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Five Things Cockroaches are Teaching Me About Content

I have a new roommate. Make that roommates. And I’m not too happy about it.

Last year, some cockroaches decided to move into my kitchen. It sounds like a confession, “Uh, is this thing on? Oh. Hh-Hi. My name is Jennifer, and I um, well, I have cockroaches.”

I promise I keep my kitchen clean. But somehow these bugs were undeterred by the swept floor and counters gleaming with 409. They moved in, set up shop and refuse to leave. I have encouraged these roommates to move out many times, but I’ll skip the details in case you’re a member of the Cucaracha Fan Club.

Still my battle against the bugs is teaching me a thing or two about content creation. And of course, a good blog post idea outweighs embarrassment every time. So learn from my kitchen:

1. Persevere. Those cockroaches don’t give up. They don’t die. When you squish one, there’s always another. They can withstand nuclear blasts and apparently, professional bug killer spray. Creating creative content is tough. Your blog post receives no comments. No one notices your video on YouTube. Something goes wrong, and you feel as though you’ve been hit with a cool blast of nasty chemicals.  But if cockroaches can keep going, so can you.

2. Offer good food. As much as I hate it, the cockroaches would not have moved in if they hadn’t found a food source. How can you offer a buffet of yummy content to bring your customers and clients to you? A strong smorgasbord features content in a variety of forms from the appetizers (tweets) to the light meals (video) to the Porterhouse (white paper or e-book). But don’t worry too much about variety if you’re just getting started. Unlike cockroaches, humans have picky taste buds. Think quality, not quantity.

3. Evolve. According to some quick research, scientists don’t actually like to say that cockroaches are the most highly evolved species. Humans have evolved, too, just like every other species. We’ve all evolved differently.

This has two lessons: A) If your approach isn’t working or has stopped working, what can you do to evolve? Have you tried a different type of media (audio/video)?  Maybe the food has gone bad (see No. 2) and it’s time to prepare some better meals. B) Those who refuse to evolve are always left behind. Don’t be a Neanderthal.

Photo by Kodomut/Flickr Creative Commons.

4. Pick up the crumbs. After cooking or preparing food, I often find several crumbs and bits here and there. When you are writing blog posts each day, what are you leaving behind for others to use? Content that could be reused on Twitter? Ideas for future projects? What scribbles are left on your pad of paper? What quick ideas parachute into your brain and then quickly leave? Find a way to capture those on Evernote or your notebook or whatever works for you. Bonus: This can be used in reverse. When reading other people’s content, what crumbs can you pick up and turn into a meal?

5. Keep it clean. Leaving dirty dishes on the stove or in the sink is just asking for the bugs to come crawling out. Obviously you’re keeping your content clean in the “rated PG” sense. (At least, I hope so.) I’m referring to the process. You might quickly dash off a “dirty” blog post or quick Tweet without too much thought. But a clean, thought-out approach to your editorial calendar and content will move you forward much faster. What topics have you covered this year? What topics have you left uncovered that include your keywords? What topics are your customers asking about? All these should be part of your master plan.

Sure, these are all great lessons. But the lesson I want most is the one on how to eradicate cockroaches from my kitchen. So please, share your thoughts.