Without creators, the value chain breaks.
It's rather weird to talk about content, as if it were a thing in itself as not just a broad category that includes text and visuals. You never read a deeply pleasing book and say, "that was an inspirational piece of content," or watch a brilliant movie and exclaim, "what a thrilling content experience!"
Content and (one word) lifecycle in the same sentence is one of the more recent sins of marketing and communication professionals. Every industry has its jargon... this is just an extremely funny example.
The truth is without creators, the chain of value in "content" breaks. Curators benefit the most from this chain, because they're a service to the reader. But without creators, there's nothing to curate in formats, voice and frequency.
Writing is a form of creation.
Can you see how easy it is to conflate the three in the "content lifecycle" language? When you do, you miss a critical part of the value chain. It's the part that has energy to move and create positive change.
- Journalists who break news explain something succinctly in a reader-first way and put it all in one place: a column, or a newsletter. The ability to do the first part―the news breaking―is a completely different skill than that to do the rest.
- Authors who introduce a new theory bring to life a new way of thinking about a topic in a digestible format: a book, or a publication. The ability to do the first part―the theory building―is a completely different skill than those that enable the rest.
- Narrators who open a new world of possibility in the collective imagination with a compelling story: in a film or interactive medium. The ability to do the fist part―imagining a new world―is completely different than what it takes to do the other two.
That kind of value is worth paying for...
Some of the formats in the (still) early days of digital or online media conflated the three and took value away from the creation part. But newsletters and other emerging formats (e.g., membership support) and tools (e.g., crowdfunding, sponsorship) are putting tangible value back on a creator's work.
These new formats and tools have allowed creators to deliver thoughtful analysis with a consistent point of view. Newsletters and membership sites can become "micro label" businesses outside the management and control of larger holding companies.
They are valuable resources because you can control your experience―content may want to be free, but the experience of a creator's point of view and analysis has value.
These are posters from a
group that helps companies, agencies,
and freelancers learn how to
create useful "content."
"We've always done it that way"
in red, is for a company;
"The cobbler with broken shoes"
in mustard is for agency.
Do the simple messages
The poster for freelancer (not depicted)
speaks to "building up your toolbox."
"Freelancer" (n.) is a wonderful term.
You're in control of your
however, has always been a battle!
Even in modern times,
it can feel that way.
Free-agency is an adjacent concept to freelancing.
But the idea of creation and personal agency
meet in it—for NFL players the term is clear:
it leverages a community and the auction process
to assess the value of a player
based on many factors.
The connectors' role is slightly different than the curators'―they help you be in control of your own bundles by highlighting single points of view and analyses that have value to you.
Think for a moment about how music changed. When DJs became curators, they started creating new experiences. Single tracks became meaningful again in a different musical context. Digital media made it easier to have single tracks available. You may still pay attention to curator DJs, how they mix and match singles.
But now you also have control over the bundle. As a learner, reader, and seeker of entertainment you can mix and match your own experience. Connections are outcomes of the learning, reading, and enjoyment of new information, theories, and worlds.
Connectors are in the outcomes business.
3 useful creators:
On a first blush, these letters are all about curating great content.You might have missed the creator piece in the value chain. Much of the content here is designed around helping reframe thinking and thus doing.
Some examples you can use to spot creators who work at the intersection of several domains:
- Li Jin is working on something new. Her credentials: Alum: @a16z, Product @shopkick, stats & English lit @Harvard.
- Margaretta Colangelo is not just "the best partner and friend to have when you want to convert a bold idea that others consider undoable, unthinkable, and impossible into reality." She's the person you go to to make it happen.
Thinkers and doers who ❤️ ➕ impact. What could you do as a creator and business person rolled into one?
- Jack Butcher is a visualization pro who will help you see the wisdom of zeroing into value. He's working on @visualizevalue and getting quite a bit of early traction.
The idea with "content" of any kind is to create a flow of meaning.
Mostly, this is at the intersection of honest work (things one is actually doing and building), cumulative knowledge, and enthusiasm for a direction. It's the exact opposite of "flooding the zone." It's simplicity, empathy, and restraint rolled into one. This could be part of communication rules.
Also, your reputation is a proxy for future earnings. Reputation is a simple construct, built on two ideas:
- ―vertical or niche is better to get started and position strongly. (more on positioning in the links below.)
Ability: What you can do
- Reliability: What you do consistently―small and simple at first is easier to keep going. (more on how long-range thinking compounds in the links below.)
“I try and sit on the fence
because as soon as you voice
any kind of opinion,
people begin to think
you're an idiot."
- Adam Richard Wiles,
known as Calvin Harris
Scottish DJ, record producer, singer, and songwriter
not on the top DJs list, but highest paid...
personal wealth at $105 million (2015)