Since starting to create content online, a lot of people have reached out to me, wanting to learn how I got started. I’m humbled every time I am asked because I still see myself as a total noob. But, one of my fundamental beliefs is that the best time to teach something is right after you’ve learned it.
Below is a lightly edited version of an email I sent in response to someone asking for advice. My hope is that it can help someone who is looking to start creating, but doesn’t know where to start.
Let’s start with a few important points to inform your mindset as you start off.
1. Method - Right now is the perfect time to experiment with different mediums. You should try podcasting, writing, and video to figure out which you like best. You can work your way up to all three eventually, but it is easier to start with one focus. Starting with the one you like will allow you to maintain production when the initial excitement wears off. There is no right or wrong answer, only choice.
Luckily, you can sample all of these very cheaply. If you have an iPhone, you can shoot video or record audio there. If you are worried about production quality, realize that there are videos on YouTube shot on low-quality cameras that have over 30 million views. It’s the story and message that matter, not the equipment.
2. Niche - You can use guides like this one to find a niche, but I would caution you to not lock in anything initially. There are a huge number of YouTubers that starting vlogging, then broke out once they started making videos about sports or art. That being said, if there is a topic you feel like you could rant and rave about for hours and hours, that’s how great popular podcasts start. It can also be a great way to network with other people in your industry of choice.
3. Truth - Ira Glass, the host/producer of NPR's This American Life always says in interviews that your first few years as a storyteller, you are going to suck. There really isn't any sort of trick to getting good at creating other than practice. Stay humble and you'll get better.
If you’ve bought into the idea of test-driving some different mediums before starting, here’s how to do it.
Writing - free write one page, stream-of-consciousness style every morning for 5 days (in a row). Do it before those 11a classes ;-) After the five days, edit one and post it to a Tumblr blog (doesn't have to be connected to your name & can change name whenever you want).
Video - Over the course of a week, make 3 separate stories on Snapchat. Create an actual narrative instead of just a single shot. You can look at my Snapchat trick shot story for an example of how I played with that platform. After you're comfortable there, you can start making more permanent stuff for YouTube or Vimeo.
Podcast - What kind of podcast would you want to do? Interview? Solo rant? How long? You can record audio on a phone. It won't sound great, but you can study the recording before sharing. Audio editing software like Audacity is free and easy to learn.
If those seem too high level, start by listing your top 10 favorite creators on the internet (podcasts, Vines, youtube, blogs) and what you like most about each of them. Then take all those quality and list the ones that you would want your own brand to represent.
Example; I love Jerome Jarre. I hope to emulate his joy, fun and silliness in my own life/content.
Let me know how all this goes. Twitter or Snapchat are best.
Seriously, let me know.
P.S. - Want to put off actually taking action? While I don’t advise that, you can learn more below.
Pat Flynn's 3-part podcast series: How to Make Money Online. Check out episodes 192-194 of his podcast; http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/passive-income-101/
Gary V's advice to entrepreneurs and creators; https://youtu.be/LEDKTnhqQ7k?t=224
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