Content Rules: Five Questions with C.C. Chapman

C.C. Chapman had a big influence on me earlier this year.

I was thinking about my blogging process, both here and at I started thinking about increasing subscriptions and all the little strategies that people do. And then one afternoon, I thought about CC’s new book, Content Rules. (affiliate link). And I settled back down to improving my content.

CC Chapman

However, it made me want to talk to CC about the book he and Ann Handley have written to find out if I actually understood what they meant.

So here’s my 5 question interview with CC.

1. Content rules. That’s the title of your new book (with Ann Handley). I’m assuming that there’s an intentional pun? and, assuming that it isn’t just a “rock on” kind of statement, just how rule-driven is this book?

It is definitely a play on rules and we always joke how we contemplated putting an exclamation mark on the book cover, but figured that would be overkill.

That being said, Chapter 2 does outline the 11 Content Rules as we see them. We make a point to let readers know that they are more of guides or suggestions rather than hard and fast rules, but let’s face it Content Suggestions would not have made much of a book title.

We wanted to give people a list of rules that they should think about when having a content strategy in their marketing and communications mix.

2. You’ve taken the approach of not sending out free copies. In fact, we’re talking based not on the book, but on what you’ve hinted at about the book. I’m wondering if this is a “teasing about content” rule? What is the content that you are using to pique interest?

That decision had more to do with a rule that Ann and I have and that is that if you don’t put a value on yourself, no one will. A lot of work goes into writing a book and neither of us were a fan of the trend to give away tons of copies of the book ahead of time in the hope of building buzz. Instead we took a very strategic approach to use a lot of content to generate interest in the book.

We both have platforms already established that we could talk to about the book. Plus we launched the book site early and started posting original written and video content that not only had to do with the topics in the book, but have to do with the much larger world of content marketing. We’ll see if our decision works or not once the book comes out.

3. I have thought about my own blogs. I’ve wondered about working on subscription drives or other things. But then I think, “If I just spend the time improving the quality of my writing rather than figuring out SEO, people will share.” Is that where you are going with your focus on content?

That is certainly a part of it and it is easier to maintain that thinking when it is an individual saying that, but much harder for a business to take that approach.

But, at the end of the day we are all publishers and at the root of it all if your content is not as good as it can be then you need to fix that first. So you focusing on making your writing better IS important. But, at the same time you’ve got to make sure that it easy for people to share and compelling enough to get their attention. SEO plays a role in that, but if all you do is fill your posts with keywords, that is going to get boring really fast.

One of our Content Rules is “Stoke the Campfire” and if you’ve ever built a fire before, you know that you have to start with small highly combustable tinder and then slowly add bigger longer burning pieces. The same thing goes with content. You need enough small stuff to get attention, but then some deeper thought out pieces to really pull people in and give them something to digest. Plus, think about people sitting around a campfire. They might get excited for the big flash ups, but they stay and sing around the slow burning coals.

4. How important to you is it to make this particular piece of content, a book.

Hugely important to me personally and professionally. As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to have a book published. I always assumed it would be a fiction book when I was growing up, but here we are today with a business book being released.

I had been approached to write several books as the social media space began to really get bigger and I passed on them because while I wanted to be a published author, I refused to write something that would be out of date as soon as it hit paper. I wanted to write something that could stand the test of time and when Ann approached me about Content Rules I knew that it was the one.

While I’ve been doing freelance writing and blogging for years, being able to add Author to my bio now that I have a book means the world to me.

5. Talk about your kids as content. How do the principles in the book relate to how you are developing children?

Wow, now this is not a question I’ve been asked before, but it is funny because I instantly thought about one of the other Content Rules that is Create Wings and Roots which we point out is usually applied to children.
I had to really think about this question, but now that I have I’m actually thinking that a lot of the rules DO fit to kids. I say this because I’m a big believer that the secret to doing well online is based in the fact of being a good person. Growing up in a small town, I’ve got good common sense and a grounded sense of reality and this is what I’m trying to pass onto my kids.

As I look at the rules and see things talking about being original, not shilling and playing to your strengths I’m realizing that these are all values that I’ve taught my kids. Guess maybe I need to review my own book on Digital Dads now. *laugh*

I’m looking forward to reading more when the book comes out. I’m doing this interview without a copy, evidence that I’ve got enough confidence in C.C. that I’m pointing to it without having read it!

For more on the book, go to the book’s website:  Content Rules.


8 responses to “Content Rules: Five Questions with C.C. Chapman

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  2. Great interview, and I love the question about parenting. As C.C. says, that’s not one we’ve been asked before!

    In fact, I think the whole notion of Content Marketing for businesses has clear parallels to raising a child. As we talk about in “Content Rues,” the idea of developing blogs and video and so on to market your business seems so fun and exciting at the outset. But just like raising a child, it quickly becomes obvious that it’s also a lot of work, and a long-term commitment, and something you need to remain committed to even when you really would rather not (like during those challenging teen years, for example….)

    Of course, you’ll find that Content Marketing gives back in surprising and unexpected ways. In other words, it’s worth it… just like parenting itself.

    I look forward to meeting you some day, Jon.

  3. Thanks so much Ann. I love the metaphor. And, with a 19 and 23 year old, we’re into seeing the spin-offs that can happen.

    Looking forward to the book.

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  5. Thanks for the article/interview Jon. I took a note from you and decided to ask the author of the book I was reading a new questions. It a great learning experience. Thanks!

    BTW: This book sounds really interesting. I hope I do read it someday, but I’m buried under a bunch of technical books at the moment. 😉

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