Coming up with content ideas can be tough, if you don’t know what to talk about. Sounds reasonable, right?
There are a lot of factors involved in developing your content ideas, including talking to your audience to find out what they need and want from you. But there’s work that you need to do on your end first, and that’s developing your own zones of genius.
Your zones of genius already exist, but you probably haven’t put them down on “digital” paper yet. In this episode, I’m sharing with you how to get those ideas from your head to the computer screen.
Getting really clear on your zones of genius can help you gain clarity in your business and your content and it will help your content flow in a way that you’re no longer tied to your computer.
Tune in now! And be sure to sign up for the free Ask Your Audience Challenge LIVE that starts on September 27!
Mentioned in This Episode
Abby Herman 0:08
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 138 of The Content Experiment Podcast; a podcast that 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.
Abby Herman 0:40
I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and coach for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online. I firmly believe that success isn’t about what big marketing brands and so-called “gurus” think is the right thing. It’s about you and your business, your lifestyle, and, frankly, your values and belief systems. You get to do business in a way that works for you.
Abby Herman 1:03
Now, you hear a lot of talk in business about zones of genius. And if you’ve read the book, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, you’re pretty familiar with the term. In The Big Leap, Gay refers to your zone of genius as the place where you work best, where you’re most productive and feel just like you. I talk about zones of genius a little bit differently, but with the same general idea. When I work with clients, your zones of genius are the topics that you’re most comfortable talking about and sharing with your audience; it’s where you are an expert. And on today’s episode, you’re going to learn a bit more about my perspective of zones of genius, why they’re so important, how to find your own zones of genius, and what to do once you know yours, and how the heck all of this relates to content.
Abby Herman 1:54
But before we dive in, welcome to the podcast. I make sure that this podcast is full of no-nonsense support, to help inspire you to get your message out there and give you the actionable steps you need to make it happen, so you can get on with business your own way. If you like what you hear, hit the subscribe or follow button so you don’t miss another episode. And if you’re a repeat listener, and you haven’t already left a rating and review, I would be so grateful if you’d hop over to your favorite podcast app and do just that.
Abby Herman 2:27
One of the things you’re going to learn today is that knowing your zones of genius is incredibly valuable in developing your content strategy. It’s a must in my book, and I know that we don’t often like to talk about shoulds and have-tos and all of that, but you really need to know your zones of genius. But something else that pairs really well with your zones of genius is knowing exactly what your audience needs and wants from you. And you can take that information and incorporate it into your zones of genius, as I’m going to talk about in just a bit. Getting input from your audience is essential in developing the right content in the right place. And the only way to figure out what they need and want is to ask them. If you listened to Episode 134 with Marcus Sheridan, you know this.
Abby Herman 3:16
Well, I have some help for you in this area, in this arena, I have a free challenge that can help you figure out exactly what your audience wants, what to ask them, what to do with the information once you get it…and you can access and take the challenge anytime. But I’m actually running it live starting September 27, because I know how valuable individualized feedback and support is, and that is exactly what I do when I run the challenge live. So if you go to thecontentexperiment.com/ask you can sign up right now for free. And again, we get started on September 27. Let’s get on with the episode and zones of genius, how about that?
Abby Herman 4:02
So what are zones of genius? Zones of genius are the big ideas that you can talk about in your business, the main ideas that relate to your offers and your services, your products. These are the big ideas that your audience comes to you for. They’re the things that you can talk about over and over and over again. And never run out of information, never run out of knowledge to talk about. Maybe they’re big ideas that you can talk about in multiple different ways. Essentially, your zones of genius are your go-to big content ideas. They’re the basis for most of your content moving forward; not necessarily all of it, but most of it. So they’re the big ideas.
Abby Herman 4:50
And let’s talk about why it’s so important that you know your zones of genius, that you know what they are. Your zones of genius, knowing these, it’s going to help you focus your message and ideas. What if you had incredible clarity on what were you going to, what you were going to publish for your audience? You have these big ideas that you’d like to talk about, they probably align with your mission and values. Think about how much easier would it be to come up with conten,t and ideas in general, if you know like exactly what your content should focus around? You have your go-to main topics, those are your zones of genius. And when you come up with your next big idea, the next business idea, the next thing you want to launch, you can really determine whether it aligns with your messaging or the needs of your audience. And it will help you decide, “Is this something that I should do in my business? Is this the next thing I should be doing?”
Abby Herman 5:51
Another reason why you need zones of genius is it helps you “stand for something.” What is it that people come to you for? What are the big ideas that you talk about? Publishing content on a whim is not a good idea. It doesn’t always align with your overall message, and using the whim or “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to business, to content, can get really muddy and busy, not in a good way, and just make it really confusing for your audience. So your zones of genius is determining those big ideas that you talk about again and again. And most of your content will relate to your zones of genius, not all of it, but most of it.
Abby Herman 6:40
So how do you figure out your zones of genius, your big ideas? So your zones of genius are not all of the things that you can possibly talk about, because honestly, you could probably create an endless list of topics of all of the things and we’ll get into that in a little bit of like what that looks like. But these are the big ideas. So it’s four or five big ideas that encompass the things that your prospective clients and customers need from you. I’m going to give you a few examples from the online service based business arena. So for a business coach, you probably work with clients on mindset, business growth, marketing, empowerment, and so those might be your zones of genius: mindset, business growth, marketing, empowerment. For a business or operations manager, you probably work with clients on time management, project management, hiring team, building; so those might be your big zones of genius. For a bookkeeper, your zones of genius probably have to do with money mindset and Profit First, if that’s the method that you use, so those could be some of your zones of genius. It could also include working with an accountant, accountancy. For a book editor, your zones might be around book development and ideas, book marketing, business development, and maybe even different types of publishing.
Abby Herman 8:13
So those are all really business-related zones of genius. You might also include zones of genius that revolve around diversity in your business, that might be a zone of genius for you, or inclusion; you could combine the two. There might be other things that you want to include in there that are more personal. I know one business person who she talks a lot about sustainability and the environment. What is your passion, and you know, what are some values that you hold personally and in your business that could, you know, that are something that you want to talk about, that you want to reflect in your business? I want you to ask yourself, “What are the things my audience needs to know about? What are the big topics related to what I do in business? And then again, are there any personal passions that I want to connect to my business? What do I never tire of talking about?” Those are likely your zones of genius. And again, try to limit those to four or five, especially if you’re newer in business. And also think about big ideas. This is about bigger ideas, not micro ideas; we’re going to get into those smaller, micro ideas next.
Abby Herman 9:32
All right, so once you have a list of four or five big ideas that encompass all of the things that your prospective customers and clients need from you, it’s time to think about alright, what are we going to do next? What happens next? So once you know your big ideas, it’s time to build the smaller ideas, the micro ideas around them, so I recommend opening up a spreadsheet, or you can even do this pen to paper, whatever works for you. I like to use Excel spreadsheets. And put your zones of genius at the top. So you have in the columns, at the top of the column, line one, column one: you have your first big idea. Line one, column B, I think I said that wrong, but B have your next big idea, and so on across the top of your spreadsheet. Then underneath that, brainstorm all the things your prospective clients need to know, or be able to do, before they can make a good purchasing decision from you. Because while yes, you want to offer value in all the content you put out there, the ultimate goal, you guys, the ultimate goal is to sell, right? Like, we’re in business to make money. I like to sell things. I like to make money. I want to provide value, and I want to support my clients in any way possible. But I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t actually selling things too, so…and I imagine that you are in the same place. So you want to give them the information they’re asking for that will allow them to buy from you.
Abby Herman 11:13
So let’s give you a couple of examples. So for the bookkeeper, let’s say one of your zones of genius, maybe you’re a Profit First bookkeeper, and the things underneath that, so the small ideas underneath Profit First, would be (and this is easy for me because I actually work with a bookkeeper in this arena), so some of the things would be: What is Profit First? How do you determine your allocations? Why do you only do your distributions twice a month? You could have a separate article about each of the topics around Profit First, or each of the bank accounts that you use. For the operations manager, talking about hiring, when to hire who to hire first, how to recruit new employees. You know, for the business coach, talking about business growth, how much is too much growth, the things you need in place before you start growing, how to, you might even talk about hiring there, as well, in the business growth, bringing on team members, bringing on contractors. So you want to really brainstorm the ideas within your spreadsheet and just start putting in ideas. No idea is a bad idea when you are brainstorming.
Abby Herman 12:36
You can also think about questions that you might ask: who, what, when, where, why, how. Incorporate questions, because, again, if you listened to Episode 134 with Marcus Sheridan, they ask (so your audience is asking questions), you’re answering. So what are the questions they’re asking you? Put those in your spreadsheet. And yes, like this goes back to your audience. Your audience should drive your content, to a point. You need to give them that they what they want, if you want them to stick around. So of course you have goals in your business, you have products and services that you’re offering, and you want to create content that drives people to that stuff, you know, the things that you’re selling. And you probably have done some market research to determine whether that is what your audience actually needs.
Abby Herman 13:32
Anytime you’re creating content, engaging, informative content that offers value is a must. Yes, you are going to make asks, you are going to drive people to your email list; all of that. But the you know, like you do need to offer value. So again, like as you’re trying to figure out, “What does my audience really need and want?” The Ask Your Audience challenge, which is totally free, I’m running starting September 27; that is going to help. If you go to thecontentexperiment.com/ask to sign up that will help you figure out, “Okay, what are the questions that they’re asking? And what can I put on my spreadsheet?”
Abby Herman 14:14
Now of course, just because you develop your zones of genius today doesn’t mean that they will remain the same three years or even one year from now. Maybe even six months they might shift a little bit. It’s okay if they change. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the work; you do need to do the work. They will change as your business grows and develops and as you shift the way you work with clients. I recommend reviewing your zones of genius, that spreadsheet that you built, every three to six months or, and/or every time you feel a little shift in your business. Take a look at the top of the spreadsheet and ask yourself if those big ideas, those zones, still resonate with you. And if they don’t, archive (don’t delete them, just archive them) and start a new column.
Abby Herman 15:04
The biggest thing I want you to take away from this conversation is that you need to have some focus in your content. This helps you attract the right people to you and hold their attention with great value. And knowing what those big ideas are, having that focus, will make creating content so much easier for you. Again, the Ask Your Audience challenge can help you take the next step by teaching you how to survey your audience in a way that gives you all the information that you need. You can join us at thecontentexperiment.com/ask for that free challenge. It’s five days, probably an hour each day total is all you need to both get the instruction and do the homework. We get started on September 27. And I’m really really excited to run this challenge live again; I haven’t done it since last September, and live instruction is my favorite, you guys.
Abby Herman 16:01
Now 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 on Instagram stories. Tag me @thecontentexperiment and let me know, and let your audience know, your biggest takeaways. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone. Until next time, take care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai