Adding new features vs making things better

When changes get made to something it usually involves adding a new feature, improving an existing one or both.

But sometimes the addition of something new isn’t helpful, you’d be better off improving what’s already there. Often adding something new is about innovation and creativity which doesn’t always result in an improved experience for the user or customer.

There can end up being so much focus on the exciting stuff that the basics get pushed aside.

Le’ts say you sell plain t-shirts and the stitching is poor quality to the point where it’s loose. You could improve what is already there by making the stitching better on the next batch or you could add something new like embroidery, a new neckline or a different length.

If you’re focused on adding new things you’ll end up with a poor quality t-shirt with embroidery on it when you could have had a good quality t-shirt that is plain. Once you get the basics right, you’re now in a better position to start adding new features.

The right time is now

Sometimes you need a few words of encouragement to get started. maybe you’re afraid and keep putting things off because you think it will be much eaiser to do it later.

Instead you find that the longer you wait, the less you feel ready to begin.

You make excuses like it’s not the right time, you’re not good enough or that you need to spend more time planning and preparing. And it’s okay to need more time but it’s not much use without having a deadline for when you will begin. You could end up planning for the next 10 months.

You have to start changing the way you think about things, it’s rare that anything needs to be perfect before you begin putting it out for people. It could be blog posts, YouTube videos, a podcast or a bunch of other stuff.

The right time is now so don’t put off starting any longer.

The content and the audience

I recently read an article about how much various influencers get paid. The majority of the people were twenty something but the numbers of followers ranged from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand.

What I’ve found to be interesting is that when paying an influencer to create content you’re paying for 2 things: the content and the audience.

In my opinion, even if you don’t have a high following the money you get paid to create content should make sense. If you’re spending hours to come up with a concept, style the shoot, take the photos and edit them, what you earn should sufficiently compensate that plus more for your audience.

And with that in mind it makes it a little bit easier to figure out how much you should ask for and what to say no to.

The role of the creator

When it comes to this blog, I’m in charge of the writing process and you are in charge of the rest. That includes the views, likes, comments and how popular each post gets.

As the creator, as much as you might want to be, you can’t be in control of the numbers and of how well your work performs because that’s not your role.

Your role is to do the work and as long as you’re doing it well, you have to learn to be okay with everything that comes with it.

Obviously if you earn a living from creating, the stakes are much higher. You might need to report back to someone and of course what they want to hear is that the numbers have gone up and at worst that they’ve stayed the same.

However, in spite of the above, I think it’s good to look at the numbers occasionally (even if they don’t affect your income). It can be useful to see the kind of stuff that is performing well. For example, one of my most popular posts is about Instagram and I’m also aware that my posts about being a writer and the writing process tend to do fairly well. I enjoy writing about those topics so choosing to do more of that would be a win-win for me as the writer and you as the reader. I wouldn’t have that knowledge without looking at the numbers.

But most importantly, the key is to not become so attached to the point that you’re happy when the numbers are up and sad when they’re down. The only thing you need to do is create.

How creatives find their flow

It’s much easier than you might think.

The creative flow or state of being inspired is often held in high regard. It’s put on a pedestal as this magical thing.

People often like to ask creatives about their process in order to understand how they are able to do what they do.

But the thing is, finding your creative flow is just like finding anything else, you have to look for it. It might not be right in front of you and you might encounter a few flows that just aren’t quite right but that shouldn’t stop you from looking.

All of a sudden you’ll find it and your work will change. The good bits will get even better and you’ll have more of those moments where it comes to you with such ease that you’ll look back and wonder if you were in a trance.

And that is all there is to it. You can’t figure out what works without encountering the stuff that doesn’t work.

Putting it out there

Your job is to create and then put it out there.

It might not get the amount of views you want or it could be loved by millions, that is not something you have any control over.

It’s not your job to try and convince people that your work is good. In fact, you need to learn to be okay with the fact that some people won’t like it.

Focus on creating your work for the people that want it. That might only be a few to begin with but those people are important.

Creating for your audience

When it comes to being creative and putting stuff out there, often we end up focusing on the wrong thing.

We ignore the audience we already have and put our efforts into reaching new people with the hope of growing and growing.

However, what often ends up happening is we lose our current audience in the process because they no longer feel like we’re creating for them.

Instead, you’re much better off putting your efforts into creating for the people that are already here. Those people are already interested and given time will care enough to spread the word, if what you’re putting out is good enough.

Restoring the balance

YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, podcasts and blogs.

We have the opportunity to take in a lot of information every single day to the point where we can become overloaded.

But more importantly a lot of this information is other people’s thoughts, opinions or just things we don’t need to know or don’t benefit us.

I think online content is great in moderation but if you find yourself at a point where it feels like too much, the best thing to do is reduce your consumption.

That could mean unfollowing, unsubscribing, logging out, taking a break or setting a time limit.

You need to do those things for long enough so that you can restore the balance between online and offline or creation and consumption.

The balance should always be in your favour so create more than you consume or be offline more than you’re online.

Open to opportunities

If someone asked you why you didn’t achive a particular goal it’s likely that not having the opportunitiy would be one of your reasons.

When you’re far from where you want to be it can be difficult to realise that you are capable of making things happen. And it’s not that you’re in control of everything but more that you don’t have to rely on external things all the time.

You can create your own opportunities.

I think that statement has been true for a long time but with Instagram, Youtube, Podcasts and really just the internet in general, that has chnaged.

The person that wanted to be a talk show host can gather a few friends and put something together for YouTube or the person who wants to be a stylist can share images of their work on Instagram.

But opportunities can be created offline too in your everyday life. They might not be so obvious but they’re there. Often it is just a case of being open enough.

Could Instagram Guides replace blogging?

From November 17th, you may have noticed a new feature on Instagram, Guides.

Guides allow users to ‘find, curate and share the products, places and posts you love’. They can feature your own content or the content of others. Tech Crunch have a good article that explains things in more detail.

Aside from captions this feature is the first that allows users to create longer form content similar to a blog post.

It could be considered as an easier way to create blog posts that are based around shopping, pictures and recommendations. In fact, it’s likely to become what many creators will turn to and what many brands will start paying creators for.

On the other hand, for a blog that is focused on the words, where the images aren’t the main focus, guides won’t work as an alternative.

It will be interesting to see who uses this new feature and how. It will also be interesting to see the blogs this feature may end up replacing.