It's Still a Long Game
Don't get fooled by the lucky few
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It’s generally much easier to be a creator today than ever.
But there’s one big reason I don’t envy the people getting started in their online-solopreneur-creating-things journey today:
I’ve been doing this for about a decade, and when I started, it was significantly harder to build an audience.
There were no highly optimized entertainment algorithms to do your distribution for you. Gaining traction meant commenting on countless sites, employing complex SEO tricks, maybe building a Facebook page. It was tough to get noticed.
When I started my first site1, I knew it would be a year or two before I saw any respectable amount of traffic. I was fully focused on figuring out SEO since that was the dominant form of passive traffic at the time, and there were very few ways to quickly hack your way to the top of Google without spending a startup-sized marketing budget on link building.
I happily chugged away on three articles per week for nearly two years before my first week with over 100 daily visitors. Two years! But that didn’t feel long because it was what I expected. It was what you had to do.
Now it’s a different game. New Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram accounts sometimes amass hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers in months. The growth channels on TikTok and Instagram are teeming with overnight success stories. It is possible to have the rapid success I never could have dreamed of 10 years ago. The expectations have shifted.
So now it's easy for an aspiring creator who doesn't get instant results to feel like a failure. All these other people are getting hundreds of thousands of followers in months, so why aren’t you?
And, worse, failure is much more visible now. If every article I wrote ten years ago had a public view count on it, I might have gotten too embarrassed to keep going after a year.
Knowing that your friends and family might watch you post TikToks and Reels for a year with only a few hundred views on each is terrifying. Not only do you know you’re failing, everyone else does too. I often suggest people don’t tell their family and friends when they start. It’s easier to find your groove in the dark.
But for the vast majority of people who end up “making it” as a creator, solopreneur, entrepreneur, whatever, it’s still a long game.
If you’re not willing to go for years with people you know watching you publicly perform to crickets, you shouldn’t even start.
Yes, you might stumble into some algorithm-hacking magic that catapults you to overnight success. But that’s a poor plan to rely on.
Don’t get fooled by the insane outliers. It’s a long, slow road. But if you can stomach the wait, the embarrassment, and the frustration, you just might make it.
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Later destroyed by a hacker, sadly