I was listening to a podcast the other day, and one of the guests on the podcast was introduced as a prolific creator online.
The guest said, “I also have a lot of content offline.”
The host said, “Oh, really?”
The guest said, “Yeah, I think that’s the secret. Knowing what not to post.”
I can’t stop thinking about this concept: knowing what NOT to post. The idea is complicated. If you have the freedom to self-publish, that freedom can represent itself as a double-edged sword. You can become emboldened to express yourself — without needing permission from a gatekeeper. But you can also set yourself up for embarrassment and failure.
I don’t think the guest was implying that his offline content was terrible. But it seems he had a sense of curating his “best” stuff for a public audience.
I guess the concept seems interesting to me because, when it comes to publishing anything online, I don’t think there’s any consistency with how people will react to it. You can spend weeks working on something, and no one will notice or care when you finally post it. Then you spend an hour on something else, post it out of desperation, and suddenly the post goes viral.
But should any creator’s aims be to go viral? Or should a creator focus on what they deem their “best” work?
The answer probably depends on the creator’s intentions. From what I can tell, “successful” people online, meaning the people who earn money from the content they generate online, aren’t creating content with much artistic merit. The people making money seem to be chasing the attention economy, not because they believe in the value of their work, but because they see how their work can generate money.
I don’t know if the guest honed his idea of what not to post, but I imagine his aims were separate from monetary compensation. I imagine his choices had more to do with integrity than what would be popular or viral. Then again, maybe it was simply his pride standing in the way.