“Content is something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts”.
The content game is a grateful and interesting industry to be in. But people often give it too much fake glamour, expect fast results, and fail flat on their faces.
But you’re not going to post a random story and suddenly wake up with a new Bugatti. The content world is much more work and sweat than creativity and luxury.
Most people just dip their toes into the content game, decide it’s not for them, and never come back to it again. Even worse, some work long hours and days and never make a buck. 95% of active Medium writers doesn’t make above $100. Let that sink in for a second.
Nobody can guarantee big bucks, but the following 4 truths can tell you more about the content game. You can learn, grow, and develop with the right insight, and finally start earning money.
Jack of all Trades
If you are unfamiliar with the term, Jack of all Trades describes a person skilled in a variety of different things. The original saying has another part too, but it’s not relevant right now.
Content creators — writers, podcasters, or video — have to know a bit about everything to make it in the content game. You have to be a skilled writer, excellent storyteller, you have to know politics and social struggles. You definitely have to know marketing, psychology, a little bit of design, and on top of all, you have to be disciplined.
Your work is not necessarily artistic as in the form of paintings, novels, and music. But you’re making creative material for others to enjoy. Your primary goals are to entertain, inform, and market.
Nobody knows much before the fact
Content creators are more of playwrights than novelists and film producers. You never know if your work is good until you put it in front of an audience. Only the audience can tell you if you’re relevant.
For content, it’s better to be relevant than technically good. If you’re not speaking to your audience, nobody cares about the lights, expensive microphones, and the use of Literary Present and Stellar grammar. Your audience cares about the topic, opinions, and relevance.
Your content might be ready for a Pulitzer Prize, but it’s worth noting if the audience doesn’t engage. You’re not making money if the audience is not crazy about your stories. Everything you film and write is meant for another person first, and yourself second.
Tim Denning often talks about the unpredictability of the content game — especially blogging. The stories that are meant to take the world by storm often flaunt. And stories you might not even consider to show your therapist can turn out to be the biggest success.
The most popular stories might not be your proudest work
Your best work might not be what you expect. I often put in hours of research, write tirelessly, edit, choose the right photo, and wait for the right time to hit publish, only to discover the audience doesn’t care about the story.
For an unknown reason, the effortless content sometimes performs the best. And the work that I’m proud of often fails. An article about Joe Rogan becoming the new Oprah fails so fast, it’s almost comical.
I’ve been so proud of the story, I even went a step further to email Medium in-house publications: “You have to see what I have here.”
The story is not curated in a single category and still struggles to surpass 70 whole views. But, a last-year piece about Medium is still earning decent money.
These are not the facts of the trade because every content creator is different. But the rule of thumb is: your popular work is often not your best work. Some of my most popular stories are about Medium and writing online.
The stories I’m super-passionate about — and been researching all night — fail flat with 46 views and a pithy comment.
Content is just the tip of the iceberg
The audience usually sees the content, but rarely ever sees the creator. Content is just the tip of a very deep iceberg.
Behind the quality content is often years of research, market analysts, studying, sleepless nights, failure, and constant self-doubts. Rare breeds manage to shoot a random article and make thousands of dollars in revenue. These people exist, but don’t count on winning the lottery.
The others are stuck with damning research and long hours of trial-and-failure. You’re probably reading this and thinking all right I agree, and then go with your day.
Research is like an estranged step-brother of content. Everyone agrees it’s important, but nobody really commits the hours to develop a great idea. The truly great content comes from years of research. Research is the bedrock of effective copywriting, filming, podcasting, and writing on Medium.
The Final Words
The content world is not glam and Lambos. Everybody loves to hear stories of successful content creators that are making a lot of money with their creative work. The truth is that most professional content creators are just ordinary people.
The content business is just like any other, you study a lot, you create for others, and you get rewarded by how relevant you are right now. Nobody can guarantee that your work will have any meaning to anybody besides yourself. Your best stories might fail miserably.
But to be a content creator, you have to believe that one day your work will somehow connect and you’re going to live a good life doing what you love. And nobody can stop you once you gain momentum. Work hard, research, and don’t look back.