#65: content has a surprising amount of detail

contentfolks - content has a surprising amount of detail

You are reading contentfolks—a fortnightly blend of sticky notes, big content ideas, and small practical examples. Thank you for being here! ~fio

Hey there 👋

There’s an article from several years ago I think you should read. It’s titled Reality has a surprising amount of detail, and it observes how even the most mundane thing, like the shape of basement stairs or the boiling point of water, has a mind-blowing amount of meaningful detail that you only appreciate when you get up and close with it.

I’ve been thinking about this piece lately because, in a small bit of personal news, I resigned from my role as Brand and Editorial Lead at Postmark and I’m in the middle of documenting my work so the team can keep things going without me. And, as you can imagine, there are a lot of details to cover.

Content has a surprising amount of detail

The first time you write a budget proposal, build a content brief, or plan a content series, it’s hard. New things have a tendency to get overwhelming fast, plus a lot of fresh thinking and work needs to go into a complex activity you haven’t done before.

But after you do it a few more times, the process is no longer elusive. The more you practice, the more the details become so integrated into your way of thinking that you don’t even notice them anymore. Over months and even years, this leads to career progression—but also to two concurrent problems:

  1. It’s easy to get stuck in your way of seeing, thinking about, or doing something

  2. The process can become invisible to everybody except yourself

Part of growing in a content role is figuring out how to navigate both scenarios: making sure you’re not dinosauring yourself by being resistant to innovation and learning to communicate your process well so you can eventually transfer it to someone else.

How to do it:

  • Observe other practitioners at work to learn how their process differs from yours (The Cutting Room is a perfect example for editors, strategists, and writers)

  • Build a small, trusted network of friends and peers to ping regularly and compare notes with

  • Pay attention to how folks in leadership roles communicate and delegate work, and repurpose their most convincing methods

  • When you document what you’re doing, make a point of always tying the how back to the why (even if people don’t ask you to)

How quickly you achieve all of the above depends on several things, including how you learn, how much time you have, how good at their job your managers are, and how supportive your network is. But if you spend the next few weeks tackling just one or two of these bullet points, you’ll likely find a new appreciation for the surprising amount of detail that goes into content work—and you’ll be one step closer to being able to communicate and delegate it successfully when you’re ready to move on.

I hope this was useful… but I bet the question still running through the back of your mind is why did you quit your job, though?

I’ve always maintained that content marketers working at product-led companies should understand the product deeply and be able to use it competently—but with Postmark, which is an API and SMTP-based email delivery service for developers and technical folks, I didn’t. I accidentally became the Brand and Editorial person as a result of an acquisition, knowing nothing about how emails even make it to an inbox in the first place 😅 and although I learned a lot and did plenty of great work with an excellent team over the next 14 months, in the end I just felt that email technology and infrastructure were not really my jam.1

I’ll work my notice period, take a break, and then get ready for something new. What that looks like, I don’t know yet—if you have interesting leads or opportunities, will you send them my way?


Just to reiterate: the team at Postmark is exceptional, and this was 100% a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. My manager, who is an excellent human being (hi, Justine), is currently hiring a Demand Generation Marketing Lead and a Product Marketing Lead—if email infrastructure, SMTP services, APIs and webhooks are your jam, run towards her as fast as you can and tell her I sent you! 💛