The 7 Essential Steps to Creating Your Content Masterpiece

The 7 Essential Steps to Creating Your Content Masterpiece

Reader Comments (73)

  1. “Don’t think of yourself as a “blogger.? Think of yourself as a writer. And an artist.”

    What a great advice. It really relates to your self-confidence too! And it also comes down to your mindset.

    “Write articles, not blog posts. Never think “Well, I’ve been serving up good stuff for a couple of years now, surely my audience will cut me some slack this week.?”

    This is so funny lol! Some may be tempted to do this! And the way you wrote this is so funny.

    Nabeel

  2. Bach’s 6 Brandenburg Concertos were among the greatest baroque compositions. He wrote them by way of a job application to the Margrave of Brandenburg. Not only did Bach not get the job, the good Margrave never even had the music played. The manuscript was placed in storage where it was found a hundred years later. Bach probably never even heard his masterpieces played.

  3. I really appreciate how you ended that by labeling us as writers instead of bloggers. The blog is just the empty canvas.

    I think that by re-purposing content (which is something that Copyblogger does like a real pro- and for good reason) and as you said, staying with your overall purpose, your content does not have to live for just a few minutes.

    I think that there are too many bloggers (ahem), I mean writers that just start writing without a niche in mind. This is where people get into trouble and lose readership fast.

    Bach was a composer and that’s it.

    Bach didn’t sell cars, books, and speaking engagements.

    Bach didn’t quit composing one day and then went out and tried to sell Herbalife to all of his buddies. He stuck with music no matter what. He began with the end in mind (to shamelessly borrow from Stephen Covey).

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  4. Great article Mark!

    It’s the productivity part that I relate to the most. I used to think I needed time to rest, to let ideas ferment before writing, but I was just being breative with my excuses for not sitting down to write.

    I’m more conscious about sticking to a publishing deadline and that is made easier because of your last point:

    “Remember why you’re doing this.”

    Gone are the days I thought I’d write one masterpiece, make it big and get to write for a living. I can write for a living now as long as I’m not lazy about it!

  5. He began with the end in mind (to shamelessly borrow from Stephen Covey).

    Joshua, don’t worry about borrowing from Covey – he shamelessly borrowed that line from Aristotle.

  6. Hey Mark,

    I like how you started it…Think yourself as a writer not a blogger. Lately, I have been making that shift. Mentally it makes you perceived as a professional. Someone with authoritative. Thanks for putting this together and sharing it.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  7. What a fascinating read.

    Goodness, I wonder what will happen to all these masterpiece blogs in years to come.

    I wonder how they will be presented and whether they’ll enjoy the notoriety of a master’s classic as we enjoy Bach.

  8. You’ve provided a ton of useful information here, Mark.

    I particularly like where you say to think of yourself as a writer, rather than a blogger and to think of your writings as articles and not as posts or blogs. That’s exactly what I’ve done since day one of my site.

    If you self-identify as a writer, rather than a blogger (IMHO) your writing will reflect the seriousness you take and you will automatically write for quality, pillar content that solves people’s problems.

    Excellent advice!

  9. What a creative post!

    As a musician and writer it is inspiring to reflect on Bach’s life and massive compositional output. The pace of his composing is hard to comprehend.

    Relating a master composer’s work to blog writing provides me with encouragement to make sure my posts provide lasting value. Also, I like the idea of viewing blogging as an art form. It is good inspiration for writing meaningful posts, and for developing a unique writing style.

  10. @Mark, I’m a big fan of #7.

    If you think of your textual blog posts as sheet music, it makes sense to go the next step and throw some audio and video into the mix. Sheet music is fine, but the melody of sight and sound is more pleasing to the senses, no?

  11. I love how you pointed out that creating a masterpiece involves being productive not being a genius or perfectionist.

    This can be applied to anything not just writing …it definitely puts ‘what you do’ in perspective to produce the best for your audience.

  12. With a now 6 month old baby in my care daily, it’s been tricky to try to find my balance again between my art and other stuff, other stuff winning out usually. But I’m going to get back to it, thanks to inspiration from you guys through this, and from my dad who just sent me like all the success.com stuff from Rohn, Hill and Ziglar.

    So it’s back to doing a painting a day! Trying to at least. We’ll see.

    Peace,
    @vinylart

  13. Mark…great stuff. I think what most companies don’t get is that their content marketing needs to be remarkable, different and serve a higher purpose. If your content is the same as everyone else’s, are you adding to the conversation or just creating noise.

    Love the seven points.
    Joe

  14. Mixing chip wrappers and Bach, now that’s creative.

    Good rephrasing of solid advice, with a couple of pointers that I hadn’t considered. Thanks Mark!

  15. It’s no wonder that I love Lateral Action. I have used a few trees, printing out articles like Brian’s “Guide to Becoming a Creative Entrepreneur”. It’s in the loo, where I do my best re-reading!

    Mark, this post will join the others on my bathroom reading stand. That’s the highest tribute I can pay you. Thanks for a great article.

    Steve Benedict

  16. Thanks Mark! Like Lucy said, this article shines as a masterpiece on it’s own.

    “Play it again Johann!? sure got me laughing. #6 is huge for me. That’s why I’m here soaking in all these brilliant insightful words.

    This will be read for years, not days. I love looking at the archives here. Sonia put together a great free course I’ve been taking – Internet Marketing for Smart People. It taps in to the treasure trove of articles written here these past years.

  17. Excellent! As the new saying goes… “Content, content, content” – is not only true for building a brand online for people to connect with you, but also means that the more volume of content you produce the greater your likelihood of creating something great. Love this article!

  18. Thanks so much for the rich content you packed into this post, thus illustrating your point to create timeless material as a writer and not just as a blogger. I also appreciated a reminder to not just focus on newsy or timely pieces – a ready temptation because those pieces gets attention.

    I also loved the words “relentless productivity,” emphasizing persistent quantity of writing that can lead to the production of quality. That’s a great challenge to each of us.

  19. This was an excellent post. Many good and great writers quit because of the amount of time that you have to spend in writing and writing and writing. This was a great inspirational piece. Thanks!

  20. One hell of a post.

    I like the idea that the more you actually publish, the more chances you give yourself to publish truly great pieces. Not only that, though, the more you publish… the more you’re writing and thus the better your writing will get, which leads to publishing greater stuff. Of course, I don’t take this piece of advice as an excuse to try to fulfill a quota of mediocre material, but instead to strive to be consistent.

    Since I’ve recently started a second blog, basically on just one subject, I’ve found that repeating yourself becomes almost inevitable. But it’s OK to do as long as when you do convey the same message, you do it in a *new way*. After all, repetition is the mother of all learning. And if something is important enough to say more than once, do it… just do it in a new way.

    That said… I don’t want to repeat the same message too much, which is why I’m striving to think more broadly and read more broadly so that my new blog remains ultra competitive and a joy to read.

  21. Thanks everyone, great to get home and read your comments. Glad to hear the Bach analogy (ahem) struck a chord. 😉

    @ Joe Tye – Fascinating, I never knew that about the Brandenburg Concertos, there’s probably another post article in that story…

    @ Shane – I know what you mean about multi-sensory engagement. Poetry works in different ways on the page or spoken aloud, so I guess it’s got content repurposing built-in!

    @ Daniel – If you can do a painting a day, your immortality should be assured!

    @ Joe – Yep, as @herdmeister points out, if you can connect your work with a sense of purpose, everything becomes easier and has a bigger impact.

    @ Steve – I’m honoured to make it into the Hall of Fame!

    @ Bamboo Forest – Yes, it’s no use churning out mediocrity – the challenge is to be creative AND productive (shamelessly borrowed from Brian. ;-)).

    @ Sonia – And amazing to think he did it all without Dragon NaturallySpeaking. 😉

  22. Can you say remix. Remixing is common in modern music so it doesn’t surprise me that it was so in Bach’s time. Same for writers. Re-hashing previous articles, or portions of previous posts is not a bad idea. I see many top bloggers do this and it’s actually refreshing.

  23. Wow! Great post. I feel like my blogging and article writings are more that just valuable content – they are a work of art!

    Thanks,

    Jim Hageman
    The Internet Marketing Innovator

  24. “Why choose writing…” I think this is the very soul of being a remarkable blogger… Being passionate on what we do brings out a natural flow of ideas, which then results to a masterpiece writing… On the contrary, feeling responsible to write for something blocks the free flow of ideas and produces dull posts…

  25. Thank you for the well written and motivating post! Writing is easier and less expensive than in any other time in history, but I am always critical of my work: “not original, been said a thousand times.” Bach is a good example of why a better presentation/use of the same can become timeless. Copywriting often seems to be re-writing ads from 30 years ago.

  26. Mark, thank you for this. Some friends and I are digging into Deliberate Practice… as a way of life. I capitalize deliberate practice deliberately, for emphasis. We’re finding it very difficult to square the demands of modern living – modern employment – with it’s demands on fire fighting, with the ability to develop deep-rooted creativity.

    Because it’s not enough to work hard. Lots of people work hard. We’re finding you have to work hard at the right thing. Otherwise it’s a waste of time.

  27. In my opinion, these are some of the most powerful lessons you can learn as a blogger, writer, or any type of artist. Unfortunately, they’re also the lessons no one wants to learn, which is why there’s so much room at the top of the mountain. Climbing is too damn painful.

    Nevertheless, I really appreciate this one, Mark. It’s a superb post.

  28. We are bloggers, not to immortalized by our words, but to express ourselves frequently through a fluid medium, which I think is somewhere safely between chip wrapper and masterpiece.

  29. In addition to high standards, effective productivity systems, et al, Bach had a wife who sacrificed most of her life to her husband’s career. AND he had servants, too. Likely his cantata and oratorio production would have come down a smidge without such extensive, external “support systems. “

  30. Hi Mark,

    First, I enjoyed your ‘writing’ style….nice flow of ideas….like notes on a scale…

    Secondly, while only 1 in a few million will be born a true musical or writing genius, your tips are certainly valid for anyone who’s hoping to turn their blog into a lifestyle…

    Thirdly, I have found it very motivating to remind myself that there are a lot of people who don’t know what I know!

    This was really driven home to me yesterday as I taught a half day seminar on SEO.

    I was asked to address a group of small business owners, who each had a business on the side that they wanted to ‘ramp up’ and get more web traffic.

    I was astounded to learn they had never heard of Digg or StumbleUpon or what a “long-tail keyword? was.

    I was blown away at what they didn’t know!

    But this knowledge really motivated me to continue to learn as much as I can, as there are many such folks out there who are thirsty for information which can help them achieve their immediate goal.

    By writing for the long-term, you guarantee yourself a place in the lives of the people who find your “art? in the future

    As you mentioned, Bach wrote for patrons….he was paid to be creative, and while many bloggers can only dream of blogging for a living, it’s trying to maintain a standard of quality which will outlive its originator that should be the goal.

    Write On!

  31. I personally think that knowing why you do something and making sure it’s strong enough to keep everything inline is important.

  32. Hi Mark!

    What a great read for a new blogg.. I mean writer! 😉

    I like nr. 4 best. It’s an awesome thing to keep in mind for anything we create, writing – music – visual art…

    Ah, and also: If you wanna make an impression, be sure it’s a good one 🙂 Bad things are just as easily (if not easier) remembered…

    Look forward to browsing your other articles, you’ve hereby gained a regular reader 😉

    ThoreyO

  33. Mark, I committed #6 of this article, big-time, and ref’d back to you. I must admit, I do that a lot when I find topics of interest that are so well-written and memorable, as well as along the same lines of what I had in mind to write myself, I can’t resist. You were brilliant to use Bach’s work as an analogy; perfect.

    Why reinvent the wheel when, collectively, we do so well working as a whole with contributed tips, ideas, and methodologies?

    My article—based on your article— 🙂 is at http://bit.ly/beOW09.

  34. A blog is merely an outlet, the same as a book, a journal or a column somewhere. It’s all writing; a skill that takes practice. Which you only get from, well, doing it. A lot!

    No success comes overnight. Not online, not ever. When it comes to producing quality work (of any creative kind, really), you must first produce at all. And the more you produce/write/ship, the better it will become.

    The comparison to Bach was a brilliant show of how this is a fundamental principle, which hasn’t changed at all over time.

  35. Top of the Morning Mark,
    I truly enjoyed reading your post. I love Bach and your reference to his style of work. All your points are great, I will make a habit of using them more often in my articles.

    Often, I invite people in my circle of influence as guest writers/bloggers to write in my article about my same topic in a different point of view. Then we link each others to give readers the opportunity to share our professional points of view on the same subject. Following there is one example:

    http://valentinadesigns.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/sweet-dreams/

    I also agree with Rasmus that “no success comes over night”. Practice, perseverance and goal setting make us better.
    Thank you for sharing. I want to know more.
    Valentina
    Interior Designer

  36. Well done. Bookmark it! Come back and reread for variety. The many who have commented have given you the applause this piece deserves.

    Bravo!
    Debby

  37. Hi,
    I’m currently in the process of creating content and getting ready to go live with my website, hoping for it to take off with me adding great content. I feel it so important to create the best content for your readship, i have postponed launch of my site until i get the content right!

    PS. Great blog, love to read it….

  38. Thanks everyone.

    @ Rasmus “A blog is merely an outlet, the same as a book, a journal or a column somewhere. It’s all writing; a skill that takes practice.” – Yep, nail on head.

  39. “What distinguished them was not effortless genius or leisurely perfectionism, but relentless productivity.”

    I needed to hear/read that – great line!

  40. Great blog – I like the way you used the composer Bach as the theme ..great idea ..and how it is OK to rejiggle your work on a topic

    Thanks

  41. This is a great article. As a musician I always marveled at how Bach had to produce such a volume of music and how amazing it was/is. Creative Genius is often the result of a lot of attempts; and Bach is the pinnacle example of this.

    Bach’s well tempered Clavier, a collection of pieces ot increase keyboard proficiency, is considered a masterpiece of writing; and yet it was created for the purpose of educating. The equivalent of a really good e-book in modern times that becomes an Amazon best seller!

    Your summary and comparison of his talents to modern applications was most excellent! Now I have to go and re-watch Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey! Thanks!

  42. Great post, with some excellent points.

    “Writing consistently well requires quality writing time. Make sure you’re spending the most productive time of your day on your writing.”

    I particularly like this key piece of advice. I think the quality of your writing can highly depend on the mood and time of day. For example, the most productive part of my day would be the morning. It’s best to identify when your strongest writing occurs, and play to these strengths in order to produce the best content.

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