Don't get fooled by the lucky few
Strangely, this is actually kind of comforting. Knowing that the path is long and difficult allows new creators (like myself) to accept it and not feel like they should be reaching as many readers as a few outliers. Great reminder to enjoy the process and be patient!
Very important message here Nat. Underneath the revenue, likes and engagement what truly matters is the art of creating. To deserve the benefits of being a creator you must create when no-one is looking.
I've been writing here every week since March 2022 and regardless of the now 598 subscribers, the 5 hours each week clarifies my thoughts, connects me to a flow state and puts out pieces that I can reflect back on in the future.
Reframing success from external (other people liking your work) to internal (you enjoying the process of creation) can help you to keep going when you're listening for the 1st signs of feedback.
Been writing my weekly blog for nearly a year now. Still getting around 20 page views a week (including my own!😂). That’s ok. I do that for the love of writing, and taking the time to reflect and let ideas sink down. In it for the long run!
I'm almost 1 year of what I'm anticipating is a 3-4 year journey on YouTube before I gain any kind of significant traction. Personally, I'm content to go slow. Maybe it helps that I'm older than most young creators (who haven't yet lived long enough to think long-term). I'm also not really that enamored by the idea of becoming famous. I'd rather just build something that attracts a small audience of people I would enjoy hanging out with in person and support my work.
I think it's also important to go into this thinking about what you want to gain out of it? My expectations really are just to have a creative space that allows me improve my skills as a visual storyteller. If at bare minimum I'm doing that, I win. Any other success - financial, influence, etc. - is just a bonus.
I remember very well back in the early 00's when I started my first blog. The only comments I got were from bots. Then a real live human one day left a nice comment, and it kind of blew my mind. It took me about 5 years before I had built up any real traffic because it was a niche subject (college mathematics education) and there was no SEO or anything like that. It reminds me of how some musicians toil away in crappy bar bands for $100 a night for years before getting a break, maybe.
I think what keeps a lot of creators going during those early days when you have to work hard to build something, is your own personal stake in the creation. I started my blog 20+ years ago because I had stuff in my head about how college math ought to be taught. Nobody at my workplace at the time shared those ideas, and if I didn't get it out, I thought I was going to go crazy. We create to be generous, sure, but it's your own personal commitment to your own ideas that keeps you going.
Another way to look at it is that the long game prevents your early, rough, and unrefined work from being scrutinized so heavily. I have avoided actively growing my audience to continue developing my own perspective and refining my thoughts in an insulated bubble.
Love this one Nat!
I can totally relate to the sentiments expressed in this write-up, Nat. It's refreshing to see someone speaking candidly about the reality of the online creator journey.
While it's true that some folks hit the jackpot with an algorithmic stroke of luck, most of us are on the slow and steady path. I'd say patience and perseverance have become essential virtues in the digital world.
I remember starting my newsletter five months ago, full of enthusiasm and ambition, only to realize that building an audience takes time and consistent effort. There were days when I wondered if my words were floating off into the abyss of the internet, reaching no one. But then, just as you said, I reminded myself that it's all part of the journey.
It's so easy to get swayed by those overnight success stories, but we must resist the temptation to compare ourselves to the insane outliers. After all, behind those sensational numbers are real people putting in their hours and hard work.
I love your advice about finding our groove in the dark. Sometimes, it's best to shield ourselves from the judgment and expectations of others until we've found our footing. And hey, even if it takes longer than expected, every small victory is worth celebrating.
So, to all the fellow creators out there facing the "crickets choir," let's keep going! Let's embrace the wait, the occasional embarrassment, and the frustration, knowing that we're investing in something meaningful. Who knows, one day we might just look back and appreciate the journey that brought us to where we stand.
I am doing my best to manage my expectations. One of these ways has been to simply appreciate every single like/subscribe/share/comment. I just reached 61 subscribers, and honestly, it feels like so many people to me. I know I want to reach a bigger audience, and the goal is to make writing my full time gig, but I am working on being comfortable with each stage I reach. And sharing where I am so I can show others that you don't have to have hundreds of thousands of followers to be proud of what you're doing is helping with that.
Totally agree, Nat. I've come to the same conclusion - if you're starting something new, best to keep it to yourself for a while.
I also wouldn't want overnight success right away, because, realistically, my content is garbage when I'm just starting, and overnight success puts so much pressure and expectations on me that I get overwhelmed. I'd rather have steady growth as I improve and develop systems, then blow up when I'm ready.
This actually makes my journey seem less daunting! Thanks Nat
Needed to read this today. Thank you! Just followed your podcast on Spotify. Congrats on the launch!