Why is the first time so hard?

Simon pulling a large boulder with my first content written on it asking "why is this so hard?"

When marketing your business, that first blog, post, episode or video is the hardest one you’ll ever make.

Getting started always takes more effort. It feels like everything is stacked against you. That first piece of content has the biggest learning curve and takes the longest to finish.

And to top it all off, it will likely get hardly any engagement.

So why bother? This marketing thing sounds like a lot of work!

Don’t worry; the next thing you make will be much more straightforward. And it only gets easier from there.

One and done is not effective marketing

I frequently hear people say things like, “I tried writing a blog, and it didn’t work,” or, “I tried sending an email newsletter and nothing happened.”

I completely get how frustrating it can be. You put a lot of effort into learning something new and creating something for the first time. It’s disheartening to see it make a very small ripple in a very big pond…

There is an expectation that all you have to do is create some marketing content, and it will start working straight away. Sadly, if you build it they will come’ is not a realistic expectation; although it is understandable to hope that it’s true.

Belief is a great motivator but in marketing, and especially in the world of marketing content, showing up once, rarely, if ever, makes any difference at all.

For your marketing to show results, you need to show up 50 times.

Repetition and persistence pays off

Creating 50 pieces of content might sound like a lot of work (it is!) but it’s work that will grow you and your business.

Putting out a regular stream of content that specifically targets your ideal audience is very good marketing; it’s also an excellent self-development process that makes you better at running your business. Putting in that steady effort, even while your marketing is still building momentum, is absolutely worth it.

I’ll be blunt here and say that I believe making content helps you ‘get to the point’ for your audience (which is no bad thing!)

When you ask someone to explain a concept or theory that underpins their work, they often go off into a very complex and convoluted explanation. When you start making content, you realise that no one has time for that, people aren’t often inclined to read that much or watch long videos. Regularly making and publishing content helps you explain things better and quicker to your clients. After all, 50 times later, your writing has improved as you articulate your ideas and have to search around for new methods and illustrative examples.

It also builds your confidence in front of the camera or microphone, which makes it more likely you’ll be invited to be a guest on a podcast or channel; or to lead workshops or give presentations (all potentially excellent marketing activities).

Get that first piece of content done and then build on it

I started by saying that the first thing you make is the hardest and it’s true that going from 0-1 is harder than going from 1-50; and beyond.

I’m not saying I can make it easy for you, but I can help you reframe that first piece of content from being a mountain to climb to being the first step on a long (and rewarding) journey. And that’s a much more positive perspective to take.

Also, don’t worry about whether that first piece of content has worked or not – you’ll get lost in the detail and feel the ups and downs of engagement with your content too deeply.

Instead, think of your content as being like creating the ‘Netflix of you’. This way, a single piece of content is less important; you’re looking at your marketing process as creating a body of work, or a back catalogue if you like.

Earlier, I alluded to people having short attention spans; and it’s true except when it comes to binge-watching TV series. People will sit for hours and hours; watching episode after episode. People have plenty of attention for something they’re interested in.

So, the aim of your marketing is to create 50 pieces of content that is of interest to your target audience. In a way, you’re creating (and curating) a platform full of different ways to engage – the ‘Netflix of you’. Not everything will be a smash hit; some of it will flop, and some of it will really take off.

But … I feel uncomfortable talking about me.

A lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about themselves, their work or selling. You’re not alone. In fact, I wrote a blog post all about how to balance selling and authenticity that goes deeper into this area.

One idea that I find useful to remember is that when you are asking people to trust you to deliver on a promise – or that they commit to a process that requires effort, time and investment on their part – it really helps if they can get to know you before you ask for that. You need to build some trust.

And that’s what your 50 (and more) pieces of content do. When you show up consistently, and generously share your ideas and explanations, people will get to know, like, and trust you.

Remember, people buy people.

Getting started is difficult but worth it

Crafting those first few bits of marketing content might be hard and uncomfortable process but it’s just the first stages of building something bigger and more impressive. Focus on building trust over time rather than making a sale today. Stick with it, be consistent with your quality, and in what seems like no time, you’ll have that ‘Netflix of you’ and people will be bingeing your content.

What’s more, the process of putting yourself out there is more than just good for your business; it’s a self-growth opportunity that you can use to try out new ideas.

Most of all, have some fun and be yourself!

If you want to find out more about how you can create content that will engage with your ideal client, there are lots of ideas in my book Reframing Marketing: A 3-step plan for effective and ethical marketing. It’s a step-by-step guide to creating a marketing plan and content that will bring you your ideal clients.