The gear you need to make great content
You don’t need professional-quality gear to make great content. In Chapter 6, successful creators share why it’s important not to get hung up on having the best equipment, and what to prioritize instead.
When you listen to a podcast or watch a video or admire a work of art by your favorite creators, it can feel like the bar for quality content is really high. Some creators never get started because they’re worried that the quality of what they can produce is too far below that bar.
Ira Glass refers to this as “the gap”, and I love what he has to say about it :
“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years, you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.”
Take a look again at some of the creators you follow and check out some of their earliest work if they haven’t taken it down. It may be good, but it’s probably not great.
Amy Porterfield is a tremendously successful marketing strategist who helps entrepreneurs build their businesses online. Check out her very first YouTube video posted nearly 14 years ago:
If you listen to her “Marketing Made Easy Podcast” today, Amy exudes expertise and the production quality is through the roof, and it’s easy to attribute all of her success to the quality of the work she produces today.
Most creators don’t start with the best gear and years of experience making content. So how does anyone make content that attracts an audience?
Your audience’s quality threshold is probably lower than you think
From the audience’s perspective, in most cases, the quality threshold is much lower than we think. Most creators can start with what they have–a cell phone, an inexpensive USB mic, natural window light, and free editing tools–and still connect with an audience.
Having high-quality content can be a differentiator. But if your focus is on having the highest quality, you might never get started or you might miss out on what your audience really wants from you.
Podia creators Ashley and Jonathan Longnecker ran into an issue when they focused on trying to make a top-quality online course instead of listening to what their audience was telling them.
Ashley and Jonathan Longnecker
“I think the big mistake we made with that boondocking course is that we spent way too much time making it and not listening to what people actually wanted from it.”
Later, Jonathan would apply his own advice and make the kind of content people were asking for, growing their YouTube audience to more than 100,000 subscribers in the process, but that’s a story for another lesson.
As we discussed in Chapter 5, what pulls people in is how relevant the content is to their problem or struggle.
When you don’t let perfectionism keep you from publishing, you invite your audience to grow with you. That kind of authenticity is really attractive. Listen to what Emily Mills has to say about the value of authenticity:
“I think the big takeaway for growing an audience is authenticity. I used to think my audience only wanted to see my work and what I could do for them, like very performative.
And I’ve since learned that my audience is actually interested in me as a person, and they like my personality.
Show up consistently, be authentic and the people will come. And it takes time and practice to get better at it, but I’m way better at it now than I was one year ago, five years ago, or ten years ago. Again, it comes back to practice and those things become second nature later.”
As a bonus, if you keep showing up and publishing consistently, the quality of your work will naturally improve over time.
Ashley and Jonathan Longnecker
“We spent years learning how to be photographers and learning how to take videos and then learning how to edit videos and learning how to write and organize information and educate. A lot of trying a bunch of stuff and a lot of failing.
It is bonkers to me that I’m 43 and I’m a YouTuber. I was running a company making websites, and now I’m building dirt houses with my family in the desert making videos about it.”
Close the gap by showing up
Look at the last part of the quote from Ira Glass:
“If you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
In the long run, it’s not the creator who spends six months fussing over detail and trying to make the perfect piece of content, but it’s the one who shows up every week, who gets feedback, who improves their process and quality who’s going to have the most success connecting with and growing their audience.
Even if you’re not trying to make every piece of content a masterpiece, showing up and publishing consistently is pretty difficult.
In Chapter 10, we’ll get into strategies that make consistency easier, but for now, just remember that you don’t have to wait until you have perfect content to start sharing your work and growing your audience. Remember these inspiring words from Podia creator Tamkara Adun :
“The goal should be progress, not perfection. Your goal. My goal is progress and not perfection. If you can ask yourself, am I growing? Am I evolving on my creative journey?
Am I expanding? Am I stretching myself? Am I learning and doing new things? If you can ask yourself these questions and your answer is yes, then you’re doing fine because you’re making progress. And progress is the goal. Not perfection. Perfection is an illusion.”