Why I Give Content Strategy Knowledge for Free

I give away a lot of content strategy and content marketing knowledge. I share blog posts, speak at conferences - heck, I even list my cell phone number on my contact page. Why would anyone give this much knowledge away for free?

It's not because this knowledge is valueless. Far from it. But I really believe that sharing the results of a skill does not transfer that skill. Watching a juggler and hearing her juggling stories does not make me a juggler. In that same way, I don't worry about other content strategists stealing my work; rather, I think the world is a better place the more people talk about content strategy.

Here's why "stealing ideas" is difficult in content strategy:

  •  Publishing mindset: Even if a competitor had all of my secrets - every deck I've done, every talk I've given - they still couldn't make it work. Only those with a publishing mindset truly understand why consistent, compelling content works and how to sell that in. 
  • Editorial mindset: Even if they could make it work, they likely couldn't keep it going. An editorial mindset is required in order to keep content fresh and engaging over time. 
  • Content strategist mindset: Even if they could convince clients and make content work over time, they likely wouldn't have the patience to audit in order to repurpose content. Most folks spend way more time and energy creating new content because it's fun and sexy. But it's often more cost effective to repurpose, but that takes a heap of diligence.
  • Agency mindset: Even if they could sell through content marketing, make it work over time and audit effectively, they likely couldn't translate that to other disciplines. Even a wise content strategist needs to understand user experience, information architecture, (some) design and copywriting. Knowing how these pieces work together is essential for actually building something of use.

I'm not special by any means. There are actually a lot of folks who have these same skills and experience. But those people are just as busy as I am. There has been no recession for digital content strategists, believe me.

The reason content strategists tend to share unreservedly is because the effort it would take to steal our work or ideas is actually more than the effort to apply those lessons to your own work.

I learn from other content marketers all the time. I take scraps of ideas that I then use in my work, but this happens in every endeavor. Delve into art history, as just one example, and you see "experts" building off of those who came before them, but crafting something altogether new in the process.

In the end, content marketing is a service, not a product. We are the catalysts of internal change management. We develop frameworks and processes and calendars. We may commodotize these into products, but our value comes from our service.  

That's the reason that the more I give away, the more I tend to receive - be it receiving business, insights, connections, etc.  You can't steal service. So, why not prove your worth and give knowledge away for free?