Home » Creativity, Social Media » Confessions of a Content Creator

Confessions of a Content Creator

31 July 2017

From Medium:

Gut: Hey Brain, want to write something that’ll almost certainly expose us to massive criticism?

Brain: Uhhh, no?

Gut: TOO LATE, DOIN’ IT, HERE WE GOOOO!!!!

As a content creator, I don’t really care about data.

There. I said it.

Don’t misunderstand: I know I’m supposed to care about data. I’m supposed to end that opening sentence by saying, “but I’m working hard to improve my analytical chops.”

But the truth is, I’m really not.

Instead, I’m working hard to improve my creative chops. It’s what I love. It’s what I was put on this earth to do. I aspire to create things that make you feel stuff and think stuff and want to spend more time with more of that stuff.

Now, I’m no fool. I know I’ll look far better if I claim that I’m data-driven. After all, I’ve worked for online startups and tech companies my entire career. We’re the crowd responsible for the data-first ways currently permeating even the most analytics-agnostic fields.

I know I’m supposed to say I care a ton about data. But, well … I just don’t.

. . . .

Here’s the thing: I’m not alone in feeling this way about data. There are others like me, others who create content for a living — damn good content at that — and we don’t really think about data all that much. We’re walking among you right now, working on your teams, attending your meetings, nodding at our CMOs who shout of MQLs and monthly lead-gen metrics.

We pretend to care. But we don’t really care.

We really care about our craft. We really care about what our intuition is urging us to try. We really care about making things others like — nay, love. And as it just so happens, this is the skill that many businesses are starting to realize they need but can’t often find.

Link to the rest at Medium

PG notes that Content Creator is one of the many jobs that didn’t exist when he was a little squirt.

Creativity, Social Media

9 Comments to “Confessions of a Content Creator”

  1. “PG notes that Content Creator is one of the many jobs that didn’t exist when he was a little squirt.”

    And when you were a little squirt they didn’t call the janitor the ‘unpleasant content removal person’.

    The main problem with non-caring ‘content creators’ – who also like to claim they are authors because being mere writers is too demeaning (not that there aren’t some fine authors out there, but I digress) is their lack of caring about data is what turns a lot of readers off on their stories.

    Lack of data, or getting the data wrong is what tears the reader out of the story muttering ‘that can’t happen that way’ or ‘they’ve got their facts wrong’, or because of missing/wrong data the story has a plot-hole a tractor-trailer rig could slid through sideways.

    I’m not really sure the writer of this piece was an actual ‘content creator’, I think they let one of those ‘full of fluff’ space filler types fill the space (so they could sell an ad? 😉 )

    • Lack of data, or getting the data wrong is what tears the reader out of the story muttering ‘that can’t happen that way’ or ‘they’ve got their facts wrong’, or because of missing/wrong data the story has a plot-hole a tractor-trailer rig could slid through sideways.

      That’s not data; that’s knowledge. The kind of data he’s not interested in is market-focused number-crunching – the kind that leads website ‘content creators’ to invest in clickbait headlines instead of interesting stories.

      Later on in the article, he says this:

      I’m here to trigger emotional responses, not clicks. I’m here to avoid creating more down-the-fairway, blend-into-the-noise, just-do-that-thing-again junk … because “that’s the best practice.”

      If you have no interest in that approach, you probably have no business being a writer.

  2. The best designer that I know is hooked on analytics and research and wants it included in most all of their projects to inform the design efforts. They’ve got a protege though that feels confined by it.

  3. Jay Acunzo (the ‘content creator’ who wrote the excerpted piece),

    You have eyes and you see not. You have ears and you hear not.

    When I write, I care not about ‘data’. I care about story. I care about characters. I care about building a believable world for them to inhabit.

    When I publish, I care about data. I care about click-through rates. I care about price points. I care about maximizing profit. I care about ROI.

    The choice is not either-or. The choice is both.

    To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

    • This is basically exactly what Kris Rusch is always saying, and I couldn’t agree more.

    • It appears to me that what Mr. Acunzo was chiefly objecting to was his employers’ use of data to tell him what to write, forcing it to be an either-or decision. To the demand, ‘I want you to write X because X gets more click-through’, there is only one good answer: ‘If it’s so damned easy, write it yourself.’ Those whose attention is focused entirely on marketing metrics have nothing to say – and therefore nothing to market.

      The late Steve Jobs knew this in his bones. Before he returned to Apple, the company relied heavily on focus groups and marketing metrics to decide what projects to pursue and what products to sell. The focus groups always said, basically, ‘Give us exactly what we’re getting now, but more, faster, and cheaper.’ No innovation of any significance resulted from that approach. Jobs threw it out entirely.

      Instead he relied on analysis of the existing products themselves, in light of human-interface principles (and his own sense of the fitness of things), to identify opportunities. He knew that people didn’t want music players that had to be operated through a PC-like file system, or mobile phones with a cluttered and byzantine user interface and no real internet connectivity, or computers on which the users spent more time wrangling with technical details of the system than doing productive work. He saw that the existing products in those markets were defective, and knew that the defects could be remedied. He gave people what they actually wanted, and not just what they knew how to describe to market researchers. Before he died, he had turned Apple from a bankruptcy case in waiting into the most profitable (and imitated) technology company in the world.

      It would not be true at all to say that Steve Jobs didn’t care about data. But he never let the data distract him from finding better ways of doing things and better things to do. He knew that invention is not a commodity and cannot be measured by marketing metrics.

      • To the demand, ‘I want you to write X because X gets more click-through’, there is only one good answer: ‘If it’s so damned easy, write it yourself.’

        To which there is only one good answer: “You’re fired.”

        • In which case, the writer can get other work, communicating things that actually need to be communicated, instead of trolling mindlessly for eyeballs. But the erstwhile employer is substantially worse off, for he has to do all his communicating himself, and he doesn’t know how to do it.

          By the way, ‘You’re fired’ is not a good answer to the answer I gave, because ‘write it yourself’ implicitly contains the meaning, ‘I quit.’

      • Funny. I want my devices to have proper file systems. Probably why I tend to stick to computers… I know there are people in this world who have rooted their devices and added filesystems, but I’m afraid of bricking them.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.