The axe was heavier than I anticipated. It was small but mighty, and as I raised it over my head and back between my shoulder blades, I wondered if I’d ever hit the target. This all came into swing at CONEX: The Content Experience, Uberflip’s user conference in Toronto over three warm, summery days in August. The event was brimming with amazing talent both on and off the stage, and I found myself learning with each conversation and presenters’ slides.
My second night in Toronto was the most eventful. I went axe throwing. This was something I’ve never done before, in fact, I hadn’t even heard of it until I was invited. But I love trying new things, and some friends were going. So I thought, I’ll take a swing at this. Not only did I learn a lot about this tool to suit the fellow woodsman, but as a content marketer, I saw how this could apply to my job, too.
It’s an even playing field
My fellow axe throwers included a group of conference speakers and thought leaders, such as Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Sangram Vajre, Carlos Alber, Chris Moody and many more. There were CEOs, executives, and people with decades and decades of experience. But at that moment, we weren’t content marketers. We weren’t speakers or experts. It didn’t matter how many years we’ve worked. At that moment, we were simply people throwing weapons. That evened the playing field, and made it even more fun.
No matter where we work, our title, or years of experience, content marketers are all working toward the same goal. The goal is creating the best content for our audience and serving it to them in the most digestible way. That commonality is what brings like-minded people to a conference like CONEX, and it’s a reminder that — like all other content marketers — your job is that next great content piece. Don’t worry about what the competition is doing, or what others may think. If your audience treasures your content, you win.
It’s not a competition
At first, axe throwing is as scary as the epic picture above. It’s a head-to-head match, best two out of three. However, once you get past the determined-faced, axe-throwing, target-hungry competitors, you realize that your turn is really just you, the axe and the painted wood board ahead. No one is getting in the way of that target except you.
There is so much marketing talent, but it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Focus on your tasks and your goals. The more you hone in, the better your chances of hitting a bullseye. Then you’ll be the one to watch.
Try, try and try again
I threw that axe so many times that my back and arms were sore. First, we had a full practice session, where we were coached on how to throw. Then, the best two out of three bracket began, and I faced off against three or four people. At first, I threw the axe everywhere but the board, but slowly I started to chip it, and then get into the green, blue and red lines. Throw after throw made me feel more confident as the axe sliced into the board. Then, this happened:
The best way to succeed is to keep trying. It takes time, practice and focus, but great content marketing comes when you’ve taken the time to work at it. While writing comes naturally to me, I had to learn how to develop a content strategy, and I had to test and try many content strategies to learn what works best. I’ve thrown the content marketing axe at the board for over eight years, and while it doesn’t always hit the bullseye, the years of practice have helped me consistently make a mark.
Go for it
When I first heard that I was invited to throw axes with a bunch of CONEX speakers, I was nervous. I am outgoing and optimistic, and I love talking to people. But axes were involved. And I was going to throw them. I knew I had to get out of my head and go for it. I was going to meet exciting new people. I was going to learn a new skill. And most importantly, I was going to have fun.
When you’re facing a new challenge, fight the fear head on. It may seem scary at first, but don’t let those fears hold you back. Content marketing is all about failing fast. Not every blog post is going to be read hundreds of thousands of times. Not every video will be viral (in fact, most won’t). But you never know until you try, so take the leap, throw the axe and go for it.
I want to thank Randy Frisch, Jay Baer and the entire Uberflip and Convince and Convert team for an amazing time in Toronto. I highly recommend this conference for all types of digital marketers. Oh, and I also recommend axe throwing.