This is a guest post written by the person who drew my name in the Blog Secret Santa for Content Strategy.
Because, here’s the thing - I got two Blog Secret Santas. Not because I’m special, and not because I’m greedy, but because I logged into the nzsecretsanta.co.nz two different ways thereby triggering two registrations. I didn’t catch it until it was too late to fix so the system generated two Secret Santas for me. I, in turn, became a Santa and wrote two articles for the recipients each of my registrations triggered for me.
I feel really embarrassed for a bunch of reasons but mostly because a) I can’t even log onto a simple website these days without causing drama and now you know about it, and b) to have had two people write for thejamjar.com while there are starving content strategists out there who would kill for content like this on their blogs. Or something.
Both this post "Give the gift of your art" and "Knitting Lessons Applied to Content Strategy" are just fantastic. I can’t even. They're so good; so thoughtful; so gosh-darn generous. Holy mackerel, darling readers, you lucked out big time because you get to read both fantastic posts right here at home on thejamjar.com
Many thanks to my gorgeous Santas - Happy Christmas to you both and much love from Michelle.
Give the gift of your art, today and every day
Maybe it’s because of the holidays. But I’ve been thinking a lot about giving gifts lately.
No, not the types of gifts that come in envelopes with cards and in boxes under trees – though those have been pervasive as well. I’m talking about the gifts that live inside of you: your talent, your artistry, your passion for creating beautiful, useful things for the web and beyond.
I never thought of my skills as “gifts” until I picked up a copy of Seth Godin’s Linchpin earlier this year. (If you’ve never read it, do yourself a favor and use that brand new Amazon/iTunes/Audible gift certificate you just got for Christmas to buy it now.) I’ve revisited the book lots of times over the course of 2014, re-reading its lessons on being an indispensable worker.
One of the biggest takeaways I got from Linchpin was what Godin calls the “gift economy,” which he says has taken the place of the traditional economy in which our parents and grandparents worked. Today, the most successful professionals are being rewarded less for following the rules (the old economy) and more for cultivating their personal gifts and sharing those with the world.
“The essence of any gift, including the gift of emotional labor, is that you don’t do it for a tangible, guaranteed reward. If you do, it’s no longer a gift; it’s a job.”
What we’ve done here today – creating posts for Blog Secret Santa? That’s a bunch of smart, friendly, caring content strategists who’ve written blog posts as gifts for others. But within these gifts, we’ve given gifts, true to the definition of Godin’s linchpin. Our posts are new, and they’re unique. They involved emotional labor: taking initiative, being creative, connecting to others through our words. They were given not just so we writers could receive an anonymous post in return, but so that we could share a part of ourselves with the greater community.
“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.”
How do we change people through the art we create – whether that be words, videos, drawings, or something else? As content strategists, we help make the web a better place, one site at a time. That certainly helps millions of people find information more quickly, learn new things, and enjoy a more elegant web experience. But as a community, we’re empowering an entire generation of professionals to become linchpins and advocate for these these improvements at the organizations, corporations, and institutions around the world.
For me, that’s what something like Blog Secret Santa is all about. Not only are we carving better paths to lead the web down, we’re sharing our knowledge and helping others to follow.
Even if you didn’t write a blog post for today’s exchange, you can still share your gift. Because among all of us linchpins there are plenty of people who don’t yet realize their talents. Who may think they’re not smart enough, well-connected enough, or experienced enough to play and thrive in this wonderful, generous community.
So, in the spirit of the holiday season, I’m asking you to share a gift today. For those looking for direction and inspiration. For those who want to contribute their art to the digital community. For those who might become the content strategy leaders of tomorrow.
All you have to do is tell me about a time when you gave a gift that allowed you to share your talents – an experience that helped you, even just a tiny bit, get to where you are today. For example, did you ever:
- Start a blog to share tips, stories, and ideas from your own career with others?
- Help out a friend or a local organization with pro bono work?
- Go above and beyond what a client asked for because you really cared about the project?
Today, you can give a gift that lasts well beyond the holiday season. And every day, remember to keep writing, keep reading, keep sharing, and keep the spirit of generosity that makes our content strategy community so special.