"Less content" isn't just about less work, it's about more value-aligned work.
The two past decades of business—the same decade that content marketing saw its mainstream rise—has been undeniably shaped by Hustle Culture, which I define as:
- The relentless pursuit of productivity
- Tunnel vision towards a capitalist definition of success
- Glorifying effort and suffering over results and impact
- Treating "more" and "bigger" as synonymous with "better"
Hustle Culture is all the systemic patterns and trends in our society revolving around glorifying work, productivity, and capitalism.
And no one is immune to it, including content marketers.
How Hustle Culture impacts content marketers
So how do Hustle Culture's defining characteristics show up in our content marketing?
Well, the unfettered desire for "more" and "bigger" is what led to the creation-focused content strategies that has so many of us feeling stuck on a constant content treadmill, and what I call "More Cowbell Content Strategies."
Glorifying effort over impact is why we try to plan complex marketing campaigns or automations that look fancy and impressive, instead of focusing on streamlining and doubling down on what works.
Capitalist tunnel vision pushes us to prioritize customer acquisition over happiness and retention, which shows up in content strategies too focused on the top of the funnel.
And the relentless pursuit of productivity is why it's so easy to get obsessed with quick hacks that get short-term results instead of zooming out to the long-term and big picture from time to time.
All too often, this all combines to create a content marketing program that leaves audiences overwhelmed with too much content to consume (you've heard of content shock).
Even worse, it leads content marketers to overwork, overwhelm, and eventual burnout.
So I've dedicated my career to dismantling Hustle Culture and finding new ways to work, including minimalist content marketing.
Here's what I believe:
- Hustle Culture is dangerous to all of us, especially those of us with marginalized identities.
- It's impacting the content marketing industry in a unique way that's leading to saturation. The internet feels FULL, y'all.
- Minimalist content marketing - doing more with less, and doing less but better, is how content marketers can divest from Hustle Culture.
Here's how I practice business in line with my values:
- I don't outsource or hire in my business unless I can budget to pay everyone a living wage consistent with their skills/experience.
- I have offers at every price point, from $20 tools and templates to high touch consulting services.
- I redistribute 10% of my monthly income (as a sole proprietor) to mutual aid and social justice organizations fighting racism, antisemitism, ableism, homophobia, and other systemic oppression.
- I keep a large percentage of my income (versus redistributing or reinvesting in the business for faster growth) because chronic illness is not cheap and contrary to what capitalism says, my work's value is not defined by my health or time spent working.
- I get larger companies (hey, SaaS platforms! ) to partner with / sponsor me on webinars and other educational content up to once per month to provide in-depth training at no cost to viewers who don't have the budget for my paid products. (Interested in hosting me? Let me know here.)
- I am continually learning about the specific ways oppressive systems impact our society and unlearning the ways I'm upholding them, including in my business.
- I prioritize accessibility in my content and business by providing informative alternative text, image descriptions, captions, and transcripts where applicable. I am actively working to update my past archive of content and online footprint to meet web accessibility standards.
- I do not collaborate with people and businesses I know to have values misaligned with mine (even if they're everyone's problematic fave!).
Here's what I expect from those I work with (including you, hopefully):
- I expect the people I work with to be committed to social justice and actively working to make their businesses more inclusive.
- I expect the people I work with to cultivate diverse communities where all identities feel included and respected.
- I expect the people I work with to know what intersectionality is (and the name of the woman who coined it...or at least be looking it up now that I've mentioned it).
- I expect the people I work with to disrupt the gender binary and use gender-inclusive language in how they address their customers.
- I expect the people I work with to make any content we produce together accessible for other disabled audiences. For example, if we host a webinar, this means a transcript will be offered in addition to a replay video.
- I expect the podcasts, video series, and other "features" I participate in to feature a diverse lineup. Diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, ability, size, sexuality, and more. One "box checked" isn't enough.
This is who my business values and practices are inspired by:
- Toi Smith, who's taught me that anti-capitalist businesses (and their owners) can still thrive. That changed my overall vision for this business when I started focusing more on Work Brighter.
- Kelly Diels, who's taught me how to align marketing strategies with feminist & justice oriented beliefs (and inspired the structure for this page!).
- Guillaume Cabane, who is probably the smartest person I've ever worked under. He showed me that the growth hacking methodology is more than its reputation and can be the key to finding ethical growth levers without exhausting yourself looking for them.
- Mark Schaefer, whose post about content shock has changed the course of my entire marketing career (I still remember IM-ing it to my whole team at the time) and the way that I think about content.
- Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, who showed me that you can build a business with epic impact without submitting to Hustle Culture.
- BJ Fogg, whose work on human behavior and habits is infused into everything I build and teach and responsible for so much of the awesome progress my students and clients make.