The difference between you and the creators you follow is simply they are creating while you are consuming.
Reading their content, watching their videos, and following their journeys is so inspirational! For years I watched and learned. Paying special attention to each creator and how they built their audience and made the switch from consumer to creator.
I overcomplicated this switch. Thinking that I had to become a fundamentally different person before I was a creator. In reality I just needed to stack small changes.
Here are 13 tips to kickstart your own journey:
- Set a daily “make something” goal — Grab a sticky note and write “make something today.” Stick it to your monitor. Your goal is simply to make anything. It could be following a new recipe to bake a loaf of bread, making a video, painting that wall that you’ve had the paint for sitting in your garage for months, or writing that idea into a quick blog post. Just make something. Set the bar low and do it every day.
- Document what you made — Now look at whatever you made, snap a photo, and post it to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook along with a few sentences about what it means to you. Was this an idea floating around in your head for months? Code that you finally figured out the solution to? Or a DIY project you’ve been eyeing for the last year? Share the photo and tell a quick story. At ConvertKit one of our core values is to work in public. We are great at creating things, but it takes extra effort to share the process and journey. That means not just filming a documentary, but also sharing the process and what we learned along the way.
- Decide what you are going to do before you sit down at the computer — Too often I sit down at my computer and think, what should I work on? That’s dangerous. It usually starts with checking social media, reading slack, and catching up on email. The trick is to decide what you are going to do before you approach the computer.Write a simple todo list with 3-4 things while making your morning coffee. Then when you approach your computer, immediately jump into that first task, without the seemingly mandatory social media check. When you finish that, choose the next item and jump into it. Then after two or three tasks completed feel free to take your usual social media break. But save it for when you’ve earned it, not for the start of your day.
- Create and consume on different devices — Computers are for creating, not consuming. Go to all your social sites and sign out. Set up your computer so it can only be used to create. Then feel free to use your phone or tablet for consumption. But then it’s obvious when you aren’t working. One device is used for creating, the other for consuming.
- Know who you serve — If you try to create for everyone you’ll quickly run out of both ideas and motivation. Instead figure out exactly who you are serving. I just received an email from a reader who focuses on training for specific construction software. Now there’s a niche! He’s killing it. He’s not starting another generic blog about his life, but instead knows exactly who he is serving and the outcome he is working to create for his readers. Choose a niche and the ideas will flow.
- Schedule maker time to work on a specific task — Calendars fill up with everything urgent, but not important. Take control and reserve time for creating. Go to your calendar and set aside 30 minutes labeled with what you plan to do. Then when you get the notification you already have the time set aside and it is clear what you should start on.
- Quit Slack — At ConvertKit we have a simple shorthand for informing everyone else you are entering focused work: cmd + Q. That just means, I’m quitting Slack in order to focus for a while. If you need anything, I’ll be back later.I always underestimate the cost of maintaining conversations while creating. It’s hard and I’m bad at it. So I don’t try.
- Teach what you just learned — Teaching everything you know can be intimidating, so let’s start by teaching what you just learned. Go to your calendar and create a new 30 minute event every Friday. It should alert you and ask a simple question: “What did you learn this week?”Using that prompt you can look back at your week and share something that you learned. It could be how to code something in a language that is new to you, a particular keyboard shortcut (side note: did you know you can option click on the notification center icon to toggle do not disturb on your mac?), or a new business process.
If nothing comes to mind for that prompt consider using, “What struggle did I overcome this week?” That question may result in a story rather than a tip, which is often easier for readers to connect with.
- Build a streak and don’t break the chain — I built my entire blog through one habit: writing 1,000 words a day. That turned into writing three books and hundreds of blog posts. The power came from building up a streak of days in a row that I didn’t want to break. At the peak I reached 650 days in a row! The desire to not break my 15 week chain of publishing every week is what prompted writing this article right now. Build a streak of creating every day.
- Block troublesome sites — If simply signing out isn’t enough, you can use software to block an entire website. The SelfControl app for OSX will block a series of sites for a set amount of time. Signing out is usually enough of a barrier for me, but this app takes it to the next level!
- Know your outcome — Don’t just create for the sake of creating. Work towards something. Whether it’s launching the course, reaching 500 YouTube subscribers, writing a book, or launching a new feature–have a specific goal to chip away at.
- Create a deadline, then raise the stakes — It’s not a real goal without a deadline. Set your launch date in advance. Then give $50 to a friend and have them only give it back to you if hit the goal. Just make sure you’ll feel the pain if you don’t do it. Have them light the money on fire or donate it to a cause you hate if you fail.
- Go public — Better yet, make this a public challenge. When I started ConvertKit six years ago it was through The Web App Challenge: my public challenge to build a web app to $5,000 a month in 6 months.
Because I had a public goal, people rallied around to help make it happen. Founders volunteered their time to coach and encourage me. Others made intros. Even more pre-ordered ConvertKit. The community came together to help me succeed. All because I turned my journey into a public challenge.
Start with just a couple. Once those become easy, add another. Happy creating!