In the world of creativity, I think we’ve all become far too focused on trying to find quick and easy formulas for success — ways to ‘hack’ the system and build an audience instantly. We want to know how to write articles that’ll bring in massive amounts of readers or how to produce YouTube content that’ll skyrocket us into stardom overnight.
We look to giants like Hemingway and Orwell and even modern-day stars like PewDiePie and Casey Neistat for the ‘secrets’. We try to replicate what they’re doing, desperately wishing that our hopeless attempts to copy and steal and plagiarise will land us the views and engagements we’re so desperately searching for.
We’re looking for the secret to success. And the secret is that there is no secret. That’s not how this industry works.
Do you think Hemingway sat at a desk all day as an amateur, trying to figure out how to worm his way into national newspapers and make a name for himself? Or do you think Orwell started out by copying what Dickens and Austen had done centuries before, mimicking popular trends in an attempt to trick people into reading his content?
Of course not.
They practised and practised, writing every single day and reading the works of greats until they mastered their craft. Their work has been revered for many hundreds of years since its publication, not because they cracked some code or figured out an algorithm, but because their writing is great and people want to read it.
And here we are, at the beginnings of our careers, busy searching for hacks, memorising algorithms and paying to promote ourselves on social media instead of actually trying to improve our work.
The answer isn’t marketing. It never was. You need to learn how to get better.
In the beginning, middle and end, that should be your primary focus. For sure — continue to promote yourself online and maximise your engagements by marketing your content, but keep your eye on the ball. None of that stuff is anywhere near as important as mastering your craft.
Because when people love your content, content crafted from pure hard work, perseverance and absolute commitment to honing your art, they’ll respond to it. They’ll clap your stories. They’ll like your videos. They’ll invest in your business.
They’ll support you as a creator not because you deceived them using clickbait, not because they stumbled across your sponsored Instagram story, and certainly not because you ripped-off somebody else’s original work.
They’ll support you because they like the work you produce. That’s it.
In the words of Ryan Holiday,
‘An artist’s job is to create masterpieces. Period.’
So learn how to create masterpieces.