Are you a consumer or a creator?

areyouaconsumeroracreator

Guys, I am drowning in business advice posts.

Drowning.

It seems like everywhere I turn there’s a “How to brand your business authentically“, “10 reasons you should be using periscope RIGHT NOW (or your business will fail – seriously)”, “I did THIS and I lost 5 clients, don’t make my mistake” clickbait style posts.

I follow quite a lot of people in my market, that is: people who want to serve the creative community and want you to buy their products or services. One of the most successful ways of doing that is content marketing, giving away their knowledge for free and keeping you coming back for more. I mean, that’s what I do with this blog.

But jeez, I’m seeing so much more regurgitated content on blogs and over the past few months the whole thing seems to have blown up!

The thing is, every time I see a retweeted, pinned or shared blog post, I automatically think I need to head off and read it. There’s probably some piece of information in there that’s going to change my entire business. Right?

Are you a consumer or a creator?

I’m totally at risk of being hoisted by my own petard here, I want you to read my blog posts after all, but I’m also not in the market of peddling bullshit. If you’re reading something here I want it to be actually valuable to you and your business. I don’t want to waste your time.

There’s are too many blog posts for you to read. Too many.

You and I won’t read them all, and yeah, you might learn a little something from each post, but is that tiny little snippet of brand new information worth the time you spent trawling through the post? Is there something you could’ve been doing instead of learning the top ten ways to increase your instagram following? (I dunno.. like, taking some instagram photos and connecting with people on there?)

There comes a point where you’re so busy consuming blog posts that you forget to create stuff of your own. You can get so caught up with the idea of business development through learning new information, that you don’t have the time to put that in to practice.

Quit the knee-jerk

How do we get around this addiction to consume information without losing out on actual, valuable tips and advice that could benefit our business?

Firstly, let’s set aside some time for consumption, an hour or so each week to read through a consolidated list of interesting posts that we’ve collected over the past 5 working days. I don’t know about you but Fridays in my office are generally a time for sending out invoices, tidying up my inbox, and generally just putting my business “house” in order. Setting aside an hour on a Friday morning and visiting the links I’ve saved over a coffee sounds perfect! I like to use Pocket to save links that I’d like to read later, if I see a post shared somewhere then I’ll click on it, check out the blog itself (if it’s not one I’m familiar with), read the first paragraph and decide whether to save it to pocket for later.

Secondly, take notes. Don’t just idly read blog posts, your brain is pretty much as useful of a sieve at retaining information by just reading through the 500-700 words that a blog post includes. Actually use the information that you’re learning, take notes, extend the notes into how you’re going to make this work for your business. I really love to take notes during Amy Porterfield‘s podcasts, which I can have on in the background when I’m making jewellery.

Thirdly, beware the blog-xpert. That is, the blogger that professes to have a level of expertise with what they’re talking about, but not much to back it up. I sometimes used feel a bit weird when I posted about business stuff, was it really my place to be sharing this information? I blog about small creative business, I’ve run my own “side gig” since I was 21, and I quit my day job over 4 years ago. Before then I worked for 4 years as a web developer in a studio environment. I’ve tripled my income, worked with upwards of 50 clients around the world, and I still really fucking enjoy what I do. Still, all I can offer is what’s worked for me and my business. I can offer advice on what I’d do in certain situations, and I can give strategies for social platforms that’ve been working for me. It really grinds my gears when I see people peddling advice and “you must do this” type posts when they’ve only been in the game for 6 or so months. Just because you have a business and a voice doesn’t make you a fucking expert.

Finally, remember that you will not develop your business through osmosis. Reading blog posts, books, listening to podcasts and watching Youtube videos will not magically improve your business. It is way more valuable to your business if you read ONE high quality blog post a week and put into practice the things that you’ve learned than to read 15 blog posts and do nothing. Don’t confuse consuming information as actually working on your business.

PS. I went ahead and made my own brand new personal lifestyle blog, which you can follow along with over on adventurish.com – hope to see you there!

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  • Although I totally agree with you on the whole “blog-xpert” thing and people being in the business only for a few months talking about (and selling courses!) running a business.. I also think it’s really easy to take a snooty attitude towards it all. I mean, I know I have in the past and it’s something I’ve really kept a watchful eye on myself over.

    When I’ve seen people shilling courses on business or marketing or whatever and I KNOW their business isn’t.. how can I say this.. doing quite as well as they make it look online? It irks me. But I also think you’ve just got to let people get on with whatever it is they are doing. If they are genuine and their advice works, then who cares how much experience they have got. And if they really don’t know what they’re talking about, sooner or later they will get found out.

    I also think it’s easy to make presumptions about people’s experience and education without actually knowing that much about them. I write blog posts about business, SEO, and marketing.. but I don’t really make a point out of my education in or work experience within the industry, so it would be so easy to assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. I also think, just because someone has got an education in marketing, business, or whatever.. that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good in a role as a consultant or “expert” in their field.

    I guess what I’m saying is, as much as this whole phase of “blog advice posts” is irritating – because it’s mostly 20-something year olds with very little experience – it’ll pass and the genuine people with knowledge, experience and proven expertise will shine brighter at the end of it all.

    • Kim

      “If they are genuine and their advice works, then who cares how much experience they have got.”

      Oh no, I totally agree with that, if there’s something to back it up then by all means, take their advice! If they’ve only been in business for 6 months but their business is booming, they’re obviously doing something right (although time does still tell, eh? someone might’ve had a brilliant idea, and a very successfully funded kickstarter that they just can’t keep up with!).

      “I also think it’s easy to make presumptions about people’s experience and education without actually knowing that much about them.”

      I think this leans towards the need for social proof, or some kind of proof, that people do actually know what they’re doing in their field. I have an educational background in fine art, not websites or business, but I have experience and proof that I know what I’m doing with both of those areas.

      To get back on topic, even without the blog-xerpts there are still hundreds of super experts our there creating valuable content every single day, the need to consolidate/restrict what we’re absorbing still needs to be considered.

  • 2015 is the year of the ‘advice blogger’ for sure.

  • I love your point of, why not just fucking get stuck in and try and make your own stuff happen without spending so much time reading business advice. The best business’ have CEO’s/people that have just tried and tried, with many mistakes along the way – mistakes that they made because they tried something different! If you get too caught up in what other people are doing, that’s just no good. To be honest, business advice unless it’s financial tips, statistical things, etc. I would say a lot of it is actually quite pointless, because if there was a perfect recipe on all the creative stuff, everyone would have a successful business.. Personally i’m sick of reading all these creative blog advice posts. It sucks a lot of creativity out of creativity. If i’m going to read something like that, I think i’d prefer a biography style book.

    • Kim

      Totally!

      Businesses aren’t “one size fits all”, all the advice given can only ever be what’s worked for that particular business, at that particular time. A lot of people still champion facebook advertising, that’s never worked for my business and it’s not something I want to look in to further (because I think that Facebook’s on its way out for Business), for my business it’s more about Pinterest and Instagram, and if/when I offer advice on those two platforms it can only ever be the strategies that’ve worked for my particular business. Of course there’ll be stuff that other people can use, and people would find it useful to see what’s worked for other businesses, but yeah..

      When I write blog posts I like to give actual actionable things that people can do, and where possible offer numbers and figures that back up my claims!!

      • Yep! Exactly, that’s why I like your posts.

        I feel like writing with evidence is something you learn at University, you would get shit marks in an essay if you had nothing to back up your points. And the reason you learn to write like that? Because it does make for better writing a lot of the time. x

  • I LOVE YOU. I’m overwhelmed in all of the blog-turned-business advice, especially since there are people who rock at it but their voices aren’t heard due to all of the content that’s being churned out every single day. This was great and really refreshing to read.

    • Kim

      Thanks Angel! I guess a pretentious way of saying it is “conscious blog consumption”, eh? ;) It’s something I’m gonna definitely try and do more!

  • It took me a while to be able to say to myself, “This post isn’t helping me, why am I reading it?” In a giant Bloglovin’ feed, now I will only read about 10-15 of the (no joke) 100-200 that are posted daily. Sometimes, I get really crazy, only visit my faves, and then delete the rest without reading the titles.
    Literal sea of blogs.

    And a lot of people haven’t realized that views won’t get you paid. There are very few people that works for and they still have side hustle to pay the rent.

    Thanks for this post. You rock.

    • Kim

      thanks Meg, and I totally know what you mean about the 100s of blog posts. I was actually kind of relieved when google reader closed down and I could start afresh, nowadays I mainly just click through when people promote their new posts on twitter and then add it to pocket.

      • Yeah. I also rejoiced when Google Reader exploded and I could pare down. Then I fell into Bloglovin’ and restarted my rut. Lol. The app interface is friendly enough that I can just mark everything as read, except for a few faves. Some days I still get overwhelmed and just leave it for a week. :)

  • Love all of these tips and should implement them as soon as possible. I feel like I’m a theoretical expert in some areas I’m interested in but never have time to put all this knowledge into practice because… you know. Already creating a new schedule for blog posts consumption. Thanks for sharing this post!

    • Kim

      Hope it helps! There’s so much out there!

  • Totally guilty of being a consumer. And you know why? FOMO. I feel like if I don’t keep up with what everyone else is writing or doing or thinking, I’m going to miss out on that something vital. It’s TERRIBLE I know. I want to just be confidant and do my own thing and know that what I’m writing is, like you, my own personal thoughts and experiences on x. At the same time I fear that because I didn’t read what X said on the subject, what I’m purporting to is bullshit!

    • Same here, Jaina! I get sick of myself constantly ‘feeding’ and not producing! I am making the change!

      • Go you! Gonna try to make that change too. Fingers crossed, eh?