So the post-industrial world has caught on to you. You realize that creativity is more valued in the world than ever before. One can actually find success and make money by being creative and providing the most unique service possible. This is the world of freelance writing, music production, independent film-making, self-publishing e-books, independent content creation on YouTube, ad-sponsored podcasts, and so much more.
But here’s the keyword: unique. Although one’s dreams of making a living creating content have a higher chance of being realized than any time in history, the very fact that avenues are open, accessible, and that the entry barriers are non-existent has increased competition exponentially. There are no entry barriers, but there is one huge barrier: getting attention. People compete for their material to actually be seen and consumed. Interaction and regular consumption is another ballgame altogether.
None of this is new knowledge. Today’s successful creators get into the game knowing all these obstacles. Because they know what they have is truly irreplaceable.
But this story is not about how to attract attention and get traffic. Those lists have been done a countless number of times.
Here, let’s fundamentally deal with the basic question as to how to be a better creator.
Because actually getting ideas and making content is easier said than done. To actually know what could work, you have to know what already works. To actually come out as unique, you need to know the variety that already exists and what content has already been used dozens of times.
Before putting out content, your mind needs to have a certain awareness and needs to be in a certain frame. What is that state? It is a deep insight of the field you’re working in. It is a deep understanding of what the market is, what audiences want, what they react to, how they consume, how often they consume, and what makes them come back for more.
There is also an issue with people deciding to be creators yet falling short of ideas as to how to add value to the world before actually trying to get discovered.
The best way to gain such insight is to be a better consumer.
We have all read those articles asking us to stop consuming and start creating now, but the truth is, you can’t just start creating unless you gain a significant understanding of what kind of content you want to create, what content you understand, and what kind on content you’re capable of creating.
Here’s how you can be a better consumer.
1. Identify what you love deeply.
There’s a variety of content out there. What gives a special kind of a buzz ? Are you a huge fan of podcasts ? What kind ? Political ? Entertainment ? Both ? Are you a a music fan ? Are there any specific genres you want to be involved with ? Do you love writing ? Are you into books, short stories, poetry, or long-form analysis in the form of magazine articles ?
These are just a few examples of the kind of questions you could ask yourself. Depending on the answer, try to evolve your own unique style or niche from what you most enjoy consuming, whatever the kind of content you’re creating. This way, you will be able to understand the needs of your own audience in a better way in the future.
2. Be a comprehensive consumer.
Keep an open mind. Don’t stick to a single thing at least while consuming. This does not mean you should be a jack-of-all-trades as a creator, but as a consumer of content, you have to know what’s the deal with a variety of content. Again, when I say consume a variety of content, that content should fall in ambit of your interests. If you don’t have anything to do with gaming, there’s no point in reading gaming blogs.
A good example of this is how you consume your political news. Reading sources with different ideological viewpoints is not only good for your general awareness, it is also good in understanding what diverse sections of your potential audience would want, if you are looking to do something related to political analysis. Or to add to the variety, don’t just read different websites and magazines, also listen to political podcasts, so that you’re aware of the entire political realm, which might help you gain a better insight of what you can offer in the future.
Or if you’re looking to get into music production, it is almost needless to say that listening to different genres, even outside of your niche, helps you understand music better. It will help you overcome a lack of ideas yet at the same time, understand what people like and help you embellish your craft further. Try to strike a balance between being a complete edgy ‘hipster’ and an ignorant consumer who doesn’t know music apart from the top hits.
3. Think about what you consume.
Be analytical. Whether you have watched a video or read an article, put more thought into it. Ask yourself questions like: What did I learn from it? How has my understanding of the world evolved by this? Avoid singular narratives, as mentioned above. Be open, engaging, and think deeply about whatever you consume. This again, helps you get a better insight about the variety of content that exists and the kind of content that works the most.
The most important part of this, and the biggest reason you should consume better, is to have fun. Break the stereotype of the sad, anxious, depressed soul, the ‘tortured mindset’ that haunts all creators. Enjoying the process is very important. Being a better consumer not only helps you enjoy the process, it also helps you gain valuable and deep insight about the creative process and helps overcome creative ‘dead-ends’. Being a deep consumer will ensure you never run out of ideas and actually enjoy being a content creator.
It will also help you evolve and be a better person. You will gain an understanding of the different perspectives that people have on things and the variety of approaches that people take on issues. By engaging with creative content yourself, you will understand how to attract engagement from your own audience in the future.
I run an open digital magazine called Seer. You can simply sign up for free and start writing for the website. Zero barriers. You can also share your art and get featured on the art gallery. Log on to www.seermag.com to learn more.