself in the shoes of your target demographic the more likely your piece will have success.

Reverse engineering is a tactic that works well when creating any business or piece of content. If you can understand the pain point that your audience is currently encountering and create a solution for them, you’re on your way to success.

Will it change people for the better?

Now this falls more in line with Seth’s personal values versus a necessity for content to be good. You can still create good content that isn’t going to make people better. There has been lots of content created that will simply provide people with a good laugh or entertainment but won’t change them for the better in the long term.

Seth Godin works in the marketing/personal development world. He’s constantly encouraging people to stand up and be leaders, to take action on their beliefs. Will it change people for the better, is more a fundamental question that is specific to his work.

In a day an age where social enterprises continue to rise and society continues to give back in greater and greater volumes, creating content that will make people better has never been so widespread.

As human beings we crave growth. In his TedTalk, Tony Robbins, talks about how human beings have two spiritual needs, giving and growing. If we’re not giving and growing we’re not tapping into our higher needs.

Seth is using his work as a vehicle to give. By giving more tools to help people grow, he’s helping to push humanity along into a more sustainable, kinder and cooperative world.

When you create content, you should always have your intent in mind. If you’re intent is to change people, keep that focus in the forefront of your mind as you create your content. If your intent is make people laugh and provide entertainment, keep that as the focus of your content. Always ask yourself what is your intent and when you are finished, grade yourself on your execution.

Is it worth trying?

During the podcast Seth Godin attributes his success to the fact that he’s failed so many times. He says he’s more proud of the failures than the successes.

This mindset is critical when you’re going to be trying a high-risk project. If your content is safe or run of the mill, you’re not going to have to worry about too much backlash. But you may not gain any traction either.

There is a gray area between safe and risky content. Playing between these two edges is critical to succeeding in the online space as you’ll need to create some risky content to gain an audience and momentum. This may just mean opening up and pouring your vulnerabilities out onto the page.

It is in this gray area that courage is critical. Don’t hold back – go forward confidently. When your intentions are clear, it will be easy to create content that will both adequately express your desires and help others realize theirs. Remember, when we take greater risks we reap a greater reward.

Seth recognizes that some of the content he creates may not connect with his audience. It may flop entirely. Taking these chances is what has allowed him to succeed. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.

The next time you’re creating content keep these four questions in mind. Ever since I first heard the podcast, I’ve found myself returning to my notes to review them. I hope this helps you create the content that drives your success.

Dedicated to your success,


PS. If you wish to check out the podcast interview between Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin, you can catch it here or find it in the Apple Store under the Tim Ferriss Show.

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