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May 23, 2018

I like what I like.

Sometimes that means I spend a Saturday night curled up on the couch watching a romantic drama starring Keanu Reeves. Sometimes that means watching Bret Favre throw interception after interception. Sometimes that means dancing in my kitchen to the Kesha on full blast.

I love Kesha for a million reasons and it’s about a lot more than just some killer tracks. Here are 3 Rules of Content Creation You Can Learn From Kesha’s Rainbow. But first, a very little history lesson.

Rainbow is Kesha’s first studio album since 2012. If there was a musician’s equivalent to dog years, that five-year span is about a hundred years. So why did it take Kesha five years to put out an album?

Rule Number 1: The Best Story is Your Story

The last almost decade of Kesha’s life has been tumultuous. She’s had a very public dispute with her former producer, whom she states physically and emotionally abused her during their time working together. A number of court rulings insisted that she was unable to create music outside of that relationships and as such she basically ghosted the music industry for a long time.

Want to know more? Just listen to the album.

The album is filled with very obvious references to that relationship as well as her struggles to deal with and manage that stress. The lesson here is that if you’re struggling to look for content ideas, remember that you’re struggling.

My very first public speaking engagement was at a blogging conference where I spoke about how and why I publicly recounted my failures and struggles in my work. I write about falling down the stairs…four times. I once wrote a piece titled, “How And Why My Last Project Crashed and Burned In A Fiery Inferno of Failure: A Love Story”.

What Kesha does with great success on tracks like Praying and Learn To Let Go is documenting her personal story and then make it applicable to the listener’s life. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, people want to hear practical stories about how this is applicable.

Rule Number 2: Phone a Friend and Respect Your Elders

I grew up in a hick town. When I was a kid I thought I’d drive a Chevy pickup truck and probably work in the same factory where my uncle lost 4/10ths of his fingers chopping up chickens in the days before they wore chainmail gloves, or at least before he did. So you’d better believe I was excited when I heard Dolly Parton singing on a track on the new album.

Look, you’re not the only person that does what you do. And the people that do what you do and do it well are not remotely afraid of you. There’s room at the table for everyone. I’ve built websites for people that are direct competitors to me. I’ve written content for people who are in the same field as me. So if you need help with a project, ask. You’d be surprised how often people are looking for something new and interesting and unique to get involved in. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no. Big deal. If you don’t hear no a few times a week you’re not asking interesting enough questions.

You’re also not the first one to do this. I know that you think that your parent’s generation doesn’t know anything about social media…and you might be right. But they know enough about enough and they know a lot of things you don’t. So while everybody else is running around trying to find more rappers and A-list pop stars for their tracks, Kesha is asking the queen of country music for some help with a track. And the result is pure gold. 

Rule Number 3: Do Something Different

I listen to Kesha because I want to dance. It’s good beats, amusing lyrics and she’s got a voice that could shatter china, in a good way. Here’s a phrase I’ve never said about Kesha until about a week ago; “Have you heard Kesha’s new album? It’s like ½ country songs.”

Now that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. Some people might suggest that some of the slower songs on the album are just slightly unique ballads, but either way, Kesha took her image as a musician that you’re going to listen to in the club and flipped it around. The album is eclectic in a way that few pop albums achieve and it’s all about transferable skills.

If you can sing, you can sing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a club anthem or the national anthem at an NFL game. Singers gonna sing. We tend to compartmentalize what we do in ways that dramatically inhibit our potential. But service is service and sales is sales and while you might need to up your knowledge and switch gears if you go from selling cars to selling subscription boxes, the skills themselves are can be laid on top of something new to create an entirely new opportunity.

So if you can blog, you can write. You’re a storyteller. Use the skills, not the job title to help you figure what you can do.

“Been underestimated my entire life
I know people gonna talk shit, and darling, that’s fine
But they won’t break my spirit
I won’t let ’em win/ I’ll just keep on living”
– “Bastards”, Kesha

Time For The Encore

The real lesson you can dig into with Kesha’s Rainbowis that if you’ve got that passion to create, use it. There may be times when you feel down. You may feel like your life, especially your job, isn’t going the way you really want it to. But if you really love what you do, it’s going to show through in your work and you’ll be back to making hit records in no time.

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