Have you ever seen the show ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’.
It is an ‘improvisational comedy show’, where the comedians have to make up jokes on the spot. The comedians are under constant pressure to come up with jokes that make the audience laugh. The comedians are smart and funny… they always have something witty to say!
They never go blank!
Writers, however, are notorious for going blank.
Why do writers go blank?
Let me tell you a short horror story – “The writer looked at the blank page on the laptop”. The blank page is terrible. It doesn’t give us a plan or a direction. The blank page doesn’t have any constraint and we could literally write anything under the sun! Too many decisions to take.
Soon enough, we get into overthinking, which brings our writing to a stop.
How do we get a direction?
What we need is a north star… a compass, that guides us in the right direction. Something that helps us escape the ‘overthinking rut’. This north-star would ensure that we don’t have to face the blank page anymore. It would help us figure out our topics and sub-topics with ease. And hence, the Solar System Content Model.
Here’s how the Solar System Content Model works
I learned about the ‘Solar System Content Model’ from Jonathan Stark. You should follow him. He’s quite awesome.
Step 1, is finding your Sun.
The Sun here is your foundational ‘point of view’. The Sun lies at the core of the brand and is a non-negotiable principle that you deeply believe in. The Sun (ideally) inspires everything in your business.
Example – Tesla’s Sun is Sustainability. If Tesla produces a blog that talks about high-powered engines that are harmful to the environment, then Tesla is going to lose trust.
Then come the planets
The planets in the Solar System Content Model revolve around the sun that you have identified. Think of these as the ‘supporting ideas’ that work in service of your main idea (which is the Sun).
You can only have a single Sun, but you are allowed (in fact you are encouraged) to have multiple planets.
And then the moon
Jonathan doesn’t talk about the moon and so I made this addition. The moon is the specific topic that supports the planet. Again, you can have multiple moons here, but they need to be consistent with the planets that they revolve around.
Pranav’s solar system content model
My ‘Sun’ is ‘Building 1000 true fans’.
I want to help businesses build a tribe that trusts them. That is what I believe in. And that is the one change that I want to see in the world.
In order to support this idea, I need different pillars. These pillars are my planets. Here’s a list of planets that I am currently working with –
– Focussing on a tiny audience and building deep connections with them
– Having a strong, polarizing story
– Building an audience using a horizontal funnel and not a vertical funnel
– Creating deep content that brings about a profound change
– Adding value before money exchanges hands
– Being remarkable. Empower people to spread the word about you.
– Seeking permission instead of spamming
– Thinking long-term
These planets can be further broken down into ‘Moons’.
For example, the planet of ‘Polarizing brand Story’ can be further broken down into mini-parts such as –
– How to create a polarizing story
– Why a polarizing story is needed
– Examples of brands that created a polarizing story
– The pitfalls to avoid while creating a brand story
– How to conduct audience research, to get the data for building your story…
And so on.
All of these ‘moons’ are the specific ideas on which I can create content.
Jonathan’s Solar System Content Model
Jonathan’s Sun is the ‘Ditching Hourly billing’. He encourages Consultants and Solopreneurs to stop charging clients by the hour and start charging by the value that the client gets. You can read more about his work here.
These are the planets that Jonathan refers to.
- Niching down
- Value pricing
- Productized services
- Writing books
- Creating courses
- Speaking at conferences
- Starting a podcast
- Impostor syndrome
- Project proposals
- Sales negotiations
- Scope creep
What if you don’t know your point of view?
What if you don’t know your ‘Sun’? What if the big idea hasn’t been revealed yet?
Firstly, not knowing your Sun, is not an excuse to not publish. In fact, if you are not clear about your Sun, you should be publishing every day! As you go on publishing, you start getting clarity, and with time, the clouds of doubt pass away and the sun shines.
If you are working for an organization, the Sun should be defined by the founders. If the founders are unclear, help them get clarity.
You are allowed to pivot
Your Sun may change. And that’s possible. Nothing is etched in stone. So relax, will you?
The Solar system content model is amazing because it gives you a North Star for your content initiatives. Invest time in it. It’s worth it. And yes,if finding your Sun exhausts you, watch ‘Whose Line is it anyway’. It will cheer you up.