The Power of "Obvious" Content
What many smart people get very wrong
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“This is obvious.”
“Everyone knows this.”
“This has been said a hundred times.”
Do these phrases sound familiar to you?
If you create content, I’m assuming you’ve said all of these before.
It’s one of the biggest traps for people who are starting to build their audiences and personal brands online.
I call it, “The Paradox of Obvious Content.”
It’s the idea that content that feels “obvious” to the author will feel “obvious” to their audience.
You fear it won’t be valuable
You fear it’ll dilute your brand
You fear it’ll hurt your credibility
It’s a completely understandable feeling.
But it’s also completely wrong.
There’s another name for this phenomenon:
We assume everyone else knows what we know.
But here’s the truth:
What’s obvious to an “expert” is enlightening to everyone else.
And 99% of your audience is in the “everyone else” group.
In reality, the “obvious” content is the content you SHOULD be creating for your audience.
It’s what’s your audience needs
So, how do you identify obvious content that would be valuable to your audience?
Here are 5 simple ways:
1. What beginners need
Think about what “beginners” in your industry or role need.
What are the “fundamentals”?
What do they need to get started?
What would a “101” class look like if you were teaching it?
Start simple and help your audience build a strong foundation.
Most people — even those who aren’t “beginners” — need this more than you think.
2. What’s misunderstood?
Identify topics or areas that are commonly misunderstood.
Let’s say you’re a venture capital investor.
What do people often get wrong about investing?
What do people get confused about startups?
What concepts are often misused or misapplied?
Those areas are ripe for you to create content that makes them clear and easy to understand.
That content is super valuable and useful.
3. What you wish you knew
Imagine you were starting over again.
Maybe you’re 22 coming out of college and just entering the professional world.
Or maybe it’s three years ago and you’re just beginning the role you’re currently in.
Whatever the context, this is a powerful question to ask:
“What do I wish I knew when I was just starting?”
Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and dump everything that comes to mind on the page.
That list of ideas are things the majority of people want to know.
That’s a golden opportunity for you to share your knowledge, lessons and experiences in a way that will be valuable to others.
4. What you often get asked
Pay attention to the questions you get asked.
By friends and family
Other peoples’ questions are pre-validated content.
They’re literally telling you what content they would find useful!
Start noticing and jotting down the questions you’re asked. Revisit them once a month for content inspiration.
5. The One Thing
This is one of my favorite content frameworks.
It’s so simple and creates extremely valuable content.
“If I could teach someone only ONE thing about [topic], what would that be?”
This framework forces prioritization of the most valuable ideas.
The cool thing: That ONE idea likely has many pieces of valuable content embedded inside of it.
For example, let’s say you’re that VC investor and the ONE thing you’d teach someone about venture capital is how to value a startup business.
Now ask yourself, “What does someone need to know to value a startup?”
There’s probably quite a few things in that answer.
All of those are valuable content ideas that correlate to the ONE valuable topic you’re teaching.
Here’s a harsh truth most “experts” won’t admit:
Even most “experts” don’t fully understand the “obvious” concepts in detail.
There are always little nuances that can be more fully understood.
There’s a reason Jack Nicklaus — who’s won more major championships than anyone in golf history — began every offseason with his swing coach by reviewing how to properly grip a golf club.
Even the best of the best need refreshers on the “obvious.”
If you haven’t read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, it’s a must for anyone who does creative work.
It’s a simple read that gives practical advice on how to overcome the struggle of creating that everyone feels along the way.
Even if you don’t create content, I think you’d find it valuable. We all face moments of “resistance” in our work and must learn how to overcome them and press forward.
Highly recommend this book.
Thanks for reading!