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#24 - 7 Habits of Highly Effective Creators: Scaling output
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The power law, which results in a few winners who extract the majority of value in an ecosystem, is all around us. This pattern can be seen in music, sports, business, and just about every other arena.
So as you might expect, top creators earn significantly more than average creators. But what sets top creators apart from the rest? What can we learn from them?
Top creators have adopted several key habits that improve their odds of success in an extremely competitive field.
This is part 4 — Scaling output: What does it mean, and how do creators do this?
What does it mean? Why does it matter?
For creators, scaling effectively means producing greater output without proportionately increasing personal input (i.e. time, effort).
This is important for creators, who tend to be perfectionists about their craft. Passion is great, but constantly striving for perfection without improving how they work can lead creators to burnout.
Many creators start out loving their lifestyle, but grow to despise their it because they never figure out how to scale. Doing so is the only way to have longevity as a creator.
How do creators scale their output?
Repeatable creation system
A repeatable, systematic approach to content creation lowers the effort to create.
Just like a blank page can be intimidating to writers, starting the make the next piece of content can be daunting to creators. Successful creators deconstruct this scary process into smaller parts, making it much more manageable.
Every creator has their own system, but generally it consists of ways to capture inspiration, filter ideas, write out a script (or equivalent), get feedback/iterate, shoot the content, edit, publish, and amplify.
If creators systemize these steps and improve their efficiency over time, then effort is lowered while relative output is increased.
An added benefit of a system is that creators can more easily debug or optimize their workflow, by identifying what systemic errors and inefficiencies to solve.
Hire experts → Fire themselves
Hiring experts (e.g. editors, mods, graphic artists, analysts) and setting them up for success with process and guidance is a way to achieve great linear scaling for a creator.
To do this well, creators need a repeatable creation system, through which they’ve broken down their big picture process, and clarified the way they make decisions.
This is because creators have high standards for their output, and to trust another human with producing part of their output is scary. There needs to be shared values, alignment on a framework, and a common understanding of what good looks like.
This is much easier to achieve through repeatable processes that can be understood and executed by a reasonably skilled person. On the other hand, if the process is so prescriptive that it stifles creativity, it’s counterproductive in this context. The process should simply set guardrails and expectations so that creators can delegate work without compromising quality.
A common mistake for creators is hiring experts, and yet never firing themselves from those jobs. Creators will bring someone onboard to help, but never really hand things off. Janae Thompson shares an example, where her late husband Grant struggles with this even after growing The King of Random to millions of subscribers. When this happens, creators need to reassess and fix the misalignment, otherwise burnout is a likely long-term outcome.
Co-creation with community & other creators
Successful creators opportunistically leverage and collaborate with others. We’ve all seen them — Interviews, guest post, creator game shows, and even content made entirely of community interactions (e.g. Lenny posts conversations from his private newsletter community in Community Wisdom).
When creators remove themselves as the bottleneck for creativity, they open a new world of possibility. Effectively co-creating allows creators to increase output at quadratic or even exponential scale.
Mobilizing a community for knowledge, feedback, and word of mouth can produce greater output than on their own.
Collaborating well with others lets creators grow faster by extending their reach, cross-pollinating ideas, and connecting with a new but relevant audience.
Creators over-capture content, and whittle it down from there. The traditional way is to edit it down to a polished YouTube video, hit publish, and trash the rest.
In 2022, that is a terrible waste! With numerous mediums, formats, each catering to a slightly different group of people and use case, it is We’ll talk about this in greater depth next time.
Being a creator is rewarding but can be exhausting. Burnout is an affliction that affects many creators. To make this lifestyle sustainable, creators need to scale themselves.
Successful creators do so by establishing a repeatable creation system, forming healthy working partnerships with others, and co-creating with fans and other creators.
By scaling themselves, creators attain the freedom to choose how they spend their time, to preserve more balance in their lives, and to focus on delivering unique value in ways only they can.
What have you seen savvy creators do to scale themselves? Let me know in a comment below, or on Twitter.
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