How Clutter Prevents Greatness

"Have nothing in your houses that
you do not know to be useful
or believe to be beautiful."

— William Morris

People don’t read online, they scan. They are offered unlimited options on where to click, or what to search on. Their lives are busy; their minds are full; their TiVo is calling.

So how do we create articles and videos and webcasts and the like for an audience like this?

We strip away everything that is not incredibly useful or incredibly beautiful.

For every potential reader or customer of ours, there are two ways to grab their attention:

  • Help solve a problem that keeps them up at night.
    While each reader has many needs, there are often just a couple of problems that truly plague them. Focusing on these is powerful, and helpful.

  • Tap into their passion for your industry.
    While each reader may generally enjoy their chosen field, there is likely one particular aspect that they can read about and talk about well into the evening. Focus on that one thing.

I am reading the book "It’s All Too Much" by organizational expert Peter Walsh. Peter helps people deal with the clutter in their homes. This clutter has a deeper affect than many realize:

  • It prevents people from realizing their goals.
  • It gets in the way of important relationships.
  • It prevents people from living healthy, free lives.
  • It prevents people from focusing on their most important needs and purposes.

This same sense of clutter can get in the way of a great video or article. Clutter is what makes something "good" instead of "great." With limited attention spans online, we must be ruthless in preventing this clutter.

If you are making a video, every second counts, especially the first 10 seconds. Intro music, slides, statements of names and titles… all of these things leave the viewer asking:

  • What problem of mine are you solving?
  • What passion of mine are you allowing me to experience?

If these questions aren’t answered immediately, there is often a single effect: click away, somewhere else on the web. But it goes even deeper: we are not just looking to get people to view our content, but to find it so compelling, that they click again on our sites to find more of it; that they make it a habit to come back every day.

These are habits we are helping to form, and relationships that are being built. And each of those begin and end with two things:

  • Helping our readers with their most urgent needs.
  • Allowing our readers to experience their passion.

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