It’s Sourdough September, not to mention it was bread week on Great British Bake off (we’re huge fans here). So, just for fun, but with some serious thoughts behind it, here’s why producing and working with content to drive your business is like a sourdough starter.
Maybe grab some toast, and a cup of tea, and consider these parallels.
If you’re starting from scratch, you’re not going to get an instant result
A sourdough starter just needs flour and water; things most would-be bread makers would have to hand. A bit like getting going with content, where you just need simple tools that you probably have access to. The internet, a way to access it, an account on Twitter or similar, something to say.
You can type, you can take photos, and none of this is very expensive to get started with.
What those things, and just flour and water, won’t give you is a result. Just as the starter needs some time before it can become a loaf of bread, so your activity needs some time before it starts driving an impact on your results. It doesn’t matter what your criteria for success is, none of this happens overnight.
It’s not about the raw materials
Flour and water. Nothing special, really. Likewise, the tools for content production, promotion and distribution aren’t necessarily expensive or inaccessible to most businesses.
With both things, it’s all about what you do with them. The time you spend working with them is what makes the difference.
There are peak conditions for success, but they’re not the only conditions for things to work
A sourdough starter likes filtered water more than tap water. It likes temperatures between 27°C and 32°C (depends on who you ask). It wants to be fed only with the same type of flour you started it with.
All of those are optimal for a starter. It doesn’t mean it won’t work if you vary them slightly, it just might not work quite as quickly.
In the same way, you’ll probably read the ideal number of times a week to write blog posts, how many times a day to post on Instagram. There might well be significant research behind these numbers, but remember they are all averages. There’ll be extremes, and it depends on what works for you, your business and your customers.
Starting the starter is only the start
A starter needs attention, both to get it going and to maintain it once you’ve started baking bread regularly.
The same applies to your content. You can’t just produce content once, and then you’re done. Even one piece needs talking about, promoting. You can’t just leave it on its own and expect it to produce business results.
If you’re going to put the effort into starting, then you have to put the effort in to keep going.
You can always increase your starter
With a little planning, you can scale up your starter. You’ve got a base to start from, and it’s always easier to increase from that than from a standing start.
Likewise, you can start producing more content, or promoting more often, when you know what works for your business, and your customer. It’s simpler when you have a focus to produce more things that are similar, rather than a wider ranging focus when you’re finding your way.
It opens up possibilities
What you do with the sourdough starter is up to you. There are flavourings to be played with, shapes and sizes to get creative with. It just gives you a starting point.
When you decide to create content for your business, there are no real rules or limitations. Well, perhaps if you discount time and money, there aren’t. You get to create to your own taste and ideas. Your imagination is probably the limiting factor.
Sometimes when you’re feeling stuck, or slightly overwhelmed, it does to remember that, at its most simple, content is not complex. And just as flour and water can turn into incredible loaves, then a little time, effort and creativity can transform words and pictures into business results.
I would even say creativity was like remembering to add some salt to the flour and water when you get into the baking stage. It’s what transforms it into something special, and stops things being bland.
Apologies for making you think only about bread. If you’re now inspired to get involved in Sourdough September, check out the easy to use guides over on the website.
If you need to get back to content, then make sure you’re signed up for the Content Catalyst newsletter. Out on 18th September, you’ll find the dates and activities to start planning your October content. Hopefully, there’s less of a bread focus!