Cultivate Connection through Content

Cultivate Connection through Content
Photo by Cynthia Magana / Unsplash

Have you ever sat down to write a blog post and just felt completely stuck?

Yeah, me too.

The optimism you felt moments before suddenly becomes confusion as you ask yourself: “Now what?”

Anxiety builds in your chest as you try to just start.

But you don’t.

Deep inhale ... long exhale … pause ... close your eyes ... then open ...

You’re not alone. And there’s nothing wrong with you.

In the beginning, anxiety is a sign of progress.

The anxiety you feel has nothing to do with the quality of your ideas or what other people will think of your content.

You feel anxious because you’re asking yourself to do something you don’t know how to do. Nobody taught you how write. And you assume that because “everyone” creates content, you can too.

You can, as soon as you learn how.

Soon, you'll develop skill.

Writing is a skill. It’s not complicated, but there’s a method.

And just imagine how confident you’ll feel when you sit down and know exactly what to write.

Keep reading and you’ll be well on your way.

Know Your Reader

Writing with empathy is conversation, not monologue.

Conversation creates relationship.

Who Are They?

Your reader is a person. They are a specific, individual person.

Your reader isn't "everyone" or "nobody" or just "people".

"The Internet" doesn't read your blog.

Your reader has a name. They are a specific age. The live in a specific house or apartment with a specific number of other people and a specific number of pets.

They went to a specific school and got a specific job. And they have specific feelings about each of their specific family and friends.

Why Do They Care?

As you start to come up with ideas for what to write, ask yourself “Who cares?”.

Seriously, think about this for a second … Who actually cares about what you’re going to write?

Who are they? How do they spend their time? Why are they going to spend time reading what you write? And how is it going to help them get something they want?

Give this persona a name. If you came up with multiple personas, give each one a name.

Get to know these people. These are your readers.

There are three types of readers.

Some People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

These people have a problem.

These are “cold leads”.

They know they have a problem because they feel it. Something feels wrong in their life and they want to feel better, but they don’t know how.

They don’t know how to solve their problem and they might not even have a name for it.

These people care about their problem.

Some People Know What They Don’t Know

These people have a problem and they know what it’s called.

These are “warm leads”.

These people are embarking on a journey.

Feelings drive behaviors.

When people feel sad they embark on a journey to feel happy. When they feel afraid they embark on a journey to feel safe.

As a writer, your first and most important goal is to be relevant to the reader. Specifically, you need to be relevant to what the reader feels.

Empathize with your reader.

Empathy manifests the most basic behavior you want, which is for the reader to keep reading. The more they read, the more relevant you are.

Warm leads need a roadmap to help them feel better. Your job is to give them that map. And ideally, you want to be their guide.

Meet the reader where they are by empathizing with how they feel now and create a bridge to how they want to feel instead.

These people care about a solution.

Some People Know Some and Want To Know More

These people believe in a solution and they want to make it real.

These are “hot leads”.

These people feel empowered. And they feel desire.

They're carried by momentum. They’ve made some progress and they want to keep going.

Minimize friction.

Help your reader speed up if possible. At least help them avoid getting stuck.

The wheels are in motion. The plates are spinning. Don’t get in the way.

"But how do I do that?", you ask. That’s a perfect question.

Show that it's safe to trust you.

Doubt is friction.

The reader wants to trust you.

They know they have a problem. They feel bad and they want to feel better. As long as they believe you can help, they’ll read more.

There’s one big problem though. Feeling bad is familiar to your reader.

Until they feel really good they just feel less bad, which also makes them feel kinda empty.

People who feel empty want to feel whole.

Empty is an unfamiliar feeling.

What’s familiar always feels like home, even when it feels bad.

People don’t like feeling bad. But they cling to what’s familiar.

The less bad they feel the more empty they feel until they start to feel really good.

Some people interpret feeling less bad as a warning sign that something is about to happen that will make them feel worse.

Empathize and meet people where they are.

Emptiness manifests feelings of fear, anxiety and dread. People doubt themselves and doubt is friction.

The longer it lasts, the more anxious they feel until they feel compelled to make a choice.

This is a pivotal moment. And only the reader can decide their path.

As writers, we cannot choose for them. This is beyond our control.

Present an opportunity and a safe space to choose.

The Path to Suffering

The reader may choose to return to feeling bad and use denial to cope with their suffering. This is never what the reader wants. But it is often what they accept because it is familiar.

It is the devil they know. It is The Matrix.

Because it hasn’t killed them yet, the reader convinces themself that it won’t kill them soon enough to justify the emptiness they feel right now.

The Path to Adventure

The reader may choose to continue their journey toward feeling good and use something familiar to distract from their feelings of emptiness.

Give them what they need so they can claim what they want, not merely what they’re willing to tolerate.

Here's how ...

Use familiarity to influence behavior.

Give the reader a portable something familiar to take on their journey.

All people crave what’s familiar. We crave belonging to something.

People aren’t meant to be scattered randomly in isolation.

All people need to be a part of something, or for something to be a part of them. It’s how we understand who and what we are … by knowing who and what we are not.

Where other things begin, that is where we end. Without the other, who are we?

People who feel empty need to feel whole. This is why familiarity is so fundamental and why change can be so complex. The familiarity of the token helps them feel whole again.

The token is your offer.

Give them an offer. Think of it like a lucky charm to keep in their pocket.


Here's what we’ve covered.

Know Your Reader

  • Define personas.
  • Be specific.
  • Give them names.

Cold Leads

  • Cold leads feel bad and don’t know why.
  • Write about the problem.
  • Start a conversation.

Warm Leads

  • Warm leads don’t feel good and now they know why.
  • Write about the solution.
  • Use empathy to create connection.

Hot Leads

  • Hot leads feel empowered, but also kind of empty, or worse.
  • Write about your offer.
  • Use familiarity to drive behavior.

Stay Tuned ...

In the upcoming parts in this series I'll talk in detail about how to create content that connects with specific readers and drives specific behaviors. So stay tuned.

If you liked this and would like to read more, you can follow me @laran on Twitter and click the subscribe button here on my blog.

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Jamie Larson