The Creator’s Curse

One of the few marketing podcasts I follow is Chris Davis’s All Systems Go podcast. A few years ago Chris published an episode on ‘the Creator’s Curse’…

As soon as I heard those words I knew they contained inherent truth. My archive of work is littered with half completed lead magnets, book ideas, courses and products. Kind of like a collection of Salvador Dali’s melting clocks, all droopy at the sides.

According to Chris, you should promote more than you create and create more than you consume.

Most people do the reverse. The temptation is to always create more. More emails. More video. More products. More social media updates.

Promotion doesn’t necessarily mean ads; often it boils down to reusing or repurposing. A podcast episode can become a video, a blog post, an email – maybe multiple emails; a series of social posts, social reels or snippets.

I’ve been chewing over this idea of the ‘Creator’s Curse’ for a while. Maybe ever since I first heard Chris mention it. Yes, he’s correct. Yes, it’s a thing. But it’s tempting to take the idea to an extreme conclusion that almost all creation is bad.

When you create you don’t know in advance what will stick. If you’re creating a product you don’t know how well it will resonate with the market. If you’re creating content you don’t know in advance what your ‘greatest hits’ will be. Often the most opened and most shared pieces are the ones you almost didn’t write.

So there has to be an element of ongoing creation. Creation should also be consistent (or as consistent as you can make it). This newsletter for instance goes out every Tuesday, assuming I’m not in a promotional phase for one of my products. It’s a good representation of the things I’m currently thinking about.

If you compare these weekly writings with my work from a few years ago, the content hasn’t changed much. I’m still writing about broadly the same things. Don’t be fooled by the snail trail of domain name carnage! The question at the core of my work is still the same: how do we build trust authentically and at scale with potential customers who need what you do?

My ongoing creation is an exploration of this question. A peeling back of the onion in different directions. The only way to peel back the onion is to create. After creation, comes curation, repurposing and leverage. This blog post may well become a podcast episode. I may even invite Chris on to talk about it.

When I updated my Simple Story Selling book earlier this year I mostly assembled new sections from existing writing. Sections from an earlier book were moved across. Many new sections also pre-existed as podcast transcripts.

Essentially everything I added already existed. It was all there in the archive.

Chris describes your archive of past work as being like a library. It’s quiet in the library. Only your most devoted students will bother to go digging. It’s better to consolidate your best ideas in a single place.

A book can be the best way to consolidate your mission, manifsto, method and story. Often a book can be assembled (or expanded) from previous material.

When I’m writing for a client I’m really just an assembler of ideas and narrative. Usually the ideas already exist but the narrative is absent.

Creation shouldn’t be ongoing in perpetuity. It is natural to have periods of ‘flow’ when you create a lot of content. But at some point it feels natural to push pause, digest what you’ve created, then repurpose and promote.

That’s currently where I’m at with The Story Copywriter Podcast. I’ve run through my initial set of ideas. It feels to me like the first ‘season’ is complete. I might never mark it as a ‘season’ in Libsyn (my podcast host), but that is how it feels in my head.

I write (and podcast) to structure and give voice to the thoughts in my head. Between 2016 and 2019 I wrote a daily email. For a time, each of those emails had an accompanying Facebook Live video. Creating this content helped me to develop my voice and skill as a writer, but it didn’t move the sales needle much.

Why? Because on reflection my core proposition had too many holes. My messaging was scattergun. I was running in a number of different directions. Yes I had automated marketing systems, but the foundations were structurally unsound.

Don’t create for the sake of it. If your core proposition needs work, focus on that first. Then as Chris says, promote (or repurpose) more than anything. Then create. Then consume.

Rob

Rob Drummond

Rob is the founder of Story Copywriters, copywriting coach, and author of Simple Story Selling. Grab a paperback or Kindle copy at https://geni.us/PrAb

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