The Inside Story of Creator Economy Expo

Hey friends, I hope you guys are all enjoying a beautiful May springtime moment, wherever you are. I just got back from Phoenix where it was 90+ degrees. It’s really nice to break from the gray and cold, rainy Portland weather that we’ve become a little bit accustomed to lately. And actually, this was the second of two back to back trips, I’ve got a lot of takeaways, I really want to share them with you, because I think they’re going to help you make better content and therefore, generate better leads in your business and ultimately make more money in a more efficient way. And that’s what we’re about, right? Authentic automated marketing is how you get there without wanting to pull your hair out along the way.

So with that said, these are my Creator Economy takeaways.

ann handley at cex 2022

My overarching takeaway from the whole conference was to continue doing what I’m doing, fine-tuning and creating more ways to interconnect all the pieces.

I didn’t actually hear anything that said to me, whoa, Britney, you are doing things wrong, I did hear a lot of tweaks, I did hear a lot of ways to further and deepen the results of what I’m doing. And that was really uplifting for me.

So first of all, if you’ve never heard of this conference, it’s okay. It’s the first time they put it on. So a CEX was the Creator Economy Expo, it was put on by Joe Pulizzi of The Content Marketing, Inc., of Content Marketing Institute fame, and now he runs The Tilt. And it’s meant for content entrepreneurs and those who support them. So that probably brings us to the next question, which is:

What is a content entrepreneur?

I’m going to link to that definition in my show notes as well. I’m going to paraphrase here, that a content entrepreneur is delivering consistent information to a group of people with plans to make money from that. And they’re specifically creating content to build a long-term successful business, not just doing it as a hobby. Usually, they’re going to be starting on one channel, the way I kind of recommend all around here, and they generate revenue in multiple ways. So that’s taken from The Tilts website. The headline on the conference page literally said, and quote, ‘’Get the edge you need to succeed in the Creator economy.’’ So all of the takeaways I have had from various speakers were variations on that. There are things I’m going to share here that are designed to give you that edge, even if you don’t consider yourself a content creator. 

Creating Content in a Web3 World

All right, so let’s talk first about creating content in a web three world. Joe Pulizzi opened the whole thing by saying, ‘’To be more successful, we need to be creating less content.’’ Now I know that’s probably not what you expected me to say. But it’s actually what I teach.

We don’t need to keep creating more and more; I want to get you off the content creation hamster wheel.

How do we do that?

Joe Pulizzi at CEX 2022

We make sure that the content we are creating is doing a better job.

So he actually has done some fairly extensive studies with people who create a lot of content. And according to the study stats he shared at Creator Economy Expo he says:

  • Marketing & Sales 13%
  • Content creation 51%
  • Distribution & promotion 19%
  • Bus admin & ops 13%

So his argument is that right now 51% of content creation is taking too much time for content entrepreneurs. And if you’re a service provider, or a course creator, or any of that, it’s probably the same for you. If you’re spending 51% of your time creating content that is too much and it’s going to leave you mired in the doing of your business and not be enjoying your life.

Now, there were quite a few speakers focusing on the Web3 track, and that revolves around social tokens and NFTs, all of that stuff. And to be honest, I’m not as interested in that kind of stuff right now. What I did take for most of the Web3 talks, however, is that the world is moving away from a single node system. And what I mean by that is that the traditional online business model and older content creator model start with you as a node. And then you push your information, whether that’s courses or digital info products, or blog posts, you know, all those things out to other nodes. And then from there, it goes to further nodes, like your social media channels. And ends up looking kind of like a family tree.

We were talking at this conference about the interconnected nodes of web three, and how they really look more like a complicated atom structure with every node connecting to each of the other nodes. And they’re all interconnected, more like a web and less like a family tree. So what that means for you as a business marketing online is that it’s no longer you as a source.

Use your audience to glean info and create better content geared toward them, yes, but also include them in the content creation, and reward them for contributing.

So I won’t lie. I was sitting there and I was like, hmm, that seems really hard. I don’t know how I’m going to do that. So I’m going to cover a quick couple of brief ways for you to do this. And then we’re going to move on to my next point, which is all about how to organize your content. 

How to Incorporate Web3 In Your Existing Content Business

Keynote speaker Jeremiah Owyang said that there are societal, economic, and technological factors all coming together. And that’s how we know that web three isn’t a fad. It is, however, at the beginning of a growth cycle that will probably last seven to nine years, but it’s not going to go away. And he gave examples, really good ones, on how and why we need to enable our audience to create content with us. And yes, possibly even pay them for that.

  • Fans literally have a stake in the success of the creator, you
  • They are not just the audience, they are now a community
  • Content and relationship becomes even more multi-directional
  • The creators’ community can spur a network of other creators.

So he was talking about how fans literally have this have a stake in the success of a creator. You, of course, are the creator. And when they have that stake, they’re not just the audience, they’re now a community. Communities have more loyalty and content and relationship become even more multi-directional at this point.

The Creators community can actually spur a network of other creators. So if you are in this business to help other people, this is one of the easiest, fastest, most efficient, and most lucrative ways to do this. He gave five really good specific strategies on how to do this. My favorite example, and the one I think that is the most relevant here for you, is how to use social tokens as a content upgrade.

So as a quick and dirty example, I could have my podcast and those who have purchased my social token, which does not exist yet for the record, but those who have purchased that social token could get a content upgrade. Maybe taking this article into more specifics would be a good content upgrade. If I were going to do it with this particular article or the podcast episode on which it was based, I’d probably give all five of those strategies that Jeremiah covered, really give you the nitty-gritty on each thing that I can’t cover in a short podcast episode. 

Growing Pains As You Change Your Content Model

And then moving on, I want to talk a little bit about growing pains as you do change your content model.

One of the things I really appreciated was Troy Sandidge, who is the host of the iDigress Podcast. He reminded us that we might find even if we’ve done well before, that when you try a new medium, it doesn’t always translate. And I, with very limited time and resources, am taking that to heart.

Roberto Blake at CEX 2022

But there are other ways that we can bridge this gap elegantly. Both Troy and YouTuber Roberto Blake were big fans of using your content to answer your FAQs. (You know those annoying questions that you have to answer in your business over and over again) and use that to create your sales pipeline once with this content.

So Roberto’s an example of using YouTube to do this makes sense to me since YouTube is Evergreen. And unlike social channels, YouTube’s algorithm may pop your videos six months down the road. Roberto also made a point that you’ll make more money on 10,000 downloads on YouTube than 10 million on Tik Tok. And I think personally, that’s a powerful example of vanity metrics versus lead-generating metrics. And since you guys know, I’m all about being efficient. I like the idea of that. 

Organizing Your Content World

Alright, let’s move on to organizing your content world.

This is a big thing that I’ve been focusing on lately. And obviously, I probably took more out of this particular topic from the conference than some others might have. But my overarching takeaway from all of the speakers as a whole is simple. Your content needs to be organized; unless you want to spend your days recreating the same content that you made eight weeks ago, you need a back-end database that keeps it organized.

Now I’ve been on this journey, like I said, in my business for the last few months. Part of redoing my website involves tagging all 190+ episodes of my podcast and 100+ blog articles and creating content landing pages that link them together. You could think of it as the best hitter section for each topic.

Is Data Science Valuable?

So this leads us to the question, is data science valuable? If I had to characterize this, I’d say it’s as close to library science as I will ever get. I mean, what’s the point of having all of this information and content if I can’t find it? Right? If that sounds hard or if library science is scary to you, here’s another quote from Roberto Blake, ‘’Attention shouldn’t be easy.’’ He says it should be hard to bargain 15 minutes from your audience.

Attention shouldn’t be easy.

Roberto Blake

That way, when you deliver, they come away realizing how much you’ve helped them. And they haven’t even exchanged money with you yet. (That right there, by the way, is actual value-added content. Not all this free value everyone talks about online. It’s value-added content.)

And it’s only going to happen when your audience has invested the time to realize the content you share is valuable.

Attention shouldn’t be easy. But when you do need it, you should be able to keep going. That loyalty has been there.

Bestselling New York Times author Daniel H. Pink had a panel with Brian Clark of Copyblogger and Unemployable Fame. While on that panel, Daniel made many really good points, but one of them was that he made the argument that all kids should be taught performing arts and data science in school. I was cheering over here. I was like, “Yes, let’s bring back personal finance and homework and performing arts!” and I like that he added data science in there. He said data science is crazy cool. Now that’s my words. He’s far too well-spoken for that. But my data measurement heart leaped with joy when he followed it up, but only if we ask the right questions.

So measuring the performance of your content is a must. But knowing which content performs well is only half the battle. We’ve got to know where to find it, and how to link it with the rest of the content we create. 

Linking Content Together

Why, right? Well, Chris Guillebeau, he’s the creator of the World Domination Summit and many other things, made a point that he’s never had a viral piece of content, he’s had a lot of small pieces that did well, and those lead to audience loyalty.

But what if your audience can’t find that next piece? How are you going to build your know, like, and trust factor towards loyalty, if you can’t find the next relevant piece of content for them? Yes, for that particular audience member. You gotta remember, people like to feel special, they have to know that the next piece is going to speak directly to their needs and problems. And for that to happen, you have to be linking them to the right next piece.

Using Technology To Organize Content

That leads of course to technology. Now, none of the speakers you like specifically told us what tools to use outside of Mike King who had a fantastic SEO talk; he gave some specific SEO tool examples that do work well. He, for example, recommended WordPress as the site engine for most uses for most people. And I was like, yay, check, done. And he recommended really common plugins like Yoast SEO for schema markup and keywords. He also recommended quite a bit of other services and tools that he thinks do a really great job. But he was, I believe, the only one that recommended specific tools.

Mike King at CEX 2022

So using technology to organize your content is a must unless you want to pull that hair out again.

I’m going to tell you a few things I’m going to recommend. This is actually not from speakers, I’m recommending right now at least Air Table as a content database so you can manage your internal content linking, I’ll probably end up doing a full breakdown on that at some point. But for now, let me describe it like this. You’ve got a video channel or blog or podcast as your main content engine. And you’re redistributing portions of that blog post onto you know, say LinkedIn or Instagram as a leader, right? The questions you need to be asking yourself (because we have to ask the right questions)

  • How are you managing those links internally? I just told you, that I’m using Air Table.
  • How do you know which Instagram posts belong to which YouTube video and vice versa? You’ve got to have some fields in there that link them together.
  • And how do you know which blog posts are related to the next blog posts? That would be tagging and categorization.

Those are the questions that you’re going to want to ask yourself, about how you’re going to organize your content and your business.

Now, Daniel Pink also made the point that artificial intelligence isn’t all bad, it doesn’t have to have the bad rap that we give it. It’s, for example, why we don’t have to do long division in our heads anymore. It’s how we use spreadsheets to do very, very complicated calculations. But we still have to ask the right questions. A human still has to design the calculation on that spreadsheet. Thus, human intelligence will augment artificial intelligence going forward.

We still have to be the big thinkers, the big dreamers, and the big strategic brains that guide that artificial intelligence. 

What is the goal of your content?

Content as a Sales Pipeline

I use the content as a sales pipeline. I am very clear about this. I use my podcast as a sales pipeline. If I ever get real about a YouTube channel, I’ll do the same thing. I will use that content as a sales pipeline.

I did reference that when I said that Roberto Blake talks about filming all of your FAQs. That way, when someone asks you a question online, you can just point them to that YouTube video. They might, at that point, then dive down the rabbit hole of all your other YouTube videos, and get all the frequently asked questions out of the way, so when they come to you, they are not just a warm lead, they’re piping hot.

Content Monetization

For the content entrepreneurs at the Creator Economy Expo, the goal was monetization. Now, they might not be doing it the same way I am as a service provider, they might be looking for, you know, affiliate deals and ad revenue, but monetization is the goal. Making money is the goal and with that, depending on a single revenue source is dangerous.

 at CEX 2022

Jeremiah Owyang referenced former LinkedIn CEO and founder Reid Hoffman, who said that at any point, they had five revenue streams. So you know, if ads weren’t doing so well, they would turn up one of the other streams using them like levers. Joe Pulizzi, referenced four to six revenue streams for most creators from that big study that he’s done. So if you’re only on one platform and something goes wrong, your revenue disappears. That would be not a happy day.

Decentralizing Your Content

This is where decentralization comes in. If you’ve heard that term thrown around, you’ve probably heard it regarding Facebook or Meta, you’ve probably heard it with Elon Musk and Twitter and the big buyout. People are leery of any single tech giant having too much control. And with good reason! We probably all know someone who lost their entire Facebook or Instagram account and couldn’t get it back even if they did nothing wrong.

Jordan Harbinger said it really well. He said ‘’If Google sneezes all the creators on YouTube get a cold’’. If you’re depending on YouTube for all of your revenue, that would be a not-happy day in your world. Now he’s a podcaster. And he said this in terms of repurposing content. Podcasting is fairly decentralized. There’s no one source anymore. You can survive even without your show being on Apple podcasts now. But he was talking about repurposing your podcasts onto other platforms, you can’t depend on just one of those platforms to bring people back to your podcast.

He also talked a lot about attribution, again, speaking to my little data measurement heart, and how it’s really difficult. He referenced some people are saying, Oh, TikTok has been great for my podcast. And his argument was, that you can have 100 people hear about your podcast on TikTok but how many of them are actually hopping over to the platform right there? Probably not too many. So he was reminding people, that your main engine should be decentralized.

Bringing Your Audience To Your Own World

For quite a while I’ve heard leaders talking about building your list.

If you want to avoid the pitfalls of relying on your social platform for income, you need those audience members on your email list.

Brennan Dunn at CEX 2022

Brendan Dunn, the owner of Create and Sell, gives some really incredible email personalization and segmentation techniques. And I’ll soon be implementing some of these. His take on it is that the difference between a salesperson and a typical marketing person is that the salesman is curious and asks questions. You know, what is your problem? How is that working for you?

He sets his email up as close to a curiosity-invoking salesman as possible. He referenced a HubSpot statistic that 57% of people are okay providing personal information on a website, as long as it’s for their benefit and being used in responsible ways. I like that; it’s a good reason to invest in technology that segments your audiences because it helps us audience members get better results from your content engine.

As Brennan said, “Given what I know about you, how can I help you further?” If you can automate some of that process, you can have’, as he said, “a $369 a month employee.” That’s how much he pays his email platform. (For the record, I don’t pay nearly as much. I’m sure he has a bigger list than I do as well.) But that is a very low-priced employee doing a lot of segmenting automated work that will allow you to create more authentic content in the future, and deliver the authentic content to the appropriate person. 

I want to leave you with one question.

How else can we include our audience paying (or not) in our world in a decentralized way?

You’ve already heard me talk about bringing them to the list. It’s always been my goal. Shameless plug here: If you’re not on my email list yet, why not? I’d be really curious to hear why not. But this is my big question after this conference, and it’s one I’m going to be pondering on an ongoing basis.

  • How else can I include my audience in my world?
  • What incentives can I give them to do that?
  • What value am I going to be returning in return?

So that’s where I’m at with this. The big takeaway I had is I am doing a lot of right things, but how can I deepen it?

How can I deepen it for my audience and give them more value in a fairly automated way?

But with authentic, automated content, and authentic automated marketing, these are well within your reach. I learned a lot of tactics while I was at this conference. Now it’s time to apply them. And I’m hoping that something you read in this article sparked as well.

What is one way you can do the same, what is one way you can deepen that relationship with your audience provide more value, and ultimately bring better leads and more revenue into your business as a result? 

So if you had that spark, I would love to hear it. What did you find useful? And if you did find that value, who can you share it with? I know that this conference wasn’t huge, we had about 350 attendees, I believe. So there are a lot of people out there that have not heard this content, who are you going to share it with?

And how are you going to make your business better and deepen those relationships along the way?

Are you ready to create a measurable content plan?

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