Part 3: Change Is PowerfulIt's time for Part 3 of this blog series for new content creators, based off things I've learned along my own personal journey!
If you've missed the previous posts, you can grab them right here:
Part 1 - Creating Content is Hard Work
Part 2 - Finding Who You Are As a Content Creator
This part of the series will be talking about change: why it can be a powerful tool in your arsenal as a content creator, and why your fear of change may be holding you back from making something great. This one applies to all content creators, whether you're new or a veteran.
Let's do this.
Raise your hand if you've uttered these words before at any point in your life:
"I don't like change."
"Change is scary."
"Change is hard."
"I'm afraid of change."
(Okay, if you're reading this at work, you can mentally raise your hand.)
I think I've probably said a version of those phrases a thousand times, maybe more. I've learned over my experience that you can basically categorize change into two main types: changes that happens outside your control and changes you control.
Changes that happen outside your control are things like: getting laid off or losing your job, a product or service you rely on is no longer available, or getting sick. It's the stuff in life that just happens, and you need to adapt and adjust around it.
Changes that you control can be examples like: applying for new jobs, moving, or getting married. They're decisions you have actively chosen to participate in that have a significant impact on your routine or life. You still need to adapt around it, but you've likely prepared for the adjustments ahead of time.
Though the stress and anxiety of change can be equal in both categories, it's always helped me to handle them a little better knowing that you sometimes have to use different mental tools to navigate the different types of changes. If you've followed my personal story over the last several years, you've seen that I've become kind of a change expert - navigating a ton of changes both in my control and outside of it. That's a whole different blog unto itself. :)
So, how does this apply to content creators?
You have the power to control your own changes.
But why would you need to change anything?
I'll use the HeroesNews podcast as my examples, because it's definitely applicable to this. My original concept for the show was, "A Heroes of the Storm and HGC headline news podcast in 10 minutes or less each week" and that's what I pitched to workhorse when we met initially about my podcast idea. Why was I so locked in on the 10 minute timeframe? Because I had been experimenting with Amazon Echo Flash Briefings in another project. If you haven't heard of Flash Briefings, they're a way to get customized news, information, etc. on the Amazon Echo platform. The kicker is: they can only be 10 minutes long.
In my very first episode of the show, I fought to squeeze the news and an interview with Halorin into 10 minutes. I managed to achieve it, but I felt like I had rushed the interview, hadn't given it any room to breathe or ramp up, and I wasn't 100% happy with it.
Episode 2, I had Khroen on, and again felt like I had to rush through an interview to make it fit. The show wound up being 14 minutes long, which was too long to fit fully on a Flash Briefing, so the last 4 minutes got cut off on that platform. Not a good look.
I realized I wasn't happy with how this was shaping up. Something had to give. Should I stay true to my initial goal of keeping the show time-restricted and fostering growth into Echo Flash Briefings, that new content platform that's still being discovered? Or, should I just create the interviews that I really wanted to make?
I sat down with a piece of paper, and wrote, "What are my goals with doing this show?"
Here's the list I wrote:
Telling stories of people in HGC
Expanding to new content creation platforms (Flash Briefing)
Inspiring people to learn from those who have made it
Fulfill need to share HotS and HGC news quickly for those who want short-form podcasts
After seeing it on paper? I changed my course.
Episode 3's interview was Nolan T. Jones from Roll20 Esports, and I just went with it. No concerns on time, no more worrying what I'd have to cut to make it fit... just discovery. And I had a blast.
This was the content I wanted to be making.
When the subject of change comes into play, here's the narrative I usually hear in my own head:
"You're already doing the thing...you've got the system down... changing means more work... is it worth it?... maybe it won't be received well... what if it doesn't work?"
That can be some scary stuff.
If I listened to that voice all the time, I'd never try anything new. But it's absolutely worth taking into consideration. That negative inner dialogue feedback loop is basically warning me against the worst case scenarios, helping me to not make hasty decisions, and consider all the angles.
The challenge is just that, though - considering all the angles. Listen to your inner dialogue.. all of it. Are you making the content you really want? Are you being driven by outside factors that are keeping you in your lane?
This is a powerful tool to open up that inner dialogue with yourself: ask yourself if you could wish for something to change in what you're doing, what would you wish for? "Wishing" makes you open up the dream scenarios without blocking your ideas with obstacles. It's a wish, so it can be anything! Imagine what you discover when you take away the restrictions for a moment.
Then, come back to earth, and make those pro/con lists. You may be really surprised by what you see once you let your mind consider the possibilities.
Making changes that you control is power. Stare down your fear and do it anyway.
Another factor that can drive change is listener feedback.
Wait. Did I just tell you to read the comments?
I do read the comments on my work, but I've learned how to weigh them appropriately. In the very beginning of my podcasting journey, I heard both positive and negative comments about my work, and I'll admit that the negative ones stung a lot. If I took them out of a personal context, it got a little easier to see if the comment was giving me something to work with or if it was just someone being mean for no reason.
But that's your hard work they're criticizing! Don't they have any idea how long it took you to make that? I've been told by people that they hate my laugh. Well... it's my laugh. It's not like I can just change it, right?Though I can tell you after that happened, I spent days in anxiety over it initially thinking how I could laugh less. It sucked. (No worries, though. I got over it!)
More often than not, when someone provides you with feedback, it's something that's important to them. They took the time to contact/write to you. It's something they care about. Thinking about how busy people are nowadays? That's worth considering. (Throwaway mean comments on a YouTube video, however, they can go scratch.)
I received a very constructive piece of criticism after the premiere of HeroesNews that the show's intro music was a little jarring at the start, kind of causing you to startle when it started playing. I had already been considering integrating some of the game's voice lines into the intro, and that feedback clinched it. Now instead of a strong guitar riff, you'll hear the Blackheart's Bay or Cursed Hollow announcer (I change it up periodically) that leads you more gently into the intro music.
You get to control the changes you make in your content, and that's a powerful feeling.
Open yourself up to the possibilities. Weigh the options. Consider the drawbacks. Listen to the fear, and acknowledge what it's telling you.
What changes do you wish you could make in your content?
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
Typically as I'm writing a blog, I come up with a new subject for the next one. I didn't get one right away, so I'll open it up to you this time! What subjects about content creation would you be interested in having me cover?
Thanks so much for reading, and I'll see you next time!