Creating content is tricky business.
How can I create and share stuff I love, promote it, try to bring value to people, and avoid annoying others as I ask them to check it out, like it, and subscribe to it?
If there’s a perfect balancing answer to this question, I have yet to figure it out.
Seth Godin once wrote in his blog: “Creators have two choices: to be judged or to be ignored.” I choose judged. Always.
In the beginning, my aim was to be a great marketer. Gary Vee would inspire me to constantly create and promote my blogs, videos, podcast episodes, collaborations, etc. There’s definitely something to consistently creating and building things. Not only does it force experience and practice upon you; it also increases the chances of catching the awareness of new consumers in terms of a numbers game.
But it often felt slimy. I hated asking people to like my YouTube videos and subscribe to my channel. Unfortunately, the only way for a YouTube channel to grow and reach more people is when its algorithm recognizes it from people liking the videos and subscribing to the channel. I hated asking people to rate and review my podcast. Unfortunately, the only way for a podcast to grow and reach more people…you get the deal.
Aside from those two major forms of content, I write this daily blog. I’m okay with it being mostly for me. It’s lovely to start the day by dumping improvised thoughts onto the screen. Sometimes I only feel like writing for 2 minutes. Other days (like this one), I have the energy to work through longer, more intimate stories. Typically, the longer something is, the less likely it is to be consumed in its entirety. Anyway, a lot of times I really enjoy what I write, so I publish it on other social medias. Sometimes the post gets 20 likes; sometimes it gets zero. I have noticed over the year that a number of people have either begun ignoring them, stopped using FaceBook, or have blocked me so as not to see my frequent posting…playing hard to get.
It’s nerve-racking and slightly embarrassing to admit that you want a following or a community as a creator. I do want that. Whether it’s 1000 or 100,000…I want to provide value, lessons, stories, and entertainment to people who will accept it.
As of now, I’m aware of my lack of polish. My videos aren’t professional grade and I’m already unable to watch the first ones I filmed because they make me cringe. My skills as an interviewer and conversationalist also need improvement before my podcast makes it on the top charts…but I’m so much better than I was a year ago when I started all this.
To try to answer the question I opened with: What if instead of trying to constantly shove my stuff in the faces of others, I focused most of my attention on producing the highest quality I can so others will hop on the train without me asking? Don’t like and subscribe. Like and subscribe if you love it. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here doing what I love.
I’ll end this with a story:
When I uploaded my first podcast ever, I posted it on FaceBook. It got about 100 likes and several comments. I was stoked. People were congratulating me for actually starting something I had been talking about for a while. I thought, “100 likes on the first one? This is gonna be easy.” Then the more I uploaded—the more content I created—the engagement quickly fizzled away. When I posted my tenth episode, I felt so accomplished and I was certain that it was my best one yet. It got 2 likes.
That’s when I realized two things:
1) The High School Effect
People are more likely to judge or dislike what you create if they know you or knew you in the past. This is not an excuse for poor quality; but it’s a lot harder to listen to the SoundCloud of someone you went to high school with than the SoundCloud of some random kid from New York. When you don’t have a face or personality to the name, all you’re thinking about is the content itself. You just hear his music; as opposed to what he sounded like in English class.
2) Respect and Support are two different things
Just because family, friends, and acquaintances respect the fact that you’re putting time and effort into creating things you care about…doesn’t mean they’ll be consuming your content every week. That’s why I got 100 likes on podcast #1 and 2 likes on #10. Most of my friends don’t give a shit about personal development. I welcome that. It forces me to work harder to pique their interest, and allows me to hone my skills so I can develop an audience which does give a shit. My good friend Molly Graham, founder of Low Blow Candle Co, once said in her Instagram story: “Stop liking my pictures and buy some fucking candles.”
I am eternally grateful to anyone who has spent even one minute looking at my stuff. For them, and for myself, I will never stop trying to get better so I can deserve the support…and I can’t wait to look back a year from now and see how far I’ve come.
Like and subscribe. Just kidding.