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An Open Letter to Content Creators Everywhere

A gentle reminder that while the journey is hard, it's also worth it.

Oren Cohen
Oren Cohen
6 min read
I bought some colorful poster paints to have fun with. I mixed many colors on a plate, swirled them around with a toothpick, and stuck my hand in the paint. This is the fabulously colorful result.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Hey there, Content Creator.

I assume that you started reading this article because you're probably curious about what I want to tell you. I titled this article as an open letter to all content creators everywhere. And I just want to acknowledge that the fact that you even consider yourself a content creator is an excellent step forward in my mind.

I am sharing these words to let you know that what you started here will be an extraordinary journey. At the same time, it's going to be very, very difficult. And I don't want to discourage you from going for your dreams. I really don't. I just want to let you know that it's not going to be a comfortable ride, and you need to be prepared for that.

You need to withstand your work's solidarity. Whatever you're creating, you will need to push through the long nights, resist the times people won't understand what you want to say, fight even the moments when you just want to give up. And there will be moments that you want to give up.

But let me tell you, if you give up, then you indeed failed. And you probably heard this sentence a million times before. I realize that, but it truly is the most important lesson you can learn.

Introduction

Let me tell you about myself. I started writing on the internet in 2016. And when I started, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know whether this was going to work. Where would it even lead? I didn't even call it a business.

I just didn't know anything. And yet, I knew one thing that kept me going: I wanted to share my words with other people. And when the occasional human-made comment appeared, I was thrilled. It was such a joy to see someone commenting on my work.

And sometimes, there were lots of comments that were bots. And I knew that no human was seeing my work during those times. At some point, I just gave up and let that blog die off.

Fast forward to 2019. I started writing on medium. And then my entire world changed. I began writing words, and I was getting money for them. And in retrospect, I regret that decision.

You are probably surprised and thinking, 'what, why would you regret being paid for your words?'

Money Taints Creativity

Well, if you don't keep writing without monetary compensation, you're not going to last very long in the creative journey. And the reason for that is that money is fleeting. You have it one day, and then the next day, you don't. You use it and replace it all the time.

Suppose you design your entire creative journey around the payments you supposedly need to get. In that case, everything breaks down when you don't get it. And then what are you going to do?

And so in 2019, after not being able to start a community on my own, I started writing on medium and built a community from the people I met on that platform. My mind was tainted, and that taint manifested by continually looking at my stats and my Partner Program dashboard. I was checking whether I got more views or more money for my words.

And that's a disaster. If that's the only reason you're writing stuff on the internet, don't waste your time. Do something else. That's why YouTube is such a great platform to start a creative journey on. Because it takes so much work to get accepted to the platform as a partner, by the time you are accepted and have those 4,000 hours of views and a thousand subscribers, you are already accustomed to creating content without being paid for it.

And while I have only recently started my YouTube journey, I think that people who are YouTube creators have developed a sense of consistency that is admirable or, in other words, I just want to say that I admire YouTube creators.

Your Why and Creativity

So, what is the purpose of this letter? It's divided into two things:

  1. Create content without being compensated - don't create content for the sole purpose of getting money for it. Create content to build a community. If you're building a community from scratch, you're building something based on the most authentic possible foundation. On the other hand, the idea of creating a community that is based on getting money is a disaster waiting to happen. I don't want that for you.
  2. Your 'why' - the second thing that I want you to think about is why are you doing this? And no, I'm not trying to give you the digested writing advice that you can probably find one Google search away. The 'why' that I'm talking about is a little different. I want you to think about your writing or your content creation process, whatever it is that you're creating as customer service. This is probably my biggest take on content creation. Some would call it a hot take.

I don't only think that people should create content that is for other people. The entire process of creating content should be like customer service. At the end of the day, what you envisioned in your mind for getting money from writing is that someone out there will open their wallets and pay you an X amount of money. And those transactions are what will enable you to become a professional content creator.

But if you don't honor such a trade when it happens, if you don't celebrate the person who believes in you, what are you even doing? This is all a lie. You're not supposed to be here. You're not supposed to make money from people if you don't really want to serve them. Imagine going to a restaurant and demanding a customer to pay in full when you gave them the most horrible meal ever. They even told you it's awful, but yet you still want to charge them for it. It made them sick. Would you then charge them for the meal?

You know what? There will probably be someone in the comments who would say yes, but that's not what I believe in. I believe in satisfaction. I believe in making sure that whenever someone pays me money, for whatever reason, they are satisfied with their purchase.

And if that's something you don't believe in, that's fine.

This is my message to you. You should be able to service people to the best of your ability and make sure that the money that they pay you is justified.

Creative Customer Service Examples

So let's take a few examples to understand what that means. If you're a writer, then making sure that the pieces you publish are grammatically correct is a good service for your reader. Ensuring that the articles you post out are tailored to the reader and not a journal entry for you is an excellent service for your reader. Ensuring that you space out your sentences to make it easier for someone else to read what you post is a good service for your reader.

Surprisingly, allowing a person to sign up to your email list is also good customer service. You might think it sounds salesy, but some people out there want to contact you. They want to know that they can access you in a more personal way than just a tweet or a reply to a comment, giving them the option to receive emails from you. Then, be able to reply to those emails and access you directly is good customer service.

And if you disagree with me on this point, then tell me why in the comments. I would love to challenge your opinion on this.

Conclusion

So let's conclude. We talked about two points that I want you to leave this session with.

The first was that this journey will not be easy, but it will be worth it. And just to make sure you know, I'm on this journey with you. I'm not some guru or expert that "made it and now teach."

That's not what this is about. I'm just one or two steps ahead of you. I have an email list. I have some published pieces across the web, but I am in no way an expert.

I attended professional writing workshops, and I wrote in publications. So this journey is continuing for me as it continues for you, too.

The second point is that you need to treat your content creation process as customer service, and I mentioned why.

I hope that this is helpful to you. And if you have any questions, please let me know. I wish you the best of luck in your journey.

Thank you for reading.

BloggingWritingContent CreationCreativitymoneyPersonal Development

Oren Cohen

I'm a software engineer, blogger, and aspiring fantasy novelist. Helping geeks build online homes. Reach out! I don't bite :)