"anticipated content": do people 'look forward' to you?

[“Last Words”, which I sent out in the newsletter recently. You can buy the print here etc.]

A nice little exchange I had with Beth on Twitter this morning got me thinking…

It was simple enough. Beth just said that she liked this morning’s newsletter cartoon.

I thanked her for her kind words, and said that the daily cartoon these days was my favorite part of the job; it’s the thing I would give up doing last [That’s true, by the way].

She replied, “Good to know, because I look forward to them and just bought [the print,] ‘Last Words’ :-)

I thanked her again for supporting my business, as one should…

But then afterwards, I was thinking about what Beth said: “I look forward to them”…

I read a lot of blogs, I follow a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook, as a lot of y’all do as well.

So we know a lot people online, we like a lot of people, we think they’re cool enough- cool enough to follow, anyway [N.B. I’m not really talking about friends and family here. I’m talking more about people that create “content” about stuff we have an intellectual or professional interest in.].

But ask yourself, of all these people that occupy your “content cloud”, how many are actually creating content that you actually look forward to receiving? Content that is ANTICIPATED?

Sure, I have a lot of people in my bookmarks that I read regularly- I like them, I like what they say and I think they’re interesting.

But how many of them are actually writing content that I consciously look forward to receiving, in advance? How many people do I actually follow religiously?

A tiny, TINY fraction of them.

Does your content create that same feeling of anticipation for other people? “I look forward to it.” Do people look forward to your stuff the same way I look forward to reading say, Clay Shirky or Mark Earls?

If not, don’t you think it should? Don’t you think you’d be far more successful if it did?

“I look forward to it.” That is the money shot. And you’re either doing it, or you’re not.

Something to think about…

[P.S. Ken Peters sums it up nicely: “If your content isn’t anticipated, it just becomes noise.”]

[P.S. Thanks to Beth once again, this time for getting me to put my thinking cap on…]


  1. A more interesting question is what makes content engaging enough to be anticipated.
    I think that has to vary wildly. Because the receiver is the one anticipating, its all about her views of the world. So once your content hits a certain level of interest – people like it enough to add it to a reader or check regularly – how do you reach the next level.
    I think you would have choose a target audience – otherwise you will be lose yourself trying to feed too many crocodiles.

  2. Two days ago, I didn’t know about you. Then I stumbled into your twitter, and liked your thought processes (formally, too). You didn’t follow me back. I got slightly wounded (“Of all people, I am definitely one of the admittedly interesting ones”, I thought, – “And also, people send me fan mail and shit and say that they like my breasts, so why, dear God, why”.

    The funniest thing (and that has to do with the subject of your post) that it is not as much about content, it is about the personal energy. One can say “cabbage” and get 139 cooing comments – or one can say something of great and true value and be buried in the noise – and it could even be the same person. So it’s always a combo of self and where the self lands in the moment, no?

    • Sorry Lena, but I’ve never heard of you before… so quit your yappin’!

      (PS, I was teasin’ abut that last part….) 😀

  3. I believe, if you are true to yourself, your target audience finds you. On the *rare* occasion, I disagree with the opinion expressed in Hugh’s art, but I always understand what he’s saying, because he is consistently himself. He is always insightful and funny and that’s what I look forward to.

  4. They sure do! We’re sifting through survey responses from readers this week and really excited with the results.

    We’re also reading “Ignore Everybody.” With an offbeat schtick, we’ve dealt with a lot of the questions (and people) mentioned there. Big thumbs up.

  5. I “look forward to” you, Hugh! And when I have a little money left over after paying the rent, I’ll buy a print. I’m looking forward to that, too. But I know that you love what you do; it’s not just about selling the prints. And that what makes it so good!

  6. I am *looking forward* to the new book *very much*.

    Actually, I was dragged down a little when reading that I have to wait 10 months (!) to read it… :-]

  7. […] like Hugh MacLeod’s message in his blog post, “anticipated content”: do people ‘look forward’ to you? The only problem is I don’t know how to get people to look forward to my […]

  8. Thanx for this.

    Recently made the switch and started a new blog based entirely on this.

    I woke up one day and realized that I WASN’T ADDICTED to my blog, my own blog! Which was a big wake up call.

    So I started a new blog recently based entirely on this.

    Creating content that I myself look forward to receiving each day. I even signed up for my own newsletter just to receive my own feed and read the post one more time!

    … Also pleased to say I am addicted to your newsletter. =) You inspired my new blog in a way. Spreading art, heart, and personal development in short bursts (for those who are busy), and for that I THANK YOU.

  9. My favorite moments: Seeing someone you barely know or have never met at a party, and having them tell you that they really like your blog. Later, imagining them reading it at home–thinking what you put out there, maybe something that didn’t get a lot of public traction–was brought into their private world willfully and better yet, they enjoyed it. Those moments make the 3:34am must-blog moments worth it all.

    Maybe they didn’t leave a comment or tweet it out, but they thought enough of it to tell you they liked it.

  10. True, but not everyone looks forward to the same things. How many people eagerly anticipate the next novel in the ‘Twighlight’ series? Being eagerly anticipated by the masses might mean current commercial success, but is it relevant or will it stand the test of time?

  11. I believe it’s the authenticity of your passion in words and images.

    I still read my regulars. But now, in addition, I “follow threads”.

    Sometimes (often) I find that by the end of the day I have 200-270 tabs open across a dozen browser windows.

    And I aggregate the collective consciousness of the soundbites across those hundreds of hyperlinks.

    And somehow, it all makes sense.

    Bruce Cockburn said it well: “You get bigger as you go”…


    Thanks Beth=>Hugh. Great insight. Incredibly true…