Creating online is unlike anything we’ve seen in the world before. The ability to create is accessible to EVERYONE. There are no boundaries or costs stopping you from making work – from YouTube videos to blog posts to food photography to tweets and everything in between. We can all create content and share it with everyone.
The democratization of creation has completely changed the game, for better and worse. Let’s look a little closer at what’s changed.
1. Everyone is a creator
It’s absolutely amazing that everyone is now a creator. Whether you have the best of the best or amateur equipment, you can make. There’s no difference between a crappy smartphone camera and a high-end DSLR or the latest Macbook Pro and some 5 year old desktop computer – the end result is king, no matter how you get there.
That’s a beautiful thing.
The downside is that there’s an avalanche of content floating around out there and a majority of it is not so great. Separating the signal from the noise is getting more and more difficult.
2. Everyone has an audience
There are billions of people online today and growing. That means that everyone who is creating online, instantly has an audience. This relationship between creator and consumer becomes a social contract of sorts. You often try to put your best self forward, to please your audience. Despite the random occurrences of complete stupidity, this has worked out pretty well.
The problem arises when it becomes apparent that everyone is competing for your attention. From clicks to views to conversion, attention is the currency of the online world. While this is mostly ok, it is starting to become obtrusive to the digital experience. Pop-ups, ads, and the like are becoming a normal part of the digital experience, despite how much we may hate them.
3. Everyone can go viral
Finally, success online can happen instantaneously, if the right content is shared at the right time with the right people. It’s fascinating to track how things can go from a small impact to a massive hit in a matter of hours.
Typically this happens organically, but then you find those who are trying to manufacture viral content. I think this is the worst. Things that hit it big because they were created for that purpose, lose touch with the beauty of the entire process. Stumbling upon great content is far more interesting then having it thrown in your face.
ecently a video was shared on YouTube of a Marble Machine that played music (seen below). It’s mesmerizing and ridiculously cool.
Something incredible will happen in a few days though. Despite the 10+ million views, we’re completely going to forget about this project. That’s just how the internet works. Everything moves faster and faster and our attention turns to the next new thing that is striving to capture it.
There’s something great and terrible about this.
The great part is that if you completely and utterly fail on a project, the worst that will probably happen is it’ll be ignored and then forgotten. Not so bad, right?
On the flipside, if you hit it big, you’ll get a lot of love in the short term, but that will fade slowly. No matter how amazing the thing you made was, it’s not going to last. How can we use that knowledge? Here are a few thoughts.
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there online. There’s minimal downside to sharing what you make and seeing what the audience thinks. It may sound scary, but either people will like it or they won’t. If they don’t they’ll just move on to the next thing. No harm in that.
Probably more important is the fact that you need to be constantly making. Whether your content is good or bad, you have to create. That’s the only way to stay relevant in the digital world and start to create a true following.
It also allows you to learn from your mistakes, hone your craft, and get better at what you do.
Think Long Term
Finally, you have to realize that it takes time to build a following and make a mark online. Sure you can become a hit overnight, but that’s not going to last if you don’t keep making and thinking long term.
I’ve seen hundreds of blogs, YouTubers, and the like that have spent years creating their following. Now, they’re all massive, but you have to understand that didn’t happen overnight. It takes years.
Ultimately, the key to creating online is to make, make, and make some more. Over time, you’ll become a staple in the digital world. Until then, keep hustling.
Image via flickr