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Four Reasons Why Content Creation Courses Won’t Make You Rich

They may even hinder you


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Nabil Alouani

3 years ago | 4 min read

I’m not here to shit on your favorite gurus but I’ll probably piss some of them off. Heck, I might piss you off a little bit.

But since you’re here, I’m sure you know how to take a punch and bounce back stronger. Speaking of which, below you’ll find four reasons why online courses rarely pay off in the content creation sphere.

Ready?

Your guru’s tricks are always outdated

“No one ever steps in the same river twice,” Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote. “For it’s not the same river and it’s not the same person.”

Content gurus will teach you what worked for them back when they crossed the online river. Except these are agitated waters which means every time you want to navigate them you’ll have to adapt. Since adaptation is by definition dynamic, a static course is as good as a newspaper from last year.

Sure, some of the advice sticks but that’s because it’s universal common sense. Create stuff you like to create, be authentic, publish regularly, set up a feedback loop, and be patient. There, a half-baked sentence just saved you a few hundred dollars.

Oh come on Nabil, cut the bullshit. If my gurus aren’t holding some secret keys to success, how the heck do you explain their $tats?

That’s because…

We have a storytelling problem

“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem,” author Malcolm Gladwell wrote. “We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”

When your favorite creators explain their success, you often hear them say things like: “I worked hard for a couple of months, read a ton of books, meditated, moved my body, drunk gallons of green smoothies, and voilà. ”

But of course, that’s bullshit. The human brain sucks at explaining complex stories like “How to run a successful online business.” It’s easier to dismiss the complex machinery running behind success stories and come up with simplified rationalizations instead. Smoothie anyone?

Our best shot at deciphering the hidden aspects of success is the word “luck.” Yes, really. In content creation, luck can be a blessing from the algorithm, a random boost from the platform’s gatekeepers, or an unexpected retweet from a famous dude or dudette. Or all of those. It doesn’t matter what shape or form luck can take.

What matters is most gurus dismiss luck when they teach you how to succeed. “Hey I got the formula,” they think. “I can teach you how to do it step by step.”

No you can’t.

Not until we solve our storytelling problem — and good fucking luck with that.

You’re not after a course — but a need to commit

You and I are tricky creatures. We often know what we have to do. We even want to do what we have to do. But we suck at taking action.

The solution? We trick ourselves into commitment, often through money. We pay for a yearly subscription at the gym, a stack of books, or an online course hoping that our financial engagement translates into action.

Psychologists call this a commitment device and it’s neither good nor bad. It’s a tool, you use it however you want — just like your gurus use it to sell you a course.

“I’d love to give it away for free,” they say. “The price tag is only there to make sure you commit.” It’s a brilliant argument that works really well and I love it when it’s genuine. But often, it’s bullshit.

Now, if you’re wealthy enough to afford a commitment device that costs a couple hundred dollars, more power to you. The pain of paying might keep you going for a few weeks before it wears off. That’s when you find yourself back to square one of the pay-for-motivation cycle and off to another round you must go.

For those who can barely pay the bills, Netflix, and Saturday pizza, I say keep your money folks. Pay with your time instead. Do your research, dig up some tricks, and talk to people who also want to grow. No online course is worth starving for.

But Nabil, what about the commitment device thing? Maybe paying is exactly what I need to get some motivation going. We’ll get to that in the last section.

For now, let’s talk about the worst part of purchasing online courses.

You’ll feel like shit at some point

Most content gurus close their courses with a message like “Your time will come. Remember, if I’ve done it so can you! Just make sure to be yourself!”

What they don’t know is they’re setting you up for an ugly backlash. Results won’t show up for a while which will give your self-doubt egg enough time to hatch into a baby monster that feeds on your psyche.

Why the heck am I stuck? you’d wonder. What’s wrong with me? Then you’ll compare yourself to others who bought the same course, and sure enough of them will be ahead of you. They’ll let you know with some quality humblebrag. Sure, you’ll be happy for them but that won’t keep your self-doubt monster under control.

The crappier you feel, the worse you’ll perform which puts you in a downward spiral that often ends up with something like “Screw it, I’m out!”

What the heck should I do then?

Whether you’ve already paid for a course, or consider paying for one, here’s the deal. I’ll drop a few decent ideas I stole from people smarter than me. Take a screenshot and implement the ones that make sense to you.

  • Write a $500 check to your friend and tell them to cash it if you miss your publishing schedule without a solid reason. That’ll handle the consistency part. (Remember the commitment device thing?)
  • Stack free sources that are fun to consume. I repeat, fun to consume because learning doesn’t have to be boring. Store some links in a document and every week, pick one trick. Apply it. Repeat.
  • If you look up to a successful creator, check what they’re doing not what they’re saying.

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Nabil Alouani

Business | Psychology | Marketing — What's your favorite quote? Mine is "True masters are eternal students."


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