7 Ridiculously Simple (But Neglected) Things You Can Do to Stand Out as a Creator
Revealing what I learned from 14 months in the game
There’s a ton of intellectualized bullshit in content creation. You often hear things like “Find your Why” or “Build an authentic personal brand” or “Repeat 32 positive affirmations in front of your bathroom mirror.”
Sure, these sentences sound fancy but they lack a crucial ingredient. Practicality. Like how could you actually distinguish yourself among a sea of other creators? Without relying on luck, of course.
This article is an attempt to answer that very question. It’s distilled advice from 14 months of steady growth that’s based on exactly zero massive hits.
Put together a freaking freebie
I don’t know you but I’m 100% sure there’s something you excel at. It could be marketing, pancakes, jokes, cryptocurrency, trees, or pets.
Whatever it is, turn that valuable knowledge into a downloadable gift and share it with your audience.
Why would you do that? Gifts are one of the most potent marketing skills in existence. They trigger the reciprocity effect. That is, the human tendency to give back after they’re given something — say, an ebook or a recorded course.
The idea is to leverage reciprocity to leave a long-lasting positive impression on potential followers. Not only will you spark curiosity, but you’ll also prove you’re here to provide value.
Also hey, the more effort you put into your freebie, the better.
Picture it as an investment in your reputation. “Holy shit,” people would think. “If this awesome content is free, I wonder what other amazing (paid) stuff this creator has to offer!”
That’s why I’m insisting you design a freaking freebie.
Write a Tinder description
Following creators is like swiping on Tinder. You have a few seconds to grab people’s attention and get them to move their fingers in the right direction.
Sadly, most creatives don’t realize this when writing their “About Me” pages. They think it’s a place where they should flex their achievements or engage in massive promises to change people’s lives.
Forget about that. Your creator bio isn’t a resume. It’s an opportunity to connect with someone. Write it that way.
Put your name on things
If you’re anything like me, it’s difficult for you to feel credible: Impostor syndrome, lack of self-confidence, external pressure, you know the drill.
As a result, you often hide behind research and famous quotes to express yourself.
But deep down there’s always this urgent desire to take responsibility for your own words. You know that if you don’t, you’ll remain a nameless group of pixels on someone’s feed.
That’s why you want to stick your neck out as soon as possible.
You could do it through a solution to a problem, a personal opinion, or a digital product. Either way, dare tell the world: “Hey, this is what I believe in and this is what I do.”
That’s how people remember your name.
I’ve tested this on Linkedin a few days ago, and honestly? I was scared shitless.
But it turned out to be one of my most appreciated posts on that platform.
📷📷That’s five times more views than what I usually get.
Design custom previews and social media posts
Wise people often say that your content is as good as its title.
Your content is as good as its preview — which includes a title, a subtitle, and an image. The latter is more important than most people think. Ask YouTubers and they’ll tell you all about it.
Elite YouTubers design multiple thumbnails for each video they release. After hitting “publish,” they spend 12 to 24 hours switching images and watching their real-time stats to see which one attracts more clicks.
That’s how important preview images have become.
If you’re thinking this phenomenon is only true on YouTube, you’re making a huge mistake. Whether you’re a writer or podcaster, people are super bored of the same 26 Unsplash pictures appearing on their feeds.
So, why not give them something better?
There are potent tools you can use to design awesome preview images. The one that offers the best value for the money you pay is Fotor.
It gives you plenty of stylish templates that adapt to all the major content platforms — be it YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Medium, or Linkedin.
You can also design cover images for your article and ebooks using fresh and original stock pictures.
📷📷Template from Fotor modified by the author.
Fotor has two plans that cost $40 and $80 per year, depending on how many stock pictures you want. Either way, you’ll be paying less than what you pay for a couple of lattes at Starbucks.
Still sounds like a big investment?
If you use this link, you’ll get an exclusive 20% discount using “Nabil” as a promotional code. It’s a one-time offer that will last until the 24th of September 2021.
You’re welcome and thank you for helping this shameless writer pay his bills.
Don’t *try* to be authentic
Forcing authenticity misses the whole point. There’s no guide to being yourself. So please stop overthinking it.
Just act on whatever idea that crosses your mind — as long as it’s ethical.
Look outside your platform
Smart creators emulate what’s working on their platforms. Brilliant creators bring in ideas from outside their platforms to spark novelty.
I mean think about it. If every creator recycles the same popular topics, we’ll end up in mega-boring echo chambers that may bring down the whole system. Be smarter than that.
Spend more time outside of your platform or at least outside of your niches. You’ll be able to absorb new ideas and keep your content fresh.
Use your own jargon
I stole this piece of wisdom from Stephen King. He says that vocabulary is important but not nearly as important as your voice.
The language you use is a reflection of your thoughts and thus, your personality. Use the words that come naturally to you both when you speak and write.
Hey, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enrich your vocabulary as you go.
You can steal the words and expressions that you love from books and use them until they become part of you. That’s how you build a personal style.
Bonus: “Simple” is your best friend
Ancient Arabs are known for their beautiful poetry and articulate literature. Unsurprisingly, they have an elegant expression to describe sharp prose.
No skill to understand it; mastery to write it.
The quote applies to almost every type of creative endeavor. If your work is easy to understand, it’s a sign you’re mastering your craft.
The opposite is also true.
One way to achieve creative mastery is to make yourself easy to understand. I’ll leave you with another quote.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo Da Vinci
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Business | Psychology | Marketing — What's your favorite quote? Mine is "True masters are eternal students."