If so, then you may be really impressed.
I just did something I’m only brave enough to do about every 12 months or so. I just unsubscribed from a few dozen email lists.
Yes, these were companies I like, people I follow who offered me great content in return for my email address. I don’t sign up for junk if I can help it, and many of these individuals and companies produce content I enjoy and value. I didn’t want to miss anything…
I’m so susceptible to FOMO. That’s partly why I subscribed to so many in the first place! Fear Of Missing Out.
Today I made a clean sweep of my inbox for a couple of reasons.
First, in many cases, I was pretty sure I had subscribed to their content on Feedly, so I had access to the most recent blog posts as long as I made it a habit to log onto Feedly and check the news each morning. Feedly is a great service if you use it. But even if you don’t commit to a daily check-in, you never need to worry. It’s easy to organize your feeds so that you don’t miss anything.
Second, I unsubscribed to dozens of lists for my peace of mind and to easy my content curation job each day. Making a ruthless call, I realized I only have time to read — yes, actually read the whole thing through — a few very valuable emails each day. I’m an avid email reader, though, so “a few” might mean dozens! In any case, I had to focus on what would genuinely serve me and my clients — not just read content I found interesting.
Vapid Curiosity Derails Business Goals
Let’s be honest. A lot of content out there appeals to our “shiny object” captivation. Like Danny Devito in Throw Mama From The Train, certain subjects hold us captive.
I’m super curious, so I often make connections where others might dismiss the article as outside of their industry or interest. A curious mind is a double-edged sword. You see how everything is connected, so it’s difficult to stop your mind from zapping from one idea to another. It just never ends! I can force a connection between a Stormtrooper, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the healthy habits of Baby Boomers at a snap of the fingers. Six degrees of separation? Ha! I can connect those dots in four!
Does this content really matter to my audience, though? That is the important question…
Instead, focus on the things that matter to your ideal clients.
Understand whom you serve best as you go about building your online business and speaking to people on the web and social media. An accurate picture of your ideal clients and their concerns is gleaned from in-depth buyer persona work. If you want the cherry on top, too, you’ll be happiest if your interests intersect theirs!
So as I went through my inbox and decided which emails to delete and unsubscribe, today I felt a certain freedom, even as I wondered what I’d be missing. Subjects that was interesting to me only — and not necessarily my clientele — got trashed. If I sensed that the email content was merely a passing interest for me alone, I let it go. If I knew the content was something I could share with people who are or might become part of my community at some point, it stayed.
I was ruthless, but I had to draw the line. My inbox was bursting at the seams. I reminded myself of this one true fact:
People follow you and stay interested in your content only as long as it hold some value for them.
It’s not all about YOU, even if your voice is central to your content.
Back to the overflow of content ideas and miscellaneous info in your inbox (or Evernote or Dropbox or Feedly). Why do we hang on to digital media that doesn’t serve us? Why do we hoard unnecessary information?
I blame it on my marketing brain. It holds me captive. There’s always an email subject line to critique or swipe (yes, I recommend swiping great subject lines!) and there ‘s always a content marketing tip that piques my interest.
But what good does all that info do if I cannot share it or connect with my audience? Content curation becomes a huge time-waster. That was my “Eureka!” moment.
Eventually you will have to experience that cleansing in your business, too. Maybe you don’t have the email fetish that I have. Maybe instead you have a weakness for meet-ups where you meet exactly zero of your ideal audience. Maybe you download books that do nothing to forward your business. Maybe you spend time on the phone with people who will never buy anything from you… Stop wasting your time, my friend.
Go where your people are. Read what your people read. Subscribe to things they would subscribe to. Build a community around SHARED interest. Become obsessed with the things that they obsess over.
Chances are you already share interests. Most creative entrepreneurs build businesses around these things to make their lives happy and interesting. May I add one thing more? You can stop gathering MORE information than is necessary. You don’t have to be an expert on every tiny facet of your industry. Narrow your interests and expertise and you will become a better content creator and curator. it’s ironic, but true. You have to stop dallying around thinking that you are not educated enough, or “well rounded” enough, or smart enough. Just focus on the connections where you and your customers share a lifeline.
Decide what must be known, done, read, heard and seen — just for today — and there’s your best content.
Yes, there will always be subjects that you are drawn to. (I happen to like astronomy, art, SEO and novel writing… will I ever write one? I don’t know) but I do know that these subjects don’t have much to do with my core connected audience. While these topics are still on my radar, I cut those emails to make time for more production and less reading… and it felt really good.
To be successful and productive in your business as a content curator and a freelance creator, you will discover that the content that doesn’t contribute to building relationships with your ideal clients is content you must live without… at least when you’re checking your email.