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The 2015 Challenge: The Big Thing I’m Going to Do Next Year to Become a Better Editor and Content Marketer

At a recent pre-conference breakfast, two things caught my attention. First, there were giant plates of bacon, the perfect pieces criss-crossing like a game of Pick-Up Sticks, and it was absolutely glorious. Second was a story told by one of the conference speakers about her 13-year-old son and the incredible videos he creates.

This kid is an instinctual creator. Raised with a powerful smartphone in his hand, he spends his free time creating and filming newscasts and sketches. He edits meticulously before posting on YouTube. For Christmas, all he wants are better mics, cameras, and production equipment.

Regardless of the level of formal training, kids raised with powerful technology at their fingertips have an advantage over the rest of us: They’re not saddled with a mental block preventing them from creating awesome/experimental/multimedia stories. It’s too hard. Not what I’m good at. Too big of an undertaking. Kids today1know what they create might not be perfect at first, but in the long run, they’ll continue to develop important skills.

I’m guilty of surrendering to this mental block too. By the time really good video production equipment became cheap and accessible, I was already in the depths of a liberal arts school, rolling around on the lawn of Sarah Lawrence College reading Tolstoy and scribbling in my Moleskine notebook like a pretentious asshole.2 Even as I entered the digital media world and started building digital publications, I’ve always had a tendency to revert back to my comfort zone: text and photo. I’m good at writing, editing, reporting. Not video and interactive design.

When you’re running a publication, this kind of bias for the familiar has a trickle-down effect that impacts your entire editorial operation. When your brain is programmed to think text-first, it limits your ability to consider all storytelling possibilities for each and every piece.

The 2015 Challenge3 I’m undertaking is to personally create a ton of video. To experiment with interactive parallax design programs. To cut and slice GIFs. To make infographics and charts that will probably make our design team squirm—at least at first. To create original content for every major social content platform and free my mind to consider every dimension of storytelling.

Simply put, I’m doing this out of necessity. Since I took over The Content Strategist a year ago, we’ve grown a ton while primarily relying on text-based narratives. But in 2015 and beyond, that’s not going to cut it. It’ll become a handicap. You can’t shoot for the stars while only thinking in two dimensions.

For me, that journey starts, well… now. By the time this piece is published, I’ll be on a plane, headed to Southeast Asia for the rest of 2014 with a GoPro and my filmmaker best friend. I’m going to catch up on my writing, but I’m also going to catch up to the 13-year-olds of the world and tell a bunch of video-based stories. Let’s call it my multimedia bar mitzvah.

Will you join me in coming of age?

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1 I can’t believe that I just wrote “kids today.” I am officially old.

2 I also probably had a frisbee.

Copyrighted! This is how copyrights work, right?

Image by Unsplash
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