The New Creator Paradox

Nov 3 / Peter Waitzman

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I've technically been a creator for over a decade now. For me, Youtube has led to writing, speaking, podcasting, and consulting. I've enjoyed every minute of it. I've had the pleasure of working for companies to help them become content creators, and I've had even greater pleasure working with companies (as a consultant) and individual creators (as a coach) to discuss content creation.

But I've found that there's an obvious and common hurdle at the beginning of every new creators' journey that I call the New Creator Paradox. It's basically a kissing couple of the Rich Man's Paradox that Morgan Housel discusses. The way I think of it is that some people want to be admired like the people they admire. They see the outward signs of success of these people (their car, home, watch, clothes, etc), and then buy those things for themselves thinking, I'll be admired too. But the reason they admired these people wasn't for their possessions, it was for something else… maybe their entrepreneurialism or charisma or wisdom. Those things led to their success and thus led to them to acquire the signs of success. People are fixated on duplicating the signs of success hoping others will see them as successful.. instead of actually emulating what made them successful in the first place.

Creators, or more specifically, people thinking of being creators (or often outsiders who think becoming a creator is easy) fixate on the by-products of success instead of the origins of success. For example, a lot of established creators will have nice studios, good lighting, fancy editing. It's tempting to conclude that they are popular because of these things. But if you backup, watch their earliest videos or podcasts, you'll probably find a much rougher cut of whatever they're doing now. But plowing through those early episodes taught them the value of creating interesting, valuable content. That value drew an audience, which drew money, which allowed them to level up their production. I could point out many examples of people failing by following the process backwards. They set up nice studios, hire great production crews and talent, but they deliver lukewarm value and end up floundering. Many times they are left frustrated. "Why did my video get 300 views versus 3 million from the creator that I'm just like? I had better production quality. It's the algorithm. It's unfair," they'll lament. They miss the point that a polished final product is not what got them the audience (it certainly helps keep their existing audience and improves the experience for viewers), but you can succeed without any of them if you have value to offer an audience. If you do, they won't even care about obstacles in the way of that content. They'll endure poor lighting or a lack of editing. As your audience, exposure, and influence grow, so can your production value. But simply focusing on the obvious traits of a creator's current work now is ignoring all of the previous real value that the creator has served up generously.