Create Content That Scares You


2 people die every second!

What’s more, is that Worldometer records the live numbers of births and deaths as we speak.

I, of course, have no clue on how they get the data in such a short time. But what I do know, though, is that one day that’s going to be you (and me too).

If Nokia had this in mind before plummeting to their own death (no pun intended), they might have realized that taking a chance on the incoming digital boom would not have been the worst thing ever.

Fear played a major part, but there is enough space to squeeze in complacency. Two traits that can torment any marketer’s career.

If It Ain’t Broke …

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It’s an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms.”

– Colin Powell

If Colin’s quote hit you right in the gut, then you’re most likely one of the three personas he’s mentioned. I know because I’m one of them too.

See, it’s easier to stick to what is said to always work. The “best practices,” the “tips and tricks,” all that good stuff.

And while some of it may bear reasonable results as time goes by, most of it will get lost in the dark abyss of “commodity content,” as Jay Acunzo likes to call it.

Commodity content inflicts no emotion, has no empathy, and most of the time leads to an unsatisfied writer. One that holds back her real words and emotions and replaces them with vague information. This information is then put across in a generic, lifeless voice.

And no one likes a generic, lifeless voice.

Heeding To Your ‘Why’

Seth Godin says you can’t get rid of fear – it’s still a useful emotion after all – you have to learn how to dance with it.

And, of course, the question here is, “how?” “How do I learn to dance with my fear?”

While you might think otherwise, the reason you do what you do determines if you can tango your way toward what success means to you. After all, your fear might be a sign that you’re not suited to the path you’ve chosen.

This is where choosing your audience, creating personas, figuring out how they communicate – through keyword research and social media – and creating content tailored towards them comes in.

It all acts as a nudge to keep you on track in helping those you feel you’re called to help. And when you’re on track,  the empathy you have toward your audience overshadows the fear.

I, as an example, procrastinated this post for weeks before reminding myself why I do what I do and who my audience is. And as soon as I did, I regained my sense of purpose and realized that I can’t serve everyone no matter how hard I try. And neither can you.

You only need a small group of people with the same worldview as you to make a difference. So that every time you feel scared to put out that article, that blog post, or even that podcast, you’ll remind yourself of that someone who wants to listen.

Only The Paranoid Survive

Fear still has a role. And it’s to keep you on your toes.

While being too paranoid has the effect of giving you anxiety (depression, even), paranoia keeps you from complacency. To always try something you’re not used to. 

You’ll be looking over your shoulder to make sure you don’t fall behind – especially when the world around you and your business changes.

Andy Grove’s book, Only The Paranoid Survive, expounds on this even more. And going back to Nokia’s downfall, we can understand why Grove stated that “success breeds complacency, and complacency leads to failure.”

Nokia, Kodak, Xerox, and Blockbuster are all examples of companies we can learn from when it comes to the damaging effects of fear and complacency.

And while your company is most likely not as large as they were, you can choose to be smart and learn from the mistakes of the past.


If you enjoyed the read, check out some of the resources below.

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Why Tom Cruise should be your content strategist – Portent

In this infographic, Portent use clever examples of Tom Cruise movies to illustrate how one can “deliver to his core audience while attracting new fans with moderately risky creative choices.”

They boil it all down to a 70-20-10 rule. 70% standard content, 20% moderately risky content and 10% completely innovative content. Just be ready for your 10% to fail most of the time.

Why We Still Need to Write, Even When We’re Scared – Copyblogger

Beth Hayden writes about something we can all resonate with. Fear. And while the post above is on the same topic, she takes a different turn and expounds on how getting out of our own shells and being vulnerable is crucial.

I have to admit that I’m no fan of vulnerability, so you can imagine how much I struggle to be my unfiltered self when writing. I can make a guess that you’re no fan either, but maybe Beth can change your mind like she changed mine.

Facing Our Fears – Seth Godin

Seth stresses on how “being truly clear about our fears” is essential. What we see before us most of the time is merely an illusion, and we need to see the clear picture in order to understand how to go about what’s holding us back.

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