Does creating content make you dumb?

creating content

Something I have been thinking about lately … does being a prolific content creator put you at a competitive disadvantage?

I read someplace that only 2 percent of the people on the web are content creators. The rest are simply consumers of content. Is that true?  I don’t know. I am too lazy to look it up and check that fact. But for argument’s sake, let’s go with it. Whatever the exact number, most of the world consumes. And in the process, those people are becoming smarter than me. Let’s unpack that observation.

Creating content is a time suck

I am clearly in that “creation” category, and, as you can tell by the photo of my worn computer keyboard above, I have been prolific.

I’ve written five full-length books in five years. I turned The Content Code and Social Media Explained into audio books this year and narrated them myself (not as easy as it seems!).

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and recorded nearly 60 episodes of The Marketing Companion with my friend Tom Webster. I occasionally create videos, Slideshare presentations, and webinars.

I am constantly updating material for college classes and speeches. I have given about 150 interviews this year. I post daily on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Now all that creating takes TIME. It might take me six months to write a book, four weeks to create a brand new speech and I spend around 5-6 hours a week on this blog alone, for example.

I’m not complaining at all. I love creating all this stuff and have so many ideas I could probably double the output if I had the time. Undoubtedly the act of sharing my ideas with the world has driven significant business benefits. People get to know me through my content and this leads to speaking engagements, consulting assignments, and wonderful friendships around the world. It all leads to money. I am fond of money.

The content creator at risk

I have built a successful business entirely through content. I have not spent a dime on any form of advertising since 2008 (although Phoebe The Amazing Intern is messing around with Google AdWords as part of her assignment this month).

But this output does come at a cost. I often joke in my workshops that I learned long ago that I could either blog or watch TV — you can’t do both!

And there is truth to this. I am more or less a pop culture illiterate. Even more concerning is that I spend very little time consuming professional content like the podcasts and blog posts of others. You could make an argument (and I am) that voracious consumers of content have a form of competitive advantage in the marketplace because they are better informed, more roundly educated, more connected, and more relevant because they are reading more than me and my fellow creators.

So, my membership among the content creating elite also dumbs me down.

This seems like a risky position to be in. The world is changing so very fast. By creating instead of consuming, am I grinding myself into obsolescence?

An interesting and sobering thought, right?

I’m lucky that I typically operate at a very high, strategic level. I don’t have to know the latest Pinterest or Snapchat tips and tricks to successfully provide a brand strategy or corporate marketing plan. So if the world of Facebook nuance and LinkedIn subtleties passes me by, I’m still good to go as long as I have a keen and accurate view of the big picture.

“Consuming” as competitive advantage

But this competitive situation is something to think about isn’t it? Even if a “consumer” absorbs just two hours of additional education a week compared to a “creator,” she would have accumlated more than 100 additional hours of information in a year. That is huge — the time equivalent of attending three college classes.

Fellow content creators, how are you establishing a balance that keeps you informed and relevant while pumping out all that good and useful stuff? How are you staying firmly placed on the learning curve and at least one step ahead of your customers and competitors?

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