Content Marketing: Surviving The Demands
Flexibility In Content Marketing and Social Media Engagement
I’m a juggler and I’ll bet you are too; ten balls in the air deftly spinning, one after the other, through my hands and up again to fall neatly and around and around we go. A sometimes magician as well; surprising solutions coming from the labyrinth of challenges, complex scheduling-jigsaw-puzzles, the too many pieces falling into place with just the right dash of finesse. What does it take?
We have a lot on our plates as small business owners and solopreneurs. Content Marketing and the related social media demands are among the most insistent of tasks. The endless string of imperatives doesn’t seem to let up. Except, perhaps, for a brief moment here and there. The given in today’s business world, especially with an online presence and concerns about Google ranking, is that we have to be more focused and determined than ever.
What if we could learn to more carefully discipline our priorities without becoming rigid?
Not only do we have to effort harder to create content that will draw interest in the endless noise online, we have to effort correctly and strategically within a certain set of parameters. Contained in that effort, we need to be authentic and then gauge the amount of transparency we’re willing to subscribe to. We have to construct a way to demonstrate our trustworthiness (but never artificially) and engage in our social media relationships (that we’ve co-created from zero) with no end in sight to secure business for our business. We also need to be consistent throughout. Who could get through it without learning how to roll with the punches?
We are in it for the long haul. We need patience and steadfastness. And we need flexibility.
All of this and then on top of it there are people like me telling you that it’s really a beautiful thing. That the rewards are limitless, you’ll discover things you never dreamed of, that opportunity abounds and it’s a rosy world after all. That this is the best thing that’s ever happened. Our world is getting smaller and we’re more connected than ever. We’re going back to some of humanity’s roots; gathering in groups, storytelling, sharing, collaborating. We’re endorsing and supporting each other in our quests to learn and achieve the key to success. And you find yourself wishing I would just shut up. Maybe. …..Maybe not.
Let’s get our bearings and remember: one foot in front of the other.
How Do We Do It?
We each have a style and our own pacing for facing challenges. We’ve honed our approach over years of practice facing hurdles and tough spots. We’ve developed methods to defend our positions, mastered techniques of avoidance, found loopholes. We’ve learned what our tolerance level is, our tipping point, our breaking points. We’ve become resilient hopefully, and can bounce, getting stronger and more capable with each bounce along the way.
A number of years ago, on my way to learning a little bit more about myself, my plan was utterly thwarted and I had to enter my spirit and psyche through a different doorway than I’d imagined. It was hard to change course.
For eight years running, Doug Anderson (my husband and Fat Eyes co-owner) and I, took a summer road trip to the Blacktail Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana, 8000 acres of open land in the middle of many other thousands of acres we had access to at the base of the Continental Divide. It was our annual tradition; a journey across the many miles to replenish ourselves and recalibrate our creativity during a Yoga and Ceremony retreat facilitated and taught by two dear friends of ours. The ranch is an astoundingly beautiful place. Native peoples lived on the site as far back as Clovis culture and the land is brimming with history and spirit. (each time we went was a jam-packed exploratory immersion with daily morning intensive yang [yoga] asana practices, afternoon yin and restorative yoga, processing exercises, group activities, lots of time outdoors and Lakota-based council circle, chanting, sweat lodge and vision quest).
The Vision Quest
Usually, the visioning time was a solo overnight out on the land as part of the sweat ceremony. Most of us spent some time in advance seeking our ‘spot’ so when the ceremony time came, we weren’t aimlessly wandering around trying to find where to be, avoiding making a commitment, putting off the inevitable. I loved that part, the choice-making. The search, going out each day with the promise of finding a place that resonated deeply; a solitary spot where I was prepared to sit out a long, usually arduous stay.
This story took place on the last year of the retreat and it was not to be an overnight but instead, would span daylight hours from sunrise to sunset. I was disappointed at not having the chance to sleep out on the land one last time on my own because it wasn’t quite macho enough for me without the long dark night hours. Funny, since the first time we did this I was nothing short of terrified until I found it was a challenge I rather enjoyed “mastering” or perhaps I should say “overcoming”. I wanted more than ever to find someplace memorable as a parting farewell to our annual ritual.
For the actual ceremony, we made a relatively small circle roughly 20 feet in diameter usually delineated with sticks and rocks (whatever was handy) and settled inside without distractions: no journal, no book, no camera; no projects. We made prayers to the seven directions, placed prayer flags filled with tobacco and hunkered in. It was a time to be alone and be with whatever arose. I learned that a view, some shade and fascination with the spot were helpful attributes to what was always a long, enduring experience.
There was a small mountain I was rather fond of. I’d walked up there countless times and done my visioning there a couple times too but I’d never reached the top to see what was on the other side. I had named part of it Skunk Hill due to a middle of the night experience I’d had there once. Fondness, indeed.
It was the sort of walk that would take you to the promise of a peak with a view but instead there would turn out to be yet another copse of trees, another meadow, another pile of dead fall, brambles, watering hole or swamp keeping you from it. Always foiled. Broken promise. This time, because I knew it was our last year I just had to, once and for all, see what was on the other side. So for a few days, I ventured up only to find more of what I’d encountered in the past. More trees, no peak, no view over the top. But I kept at it.
My Spot On Top Of The World
The noble prize for my persistence appeared at the top of a steep, shale hill, difficult to traverse, slippery and slidey. When I reached the pinnacle, I literally could not believe my eyes. I gasped and laughed out loud in utter jubilance and delight at the spectacular magnificence of what lay before me. It was a quintessential (if not clichéd) movie version of a vision quest setting. No location scout could have topped it. It was a dramatic rock outcropping with a seemingly endless multi-directional view of mountains, forests, plains, farmland, wilderness. I’m not kidding. This spot was ridiculously beyond perfect for a day of reflection and spaciousness. What a glorious farewell it would be!
As an uncanny added splendor, incredibly, someone had been there ahead of me and made it sacred by building the majestic cairn at the cliff’s edge that you see in the photo. I applied some magical thinking and decided it had been my husband who’d built it because each year he went farther than anyone else on his adventures to uncharted segments. I knew he’d been to the top of many of the surrounding peaks and he’s a cairn-builder kind of guy. So in my mind, it was Doug that made the spot that much more special. I would spend the day there with the cairn as my guardian.
Who Do You Become When The Going Gets Tough?
The road is often bumpy. We can convince ourselves that we have control over what happens and know where we’re headed, have it all sorted out, lay plans, create goals and intentions. And doing that, we make a run for the smooth path. Above all we are always hoping for that smooth run to the finish. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Maintain integrity with your priorities even when there’s change at a moment’s notice.
You can take them with you wherever you go.
The Big Day
The morning of the vision quest we woke and prepared in the dark. It had rained and stormed violently all night so we didn’t get much sleep due to the noise. It was unseasonably cold and wildly windy when we each set out alone before dawn. I had about an hour’s walk ahead of me. I’d taken careful note of the route. In my recollection it was really a rather straight line up with one pretty simple veer to the north. I was prepared for the day to commence.
At the point when I knew I needed to begin paying attention to my whereabouts and directional cues, landmarks I’d mentally noted, I became more observant of my surroundings. Yep- slither under the barbed wire here, around that group of trees, to the left of that little mound, there’s the second barbed wire crawl, keep to the right of the fencing, these rocks are familiar, so is that slight clearing and so on.
Eventually, I realized more time had gone by than should have and I still hadn’t reached my destination, things began losing their distinction and familiarity. I was turned around. Or was I? I was too far over to the southwest. But maybe not. I doubled-back and tried again. And again.
I trudged on cold now and a little tired with a dawning realization that I may have messed up somehow. I became frustrated, a little worried and began scolding myself. It was as if my special spot had indeed been magical and didn’t exist after all. I’d imagined it. It was out of my grasp. It simply wasn’t there except in my fantasy.
After a good long time I finally had to admit I hadn’t found my destination and I probably wasn’t going to. I had to change my plan or turn the long morning into a hike rather than the vision quest it was meant to be. And that just wasn’t acceptable.
Brokenhearted, really, truly sad, deeply disappointed, feeling foolish and completely bewildered, it was hard to believe this was really happening. I began to look for an alternative. Eventually, I found another (seemingly inferior) spot at an edge of the forest where there was a drop off and I could at least see through the trees the now slightly obscured view I’d longed for. It was serene and fragrant with woodsiness, not spectacular. Close to the exact opposite of my intended location. But it offered shelter from the wild, crazy cold wind and a soft bed of pine needles to sit upon. There were birds.
The rocky outlook would have been brutal. The exposure to the elements alone was enough to push even the toughest individual to call it quits early after being buffeting by those gale-force winds on the edge of a precipice. At first, it was hard to accept I’d truly changed the plan, that I had decided to go for nestled yet profound rather than bold and potentially hazardous. But that was how it was to be.
I am not able to tell you the details of the rest of my day. Those are sacred and mine to hold dear. But I can tell you that (amazing) things occurred that wouldn’t have upon that ledge. I had to be exactly where I was to learn what I needed to learn, to receive the gifts I was offered by nature, the wildlife and myself. I surrendered to my circumstances and allowed what might happen next to happen. And it did. Without disappointment. To the point where I was grateful for the serendipitous change in plan. It was a deep learning experience for me and I won’t forget it.
The next day, Doug and I took a walk together to try to re-find my spot and we did! Oddly, it was a very simple route and easy to locate. Piece of cake. No problem. It was there all along. And even though I still wish it had been him, Doug not the creator of the cairn and he’d never been to that spot before. My special, illusive spot where I did not do my vision quest that taught me so much.
Back To The Business Of Business
We might feel like we’re on a ledge where we don’t belong in severe weather. We have ideas, goals, responsibilities, commitments, many things to do. We have to be magical jugglers. We mean to execute it all but sometimes we find ourselves looking for a plan B or some derivation thereof.
Here’s the thing. Yes. The nature of the beast is that it often seems more than we can handle. But the truth is, we have to bite off what we can chew (I know I’ve said some version of that before). Be flexible when needed. Add determination and passion and you’ve got your spot in the forest or on the ledge minus the wind.
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Photo Credit: Gina Fiedel