3 Things Surfing Taught Me About Content Marketing

For the last couple of years, I’ve been mesmerized with surfing. I love watching people who are great at it. Pictures and videos make it look incredibly easy. And you can’t beat the weather or the scenery.

Since I live in Colorado, it’s not like I can walk out my back door and be at the beach. But I’ve been lucky to have travels take me to the beach in the past few months and, at long last, I’ve begun surfing lessons. There’s much about everyday life that can give us better insights about the work that we do. Here’s what surfing taught me about content marketing:


  1.  Start Small and Close to Home – Surf instructors know students are excited to ride the big waves. I wanted to look just like the people I’d watched in video for years. My instructors all said the same thing as soon as we stepped on the beach. “You’ll get to the big waves…just not today.” And then they showed me the waves breaking close to shore and said I’d spend the day getting used to those. It was incredibly disappointing…until I got pummeled the first time. That’s when I understood that starting small with something that became manageable by the end of the day did one critically important thing – gave me confidence. In the same vein, if you’re starting with a content project, choose one that’s small and easier to navigate. It might throw you, but it certainly won’t break you if you do something wrong. You’ll build your own confidence early on.
  2. Get Your Feet Under You First – Surfers talk about the paying your dues; spending the first year getting really good at the basics so when you get to the big waves, everything’s automatic. The biggest basic? Getting your stance. Understanding how to go from laying on your stomach with a wave breaking at your feet to standing and riding the wave. All in one smooth motion. You have to learn how to get your feet under you so you’re stable before you can more onto bigger and better things. The same with content marketing. Get your feet under you first. Make sure you have exceptionally good quality in what you’re producing. Spend the early months paying your dues, and learn all you can.
  3. Enjoy the Ride – Part of enjoying the ride comes from not being too emotionally connected to where the wave takes you. You have to let go and be comfortable not having control over everything. Just remember the basics and use them to discover the right way to respond to whatever comes your way. Content marketing’s no different. We can’t always predict how a customer or prospect will respond to our programs, or how it may affect their discovery, buying or retention experience. But we have to enjoy what it is that we do, and be willing to let go and be nimble in responding to what’s out there. And in the process, we’ll probably discover something new and incredibly exciting.

About Carla Johnson


Carla is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Having lived, worked, and studied on five continents, she's partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do andth impact they can have. her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their business.

Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books. Her tenth, RE:Think Innovation (due out early 2021) busts the myth that innovation is something that requires a specific degree or special training. in fact, Carla explains why, to be a successful company in today's hyper-competitive, customer-driven world, innovation must be everyone's business. Her goal is to teach one million people how to become innovators by 2025.

Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.