My buddy Jason tweeted this recently and it got me thinking.
I've seen two completely opposite sides of the spectrum this week. Someone big in a community quitting content creation due to it being so difficult to sustain and toxic. Another, quitting their 9-5 to go full-time on content creation for personal freedom. Crazy.— Jason Haddix (@Jhaddix) May 7, 2021
Like him (we just talked about it as well), I have also seen lots of people fly towards the sun of content creation only to be thrown back to Earth.
Ok, that was a little dramatic. But basically, the cycle goes:
- Regular jobs suck
- I’m going to be a content creator
- OMG this is awesome
- Damn this is hard
- Why isn’t my stuff getting the love this other creator is getting?
- OMG that’s toxic as shit
- No, I won’t give you that for free
- I should make a class and charge for this
- No, I’m not a sellout shill
- I’m going to get a regular job
I’ve literally seen this cycle dozens of times.
But rather than just rant about how you shouldn’t do content creation, I’m going to tell you what I believe to be
the a formula for doing it in a healthy and sustainable way.
- Make sure you enjoy making your content separate from peoples’ reaction to it. You really have to know yourself on this one. Don’t lie to yourself. Ask yourself if you’d be making the content even if it could only be seen by 100 people.
- Try to make content that’s evergreen, or as close as possible to it. A great example is 3 Brown One Blue, whose name is Grant Sanderson, who makes videos explaining math and science.
- Make sure you can happily take breaks for days, weeks, or even months at a time. If you can’t take a break you don’t have a hobby, you have a prison job.
- It’s ok to enjoy nice comments, but don’t get to where you need them. You want to be in a place where you don’t need praise but are happy to get it when it comes. Almost like you’re making the content for yourself, and you’re separately happy if someone else happens to enjoy them.
- Don’t compare yourself to other creators’ popularity or statistics. If you find yourself doing this, the dark path you have taken. Suffering in your future there will be.
Or, as a single sentence:
Make evergreen content—mostly for yourself—and don’t worry about taking short or long breaks.
If you can successfully maintain that frame of mind, content creation can be extremely rewarding. But once you see yourself breaking any of these rules, you’ll start crossing into an unhappy relationship with something you love. That’s when it’s time to re-evaluate and try to get back to the sentence above.
What this means for most people is making sure it’s not your only way of making money. That means having a regular job that allows you to safely take breaks.
Bottom line: if you ever feel compelled to make content, and you have this stressed and unpleasant feeling about it, you’ve strayed from the path.
Find your way back.