For years, I thought I had a major jealousy problem.
Why else did I daily wonder: Why is Kathi Lipp‘s platform growing so much faster than mine?
Sure, I tried to rationalize:
- She was writing and speaking full-time, while I was trying to build my ministry “on the side” of my teaching career and graduate school schedule.
- Her #1 Strength is positivity, but mine is Input.
- She’s a charismatic leader, and I’m … not.
But even as I accepted the many personality and life season differences between us, I knew there was still something else … something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I assumed it had to be jealousy.
I was envious of my very best friend—the most generous person I know.
For years, I felt so ashamed. God can’t possibly bless my ministry.
Then last fall, while taking the Blog Smarter course, I discovered the truth:
My problem wasn’t jealousy—it was ignorance.
I’d assumed all along there was one right way to write content.
But I’d been wrong.
Two Different Types of Content
It turns out that there are two primary types of content. I’ll refer to them as “How-To” and “Heart, Too.”
“How-To” Content — The main goal of How-To content is to address a reader’s problem by offering a specific course of action. Headlines often read “3 Simple Steps to…” or “Five Ways You Can…”
“Heart, Too” Content — The primary purpose of Heart, Too content, on the other hand, is to connect with a reader’s unresolved pain or unmet desire by sharing a personal story. Headlines might say “To the Overwhelmed Mom Who…” or “When You Just Want Someone to…”
Once I learned that there are two main types of content, it seemed so obvious. I began to see them everywhere.
Two Different Kinds of Reader Responses
Both types of content are valid and necessary. But they evoke very different responses from readers.
How-To content is easily shareable and often “goes viral,” resulting in high numbers of shares, followers, and subscribers.
Heart, Too content, however, is far less likely to be shared and rarely goes viral. Heart, Too content tends to evoke personal comments and private emails.
This is where I’d made such a vital mistake out of complete ignorance:
I’d judged my success at platform-building by the entirely wrong metrics.
I’d been writing Heart, Too content and wondering why I had such low numbers, why so few of my posts had gone viral.
All the while, my in box was full of personal Emails from my readers, thanking me for offering them hope and sharing their own stories and struggles.
The Dark Side of the “Numbers Game”
Here’s where I have an ugly confession to make:
I spent years actively resenting my readers for emailing me. I’d been desperate for them to share my posts on social media so that my numbers would grow.
They’d reached out to me with their needs, and I’d ignored them because they weren’t meeting mine.
No wonder my platform hadn’t grown. It was all about me.
It’s so easy for “numbers” to become the Holy Grail—that elusive symbol of success that we exhaust ourselves chasing, never quite reaching.
But numbers are never the measure of ministry.
Our obedience to God’s call is the one, and only, measure of ministry.
Now that I’ve quit worrying about shares or going viral, and started taking care of my crazy loyal fans who reach out to me, I see how God is growing my ministry.
How-To + Heart, Too
Good news: You don’t have to choose between straight How-Too or pure Heart, Too content.
This article, as you may have noticed, is a combination of both. I’ve taught you how to distinguish between the two primary types of content, and I’ve anchored this information in the context of a very personal story.
Now, how you respond to this article is completely up to you.
If the primary value you gained is informational — the contrast between How-To and Heart, Too content — you may choose to share this post via social media.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling convicted at a heart level, you may not feel comfortable publicly sharing a post that discusses jealousy, envy, and selfishness.
Personally, I will know that I have succeeded if just one person emails me to say, “I had no idea there were other writers who feel this way.”
While I do value action steps, ultimately I write so that I—and my readers—will feel less alone.
How about you?
- Why do you write?
- And what type of content — How-To or Heart, Too — will best attract and serve your crazy loyal fans?