Why does mediocre writing and photography often get more attention than best of the best?
Why do mediocre “coaches” get more attention than industry veterans with decades of advice summed up in a single book, video, or blog post?
What are we missing here?
The hardest problem to solve in creating anything for the public is consistency.
Check out a few of the podcast directories out there. There’s around ~5 million podcasts in existence. But only ~500,000 are active (something published the last 90 days), with much fewer being consistently active (published on a regular schedule).
The same was true of blogs in their heyday. The same is true on YouTube today.
Attention comes and goes in seconds. Consistency is how you maintain attention. Humans are creatures of habit.
The quality (and qualities) of what you create determines whether it’s engaging, but you can’t get to engagement without first going through attention.
This isn’t a secret. Yet, consistency remains a final-boss-level challenge for even the greatest of artists.
I won’t steal the thunder of the best, most-accessible books written on the topic, like Austin Kleon’s Keep Going or Seth Godin’s The Practice, but I did want to share how I’ve conquered this final boss (for now anyway).
I’ve been writing here for over 20 years, but I’ve never established a consistent schedule. I write large amounts of material for clients daily, but I’ve always kept this place separate – a place for fun, not deadlines.
I feel this lack of consistency has held me back in my personal publishing far more than any other factor.
You may have noticed this blog/newsletter changed formats a few months ago. That’s when I decided to make consistency my sole focus.
This was my two-step plan.
Publish one essay every week.
Why one? It’s a start.
Why an essay? Because anything can be an essay. It can be a sentence or a book. Lack of format is a useful constraint in this context.
Templated formats can be useful constraints in other contexts. I’ll go deeper on that in another post, because people have asked me about this contrast. It’s just too much of a tangent here.
Strip everything away that poses a threat to consistency.
- Photography decisions
- Design decisions
- Aggregation decisions
- Content length
- SEO considerations
- Email deliverability optimizations
- Social integrations
- What’s personal vs. what the audience wants
It’s been almost two months since I started this. There have been modest gains in subscribers, but that was never the point. The only point was to solve for consistency.
I won’t know until I’m practiced enough at this that it’s an unthinking routine. I'm not there yet. When I get there, I’ll solve for other things.
As with most things in life, the solutions to the biggest challenges get pretty simple when we give ourselves permission to confront them one at a time.