Sometimes it’s smart to check out what other people are doing, especially when it comes to business. Why reinvent the wheel, when we can orient ourselves based on what already works?
There is really no good reason to start from scratch–unless you don’t like a lot of what you see in business. That’s where I’m at.
There are very few content creators who I find admirable. Jordan Peterson, Tim Ferris, or Joe Rogan all primarily produce information, but they do it in a way that’s sophisticated, ethical, and valuable. There are a lot of incredibly smart people who also have produced content when they’re actually in a different business.
Naval Ravikant or Warren Buffet don’t derive their income from selling informatinon. They do work, and they also happen to share their wisdom on occasion. When they do, they cut right to the chase. They don’t have to sell or market to you. Their knowledge is valuable because they are smart people.
I want to be someone like that. I don’t hope to even become half as smart as someone like Buffet is. But I want to be that type of person–a person whose work is characterized by integrity, not by marketing.
When I look around on the internet to learn about the business of content creation, I feel bad most of the time. Half of the time I’m annoyed because the content I’m looking at seems to trivial, simplified and gimmicky. I’m wondering why anybody would pay for this, how they’re not turned off by the marketers shtick.
Other times I’m inspired because the guy I’m looking at is doing work that I’d love to do myself. I can see how I’d be capable of creating a similar business, but then I get bummed out because I’m not doing it. I can see how this person is clearly above my level, so I admire their level of knowledge and skill. I can see myself as somebody like them in the future.
Lastly, I may be looking at somebody who is clearly successful, but whose content really isn’t ground-breaking. In these cases I’m annoyed because I realize that I could be doing whatever they do, and yet I’m not. I figure that I would be just as good at craeting videos if only I didn’t feel silly adressing people like a motivational speaker. I could do this, I think, but I don’t.
Mostly it’s because wouldn’t be able to bring myself to market myself like that. I have that desire of being truly myself, to share ideas in a nuaunced manner. I hate everything that involves three simple steps. But people are making millions teaching their audience simple steps. And I would love to make a million. One million would literally be enough for the rest of my life.
Whenever I check out what other businesses are doing online, I feel bad–and for different reasons. Unless I’m looking at something that is truly remarkable, it irritates me. It’s like rubbing salt into a wound. The wound is that I’m not really sure what to do with my life.
All I do know is that I’m not buying any physical products. I’m not interested in most things that exist. Happiness, to me, is absolutely simple. It’s nature, healthy food, some good relationships, books, and enough time to enjoy them. So I can’t really see myself getting involved in a physical business. Although that would allow me to stay away from the world of information products.
At the same time, I’m not a big fan of jobs. I would love to work from home and on my own time. I also love learning and ideas. It’s only natural that I should also trade in ideas, which I have in endless supply.
That’s why I keep gravitating to the internet and specifically content creation businesses. I would like to run one.
I’m looking for orientation online, but I only find negative emotions. When I’m doing market research I become stressed. Inevitably, I compare myself with whoever I’m watching. It’s simply not helpful.
That’s why I propose a radical measure for 2021. In the long run, I need to remember that I don’t need unreasonable amounts of money. I really don’t. I will be fine on 1000 Euros, at least long enough so that I can scale the business without pressure.
But even in the long run, it’s not in my interest to aim for that which promises the largest amount of money. Why don’t I aim for that which gives me the deepest sense of meaning? Isn’t it realistic that I can earn 12000 Euros per year just by sharing information that I find interested, just by being myself?
That’s really what I want to do: getting paid for being authentic.
There are different ways to go about it, of course. Either I can make a ton of money doing whatever, and then do what I really care about once I’m rich. I don’t think I will be motivated to go down this path.
The alternative is that I don’t start with money, but with meaning. In the short term, this approach won’t scale as fast. But it’s by far the better investment into the future.
Will I be happy with a lot of money and no meaning? Nope, I will be still searching.
Will I be happy with a lot of meaning and reasonable amounts of money? Definitiely.
Starting with meaning won’t get me to the finish line as quickly. But if I believe that I can build an audience being myself, sharing ideas in a nuanced manner, talking about what I think matter–and I do–meaning should be my starting point. In the end, content that is based on authenticity is more substainable, too. It has a brighter future than selling a scammy dating product with Roman, for example.
Don’t I want to be doing something I can be proud of? Don’t I want to be able to identify with my work?
I think one reason why this year of salsa was so amazing (especially in the beginning) was I believed in my work. It was fulfilling because I was passionate about it. Tim Ferris suggests that we ought to create content based on scratching our own itch. I did that when I taught salsa. If I wrote an Ebook on dating, I would try to scratch the markets itch.
I have a lot of itches to scratch. More than most people I know. There are so many subjects I’m interested in, so many topics that inspire me. My interests keep changing and developing. Building a Youtube channel, blog, or podcast based on scratching one of my many itches would be perfect for me. After all, I just never stop itching.
Perhaps instead of trying to approach the whole thing from a business perspective, I should go the other way.
It makes sense to do market research and then create a product based on that information. It also makes sense to go into a niche with high demand, such as fitness or dating. When building a personal brand, it clearly is an advantage if you build yourself into something that a lot of people aspire to be.
But I clearly have issues doing any of that. My interests keep changing and I really don’t like watering down my passion for learning in order to fit into a scheme. I don’t want to be the dating coach David, because I will probably be tired of this after a year–just like I’ve started to get tired of being a salsa teacher after just one year. I change, and my brand needs to be able to accomodate change. That’s why I should focus on the product, a niche, or a specific market.
I should be focussing on building an audience that likes me and my thoughts. It will be a slow process, but in the end I will probably be happier with the result. Building a business surrounding my personality allows me to be myself and sell different products as I go along. The last thing I want to be at this point of my life is the guy who talks only about being a salsa teacher. What will happen once I’m tired of doing that? The brand needs to be disconnected from the content of my life and relate more to the essence, timeless priciples, those things that never change.
Don’t try to make money now. Think about who you want to be when you’re 50–for yourself and others. You want your mum to watch your videos and be proud of what you do. You want to deliver stuff that has depth, don’t you?
In 2021, I will focus on myself, what I’m interested in, what I want to talk about. I love writing my daily article, because it usually means that I just rant on whatever is currently on my mind. I get to produce content at the same time as I’m processing information. That’s what I want.
In 2021, I will stop looking at the market to position myself as a brand. Instead, I will look within. Who do I want to be? Who do I want to become? Who am I if I forget about niches, and pain points and customer’s desires? Where am I going, and is there a way how I can involve other people in that?
2021 will be the year of focusing on what I have to offer instead of wondering what other’s want from me. The latter would be better for business without a doubt. But it doesn’t work for me–not at this point of my live.
For now, I need to go with my own process, which is still running. There’s no way you can put something that’s growing daily into a box and package it into a product. My brand needs to be flexible enough to accommodate change. My brand needs to be about whatever comes up in my own life.
Perhaps I should just stick to this simple recipe:
1) Start producing high-quality content that excites you–for it’s own sake.
2) Respond to people’s feedback, questions, and wishes–if they fit the larger picture of your life.
3) Continue to grow and produce until you find commmon ground with your audience that allows you to sell a product.