Finding content is a 24/7 job – never a day off. So, why is it I feel guilty consuming content rather than creating it?
On the lookout
Content creation is what I do, I guess.
I was asked the other day what I do for a living, and for the first time I replied “writer”. Felt odd, but, I guess it’s true. I am part of, a very small part of, the content creator economy.
When you’re self-employed, and wear many hats each day, it’s always tough when you ar asked what you do. How’s it best defined?
If it’s decided on how the majority of each day is spent, then I definitely qualify as a content creator. Every morning around 8am, you’ll find me scouring all the sites for any overnight news that may have broken. And, after that, I’ll decide what to write about.
I prioritise the blog as being my first job of the day. After that, I will morph in to my YouTube character. That entails either scripting, shooting A-roll or B-roll, or editing.
And that is, putting to one side the YouTube shorts and fortnightly podcast.
I love it, and feel grateful that I can chase this dream down, but there is a side to it all, that I didn’t really consider when I set off on this journey.
The need to feed the beast is constant – content creation never rests.
Let me first preface any of this with telling you, none of this is a complaint.
Today, I am merely pulling back the layers of what goes on behind the scenes to make all this content happen.
Turns out, when you are doing all this alone, it’s a constant, all-consuming priority to be thinking about the next story, the next blog, the next short or full-length video. Without constantly being on the lookout for more content, the engine would come to a grinding stop.
Workaholic is a term that, I guess, most of us are familiar with. Possibly, it has been suggested you are one. After all, it would stand to reason, that if you clicked on this story, something subliminally resonated with you. Maybe, we are birds of a feather!
A workaholic is certainly something I have been accused of over the years. I wrote last week about how being self-employed, or the current vogue take on it – a solopreneur. Working for yourself almost necessitates that kind of mindset. When you are in that zone, it almost becomes a badge of honour…how long can I work, how many hours can I clock-up each week? I guess obsession is part of running your own company – but content creation is different again.
I have run businesses for forty years, so am pretty long-in-the-tooth when it comes to this gig, but the need to always be on the lookout for content takes the obsession to the next level.
As with all things, from the outside, any job that is done well, looks easy.
And so is the case with content creation, and the job of being a content creator. Hopefully, when you settle down to read one of my posts, or watch one of my videos, it flows.
After all, part of what I try to do is entertain – act as an excuse for five minutes of escapism in your hectic day. What you shouldn’t be thinking about is, how it came to be. That’s my side of the deal.
Not all areas of content creation are yet earning me money, but part of being self-employed is belief in ones-self. I have to believe it will earn me a living.
As such, I am currently putting in more hours to this ‘job’, in all facets, than I have done for many years. It’s all-consuming, as the ideas for content don’t switch off at 5.30pm!
So, even when I finally pull back from the desk of an evening, my mind is still buzzing, and continually looking for content. I may be sitting on the sofa…but if you are a fly on my wall…don’t be fooled…
Access all areas
I am not a great sleeper, and recently, I have been even worse than normal at getting my required nightly eight hours in.
Why? Two words – content creation!
The last thing I watch each day will normally be something on YouTube. Once in bed, it’s a case of AirPods on, and catch up on podcasts. Yes, I enjoy them, and most, I was listening to before I fell in to this line of work. They were my escape.
But now, the way I consume content has changed. Podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds, Apple TV, all are no longer just ways for me to switch off, and unwind. Now they are a source of content, and inspiration – a part of the job.
And this brings me back to the title at the top. What comes first, content creation, or content consumption?
Time to chill
Being the kind of obsessive, competitive character that likes to always be thinking of the next thing, makes me suited perfectly to being a content creator – well, that and the long hours of working alone, and being highly self-motivated.
I’ve always found it kind of guilty to be doing nothing. I am not the best at idling time away. And now, being some kind of content creator, means that I fight that beast every day, front on.
But, I am in the throes of re-educating myself. With what I do, I need to consume content. In fact, I need to find more time to consume content, and not necessarily feel guilty about not creating it.
Writing, and video creation are different skill-sets, but both require working at.
I have never knowingly copied, or plagiarised content, but I am guilty of bleeding dry inspiration from creators, writers, and podcasters that I respect. Part of that will be styles – and that is particularly true when it comes to video content. Watching what is on trend, what styles look good, what transitions work, and learning new editing techniques all go towards, hopefully, making my next bit of content better.
Learning from the best can never be a bad thing – right?
I love the content that Apple is putting out on Apple TV+. I have consumed alot of it over the past months. Bad Sisters, Black Bird, Liaison, Slow Horses, We Crashed, and the brilliant Shrinking, with Jason Segel & Harrison Ford. Yup, I’ve sat back with a glass in hand, and enjoyed all those seasons, but that doesn’t mean I am switched off.
I am new to the world of videography, and I have fallen in love with it. I wish I had found my passion for it earlier in life. But, with this new-found passion burning deep in me, now I watch Apple TV and look at their beautiful colouring, the editing, the story telling. I got the idea for the intro to one of my videos, from the opening credits of Sharper! The fonts they used, the atmosphere they created, and the transitions. I tried my best to emulate that feeling in my next video opener.
The same is true of my favourite video creators – Peter McKinnon, Matti Haapoja, or Casey Neistat. As soon as I see new content from them, I am all over it – pulling it apart, looking for inspiration.
Believe it or not
So, surprise, surprise, I couldn’t sleep last night.
The upside of that is, though, that the inspiration for this blog you are reading, came from that restless night. I listened to a podcast, where the creators were talking about how they have changed and have found new ways to consume content. Family TV was the main drive of what they were talking about, but I could immediately see how this nugget could be broadened, and turned in to what you are reading here.
In short, there is no off switch with content creation. Ideas can be found everywhere, at any time.
I am learning the skill of looking at everything with a different pair of eyes these days. I was recently in London, and saw a magician practising moves in a quiet corner of a tube train…out came the camera, permission asked, and short uploaded. Everywhere I look, I see something I want to try to create.
I need not to feel guilty when I step away from the Mac at the end of the day. I need to remind myself that this is merely the next part of my creative day.
As a content creator, I need to consume content too – it’s all part of the job, and I am honestly loving it.
Without consuming content – there would be no content!
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