Content Creation: Photography

Quick photos are easy, but capturing quality images takes the right equipment, complementary techniques, constant organization, and practice. With this combination activated, you’ll compile a diverse collection of organized content. Pictures say a thousand words, so you’ll be ready to bring any story to life.

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Photos are awkward, but everyone loves having them.

Let’s dive deeper by starting with an obvious fact. Smartphones allow anyone to be a photographer. These pocket-sized supercomputers deliver solid results with unmatched convenience. Taking photos with a phone is fast and easy, but it’s still worth taking time to frame your shot. Ideally, you’re able to leave extra room to make it easier to crop or straighten the image. Another simple trick is to avoid using zoom. Instead of zooming in or out, move physically closer or farther away from the subject. This will reduce the digitized blur in your photos. Also, no matter how good you get, you’ll never capture award-winning shots every time. Take more photos than you need, because something is better than nothing. Lastly, learn the tools of your phone to limit the amount of editing required after an image is captured. Think of filters and photo enhancement apps as secondary safety nets. They can be used to get creative, but the effects they add often damage the clarity of the original image. Like with writing, take a little extra time with your photos to support stronger storytelling.

When it’s time to add to your arsenal, a more advanced camera will serve you well. This camera should add many new angles, so consider how it pairs with your current equipment. Less expensive digital cameras have everything wrapped into one device. More expensive options have a body paired with the lens of your choice. For these cameras with multiple components, go with a body that support the type of photos and video you’ll be working with most. In addition to the features of a camera body, explore what lenses work with it. These attachments determine the photography you’re able to capture. They cost way more than they should, so leave plenty of room in the budget for a strategic lineup of lenses. If possible, start with two different lenses that offer very different capabilities. For instance, pair a wide-angle lens with a more concentrated lens to give yourself a full range of shots you can shoot. Fill in the gaps with more lenses, but having two very different lenses may be all you need. Renting a specific lens for a special occasion is also a fun way to shake things up. Quality equipment requires a chunk of change, but the investment pays off the more you use it.

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As you get comfortable with equipment, experiment with new settings, techniques, and software. I write about a few more advanced photography skills in YDNTB.

With moments memorialized in each photo, bring everything together with photo editing software. Photo editing software is easy(ish) to learn and will take your photography to the next level. In many cases, automatic tuning tools are all you need to perfect your images. As you learn basic editing techniques, let curiosity expand your photography and editing skills. This will push the boundaries of how your photography can be used to tell stories.

UP NEXT: Skill #3 – Videography

Content Creation: Writing

Marketing requires an ability to translate stories into written word. Creative writing impacts all aspects of marketing and is a skill that’s easy to enhance. The most effective way to improve your writing is to write. Whether it’s for business or for pleasure, the more you write, the better you’ll get.

The highest hurdle for building this content creation skill is that writing takes time. Writing is also difficult when you think of yourself as a poor writer. One way to tackle both barriers at once, is to sharpen your message everywhere you write. Make being a wordsmith a healthy obsession. Written articles, emails, social media posts, and even text messages can all receive thoughtful attention. When quality writing becomes part of your daily life, it’s more natural when you need it. Another exercise to build confidence is to write without the pressure of sharing it. This creates space to flex more creative freedom. As you fearlessly chronicle personal thoughts, you’ll get more comfortable with writing. Stories will eventually take less time to craft and you’ll be able to optimize anything for any audience.

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Speaking of optimizing content, You Don’t Need This (AUDIO)Book will be available October 15th! Audiobook pre-orders are now available and I’m hosting a party to celebrate the release at Beaverdale Books that Friday evening. Here are event details.

As you practice writing for business, consider the type of content you like to read. For most, less is more. Complex topics may need thicker encounters, but there’s value in being concise. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The modern attention span is never far from the next distraction. Put heart into your words, but don’t massacre the message with convoluted content. Clear, aligned, and concise content catered to the right audience is easier to hear and also to share.

When it comes to writing, those who care make attention to detail a part of their daily practice. Take pride in sharing words with the universe. Being a wordsmith ensures everyone receives your best every time. This results in well-written art that stands out with a consistent, more recognizable tone.

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Seth Godin suggests writing every single day. This daily cadence was considered as I built this website and blog, but a weekly reflection has been the right rhythm for me. Months later, I’ve remained consistent and I’m really thankful to have this growing treasure trove of published thoughts. If you’re exploring ways to write more, hit me up for encouragement, because the best day to start was yesterday, but the next best day is today.

UP NEXT: Skill #2 – Photography

Content Creation

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore six multimedia marketing skills to make students, entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and intrapreneurs dangerous.

Skill #1 – Writing
Skill #2 – Photography
Skill #3 – Videography
Skill #4 – Graphic Design
Skill #5 – Creativity
Skill #6 – Organization

Before we begin this series, which can also be found in You Don’t Need This Book, let’s start by examining the impact of content creation. When it comes to marketing, content is the currency used to earn attention. As attention is earned, content becomes the instrument to share stories with people who care.

Telling your story is easy, but doing so without becoming too self-serving takes practice. If your voice always sounds the same, it will pave a one-way street. Instead of always pushing content, curiously pull from your audience. Be inversely charismatic and socratic by asking sincere questions and leaning into motivational interviewing habits. Actively listen and interact within these absorbing conversations.

Don’t be afraid to spread the word, but limit your storytelling until it flows into the discussion. When your stories add value within the context of an existing conversation, your narrative will be more appetizing.

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Listening, sharing, and learning from stories is how humans communicate, work together, and evolve. When applied to marketing, the narratives we share connect us to people who help us succeed.

In the information age, content is available and consumed in infinite ways. This makes attention scarce, so stories wrapped around remarkable work becomes more important. Consistency is huge, but adjust content for environments that work in your industry. Aligned, yet diversified content will optimize how the world hears your story. Formulating a combination of text, graphics, photos, audio, and video will give you an edge. Consider what content gets noticed and compare that to how hard it is to produce. No matter where content lives, make it clear why consumers should care.

As content creation continues, encourage organic engagement that can translate into repeatable conversions. In the connected era, the easiest way to do this is online. The nice thing about digital content is that it’s used in so many ways, yet it’s the easiest to create. Even if it’s taking small steps at first, it’s worth learning how to create your own content. Multimedia marketers can forge content that is quick to digest and made to share. This allows ideas to spread. You win if people share your story, so let’s make it easy.

UP NEXT: Skill #1 – Writing

Slow & Fast

Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” -Kerty Levy

This tweetable thought randomly emerged over coffee today. It’s interesting how philosophies on life, wealth, and happiness evolve from entrepreneurial endeavors.

Perhaps it’s the personal nature of building your own business that causes such reflections? It might be the transformative skill of verbalizing your thoughts and ideas with others? Maybe it’s less about business and more like a beautiful side effect of mindfully aging?

The reason(s) and frequency at which you allow yourself to explore big ideas surely depends on the environment, people you interact with, and knowledge you pursue.

This makes me thankful for my own entrepreneurial experiences, but more important, the immeasurable blessing it can be to expand our minds by plugging into startup communities and entrepreneurial ecosystems. A willingness to show up and the trust built through such generosity has allowed me to become apart of so many other founder stories. As I mention throughout YDNTB, consistent action over the long run is required, but the remarkable insight we pick up along the way can provide a path toward true understanding for anyone, on almost any front. As we support entrepreneurs through the art of connection, the invitation to have more diverse discussions is unlocked more often. Whether it’s strategic, tactical or philosophical, what a gift this can become.

Along with stimulating conversations with agreeable people in a support network, it’s important to weave in perspectives from a challenge network. This is a group of disagreeable people we trust to point out blind spots, which helps us overcome our weaknesses with critical feedback we may not want, but need. Curious interactions within a challenge network also unlocks humbling opportunities to be wrong. This helps us avoid misguided confidence through intellectual humility, and brings us closer to the truth.

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Smart people change their mind all the time. Find joy in discovering you were wrong. You’re now less wrong than before, and when we admit it, we’re not less competent, we’re being honest and displaying a willingness to learn.

Life’s a Pitch

Humans are innate storytellers. We use stories to relay understanding. Whether it’s a caffeinated conversation, a business networking event, dinner with friends, or on-stage in front of others, entrepreneurs must be able to translate the story of their business to anyone.

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Pitches are built to impress. Presentations are meant to share. One size does not fit all. Consider the environment, audience, and format to cater how your story is told. Preparation that includes thoughtful awareness will optimize engagement.

Startup founders and small business owners should be able to pitch in any situation, on the spot, and without props. There are many templates that highlight key areas to include within a pitch, but the overall objective is to deliver a lasting impact in the least amount of time. Honest enthusiasm, transparent vulnerability, and concise simplicity are great ways to accomplish this. To prepare for any audience, it’s wise to craft a few different versions of your story. Here’s a collection to consider:

1 sentence – Sharp conversation starter.
42 seconds – Ideal for concise intros in a group setting.
6 minutes – Time to deliver enough detail needed to support valuable Q&A.
10 minutes – Room for more details, but be careful not to numb the audience.
1 hour – A talk meant to deliver value, with details of your business included.

Slide Deck Design

When a slide deck is part of the equation, take full advantage of this opportunity. Building a slide deck establishes the cadence of your performance. Slide decks should create flow while supporting your verbal presentation with clear and impactful visuals. Slides should not include full sentences or too many bullet points for you to read aloud. Titles or short phrases may help guide the audience, but great slide decks use very few words. When it comes to slide deck design, keep transitions between each slide simple, but consider how content comes and goes on each slide. Subtle animations and thoughtful hints of movement will help you stand out without being too distracting.

With a remarkable slide deck in place, practice your presentation and sync it to the timing of each slide. Whether you use animated content or not, it’s best to have a single click to move between each slide. On stage, your attention should be on connecting with the audience, not the slide deck or the clicker.

If questions are allowed after your speak, consider including supportive back slides. Back slides are placed after the final slide. They are used to highlight material not included in the main presentation. Handy back slides include detailed pricing, competitive analysis, marketing strategies, research data, and intricate financial information. People who understand what they’re talking about can use fewer words, and back slides allow you to deliver a strategically simplified presentation. For the audience, this reduces the numbing effect of information overload. With back slides ready, you can indulge in clarifying conciseness. This makes for a more impactful tone. It can even be good to purposefully leave out a curious topic from the main presentation. When the inevitable question pops, you can use the sneaky back slide to share a more focused response. Memorize the order of your back slides and you’ll soon be leading a more authoritative exchange. In short, back slides prove you’re a pro.

To complete your slide deck preparation, export everything into one PDF and create a JPG file for each slide. The richest presentation will always come directly from the software (I prefer Keynote) a slide deck was built from. The PDF and JPG formats can be used as shareable marketing materials. More important, they are quick substitutes to counter any sort of last minute technical issues. Deliver the digital assets on time and organizing everything on a flash drive, just in case.

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Business pitch competitions and grant programs are a good way to financially supplement your business without diluting the equity structure. For example, when we were first building FliteBrite, we won a $10K pitch competition and earned a $25K grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Being prepared is obviously important when all eyes are on you. Memorize the order of your slides, but not what you plan to say. Memorizing a pitch word-for-word is safe for some, but a more genuine tone comes from the heart. We’ve all seen people lose their place in a memorized script or fumble through notecards. Avoid this embarrassment by practicing what you plan to say out loud. The mirror at home is a fine place to start, but nothing compares to a live audience. The sentiment of your pitch should remain consistent, but it won’t sound the same each time. As you tell your story, feedback from people you don’t know will sharpen the business and help you continuously evolve your transmission.