Content is a coin with two sides: creating and consuming.
Often in a community like this, the content is created for people who in turn consume the work and then go create more. It's self-propagating. But as we know, that's not always the case.
Sometimes, we err on the side of consuming too much content — checking Facebook one too many times, getting lost in an endless of blog posts and online articles. Or we can be prone to bouts of artistic bingeing.
And if we're not careful, we can lose sight of why we create and consume in the first place. Yet, it's in the delicate balance between creating and consuming that we find our sweet spot.
Let's start with a basic assumption: Everyone cares about quality… right?
Our goal is to both create and consume high-quality content. Whether it's an entertaining blog, a business book, or a funny video, the content we encounter needs to add value — to our lives and the lives of others.
We need quality in both the content we consume as well as what we create, because:
- Consuming content educates us. Creating content educates others.
- Consuming content encourages us. Creating content encourages others.
The success of this us-and-others relationship lies in the balance of creating and consuming.
Let's be honest. There's a lot of awesome content out there.
Sure, plenty of garbage is floating around, too. But it's not that hard to find a gold nugget here or there. The problem is trying to consume all the awesomeness available is a full-time job.
Unfortunately, reading blogs doesn't pay the bills. (If it did, I'd have more money than Donald Trump.)
If all you do is consume, you become an information glutton. And if all you do is “eat” content and never exercise, you get fat and lazy.
It's great to absorb information, but you also need to do something with it in order for it to be effective. Otherwise, you're just another hoarder — and let's face it: that's one reality show you do not want to be on.
So what if you've got 75 blogs in your RSS reader and a sagging bookshelf?
If all that knowledge crammed in your cranium doesn't lead to action, what's the point? If you don't chew it up and create art for someone else, what difference does it make?
By all means, consume great content. But don't forget to put down the fork and pick up the pen, paintbrush, or hammer.
Creative people are a varied bunch, but they all have something in common: They actually make stuff.
This creative energy springs from somewhere and like a tank of gas requires a stop at Chevron now and again.
Creating is addictive, and there's a tendency to lose yourself in the craft. If you only focus on creating, your mind gets full and doesn't leave room for anyone else.
Your perspective can become myopic, with your thoughts and opinions being the only ones that seem to matter. Your ego inflates, and you alienate the audience you set out to reach.
Work hard, make stuff, and ship it. Just remember to unplug once in a while, to close the laptop and read a good book, too. Without the challenges issued by other people's content, your own work will stagnate.
Finding the sweet spot
There isn't an exact formula for balancing contention creation with consumption.
Balance doesn't mean a 50/50 split. What you need to do is find which side you tend to lean toward and hop the fence once in a while.
The easiest place to start is to ask yourself two questions:
- How much have I created in the last month?
- How much have I consumed in the last month?
Input without output leads to constipation. Output without input leads to stagnation.
It's just that simple.
A final word about content…
This content we're consuming and creating isn't limited to blog posts and YouTube videos. Life is content.
We are consuming content created by others all the time. Everyone is making something — with their actions, words, and behavior.
In fact, this may be the most sobering reality of all: Whether we want to or not, we are creating content with every decision we make and every word we speak.
Every piece of communication leaves an impact of some sort. So let's pay close attention to what goes out and in. And let's try to make our words count.
Are you strategic on how you balance creating with consuming? Share in the comments.