It always starts with a logo. Typically, for me, that means something designed in PowerPoint. Also typically for me, that means losing many designer friends who, upon hearing of my preferred tool, promptly put a hex on my family for all eternity and stop talking to me.
The things we do for side projects.
But if you’re like me, whenever you get an idea, you don’t simply buy the domain or do some research or talk it out with a friend. You tinker.
And yes, the majority of what you (and I) tinker with won’t ever see the light of day. But that’s okay. Despite that logical, business-like voice in your head that says it’s a waste of time, it’s not. Quite the opposite: It’s the best possible investment of your time, especially if your goal is to lead a truly prolific, creative career.
Today, I’m beginning the long journey of scoping, testing, and building an idea that hopefully will see the light of day — a new content brand and platform dedicated to content creators in marketing.
Along the way, I plan to document some of the things I’m doing and learning that might not normally get shared publicly. (This is my contribution to the “build in public” movement that’s become so popular in the startup world, from platforms like Product Hunt to apps like Buffer to companies like Gimlet Media. Here’s a great explainer of this idea from Product Hunt CEO Ryan Hoover.)
To keep up with each new entry, subscribe to Sorry for Marketing, where I’ll post these “build in public” entries periodically. I also plan to share various surprises and goodies and access to things, as well as announce the launch sometime in 2016.
Entry 1: Underlying Motivation
The Lonesome Feeling of Caring for Craft as a Marketer
Over beers this fall, I tried — and largely failed — to describe the people with whom I feel a kinship in marketing to friend and entrepreneur Andy Cook.
Me, rambling like a fool: “I, like, got into this field of content marketing in the first place solely because I love to create things and see the reactions people have when they like those things. And I know there are others like me that don’t get caught up in the BS of marketing but just put their heads down and want to do great, quality, creative work. I know others are thinking, ‘I thought I’d be working in this awesome industry that enables me to be creative and happy and grow my career, but all I see are marketers obsessing over how to market my stuff or optimize crap for quick gains, not talking about creating well.’ So basically, man, I’m burnt out on all the short-term thinking and constant demands to do more generic stuff, like listicles and clickbait and gated lead-gen ebooks and tone deaf social media stuff and all that crap. And I know people in industries outside ours who both care deeply for their craft AND have a community of others who speak the same language to tap into, but I don’t get that enough in marketing, know what I mean? So like, the folks in this industry who spend an extra hour trying to make something 3% better because they care so damn much, who agonize and think about things like quality and creativity — not as an artist but as someone in business that still wants to get results — THOSE are who I want to work with and serve. The people who, if content or creative or stories stopped being important to their companies, they’d probably just leave rather than do other kinds of marketing. I think the world is ready for that group to have a place to study what we love, build community around it, commiserate and collaborate and just make this industry and our careers and our craft better.
Andy, neither rambling nor foolish: “Soooo you want to work with people who are bothered by suck.”
Picture a dozen 100-watt lightbulbs appearing over of my head all at once.
Without question, that was the best description of the way this type of marketer thinks. That’s who I want to study and celebrate and serve. Every day. For awhile.
First, I need to find them. Because for awhile now, I’ve felt isolated from most of the marketing world given the above feelings I just spewed. It’s felt kinda like, well, this:
But maybe if someone sent up a signal on the horizon, more adorable penguins would come waddling towards it. Or, yanno, at least some creatively driven marketers.
And maybe — and this is weird to write publicly but since this is about building in public and all — maybe the one to send up that flare should be me.
Perhaps you have this internal fire to do good work, not just easy work. You want to better understand and improve your craft (because you think about it like a craft in the first place). You want to stop getting cold water dumped on that fire every time you have a marketing strategy meeting or attend most marketing conferences or read most marketing blogs.
And while the occasional blog post or Twitter interaction or keynote speech might fire us back up, I don’t think the craft of content creation gets covered enough in our industry…do you? And, more importantly, I don’t think it’s loud enough.
I’ll start being loud. I hope you’ll join me.
I’m tired of wishing something for us existed. So let’s build it.
I want a place where we can all combine our collective fire. And I want this thing — podcast, blog, whatever it becomes — to make that fire so big and so bright that the industry can’t help but take notice and evolve.
So as of today, I’m out to figure out the HOW and the WHAT behind all this. But the WHY has always been clear. And although it may not be neatly packaged or cleanly stated just yet, it’s there plain as day, gnawing at me, motivating me, driving me to create hackish logo after hackish logo.
Only this time, one of them will actually make it out to the world and, hopefully, make a difference.
Update Feb 2016:
You can now check out the Unthinkable.fm site! Subscribe there to get updates, content, and exclusive subscriber-only goodies both pre- and post-launch! (Coming Spring 2016.)
And here's something awesome that relates to all of this:
Thanks to Andy Cook & Nelson Joyce for letting me write this from their office and Andrew Davis for your continued support in doing this. Everybody should also follow all the awesome people I’ve come across in our industry who overtly champion quality and creativity in the marketing world, including Ann Handley, Doug Kessler, Jay Baer, Shane Snow, Joe Lazauskas, Tyler Littwin, Erik Devaney, Meghan Keaney Anderson, Dave Gerhardt, Robert Rose, Joe Pulizzi, and whoever else I’m forgetting. You’re pretty ok.
PS: This is a personal project. I'm not leaving NextView :)