Are you a freelance solo creative looking to build yourself an audience through sharing content online?
Want a set of rules for making sure you don’t waste your time, or get burned out, while keeping up a steady stream of content?
Rule Number 1: Take Advantage of Your Freedom
Not having to be in an office means you have a whole lot more freedom with your schedule and how you use the times you are able to get the most work done. I’d recommend finding when you’re most likely to be able to write, create, film, record, whatever it is, and building a ritual and habit for that window.
Keep track of what inspires you and grants you those moments where you’re supercharged and ready to work on your goals. Make sure you include these in your ritual to prepare and amp you up for your creation window.
As someone who is remote, you have an advantage to your ability to be sharing already. Many would kill to be in the position you are in, so tell your story and figure out what you want to share to best serve those you seek to reach. Focus on things that others can relate to, and then make them care.
What you creates come from you, what you care about and the things you desire to see in the world. Find your priorities and then share your perspective in a manner the humans you reach will actually understand. It might seem simple, but unlike a project for someone else, where you create a solution for their audience — when you build your own content you share your own internal monologue. With that, comes the risk of damaging your own ego.
Maybe it won’t do as well as you’d hoped.
Maybe someone will tell you you’re wrong or stupid.
You need to care less.
Make your creation process into something you’re in charge of. You want to become your own boss. Act like it.
By holding yourself accountable to get something out as often as possible (daily, if you can), you truly take advantage of the freedom you unlocked by becoming remote. You focus on your progress, rather than your pensiveness.
To find that focus, you need to find and locate the time for your ritual. Correct planning of this event circumvents the big rollercoaster of emotions, and gives you something to always be looking towards and stop overanalysing.
Rule Number 2: Understand It Will Never Feel “Done”
On the subject of overanalysing, you’ve got to always have an understanding of when to continue working, and improving, and when to just get your work out there.
Now, if you’ve worked around the creative industries you’ll have heard a phrase like “let’s just get this out”.
It’s a call to arms, a rallying cry to release and ship what you’ve been working on. That might seem great, but this little sentence can cause big problems. It can lead to the thing you’re so passionate about heading out into the world in less than perfect working order, and this is an issue. By rushing a release, you open the opportunity for mediocrity to run wild, you don’t want that. Not at all.
This is especially prevalent with your own work, or when putting content out there solo. It can cause a lot of anxiety working out when something is done. But at the same time, you need to ensure a certain level of quality and polish, otherwise things will look and feel terrible.
A study in 1982 by James Q. Wilson, a leading academic and political scientist, stated that:
“In an environment with few others around, individuals look for signals in their environment for cues on how to act”.
Wilson further explained this effect in a series of studies that eventually led to the full “Broken Windows Theory” Wilson came up with. Here’s a snippet:
“An ordered and clean environment sends the signal of safety and that the area is monitored and cared for.
Conversely, a disordered environment sends the signal of a lack of care. If a criminal sees broken windows, they will know a lack of social control exists in this area.
It is not so much the broken window that is the problem. But the message that it sends.”
Keep this in mind when deciding what to release, and when. The “Fuck it. Ship it” mentality has been taken too far in today’s society. Sure, getting something out might be significant. But you risk creating an environment with a lot of bugs and problems, a lot of “broken windows”. How many times have you gone to download an app only to stop and check the reviews, see just a couple stars and a raft of comments on how “buggy” and “broken” the product is? You stop in your tracks, maybe you’ll find a different app…
Every bug and less than fantastic experience increases how likely it is you will turn someone off, and a lousy impression lasts. In 2010, The Gomez Report published a study on web performance and found that 88% of online consumers are unlikely to return to a product after a bad experience. What this means for you is: a shitty introduction to you and your content basically guarantees that person will never be coming back, and it definitely means they aren’t going running to spread the word about you.
So work on finding your balance and hitting the key points you aim for, and adjust your trajectory based on the feedback and thoughts you get from those opinions from the customers you value the most.
As time goes on, and you share more and more, you’ll build that muscle and be able to track what “done” feels like to you. Sometimes done is “just good enough” as long as it keeps up your habits and goals.
Just keep swimming. You’ll learn the intricate details later on.
Rule Number 3: Always Have a Backup Plan
Want my personal secret to avoiding stress and fatigue?
Always have something else.
My key to sharing daily (and even more than once daily sometimes) is to always have a multiple things in my purview so that I can always go “procrastiwork” on something else that pushes me closer to my goals.
When you know the people you’re sharing with you’re able to generate multiple ideas a day, as long as you’re consuming content as you should be. And as you learn more and more, you unearth the answer to an important question: “What matters most to my audience?”
Knowing the answer to this question means you’ll always be focused on the details that provide the most value for those you create for. It’s a case of finding the most important, interesting or difficult moments and then generating stories or content that helps them along with their journey. Get your content out there, test and iterate until you discover those small details that make the big differences.
Those insights and opportunities to show your understanding are the real difference maker. They let you show you can refine your ideas and thoughts into something that another can take action or inspiration from. These relationships let you create content people will actually care about. Always be looking to identify the most vital elements to the person who will consume what you create. What they care about, and what delights them. Finding those triggers and then limiting yourself to solving them in the best manner that you can. It lets you understand what you think is important, and what is important for your audience. This lets you allocate your focus correctly and makes sure you don’t waste all your time building for your own ego. Because you’re making for another, just with your own spin.
Use this knowledge to always have the ideas you need to have something to fall back on and capture your creativity when it strikes, instead of sitting around waiting for ideas on something. Every moment you’re waiting and pondering pointless creates another missed chance.
In all, rules are required when working for yourself, or creating your own content. Otherwise it’s way too easy to slack off, or wait around.
You wanted to be your own boss. Act like it.
Follow the rules and you’ll get the results you need.
There’s a reason someone needs to be in charge.