Matthew Capala is an Internet entrepreneur, SEO strategist, speaker, and author. He is the founder of Alphametic, an organic growth accelerator, and SearchDecoder. Mathew is an Adj. Professor at NYU, and is the author of Amazon-bestselling book, “SEO Like I’m 5.” This article was first published on Medium.
Being interesting isn’t just about learning how to become a good conversationalist. You need stories to tell.
I realized it early in life. In every job and at every stage of my life I had unique content that gave me an edge, and eventually propelled me ahead of the pack. You need to offer your network or your company something of value to differentiate yourself.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
How do you become someone worth talking to, or even better, worth talking about?
You need to tell stories through native content.
Now, Google your name. Does your content come up? I hope it does. It’s your zero moment of truth.
Your content is your work portfolio. It’s your differentiator. It’s what makes you stand out among the timid masses no matter who you are and where you are from.
It shows you’re interested and involved in the world around you. Shows your expertise. It’s what makes you interesting in life, and on the Internet.
It’s the message that will make your personal brand stand out, attracting others to become part of your network.
Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, describes content as ‘a cause, and idea, trend, or skill—the unique subject matter on which you are the authority.’ He explains further:
Content involves a specialized knowledge. It’s knowing what you have that others don’t. It’s your expertise. Being known is just notoriety. But being known for something is entirely different. That’s respect. You have to believe in something for people to believe in you.
It’s old news that every individual is a media company, yet so many are slow to embrace the new reality. The middle class has caved in, the jobs are disappearing, and EVERY industry is in a process of transformation.
We live in a “Choose Yourself” era
The Internet has changed everything. It disrupted traditional business models—no longer can you rely on a corporation or government for a life-time job security. Those days are over.
In order to keep up, individuals need to transform as well. If we are going to survive and thrive in the new digital economy, we need to choose ourselves, explains James Altucher, author of Amazon self-published hit Choose Yourself:
The world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government. It’s all crumbling down. No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.
The ethic of the Choose Yourself era is to not depend on those stifling trends that are defeating you. Instead, build your own platform/brand, have faith and confidence in yourself instead of a jury-rigged system, and define success by your own terms.
The Internet and social media have democratized marketing on the Internet. The playground has never been better for individuals to bypass the middlemen. New tools and economic forces have emerged to make it possible for many individuals to create art (i.e. content) and make millions, without relying on big record labels, corporations, publishing houses, or governments to pick you. Millions of people around the world have become ‘soloprenuers’, making enough money online to live a happy Internet lifestyle.
I recently read Hugh Howey’s self-published postapocalyptic sci-fi thriller Wool, which sold more than half a million copies and generated more than 5,260 Amazon reviews. Hugh raked in more than a million dollars in royalties and sold the film rights to Alien producer Ridley Scott…
…and all that happened before Simon & Schuster released the book.
In a highly unusual deal, Simon & Schuster acquired print publication rights to Wool while allowing Hugh to keep the e-book rights himself. He self-published Wool as a serial novel in 2011, and took a rare stand by refusing to sell the digital rights.
“I had made seven figures on my own, so it was easy to walk away,” says Hugh Howey, 37, a college dropout who worked as a yacht captain, a roofer and a bookseller before he started self-publishing. “I thought, ‘How are you guys going to sell six times what I’m selling now?’ WSJ reported.
Publishing houses that once ignored independent authors are now furiously courting them.
It’s a sign of how far the balance of power has shifted toward authors in the new digital publishing landscape. Self-published titles made up 25 percent of the top-selling books on Amazon last year. Four independent authors have sold more than a million Kindle copies of their books, and 23 have sold more than 250,000, according to Amazon.
The conventional methods for content distribution are being disrupted
In another example, Alex Day, a DIY, YouTube sensation, with no record label and mostly on just the support of his YouTube fans, released his latest album in the UK the same day Justin Timberlake did. Alex Day beat him.
Here is how Alex Day, a 23 year old unsigned musician, explains his success:
I started in 2006 with 30 subscribers on YouTube. I began talking to the audience that was there and making videos directly for them and replying to comments, but I never saw it as a ‘fan base’ — I mainly just figured we were all bored kids.
I really don’t feel the need to gig when I can reach my audience online and hit everyone at once, all over the world, and not exclude anybody, which a tour doesn’t do.
If you would like to read the Alex Day’s story in full, read his interview with James Altucher: How to Be a YouTube Star and Beat Justin Timberlake in the Charts. I highy recommend it.
Personal branding is NOT about you, it’s about your content
Tom Peters, a best-selling writer on business management practices, best known for In Search of Excellence, wrote:
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be successful today, our most important job is to be head marketer of the brand called YOU.
As a marketer and an entrepreneur, I am keenly aware that perception drives reality. However, the times have changed. No longer can you put up a promo video on YouTube or publish an article on Forbes with a help of a ghost writer and a PR agency, and expect to be Internet cool. It needs to be YOU. You need to be authentic and act like a user.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, your number one job is to build your credibility on the Internet through native content and social connections.
I call it the three Cs of inbound marketing. Your content will become the guiding star of your brand, helping you establish credentials and build relationships with others. It will open the doors you have never imagined to be unlocked.
Are you an introvert? Or an immigrant like myself? English is not your first language? No worries. The Internet offers many tools and platforms for all to succeed. Pick the platform that best fits your creative passions and create art. Below are 10 proven tips anyone can follow.
Your content—provided that it is (1) great/compelling/relevant, (2) original/unique/authentic, (3) and native to the platform you are using—will attract more and more people to you and your message, and you will stand out in an increasingly cluttered world. If you ‘choose yourself’ and persist, you will find it easier to win new friends and have more say in what you do and where you work.
Your content establishes your worth. It articulates what you have to offer, why you are unique, and it gives a reasons for others to be interested in you. Keith Ferrazi makes it plain:
By making the effort, you can break the glass-celling by expanding people’s view of your capability. It’s the email you read because of who it’s from. It’s the employee who gets the cool projects.
I am currently self-publishing two books. One of them was inspired by a popular collaborative e-book project, Away with the Average, which I published on Medium. I am planning to crowd-fund it on IndieGoGo to hire a designer and an editor. I am a bootstrapping dreamprenuer. For life.
I hope you are too.
Read Next: The new rules of content monetization