Maya Angelou and the Power of Great Content


“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

― Maya Angelou

The recent death of poet Maya Angelou has left us thinking about the power of words. Her biography shows that she knew that more than anyone: a terrible childhood experience left her mute for years. Her blossoming as a writer, poet, and artist in her later life moves and inspires anyone who cares about literature – and words.

This all may seem a bit removed from our humdrum, day-to-day life online, especially if you’re in the business of content marketing. Every day we plug away focused on posting content. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, press releases, news…an endless stream of words fills our lives online but how much of it is memorable or important? Sometimes we seem to live in two worlds of words:  the moving, vital world of great literature and poetry, and the daily grind of ordinary content.

Is there any bridge between those two worlds? What does all this highfalutin’ poetry talk have to do with online content?

The answer is yes. The world of poetry and literature can inspire us every day to make every word we write count. This applies to any type of writing, even marketing content. Can you help someone who has a problem to solve? Can you inspire someone to take action? Can you contribute something to a conversation? Can you get people talking about something?

On one level, content marketing is, yes, about selling. But more importantly, it can be about educating, connecting, and inspiring people. Don’t worry if you don’t think of yourself as a writer. Whether you write your own content or work with a professional writer to shape your message, think about the power of words and who will be reading them. Content means more than filler. Carefully crafted words make a difference, even if your subject seems dull, dry, technical, or just ordinary.

Maya Angelou has been quoted many times about the words that inspired her. In particular, she mentions Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 (“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”) as being especially important. (If you’d like to learn more, see this article about an exciting talk Maya Angelou gave back in 2013 at Randolph College.)  Think about the words that have been important to you – a favorite book, story, or poem.

Feeling inspired yet?

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