Why Content Creation is Harder Than You May Think
By Sam Smith
I am sitting here trying to think of an opening line to explain why content creation is hard. The irony of this is not lost on me. It’s a challenging job, but a necessary evil in the world of online retail, of social media management & advertising, of personal branding and paid partnerships. Consider this post malicious compliance to expected behaviour. We are all hellbent on making sure that our content is on point. Even if you don’t include entrepreneur or content creator in your job title, aren’t we all guilty of taking a selfie or a picture of latte art, and then spending entirely too much time mulling over whether or not it is feed worthy? It goes a little bit like this:
Should I use a filter? Nah, no filters. Maybe I should take it from another angle. Is the lighting better in the other room? I should lay it out differently. What if I added some greenery? I can't wait until I can invest in a real camera! What if I scrapped this and did something entirely different? I think I like the first picture best, actually. I should delete the other 98. I'll edit it and see how it turns out.
Okay, this is fine. I am going to post it.
Crap. What the hell am I going to write for a caption?
*Internalized high-pitched screaming*
From a professional content creation standpoint, the end goal is to “beat the algorithm” and get as many likes, reshares, and comments as possible. Higher engagement means I am worthy of your attention. As a content creator, I am in a perpetual state of self-doubt and anxiety regarding the quality of what I am producing. The real mindf*ck with that is that there is no beating the algorithm. Sure, I can take an online course (or ten) that will all tell me different versions of the same thing. I have to use hashtags, though some will tell me to use only 3, some will tell me to max it out at 30. I should engage with my audience in an authentic and meaningful way by becoming best friends with everyone, all 20+ thousand of my followers if I am so fortunate to have that many. I should be posting every day, or every other day, AND I should be posting at optimal times, which vary throughout the week, of course. I am expected to post original content in my stories daily, and somehow create reels with trending audio but only if it’s at the beginning of the trend, and those should go up weekly. I am going to fit myself into a mold that is constantly changing dammit, come hell or high water. Even if that mold has seemingly no rhyme or reason. And this is on top of all the other work that is entailed in running a small business. Orders, customer inquiries, website maintenance, and regular day to day stuff.
The frequency with which I feel obligated to produce content can become overwhelming at times. It brings to mind the old adage “you can have it good, you can have it fast, or you can have it cheap. Pick two.” It is impossible for one person to create endless content on a daily basis that is top quality and doesn’t cost us our own time - something a lot of us (myself included) tend to undervalue. Most content creators are doing it as a small part of operating their small business. Focusing too much time or energy on it takes away from actually running the business. Simply put, there is not enough time in the day to do it all. An alternative to spending all this time creating is to contract it out and, you guessed it, that isn’t cheap. The operational costs of a small business are exorbitant, and often don’t include pulling a salary for yourself for the first couple of years depending on how much growth is expected, and how much is reinvested into the business. It can be financially restrictive for a small business to carry the added expense of hiring a social media manager or content creator.
In an effort to satisfy the general public, it’s easy to feel like I am losing a small part of myself. But there’s a bright side to all this. I have the incredible opportunity to make a living by doing something I ultimately love. Yes, it is challenging, and yes, it sometimes drives me absolutely up the wall, but at the end of the day I have creative license over what I am putting into the world. Maybe it doesn’t reach 2 million people, but maybe it reaches one person and it changes their day, or their mindset, or it leads them to something new and exciting in their life, especially in the zero waste or low waste world. That is what it comes down to at the end of the day for me.
Content creation is a modern, ever evolving method for reaching a wider audience for a small business. While it has its pitfalls, it is still an opportunity to flex a creative muscle, to experiment with marketing, to learn about social media, and to have a bit of fun. Personally, being a content creator has led me to some of the greatest people I have met in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.