Episode 100: The Content Experiment - The Content Experiment
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Episode 100: The Content Experiment

Can you believe we are celebrating the 100th episode of The Content Experiment Podcast? If you were expecting The Stories in Small Business Podcast, you’re in the right place. Welcome to version 2.0– and you’re going to love it. We will continue to explore what increases value for your audience and what grows your business without all the noise and the fluff.

On today’s episode, I’m sharing why it’s important to take the big-name online business and marketing “guru” advice with a grain of salt and encouraging you to forge your own content marketing path. We explore why it’s important to give yourself permission to take chances, try new things, and most importantly, do what feels good for you… It’s all one big experiment anyway!

Don’t forget to register for The Content Experiment Summit! You can sign up for the waiting list right now at The Content Experiment Summit; the doors open to the waiting list on Feb. 26. The summit features 25+ speakers over five-days delivering actionable, bite-sized presentations to help you get a better ROI on your content and marketing. If you’re listening to this episode after the fact, don’t worry, you can sign up to be on the waiting list for the next round!

Tune in!

Mentioned in This Episode


Abby Herman:

Welcome to episode 100 of The Content Experiment Podcast. Yes, that’s right. Episode 100. Can you believe it!?

You probably notice a new name, a new look, and an overall new vibe here today. I’m thrilled to make this change here–and it’s something that’s been a long time coming.

If you’ve been around for a while, you’re in the right place. This is the Stories in Small Business podcast, 2.0–and you’re going to love it. You’ll still find great interviews that are packed with VALUE and not fluff. I’m still committed to doing this podcast thing a little differently–with the focus on delivering value to YOU.

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m SO looking forward to this journey with you.

No matter how long you’ve been tuning in, be sure to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss a single episode. And if you’re feeling called to do so, a 5-star rating and review will help this podcast get in the earbuds of more listeners.

The Content Experiment Podcast supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets in any business and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it ALL right, ALL of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience and what grows your business. And most importantly, what feels good for you.

It’s not about what the big marketing brands and online gurus think is the right thing; it’s about you and your business. Your lifestyle and, frankly, your values and belief systems.

Today’s episode is going to be a little different from most. I want to share with you about where the content experiment came from, why the big content overhaul doesn’t work, why I opted to NOT have the big rebrand launch and my beliefs around doing ALL THE THINGS that gurus tell us to do.

I’ll try not to be ranty, but, you know, sometimes that’s warranted.

Back on episode 84, I talked a bit about the upcoming summit and changing the name of my business. I recommend listening in to that episode, but I want to share the story here too. It’s a bit personal and a bit vulnerable. Bear with me. It DOES loop back to the content experiment.

In the summer of 2020, I went on a health journey (you can listen to more about that on episode 61 with Allison Jordan). After a series of tests to find out why I was feeling so terrible all the time–tired ALL the time, bloated, upset stomach, fogginess, not able to lose weight, achiness, you name it–and it all felt chronic to me, we discovered a number of food sensitivities–one of which was gluten.

Well, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I love a good IPA. And if you’ve met me in person, you know that I really love my IPAs. It’s not a secret and I made little effort to hide it. In fact, I celebrated my love of beer on my website and on social media–and at in-person networking events and conferences. To a fault.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that if you have a gluten sensitivity, you can’t drink beer. At least not the beer that I enjoy. And when the tests revealed some other issues, including leaky gut and decreased liver function, I knew that the IPAs needed to go. In fact, all alcohol needed to go. It was something that was a long time coming, frankly.

Fast forward a few months and I knew that while I kept saying that quitting alcohol was temporary, I knew deep down that it would be–needed to be–permanent. If I’m being honest, it took two celebratory evenings in September of 2020 to be reminded of that and I was completely done.

If you’ve ever quit a bad habit or know someone who has, you know that it’s not easy. You know that it takes time and support to be successful.

So I went looking for that support. I found it in a few places, but one place was in a book, This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. She has a podcast of the same name that I highly recommend. In her book, Annie talks about the Alcohol Experiment, a 30-day “experiment” where you try out different things to help you give up the booze. Some things work for some people, other things work for others. You get to pick and choose your own solutions.

This goes for ALL things in life, by the way. YOU get to choose.

Now I didn’t participate in the experiment, but the idea of it really resonated with me.

No one is going to get it ALL right, ALL of the time, right away. It’s okay to play around and experiment. When something doesn’t go as expected, you make some tweaks and try again. I mean, we don’t get parenting right from day one. We don’t get relationships right from day one. Heck, we don’t get driving right from day one.

Nothing is ever perfect from day one. And that’s okay.

The same goes for content and marketing. (I told you we’d get to the business side!)

I see SO many business owners wanting to put together THE plan. You know, the perfect, over the top plan that attracts the masses from the first piece of content they publish. And they get so invested in getting it right that, ultimately, they get overwhelmed, frustrated, inconsistent and end up quitting.

Then picking themselves back up to start again feels more difficult–and more jaded.

But what if we looked at our content and marketing as an experiment? What if we took what we were doing already, made a few tweaks and kept going to see how it landed? You know, like we do in life.

What if we didn’t have to get it exactly right, all the time?

I will tell you what will happen:

  1. We’ll stop trying to hold ourselves up to impossible standards
  2. We’ll reach (and help!) more people because we’re trying different things to get our message out there
  3. We’ll have a better return on our time and financial investments around content and marketing because we won’t waste a ton of time making big, sweeping changes
  4. We’ll stop being so frustrated by the time and effort it takes to create content because we’ll have permission to be imperfect
  5. We’ll remember that we’re human…and those gurus out there who look perfect really aren’t (or they’re a little out of touch with where we are in our own journeys)

I want to give you permission to experiment a little with your content and marketing. Try some new things out. Let go of things that don’t feel good to you.

It’s okay to change what you’re doing to help you get a better result.

Just like it was okay to change things in my life to make alcohol a non-issue for me. (And for the record, I’m going on almost 5 months when this episode comes out and I’ll never go back–I can say that confidently.)

If you’ve ever changed up your branding or hired someone to take on something in your business, you know that making big changes is a big project. It takes time, money, resources that you may or may not have. (And even if you do have those resources, we all know how difficult it is to actually use them. Or is that just me?)

Think about a home remodeling project. I’ve never heard of someone who remodeled their home and everything was done on time and on budget. It doesn’t happen.

Because there are always factors that you don’t consider. A subcontractor is running late on something. One of the necessary supplies isn’t ordered or it arrives–and it’s the wrong thing. Or you end up hating the kitchen backsplash that the contractors are installing–and put a hold on it so you can rethink it.

There are always things beyond your control. In business, you also have the coordination of all the pieces and parts that makes a good overhaul. And you have the time and money to consider. These are all important.

But you also have THE most important aspect to consider: Your audience.

I’ve seen too many business owners go through a big, sweeping rebrand. Or put together a long, intensive course. Or dig deep into a year-long content and marketing strategy–only to have it fall flat.

In the meantime, while they were doing ALL that work, they neglected other parts of their businesses or lives.

So when they don’t have the big success they hoped for, they’re devastated.

Save your time. Save your money. Save your sanity. Make little changes here and there, releasing a little bit at a time. It will all get done eventually, and I would bet money that either people won’t notice the imperfection or they won’t care at all.

I know this is hard for Type A people. That’s me too. But as I’ve gone on this rebrand journey myself, I’ve focused on what feels good and makes sense to me.

I’ve said before that any branding professional would probably freak out if they saw how quickly I decided on new colors and a new logo for the business. I honestly just decided. It took less than a day and a few back and forth Slack messages with my designer.

For the new website (which is live today and completely imperfect), I did the same thing. I hired someone to help and leaned on her feedback on what it should look like.

At the end of the day, it’s not the branding that matters. It’s not the $10k website (and my website did NOT cost me $10k). It’s the experience and outcomes I provide my clients. It’s how I feel about what I’m doing. And frankly, it’s about the lifestyle that I get to build because of how I run my business.

(Sidenote: My lifestyle has taken a bit of a hit these last few months as I juggle client work, the rebrand and the summit all at the same time. While also growing my team. But it’s very temporary and there’s a short-term plan to get to the next step.)

So that is all why the big overhauls don’t really work–and why I opted to not have a big launch of the new brand. It’s why, if you visit my website, you’ll still see some old branding here and there.

Honestly, I feel like the content experiment summit is enough of a big launch to make the splash I need. I didn’t know I was going to rebrand when I dreamed up the summit but it felt too right to not do it. (So maybe I am actually doing a brand launch without doing a brand launch.)

Now what about the Gurus?

I mentioned that the big-name online business and marketing “gurus” are out of touch. Let’s talk about that. Yep, there are “gurus” everywhere telling you that you HAVE to do this and you MUST do that if you want to be successful.

Let me tell you this:

First, take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Everything. Even what I tell you (and I’m far from a guru).
Understand that someone else’s business is NOT your business. You’re in different places and different stages, with different audiences and visions. And someone who is very well-known likely has a bigger team and more resources than you do so you can’t possibly keep up. (I know, I tried back in the day.)

I don’t doubt that the big-name marketing gurus know what they’re talking about. They do. But they speak from a different place than what you’re likely in right now.

So yes, listen to their podcasts. Take their courses, if you must. But do it with a lens of what will work for you.

I also want to say that oftentimes, big-name gurus are disconnected from where WE are in business. If you’re like me, you have your hands on most–if not all–of the things in your business. I have a small team–an operations role and a writer–as well as some contractors, and I’m currently hiring for an administrative role. But my hands are still in almost everything that happens in my business.

Bigger names don’t. And I think that’s often to YOUR detriment. Things have changed since the gurus have had their hands in everything, and they may not understand the time investment you’re making in all the aspects of your business. (And I KNOW that newer business owners don’t quite have the work/life balance in check yet. Even almost 8 years into doing this full time and I just admitted to being off the lifestyle wagon right now!)

So what’s a business owner to do?

Like I said before: Experiment.

Try out little changes in what you’re already doing. Tweak things to get a better ROI on your time and financial investments in your content and marketing.

Are you using video and want to know how to get more viewers? It might be the topics, where you’re publishing, when you’re publishing or how you’re talking to your audience that needs tweaking.

Have you been trying to get your message in front of more audiences, but are struggling with getting yesses? You might need to tweak your pitch or your message so it resonates with the right people.

Are you having trouble guiding your audience through a journey with you and not sure where the roadblock is? It might be that you don’t actually have a journey for them to go on–or that your content isn’t accessible to them.

And how do you find the support and resources you need to make these little changes–to find out how they work?

You attend The Content Experiment Summit, of course. I’ve gathered together some of the smartest people I know to develop a five-day experience to give coaches and course creators bite-sized presentations to help you make the little tweaks and changes you need to get a better ROI on their content and marketing.

Because maybe what you’re doing isn’t quite working for you–either you’re confused about what to create or what you are creating and publishing isn’t giving you the results you want. Maybe you want to start using a new platform or tool but you don’t know how to do that.

We’ve got you covered in The Content Experiment Summit.

The free summit features speakers on topics like automation strategy, online events, email marketing, content operations, selling with affiliate, honing your messaging, using podcasts to grow your business, customer journey, content accessibility and SO much more.

You’ll learn about growing an audience with Pinterest, using productivity tools with your content, leveraging live video, speaking to scale your business, maximizing your Facebook profile, staying profitable even during a pivot, identifying new places to use video, using personalized video messages and so much more

AND many of the 25+ speakers are people that you haven’t heard from over and over and over again. I’m hoping to introduce you to new powerhouses that give you permission to do things just a little bit different.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that’s important to me.

You can sign up for the waiting list right now at thecontentexperiment.com/summit; the doors open to the waiting list on Feb. 26.

I hope you’ll take to heart the idea of focusing on your audience and finding the support you need to experiment with you content a bit.

Stop wasting precious time and money on big overhauls and start making little changes today.

If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at abbymherman and thecontentexperiment. The more you share, the more we can spread the word that you don’t have to do business like everyone else. It’s okay to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content and your marketing to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience and what grows your business.

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