How to generate unlimited stories ideas? Marketing conversation with Melanie Deziel

Mar 22, 2023


Who is Melanie Deziel?

Melanie Deziel: So you know, I came to the world of sponsored content and content marketing via journalism. So I studied investigative reporting as an undergraduate student and I got my graduate degree in arts and cultural criticism. So it definitely was headed for a newsroom somewhere. That was my goal.

And what I discovered is that there weren't as many jobs as I had hoped in those fields, and so very luckily, I was able to shift over to the marketing side of things and I was able to take what I learned studying to be a journalist, what I learned from all those internships, all that practice and really try to teach those best practices to the folks who are working in marketing.

So that's really always been my goal, always been.

My mission is to take the ethics, approach, and philosophies of journalism and try to apply them to the work that we're doing in content marketing. So I started doing that at the Huffington Post. I was there in the very early days of what became HuffPost Partner Studio, helping to build out what is it that we create for brands. Where do we draw the lines between what we will and won't do?

I was the first editor of branded content at the New York Times and very similarly there helped build up what became a brand studio, helping to figure out again what we sell. What is what are the lines that we draw? How do we keep the ethics completely appropriate and keep our reporters protected from the work that we're doing? So that was always that was a really interesting experience.

I always imagined I'd probably be a reporter at the New York Times. Not that I would be, you know, in the business team. But yeah, so I mean, that's really been the journey the last few years I've been out on my own running story fuel, which is an educational firm. We do strategy and training for brands who are trying to think and create more like journalists and most recently joined the foundation as the director of content.


What is “the Content Fuel Framework”?

Melanie Deziel: So the book shares the content fuel framework shares sort of what goes on in my head when I'm trying to come up with content ideas and the motivation for writing off or putting that system down on paper was mostly that I was getting those kinds of questions all the time from clients. You know, how do I come up with ideas?

What should I post? I run out of things to say, and I could do it in my head, but I couldn't teach them how to do it, and that drove me nuts. I really, really wanted to be able to teach that. And so I spent a lot of time sort of analyzing my own thought process, and that's where the framework came from. I realized that I'm really just trying to answer two questions What are we going to focus on? So what's sort of the perspective or the angle for the story? And then what format are we going to use to bring it to life?

And that it really was just combining those different focuses on those different formats in interesting ways that gave me those different ideas. And so that's what I really laid out in the book. I really just wanted to make that accessible to others because it bothers me when people say that they're not creative or I just can't come up with ideas because of it. Really is just the system. It's a learned behavior. You know, we all have that within us and we just need a system to sort of bring it to life. And so being able to share that system and hopefully help people tap into that creativity was a big part of the motivation.



A process to create content at scale?

Melanie Deziel: That was exactly the goal. I didn't want people to feel like, Oh, that's not for me, you know, I'm not one of those creative types. I just realized that you know, you really just need a system. It's I like to make a lot of analogies to help people think of it in different contexts. And you know, I like the if you speak multiple languages, you'll often have someone say, Oh, you know, say something in that language, right? And in those moments, you kind of freeze up because you have the entire language and you don't really know, like, should I give a greeting or should I sing a song like, what should I do?

But when someone asks you, Well, how would you greet someone in that language? Easy, it comes right to you. So we kind of need to do the same thing for our creativity. If you're just trying to come up with an idea in this, you know, this big, giant vague thing. It's very difficult to come up with something because there are just too many options. So if you have guidelines, you have some, you know, some guardrails to keep you in a certain place. It really helps focus your attention. That makes it a lot easier to tap into those ideas that you have.


Content format and content focus?

Melanie Deziel: The real secret to this whole approach is that all of the other focuses can also be about the product as well. They're just wrapping it up in different packaging. Right. So when we talk about people-focused content, for example, that might be a story about the inventor of the product or the designer of the fashion, or the engineer who created the technology.

It's still about the product. It's just taking it through the lens of the people who are involved with it. That includes things like customer stories, right? That's still about your product and how wonderful it works and how satisfied people are. But it's telling the story of the people, right? And so that's sort of the lesson here is that if our clients are telling us, I need you to create content about this product, this new service that we offer, this new flavor, or whatever it is, you ask yourself how you can approach that story through each of these focuses. Who are the people who are involved in this story?

What are the basic things my audience needs to understand? To be able to understand this product or service, you can look at history and say, Well, what got us to this point now where we need this product or service? What's sort of the background either within the company or in the industry of this type of product? In general, data focus could work well. You're just saying, what are the numbers associated with this? How efficient is it? How many people are affected? There's it's really it's all an opportunity to talk about your product or your service in some way. It's just doing it sort of from a different angle. 


Audio content: Here to stay or …?

Melanie Deziel: Yeah, I think audio and video are really having their moment. I think that we've seen a steady increase over the last few years. Obviously, you know, twenty-twenty twenty twenty-one, as we've all been facing the pandemic, everyone's working remotely. We've become a lot more comfortable with a video that it's just as consumers.

We're used to seeing content on video that might have been in-person, like conferences and things like that, but also as producers like, you know, if this were three years ago, you know, we might be nervous to get on a call that has video and we'd be doing tons of makeup and working and worrying about lighting. And now it's just an everyday thing. It's not. It's no longer scary. And so I think seeing audio and video, we're going to see that continue to be the norm. I think because we've all learned that it's not as scary, not as difficult or complicated or expensive as we may be feared.


Melanie Deziel: It just stays, you know, I don't think anyone can really accurately predict the future, but I do think we will probably go back. I, for one, miss in-person things. You know, I miss being able to go to events and meet people in person, and speak on a stage instead of in my office. So I think I think we will certainly go back to some of that, but I think where we settle will probably be at a level that's still higher than before, just because the number of us who have had to go out and buy nice microphones and ring lights and all that other stuff, we're going to want to continue to use it. You know, I agree.


Virtual reality and content marketing: buzzword or true trend?

Melanie Deziel: Yes, so you're right, so in the book, I have the 10 focuses that I walk through that are the perspectives, the angles you take, and then the 10 formats are the ones that I think are most common that most people would like to try. There is that bonus section of there's other formats I can't possibly list every way to communicate with your audience. And so we listed things like a course or air, augmented reality, and virtual reality in that section.

You know, I think the reason I mention them sort of outside of the core list is exactly what you said. I don't think everyone is quite set up to have the resources to build content like that. I also think that we're not at a critical mass of users who are willing to consume that type of content. You know, we may have a headset in the house somewhere or one of the, you know, the Google Cardboard or the very simple ones that you place your phone in.

But I think the average user, the average audience member that most of us are trying to reach is not really going into immersive virtual reality experiences on a regular basis. So it's not really an effective distribution method yet. But it's always useful to think about some of those things because as you try to brainstorm and say, well, is there an opportunity for us to create something in virtual reality that may inspire you to create something that is audio or is video right or you make an infographic?

It just sort of inspires you because you're thinking in those different ways. What I like about those things is that it stretches our creativity. You know, I've seen lately some really cool content from brands that are completely outside of even those formats. We've seen branded playlists of music from a Pakistani company. 

Karine Abbou: what about this new type of audio content, the Spotify music list created by Barilla to cook Pasta?

Melanie Deziel: Very smart to say this is exactly how long it takes to cook pasta. Now you have a song I love. I mean, that's what's so smart, right? And it's audio. But who would have thought to make a curated list of songs that way? You know, we've seen brands come out with coloring books, you know, adult coloring books to help you stay calm. We've seen all kinds of really cool things that break those formats that are listed there. So I'm always encouraging us to think in new ways and find other ways to bring our content to life. But I think those 10 and some of the other suggestions are a good place to start and you can kind of build from there. Do you know what other opportunities come to mind?



How to deal with so many content types options - and content overload?

Melanie Deziel:  I think it is because you said, I'm going to create opinion content. You said, OK through audio rights. OK? Good point. All of these combined, you can really use any of these know any focus in any format can be paired together. And that's what The Matrix is really about, choosing one from each side. When I talk about focus first, what I mean is sometimes we have situations where especially a client will say, I need a video idea, I need an infographic, I'd need a white paper, right? And then what happens is, as the creatives, we're forced to take something that may not fit in those boxes and force it into being a video. And that's when we end up with boring videos, right?

Or for something into a white paper and like that would have done so much better if it had been a blog post, right? So that's where we want to avoid choosing the format first and then trying to shove a story into it that may not be a good fit. So when we start with our focus. We figure out, OK, this is what I want to say. Then we just ask, what's the best way for us to say the best way to bring that story to life?

So then you're selecting the format that's most suited to it. We also have people who say oftentimes, Well, I can only use certain formats. I only have certain formats that are affordable to me or that I have resources for. That's totally fine. I still think you should start with your focus. Figure out what you want to say and then ask, How do I bring that to life in this format? Right? You're still starting with what is it that I want to say, and you're just choosing from a shorter list than 10 of your options for how to bring it to life.


No matter which content type, always make sure you have a good story to tell!

Melanie Deziel: You know, I will never tell anyone that their creative process is wrong if that's what works for you. You know, the system we talk about in the book, the important thing is about making sure that you are coming up with a good story first, right? That's what journalists do, right? Journalists at the end of the day, most of them, know that they're going to write something like, that's their job, right? If they're a writer. But you don't say, What will I put in my article today?

You say, what is a story today? And then you write an article. So it's more about the perspective of deciding what is it that I actually want to create. And then by all means, ask yourself now, how can I bring that story to life in the video? That's fine. But I think what happens too often is we end up getting content for the sake of content. If we're only focused on the format because it's great if you're going to do only VIDEO, But that video needs to be something that people actually want to watch. It needs to be something that's interesting. It needs to be something that should be.

VIDEO And it's not just you staring at the camera like that that doesn't add anything as a video, you know. So we need to we just need to make sure that we're not losing sight of the focus. What are we talking about? Because if we lose sight of that and focus too much on our format, then things start to, you know, we start to create content that doesn't help us achieve our goals.


The question any content creator should ask himself: “why am I creating content today?”

Melanie Deziel: Isn't it how we feel? I think the reason I ask that question is that really helps you evaluate the purpose of what you're doing, right? And so whether you are a content marketer or you're building a personal brand or you are doing something else, the idea really is what is it that I want to feel when I'm done with this project? It's like, how will I know I've been successful? What will I feel like? Will I feel proud? Will I feel, you know, helpful?

Will I feel like I have served my audience when I feel like I've supported my business goals, right? It's really sort of tapping into you as a person. You know, we don't spend a ton of time talking about those kinds of things, but I think there's also a very real problem with burnout for creative people. I think sometimes if our own personal goals and values don't align with the work that we have to do people burn out, they leave their jobs, they do.

And so I think it doesn't have to be your key driving factor, right? Not everything we do in life. Sometimes we are just working and we're paying the bills, right? But I think at least understanding what it is that you want to feel will help you figure out if you're on the right track. For me, that kind of question is what allows me to know this is not ethical. This doesn't align with the way that I feel about I can't feel proud of this content because I think it's deceptive or I can't feel proud of this campaign because I think it's, you know, it's not good quality, right? So knowing sort of what my values are as a creator helps me to make sure I'm not going too far off course.


Storytelling for small businesses: is that really worth it?

Melanie Deziel: I have never heard of a business that doesn't use some form of case study, some form of customer story, or testimonial, right? We understand the value of telling a story of a person who has had a successful experience with our offering, our product, or our service. The problem is that most of us just get a quote that says I loved it a little image and their first name, and last initial right. And we leave it at that. I have never seen an instance where expanding that testimonial, that case studies that customer story into a bigger experience that allows people to better understand your value has had a negative impact.

And so that's always my suggestion for anyone who is either skeptical or has limited resources, knows sales and marketing, and understands the value of customer stories of case studies and testimonials. So look for opportunities to expand those to talk more about why. Why was that choice of product important? What was at stake for them? What had they tried before? That didn't work? How did they set out to find a solution? How did they hear about you? What were they feeling when they had this wonderful experience by getting at those deeper things?

You, I mean, can't help but tell a story of their journey to having success with you as a company. And so that is a place where you can generally start really quickly putting some more storytelling into the work that you do while still staying very closely tied to the more demand generation side of things that you often need to be much closer to justify or resources.


Storytelling and content marketing: buzzword or really essential?

Melanie Deziel: I think that storytelling has become a bit of a buzzword, and people, much like creativity, are sort of putting it up on this pedestal and thinking that it is some giant magical thing that only exists in certain conditions. If I ask you how your morning was, you're going to tell me a story. It's not going to be, you know, this Disney script of a magical story, but it's a story that you started here. You had this experience and then you did this. It's a story.

That's our natural way of communicating is to tell a story. So to give examples, to give an anecdote. All of our sales professionals are telling stories. Every time they sell, they're talking about what the customer can envision as success, right? This is the story of what your business could look like with our solution. They're telling the story of what's at stake.

If you don't go with this solution, here's the bad part you could be headed down right there telling the story of other customers who have had success. It's all storytelling, and I think when we think of storytelling as something separate from everything we do, it will be very hard for you to find a way to integrate it. If you think of storytelling as something that is throughout all of the communication that you do, it's much easier to see where it comes in.

I think again, it's not this mysterious, scary thing. It's just the way that we communicate is to tell stories. There's a beginning, middle, and end. There's a problem and a solution. There's a before and an after right? That's all part of the way we naturally communicate. So yeah, whether it's answering questions for your audience and they ask you answer type model. My guess is you're probably going to use an example to help answer that question. And that example will probably be a story, you know, so I like to think of storytelling like sprinkles or salt or some other seasoning like you can put it on anything you know


Does the Content Fuel Framework work for social media content? 

Melanie Deziel: I use the exact same formula no matter where my content lives. So if I'm creating a tweet, I'm going to ask, Well, what am I focusing on my focusing on the data? Am I creating basic educational content? Am I sharing my opinion about something? I use the exact same framework, whether it's a blog post, a live video, an Instagram post, YouTube video. I mean, all of it.

I use the exact same framework for coming up with those ideas. But I do think that many of us, spend a lot of time on creation and we don't think about distribution. So that is absolutely something that needs to be thought out upfront. Whether you are using influencers, whether you're using organic or paid, you know, means to distribute your content, that's absolutely vital. So yeah, maybe there will be a second book all about distribution at some point, but my specialty tends to be on the creative side of things.


Melanie Deziel: There's no reason that you can't use more than one format. I think most of the content we love most has both writing and imagery right where it has a video that's accompanied by captions and written for or it has images and infographics throughout the article. That is one of the great things you can do anytime. OK, how do I bring this to life in writing and I do it? Yeah, how do I do it in video with that work? Yes, it would. How could I do it through images? Oh, I can capture some stills from my video. Perfect. Could I also do an infographic? Yeah, there are some data points there. So in theory, you could really use any format. You use all the formats. And the goal is to think about those possibilities and then based on your resources choose what makes the most sense for you because they're all possible. But they may not all be the best choice for what it is that you're trying to accomplish.


How do content marketers cope with content overload? 

Melanie Deziel: I think there's a tremendous amount of pressure to create the best everything in the world. And the reality is your audience doesn't need the best everything in the world. Your doctor is not the best doctor in the world. Your mechanic that fixes your car is not the best mechanic in the world, but they do a perfectly good job for what you need, and they have exactly what it is that will help you right there in your area.

They do what you need them to do. So I'm not saying that we settle and we have low expectations but understand that our audience hasn't seen every blog post in the world. They haven't watched every video in the world. They haven't watched even every video that we've made. Right. So I think we put so much pressure on ourselves that we have to beat out every other thing that's out there. We only have to be on par or better with the content that our audience is seeing.

And I think when we compare ourselves, especially as small brands, if we're thinking I've got an out market, Coca-Cola, I've got an out market, Apple, Microsoft, we can't do that. That's not how we win, right? We're not going to spend more than they do. We're not going to have a bigger creative team than they do. That's just not how we win. We just need to be the right solution for our audience. And that probably means we're doing something a little bit different than what those big guys are doing. It doesn't mean that it's less than it's just different.

I think we experienced this a lot when I was at the New York Times. We would often have smaller brands come and say, we want to partner with you. We're going to spend our whole year's budget doing something with the New York Times. And I would ask them, Well, where's your audience? Well, we serve local customers in this small region. Why are you spending all of your budget on the New York Times? We're maybe going to reach five people in that town. You should, you know, you need to work with your local newspaper.

That's going to be the best option for you. Or you need to, you know, sponsor the local, you know, the local football team or something like you need that you need a different approach to be the best for your audience. And so it's a lot of pressure to try to measure up to all of these massive brands, but we're not them. And so we just need to find a way to do what we can with the resources that we have and be the best that we can be given the resources that we have.


Melanie Deziel: Well, I think a lot of this comes back to your ethics and what drives you, right? If I know that I can't get success for that client, they're not going to be happy. They're not going to renew. They're probably going to want some money back, you know, so it's really all about. I mean, I'm lucky. I'm in a position where I can do that. We've all gone through times in business where we don't have the ability to say, No, I can completely understand that. But yeah, I think it's I know what content is good for and I know what content is not good for. And so I'm always trying to recommend to clients the best solution, even if that's not me.

Melanie Deziel: In summary, I think it's to focus on how you can provide value for your audience.

That's really the difference because when you look when you compare yourself to one of these big brands, they are doing what's best for their audience and where they are, right? So we need to focus on our audience. We can't do exactly what they do. We have a different product, a different audience, and a different budget. And so it's really about being realistic and saying, what can I do for my audience? That adds value, given whatever limitations we have time, money, staff, equipment, whatever. It's not about not trying or not caring. It's more just saying,

Look, these are the resources I have. What's the best thing that I can create for my audience given this set of ingredients? What's the best recipe that I can make given the ingredients that are in front of me? It probably won't be a three-star Michelin meal, but it's probably going to be pretty good. It'll still be tasty. My audience will still love it, you know? So it's really just examining those ingredients and making the best thing that you can with what you have.


Melanie Deziel: Well, a lot of it, I think, is a prestige thing too. It's the same reason that people want to have TV commercials on the Super Bowl because you get to say I had a Super Bowl commercial, right? Or the same reason you want to sponsor the Olympics because you get to say I was at the Olympics, my brand is the Olympics, right?

It's a prestige thing, and I think a lot of it does come from that pressure that we all feel that says this is what successful advertising looks like, and it's a $100 million budget. We don't have that. So there's a drive to want to try to compete at that level. And that's natural. But I think so often to your point, it's not the most strategic choice for you and for your goals and your audience.


Native advertising: still a business opportunity for médias in 2022?

Melanie Deziel: Native advertising as a broad concept is everywhere around us. The fact that you see sponsored tweets on Twitter that naming right for four publications for newspapers, magazines, websites, and content. Yeah, I mean, for them, some of them are making a massive amount of revenue from that kind of content. So I know of, I mean, the first year at the New York Times, the publicly shared number is we've brought in over $180 million with sponsored content.

So I mean, media companies need revenue and as subscriptions may have dropped or as digital is not quite as profitable as print, we need to look at those avenues and all avenues to see what's valuable. I don't see companies just getting rid of the concept and not doing sponsored content anymore, so long as it continues to provide value to them. And that's what I do see. I don't think it's like the one silver bullet to save media. I know there are a few people who feel that way.

I don't. I don't think there's one single thing that's going to do it. I think our ability as media companies to stay relevant and stay in business depends on our ability to adapt, and that's going to be a lot of different things. It's going to be producing different types of content, and staffing in different ways. You know, it's going to be revenue and subscriptions. And I don't know, created branding, branded products, creating courses, running events like there are so many different revenue streams that can be considered. And I think native advertising probably has a place among it among that media mix for a long time.


How do you make the switch from Journalist to content marketer? 

Melanie Deziel: But I would never tell anyone who's not comfortable to make that switch. What I would say is there was a lot of skepticism when I first started to make that switch. Many people felt the same way. I think what's important is to understand that if you are measuring marketers by the standards of journalistic ethics, they will always fail because they're operating for a different purpose. And so my goal is not to be objective anymore. My goal is not to, you know, be a neutral third party.

That's not my job anymore. Now my job is to help communicate to an audience. So I try to find the parts that are similar for me, which is I'm trying to share this message with an audience and help them understand. That's a big part of that question before about how you want to feel. The reason I'm OK with it is that I'm not working with companies that, for the most part, are going to make me feel sick or feel guilty or feel. I'm not asking

Karine Abbou: which company, OK?

Melanie Deziel: No, but that's that's what I mean, you know, I'm trying to understand. I think you don't again, you don't always have that choice. But you know, if the content you're making is truthful, if the content you're making is valuable for the audience. I mean, I think there's value in that. It's the same way that some people who are in journalism may make the switch to filmmaking right or acting. It's not the same thing, but it still has value.

You're still using those same skills to communicate with an audience. You're just communicating different information. I do think that someone who is trying to do both will probably have some ethical challenges that they have to tackle. But I don't know people who are doing both. Everyone that I know who's made the switch, made the whole switch or they go back at some point later, but they're generally not doing both at the same time and certainly not at any of the media publications. It's always an entirely separate team.

Melanie Deziel: Well, and for me, and I don't know, maybe this is delusional, but I've always felt like I have a responsibility to my audience the same way I did as a journalist to try to present them with truthful information. That's well, the source that they can trust. That's informative, that's enjoyable. And I almost see it as a service. The way that an ombudsman may be, you know, have a role in a newspaper to say, How can I, as someone who does have that journalistic background, make sure that this marketing content is as good as ethical, as truthful as you know, everything as possible.

I feel like I am trying to raise the bar on that side of things, and in that way, I don't feel guilty for having made the change. I don't feel. I guess my thought is someone's going to make it. Either way, I would certainly rather it be someone who has the conscience and training in training a journalist.


Brands should be turned into media: still accurate in 2022? 

Melanie Deziel: I mean, I think that when we use the phrase like brands becoming media companies, I don't think it's meant in like an exact copy of their business model. I think it's more just that when we think of media companies, we think of producing content. We don't necessarily think of all the business models behind it. Even the organizational structure behind it is very different. So I think in terms of brands becoming publishers, I think that makes sense to me.

That kind of reading makes sense because brands are creating tons of content, social email, and web copy, we're creating tons and tons of stuff as brands. So we are in a way producing content the same way a publisher does. But as far as media companies, I mean, I think there are some examples of brands who have done that.

You look at a brand like Johnson and Johnson, I can't remember the name of their website, but they have a parenting website that does accept advertising from other people and in their mind, ideas, revenues, and revenue. So, you know, if someone's buying one of our products or someone's paying an ad on our website and revenues rabbit, who cares who comes from right? But yeah, I think for the most part, brands are not. Trying to become media companies so much as brands are trying to produce content of media company quality. That's where I think the real the real meeting in the middle is.


Why is the media industry collapsing? 

Melanie Deziel: Oh, my goodness. Yeah. I mean, there are so many, so many contributing factors, I think, just to rattle them off quickly. I think most media companies were set up at a time when they had a captive audience. There wasn't the ability to read a newspaper from three states away or, you know, from a thousand miles away or around the world. There wasn't a way to watch a news station that was broadcasting somewhere else like you were.

You were stuck with what you had locally because that's how we connected. And as things have gotten more globalized as we've had the rise of the internet, we have more choices now. And so I don't have to go with just my local newspaper, my reading time. My subscription money is spread across a greater number of publications because there are more options I have access to. I think the entire business model we made the unfortunate mistake in the early days of putting all of our content online for free, and we created this expectation that things you find online are free, and that made it very difficult for us to change our minds and say, You need to pay for our content when you read it online.

And you know, the business model is just different. The amount of money you earn as a media, you know, as a media company for like I would call it, squares and rectangles online are not worth the same as squares and rectangles and print. Those are much more expensive. And so it's been a shift in the advertising business model. And then you just add in the fact that people are not as media literate as they were at one time before because there are so many options you don't have to just learn. This is my local newspaper.

This is my local radio station. I can trust them. There are so many different options out there. People don't know who to trust. They don't know where to put their attention. They don't know where to put their money, right? And so all of that has just thoroughly disrupted our nice little world where we created content of the things happening around us and that was consumed by the people around us. Now there's just that. We're dealing with a whole massive of global challenges that face every single one of us.


Substack: danger or opportunity for traditional media? 

Melanie Deziel: I don't think so, because if you I mean, there's not really an alternative that you would have done with a newspaper, right? I think again, you know, native advertising and sponsored content is not a silver bullet that's going to save the media industry. So some brands deciding not to do that is not going to change that fact, I don't think.

But I mean, the challenge I have with things like Substack is, you know, if you want to create content that is paid to make sure it's worth paying for and that's that's honestly one of the challenges that hit many publications as well. You know, if your local newspaper wasn't very good and now you have a different option, you're going to go with that different option that's a little bit better. And so, you know, from a brand perspective, just like a media company, you know, you got to make it worth the subscription. And if you don't, people aren't going to subscribe.


From journalist to content marketer? Pay attention to this …

Melanie Deziel: I think that you really have to examine your reasoning and be comfortable with that change. Honestly, the biggest barrier to succeeding with a switch like that is some of the conversations we had around ethics and being willing to make that change. If you can get it right in your head, if you can feel comfortable that you're making the right decision for yourself, for your family, and for the world at large, you'll find a way to get through any of the other challenges. It's really about knowing that you're comfortable with that change. The purpose behind it and being comfortable there, I think, is really the key to making sure you can weather the storm of whatever comes next.

Karine Abbou: And do you think that there would be a process that they should set up as something like thinking before or what are they going to sell? What are they going to do? Because that can be content creation storytelling? Do you think that can be other things that could be sellable?

Melanie Deziel: So I guess it depends. When I made the change, when I started my own business, I was coming after having worked with brands, creating branded content inside of publications for many years. So I already had connections. I already knew what my audience wanted to buy from me. Right, that's a blessing that I had if you were going to make that switch.

Usually, the halfway point is to go freelance, so you'd be working as a freelance writer. You may already be working as a freelance journalist, and then you just begin taking assignments that are from brands instead of from publications. That's usually the slow transition that I see is that you take a few branded assignments, and you get better and better over time. And then you just shift that balance to the point where you're doing mostly branded assignments.

One of the perks of that, just for the record, is that the branded content generally pays much, much better than me or the editorial content. So you may have to do less of that kind of work to make the same amount, which is one of the pros and one of the things that sometimes attract freelancers to shift that balance. But yeah, I mean, honestly, as anything would, I would study what you can get access to any courses or certifications or watch YouTube videos. Listen to podcasts like this one, right? Find the information out there that's going to help you better understand the world that you're going into. That was my approach.


Connect with Melanie Deziel! 

So if you happen to be a B2B business that needs some help with your content marketing, you can learn more about the foundation that foundation ACO scope. If you want to learn more about me and my book and all the things that I'm up to And you can find the book wherever you buy your books online. The Content Fuel Framework - How to generate unlimited story ideas.


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