8 awesome content creators using personality to win you over
Effective content is really a person. A person you picture in your mind, speaking their chosen words in a distinct way.
Even for bigger brands, good writing places a voice into their work, making you feel something towards them. I believe we engage and respond to good content because of one big trait – personality.
A defined personality separates every Tom, Dick or Harriet out there. But it is can be a challenging thing to grasp.
I found it difficult when I started blogging. I followed lots of advice on finding the niche where you can try to put your spin on competitive topics. Tactics were my mainstay, good headlines, longer keyword phrases, quality links and action packed first paragraphs, but none increased my traffic or delivered the users I wanted.
Something had to change, so I went back and researched the key writers whose content I regularly engaged with and what they were putting out. It was there right in front of me, and why I wanted their stuff in the first place.
They were being themselves in their approach. They were authorities who had ‘outside of the box’ individualism. They defined who they were, and how they would communicate, and grew more as they went along.
How do you show personality in content? The best way possible, clear-cut examples.
These are my eight examples of people, businesses, and movements who consistently produce writing that’s uniquely their own. Each is compelling, interesting and idiosyncratic in very different ways.
Let’s start with an entrepreneur who wanted to dive into experimentation of lifestyle, fitness, productivity, and business to see how the established way of doing things worked and what alternative approaches stood out.
He’s been called a life hacker by some (a buzzword of sorts) who burst onto the scene with his first book, ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’, which had his take on work and lifestyle hacks that would free up more time by working the right way and not the long way.
Ferriss produces a lot of content these days including blogs, ebooks, and most notably, his weekly podcasts. He interviews people who excel in a certain field to find out how they succeeded. Everyone from quantum physicists, psychedelic drug medical researchers to comedians, filmmakers and NAVY seal military officers.
There’s a friendly informality to his approach. Ferris is giving you insights into these amazing people without overstaying his welcome with them.
That sense of curiosity and pragmatism floods the content he puts out.
The personality – curious, receptive, action-orientated and humorous.
Ferriss keeps his content writing as his own unique view but his audience wants to find out more.
He’s a team player and wants to give information to them that’s not just cookie-cutter entertainment. His brand voice is unmistakable, and although he is the centre of gravity in his content it never lets this get in the way of what he wants to explore.
That interest in left of centre ideas and experiments flows through his content.
Writer and blogger, Maria Popova, started her Brain Pickings website as an email to seven (that’s right, seven) friends and now it’s grown to over 150,000 subscribers. Her consistent daily blog posts cover her thoughts on big ideas in philosophy, art, music, literature, politics and history.
Her posts are beautifully written artefacts of perspective, peeling away layers of shadow to seek out some truth about humanity. They are eloquent and it doesn’t matter what topics she wants to discuss, you read it because it’s good stuff. Yes, I am gushing here.
Reports have it that she devours twelve to fifteen books each week and hundreds of articles online. That’s a lot of material.
And they feed her ideas for new posts and solidify what she wants to discuss and what her audience will find interesting. Just don’t call what Popova does content, as she has no respect for that description for her work.
The personality – mindfulness, existential, creative, and perceptive.
You could say she’s the writer’s writer (or the blogger’s blogger) whose grasp of rhythm and language is like classic literature in the social media age. Her writing attempts to press points in her audience’s mind in terms of reflection and connection between sometimes far-reaching ideas.
She effectively writes for her own enjoyment, and seems happy that people love what she talks about well. And a friggin large number of subscribers agree.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus were apparently living the American dream of high paying corporate roles, each owning a beautiful house, and having the latest stuff decorating the halls. They thought they should be happy. They were far from it.
The stress of working over eighty hours a week to pay off their mortgages and purchase other trendy things were making them miserable.
After some big life events, divorces and family deaths, Ryan and Joshua looked hard at what they really wanted from their life and it wasn’t obtaining more stuff. They created a new website and blog discussing a new movement they were passionate about, Minimalism.
The content they produce for their website could have been preachy, a ‘stop everything you’re doing’ shout fest. It isn’t. In fact, the content has a chance to convince you NOT to try minimalism because they aren’t bullying or shaming you for being a consumer.
They talk about different ways it has made their life more meaningful and highlight them through great storytelling of their own adventures in this life change.
The personality – inclusive, vulnerable, idealistic and sociable.
Millburn and Nicodemus may talk about minimalism as a community movement but they are certainly the poster boys for it.
Their content tries to be honest and transparent with why they do what they do and their willingness to be vulnerable through it. It’s this openness and idealism that sets their writing apart.
With over 4 million subscribers, their content has tapped a nerve that many people are feeling right now.
Niche writing can be good. Scratch that, it can be awesome.
Katie Lane’s content glides the line between esoteric and educational with such assurance you arrive at your destination more enlightened than before. And she’s discussing topics that don’t normally light fires in people’s imaginations.
Work contracts, website policies, business negotiations and legal issues for creative freelancers is who Lane’s producing her resources for. But the fresh and pragmatic nature of her content attracts all freelancers wanting some expertise on those areas we shove to one side.
Lane is an attorney by trade, and having dabbled in performing arts and business, wanted to help creatives who may be unfamiliar on business contracts and negotiation matters.
But her articles are so easy to read that any business owner can take something from them.
The personality – fresh, alternative, down to earth and supportive.
Lane’s content is her view on freelancing legal issues. Her use of storytelling throughout her postings by highlighting contentious areas with scenarios or real life examples, makes her writing engaging and illuminating.
She speaks like your personal lawyer or business mentor passing on good advice on areas that can be cumbersome and boring.
Her content isn’t prolific but when she publishes you know there’s something to take out of it.
Content doesn’t have to charge you down like a bull in a Pamplona laneway. It can be succinct, reasoned and analytical even when talking about highly charged topics. Sam Harris produces content like this.
A neuroscientist and author, researching the mind and its fascinating complexities, has led him to do podcasts, write blogs and publish books on the nature of who we are or who we think we are. But his ideas on a host of topics including neuroscience, politics, meditation, spirituality and religion have made him quite a polemic figure. Especially on the many facets (and contradictions) on a subject like religion.
He doesn’t shy away from stating his view but what makes his content really interesting is his measured and academic approach to it.
Even if you don’t agree with him (and many people won’t), Harris is an excellent writer and able to describe his position without beating you senseless with it.
The personality – stoic, headstrong, academic and contemplative.
Harris doesn’t attempt to sidestep his views on controversial issues but tries to encompass his position with reasoning and research. It should come across as dry and distant or emotional and charged; the content is none of that.
Harris makes his point by reaching out to the intelligence of his audience and letting them decide.
Art and design blogs have a tendency to disappear up their own backsides of importance. With many bitten from that crippling disease blowing through the creative space – snootiness.
But Bobby Solomon’s The Fox Is Black is different.
Born in April 2007 (and originally named Kitsune Noir), Solomon’s voice comments on the creative spaces he loves; art and design. But he doesn’t gripe about what annoys him, he gathers the things that are taking off in the design space and highlights them in his blog posts.
And the range he brings to the table is awesome. Did you say you wanted to know the latest trends in bottle openers? Or find out the trials and tribulations of being a restaurateur in 2015? Or maybe finding out the best fitting condom for your size via certain vegetables? (yes, you read that correctly).
Like most people, I had no idea of what topics come bubbling to the surface until Solomon mentioned them.
But they became far more interesting because of his blog posts. The enthusiasm he pours into his content on art and design is so infectious, you cannot wait for what items or ideas will be revealed in his next post.
The personality – buzzing, idiosyncratic, and steely passion.
Solomon’s energy isn’t a ten-foot wave hitting you into the shoreline. It’s like he helps you up onto the surfboard and tells you how to ride the energy of the break towards the beach.
His personality is of the curator of what’s trending in the design world, with all its wildfire variations. His pieces are rarely long, they even come with a reading time, but they give his audience the ability to open their windows and take a look at what’s going on the periphery.
Toby Jenkins and Adam Franklin set up Bluewire Media as a resource for web marketers who want to make the most from their web marketing opportunities. Their journey, both the ups and downs, have contributed to their content creation.
Both guys are pretty honest about how they got started in the marketing game and how they’ve grown from these trials and tribulations.
They are also generous. This ideal spreads across all their content platforms, their ebooks, templates, podcasts, blog posts, and guest posts (which yours truly has written for). Their podcasts with successful entrepreneurs, business owners and other web marketers are pretty insightful on the pressures in the evolving landscape of web marketing.
What they create almost feels like an action plan on how to get better results from your marketing, and they invite others in these various fields to contribute to this plan.
The personality – generous, relatable, down to earth and approachable.
Generous and approachable are the key words here. They give the impression they are down in the trenches of digital marketing but have a waterproof map to help you navigate them. They want to build a lasting relationship with people.
Marketing can feel like another planet sometimes and Bluewire Media wants to bridge this disconnect for those who are interested.
And, this is definitely something I look for in my own content approach.
Another person in the freelancing fray who talks about her experiences of working as a small business operator is Rebekah Lambert. A freelance copywriter by trade, Lambert writes on the freelancing business life, the rollercoaster ride of it, and the smaller things that come up from working as one.
What makes her different? She’s frank.
And she’s direct on her own experiences and how other freelancers can use what’s been successful for her and avoid what hasn’t. Again her years of experience as a copywriter means that what she writes about is worth taking something from.
As a freelancer myself, that honesty and transparentness has helped me out over the years. All topics come up to the table – dealing with difficult clients, mental health, content creation, and working on your own – things that come up at some point in a freelancer’s working life.
The personality – honest, familiar, straight up and perceptive.
Rebekah gives the impression she suffers no fools, and will be upfront with any horrible experiences she has had through her freelancing efforts. Which makes her content all the more interesting.
She’s grown her audience by being an individual with her content writing, resisting any of the sameness a lot of online freelancing resources have.
I recommend subscribing to one of these writers if you want to see the type of content that is its own entity, its own self. The character they display in their writing makes the content they publish or broadcast worth your time in so many ways.
Personality is the reason I stay with them for the long haul.
And, like reading great literature or watching great films, there’s something to learn from the people who are doing something special or individual in the digital space.
My takeaway tip – think about the personality you want in your content, and make the reader feel this whenever they come across it.
P.S.- Sign up to a writer or content creator you admire. It’s more fun when you engage directly with what they publish. A lot more fun.
Want this personality in your content but lack the time or resources to do it? I know a writer who can bring this to the page, this guy!
Contact me today and get your content standing above everyone else.