First Published: November 29, 2018

Last Updated: July 1, 2021

The Gist: The mindset most content marketers are approaching their strategy with is about a decade outdated. Learn how to update your mindset for a modern content strategy instead.

If you know me, you know my personality is extra. 💁🏻‍♀️

I dress up as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt whenever I need a confidence boost.

I literally took headshots in a unicorn onesie for my other business.

And I express all my feelings through dance. 💃

My personality is at max volume, almost all of the time. But when it comes to content marketing strategy, I am ALL about minimalism.

It is okay — nay, encouraged! — to be lazy…as long as you’re smart and strategic about it. 🙃

So let's talk about what minimalist content marketing is, and why it’s such an important content marketing trend for you to embrace, and how you can get started.

Watch the Video

I spoke about this at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference in 2018. 

And not to brag or anything (because it actually FILLED me with anxiety), but the presentation was completely booked about a week before the conference even started.

It was standing room only and there was even a request for me to do an encore of it the final day of the conference.

That told me, clearly this is something a lot of marketers need to learn more about. And people who didn’t attend the conference deserve to learn about it too.

So let’s do it.

But before we dive into this minimalist content marketing approach, we first need to look at what most marketers are currently doing with content.

Why most content marketers are overdoing it, and how minimalist content marketing is the answer:

Tweet this!

The Old Way: More Cowbell Content Marketing

The way most of us are used to doing content marketing is a very maximalist approach. I like to call it “More Cowbell Content Marketing.”

Remember that SNL sketch?

In the sketch, no matter what the question is, no matter what the problem, is or what the song was missing, the prescription is “more cowbell.”

more cowbell gif

It’s the same thing with content marketing and creation.

With More Cowbell Content Marketing, no matter what the problem or goal, the prescription is “more content.”

It means trying to publish as much content as possible until you caught up to HubSpot or Buffer (the go-to content crushes of the More Cowbell Content era, because they were the exceptions that made it work).

Or sacrificing things like content quality and conversion potential in order to maximize quantity.

And that mindset and approach might work when you’re first starting out with content marketing for your business. At that point, you don’t have existing content to work with, so you have no choice but to create stuff from scratch.

But once you’ve been using content marketing for a while, that just does not make sense anymore.

Not at all.

At that point, more content isn't just not better, it's actively worse for your marketing efforts.

With More Cowbell Content Marketing, no matter what the problem or goal, the prescription is “more content.”

Tweet this!

The Problems With More Cowbell Content Marketing

Writing's Not the Job

Always remember that the goal of content marketing is not to create content. Even if your job title is technically “writer” or “content creator.”

Because even then, you don’t get rewarded by your boss or clients for how many words you write, how often you publish, or anything like that (or at least you shouldn’t).

It’s not about creating content, it’s about getting RESULTS from that content.

Find customers, make money, freaking DO BUSINESS.

Content is just the mechanism that you’re using to do that.

But when ALL your focus, time, budget, and energy on net new content creation, nothing's left to work on the rest of your content marketing program.

Reminder: the goal of content marketing isn't just to create content. It's to get RESULTS from that content.

Tweet this!

New Content Creation Has Diminishing Returns

Both the act of new content creation, and the individual pieces of content you create, have diminishing returns.

There are only so many new keywords you can target and blog topics you can come up with.

Then your choices are either:

  • Publish multiple pieces of content on the same topic (creating a poor user experience)
  • Public content on topics outside your core niche (targeting non-ideal customers)

Neither are great options.

But instead of continuing to create new content past the point of diminishing returns, you can focus on optimizing the other elements of content marketing. For example, nurturing your evergreen content.

Content Marketers Are Burnt TF Out

Finally, the workforce as a whole is in a burnout epidemic, and marketers aren't immune to it.

A lot of the practices of More Cowbell Content Strategy are highly influenced by Hustle Culture and the assumption that more is better.

Breaking the burnout cycle means getting off the constant content treadmill.

How Minimalist Content Marketing is Different

Minimalist content marketing is about creating as little as possible to meet those marketing goals.

This is in stark contrast to the more cowbell approach, which wastes your time and energy and pulls you away from your big picture goals.

You’re too focused on keeping up with that content treadmill.

monsters inc treadmill gif

And I mentioned earlier that I’m a dancer, right? As a dancer, let me tell you:

A treadmill is one of the most boring forms of exercise. And it’s not a great content strategy, either.

Instead of running endlessly on the constant content treadmill, you need to step off every now and then to say, “how is this content performing? Is that actually getting results? What else can we do?” 🤔

If you've seen any of my pop culture content teardowns, like of Cher, Cardi B, or The Good Place, you know I love me a good remix

It’s true for music, and it’s true for content marketing.

A treadmill is one of the most boring forms of exercise. And it’s not a great content strategy, either.

Tweet this!

How Minimalist Content Marketing Saved My Own Butt

I like to say that I’m the perfect combination of smart, ambitious, and lazy. 💁🏻‍♀️

I set big goals and can create strategic plans to meet them. But still, at the end of the day, I am lazy af.

Through no fault of my own, I don’t have the energy to hustle — not with multiple mental and physical chronic illnesses.

At one point, I thought this would mean I’d need to end my career in content marketing.

To keep going, I HAD to get amazing at figuring out exactly how much work needs to be done…and then literally no more.

Because I need to be so careful with my energy (shout-out to spoon theory!), I’m *always* calculating how to meet new marketing goals with existing content.

So minimalist content marketing saved my own a$$ and career.

Before I ever embraced minimalist content marketing and content remixing as a smart strategy, it was my survival strategy.

It saved me when...

  • My boss expected to see a new post at the top of the blog twice a week, but I was too burnt out to write that much (and was a solo team), but not too burnt out to update an outdated one.
  • I'd already written about something and there was a new update I didn't have the bandwidth to write a whole new thing about, but had time to add a few paragraphs of updates to the old one.
  • My burnout zapped all the creativity and motivation that makes my content writing interesting, but could still do strategic admin like technical optimization.

How to Embrace a Minimalist Content Marketing Mindset

If you’re familiar with the minimalism movement, a big part of it is defining what “enough” is, and not going beyond that. Another part is making the most of what you already have.

That’s the energy we need to be bringing to our content marketing!

We need to define how much content it should reasonably take to meet our business goals, create that, then go use it. Get it into the hands of our customers (or potential customers).

Successful content marketing isn’t about like how big your marketing campaigns are, how often you publish, your watch time on YouTube, or whatever other vanity metric Forbes just published an article about.

It is about meeting your marketing goals. Using content.

And minimalist content marketing focuses on that, instead of just creating content for the hell of it.

Plan your perfect repurposing strategy

Download my free content repurposing planning worksheet to figure out the most strategic and intentional way to reuse and recycle your content.

The 3 Rules of Minimalist Content Marketing

As I explained at INBOUND, there are three basic rules of minimalist content marketing:

Rules of Minimalist Content Marketing

1. Focus On Usage, Not Creation

First, focus on using content, not creating. Again, your job as a marketer isn’t to create content, even if it technically is. The reason your job exists is for that content to do something an be used.

And so when you create content with that in mind, you can create content that better meets your goals, and is put to work in more strategic ways.

2. Create Just As Much Content As You Need, Then Make It Work

The second rule of minimalist content marketing is to create just as much content as you need. Because again, it’s not the focus that we all though it was, for the past so many years of content marketing.

Create what you need, just as much as you need, and then go off and do something with it.

Promote it. Distribute it. Repurpose it.

Keep putting it in front of your target customers (strategically, of course) until they’re your actual customers. At least, if your goal is lead gen and conversions.

For retention content, as another example, keep offering customers the right content until they’ve repurchased or resubscribed.

Whatever you’re using content for, create the content, then go use it. Don’t lose sight of that bigger picture while you’re drowning in blog post optimization.

3. Remixing and Repurposing Existing Content Before Creating Something New

If we’ve been friends for awhile, you know that I’m all about remixing and repurposing content, and any way to get more from your existing content.

Because if your company has been using content marketing for a while already, like most of the companies that I’ve worked for or with, you already have tons of blog posts to work with.

You don’t need more, you need better.

You can go back and make those old pieces of content work so much better instead of starting from scratch.

So focus on that.

If you already have a ton of foundational stuff to work from, you don’t need to create a new blog post every time you need a blog post.

Instead go pull something that could be better, or has some kind of hidden potential. Grab that and make it better, so it meets your current goals.

Once they have that foundation to work from, smart marketers use that instead of always starting from scratch.

Get Off the Content Treadmill and On Board with Minimalist Content Marketing

If you’re ready to make your content marketing strategy a little bit more minimalist, go ahead and check out this quiz to find out where you should get started.

Finally, remember there is nothing, NOTHING, wrong with being lazy as long as you are smart and strategic about it. 🙌

Which pop star will save your content strategy_