Should Creatives be Focused on Content Creation?
Last night I watched a livestream by creative edutainment platform, The Futur, featuring Gary Vaynerchuck in interview.
The Futur is a venture founded by award-winning creative, and Blind CEO Chris Do. It’s mission is to teach creative entrepreneurship to designers, artists, and makers.
Gary Vaynerchuk (also known as Gary Vee) is an entrepreneur, speaker and business guru.
The resulting interview was interesting, to say the least.
Gary is the chairman of VaynerX, a media and communications company, and the CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency.
His message is simple – to grow brand, leverage attention. In this case attention is captured via social media platforms.
Since our devices and social media have become ubiquitous, through content creation we can connect to 2.5 billion people, 24/7.
This connection can be converted to engagement and revenue on many levels.
Gary is the gold standard of this model. His business runs on daily content – from vlogs, interviews and audio podcasts – to lucrative speaking engagements.
Gary’s audience consists of people who want motivation, business advice, or marketing tactics. In this way, his audience has a lot of similarities with The Futur’s audience.
Both groups are looking for ways to increase status, success and expertise. And how they receive this information, is predicated on the status of the messenger. The messenger therefore needs to be an expert.
People are looking to experts for answers, enabling them to be more successful.
And the experts create content, to better position themselves as experts.
Much of Gary’s business advice, can be summed up in three words.
Make more content.
So is the answer to the creative wanting more success, content creation? Or is there a disconnect here?
Content, Content, Content
Creatives have to effectively market themselves. When we have an audience, it can provide a sales funnel of work.
It can raise our profile above our output. It can create status and influence.
And it can even make the job of being a creative easier. Walk into a presentation as a lowly freelancer, and your meagre status will afford you little advantage.
But with status behind you, your name and reputation have already presented for you – well in advance.
The best projects are when client & creative are partners in the process. But this equal footing has to be earned.
It’s how we earn this that matters.
Based on Gary’s advice, the way to earn this is by making engaging, share-worthy content. The Futur believes that your content should position you, in the space you want to add value.
And they’re both right.
But what’s the right balance between content creation, and actually creating meaningful value?
As author/marketer Seth Godin asserts in a blog post from 2018:
“The Mona Lisa has a huge social media presence. Her picture is everywhere. But she doesn’t tweet. She’s big on social media because she’s an icon, but she’s not an icon because she’s big on social media.”
What Really Counts
During the livestream between Gary and The Futur, I posted a question:
“Is there a disconnect between Gary & what designers do? His offering is based largely on content, but design is about solving problems, & the challenge is realising that in an oversaturated industry.”
Unfortunately my question was misinterpreted, and the host tried to simplify it unnecessarily.
So to clarify, it’s not a question of whether content and design are the same thing. Design is intent. Any kind of communication can be designed.
So of course content can be designed. My question was about designing value.
Designers solve problems, in a very crowded marketplace. They want to stand out, so they can work for people who care about design.
So is content creation (as self-promotion) a true solution to that challenge? Or is the solution more profound?
I myself have been on this journey for a few months. What I’ve learned is all the content in the world is meaningless, unless your work stands for something.
Unless you represent some truth for an audience, beyond being a commodity or utility.
Content creation on it’s own might pull in a few followers here and there, but it doesn’t amount to much in the long run, unless we figure out what really counts.
The Right Sort of Attention
This is not to say that I dismiss, or disagree with the points of the view from both parties in the livestream.
They both make fantastic material, and have impacted my career in many ways.
But I think creatives need to consider such perspectives, in relation to their own careers.
Selling to creatives and entrepreneurs has become a viable business model.
It can range from resources and tools, to courses and mentorship programmes.
And like the self-help industry before it, it takes our ambition and desire, and converts them into precious attention.
But trying to replicate this model with our own audiences, is problematic. Unless we’ve earned that attention.
So perhaps our focus should start here. Identifying a problem, the smallest viable audience, work that matters.
And after – only after – we’ve made a difference, after we’ve created some change in the world.
After we’ve earned attention and a platform, and are in a position to give something of value in return.
After all that? Content, content, content.
– Greg Bunbury