Content creation is quite popular nowadays, and its popularity continues to rise. As a result, more and more developers plan to start their content creation journey.
It's understandable because creating content comes with freedom and many perks. Even for those that are not wildly popular.
Some of the perks content creation can bring:
- friendships - meet new people and make friends for a lifetime
- opportunities - get job offers and paid gigs
- freedom - do what you enjoy without a fixed schedule and a boss
- collaborations with other content creators and companies
Without exaggeration, it can be life-changing. But, like anything in life, it does not have only positives. It comes with drawbacks and pitfalls too.
In this article, you will learn how to approach content creation in a healthy way and avoid common pitfalls.
Who am I
You might ask - "who are you to speak?". That's a valid question. I am a creator who has created content for several years on many platforms.
I want to avoid humble bragging, so I want to say that I have been through everything these years. I have been through the highest highs, lowest lows, and burnouts. I made all the mistakes possible.
As a result, I want to help you avoid the common mistakes I made and learn from them. You will also learn about the common pitfalls and avoid them.
Find the why
Think about why you want to create content. Do not worry; it does not have to be something profound like "Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be a content creator".
Some of the common reasons are:
- to enforce your learnings
- to help others
- to make money
- to become popular
Or any other reason. Everyone has their reasons.
In my case, I started creating content because I wanted to learn things better. They say "to teach is to learn twice". I was out of university and preparing for job applications by doing coding problems. I thought - why not write about my solutions? This way:
- I learn better by trying to explain the reasoning behind my solutions
- other people might find them useful
- I can come back to them at a later time if I stumble upon the same problems
And that is how it started. After that, I started creating content about the things I learnt and how I solved bugs. So, find your why.
Find your niche
After finding your why, you need to find your niche. You can find your niche by looking at your current skill set and development area.
Are you a front-end developer working with Svelte? Create content about that. Are you most comfortable with HTML and CSS? Create content about that. You get the gist.
Additionally, you can create content about your learnings and solutions. Did you learn a new technology or concept? Or did you fix a bug? Create content about that.
At this point, you have three topics you can write about:
- your existing knowledge/skillset
- your learnings
- your solutions to bugs/problems
You will always learn new things and solve bugs/problems as a developer. That means you will never run out of content ideas.
Choose your medium
Now it's time to choose a medium. There is no universal answer because each person is different.
Some are more inclined towards written content. Some are more inclined towards video content. Some are more inclined towards audio content (podcasts).
Find your preferred medium and focus on that. In my case, I started with blogging because I felt comfortable with writing. Writing is an activity that I enjoy a lot. After learning the ins and outs of writing & blogging, I started with videos as well. However, writing & blogging is still my main focus.
Many people make the mistake of creating content on multiple mediums from the beginning. I did that too, and I strongly advise you not to do it. Trying to focus on several mediums from the start will most likely result in:
- huge stress
- giving up on content creation
You don't want that. Pick a medium and focus on that.
P.S: If you want to start with blogging, I wrote an article that talks about starting a blog as a developer.
Start creating content
You have your why, a niche, and a medium at this point. That means you are ready to start creating content.
The beginning is the hardest. Your first pieces of content will most likely be "bad". They will get no traction. You will feel like giving up. But after you overcome these initial hurdles, you will improve and enjoy it more.
Along your content creation journey, you will also come across pitfalls such as:
- your content not getting traction
- not having enough time to create content
- competing with others
- falling for engagement bait content
- copying others
In the following sections, we will go over each pitfall and see how to avoid or overcome it.
Pitfall 1: No traction
One of the most frustrating things is to produce content that nobody consumes. It seems like your effort is in vain.
It's essential to mention that it's expected in the beginning when you are starting. Your content will probably only reach a handful of people. But after a while, it gets better.
That can also happen even after creating content for a while. The main reasons are that people are afraid or shy to self-promote their content and do not use all the available tools for expanding their reach.
After all, if the content is good, you should not have to self-promote, right? Wrong. You can and should self-promote even if your content is of stellar quality. If you create content, but nobody knows about it, how can they share it with others?
Promoting your work is important because you make other people aware of it. They discover your content and might share it with their network too. So, before others promote your work, you have to do it yourself.
Not using all the available tools
People also do not use all the available tools to reach new audiences. Do not create an article or a video and expect wonders.
Submit/share them on websites like:
- Hacker News
There are also a plethora of Discord communities you can join. You can share your content there too!
It's important to mention that you should not spam those websites and communities. Only submit/share your content where and when it makes sense. Otherwise, they might kick you out and ban you.
The main pieces of advice are:
- Do not be afraid & ashamed to self-promote your work
- Share your work wherever and whenever possible, as it helps you reach a bigger audience
Pitfall 2: Time
Creating content is not something you can do easily without effort. Creating content takes considerable effort, and it's time-consuming. So you might struggle to produce content while having a full-time job.
You might ask yourself:
- how do I balance my full-time job with content creation?
- how often should I create content?
- how do I do it without sacrificing my health & family time?
The main thing is that you should not sacrifice your health, family time, and your hobbies. I made those mistakes & became burnt out three times before learning this lesson.
I had unhealthy and unrealistic goals and plans. I wanted to create as many articles and videos as possible each month. Whenever I could not stick to the plan and achieve my goals for that month, I would become frustrated and stressed. Not being able to create my proposed content quota stressed me as much as overworking myself.
Reading this, you might think that I'm stating the obvious. But if you have a full-time job and also create content, you know how easy it's to slip into this phase.
I re-calibrated myself, and nowadays, I have more realistic & flexible goals. I also learnt not to feel bad and ashamed when I do not hit my content creation goals.
The main pieces of advice are:
- Set realistic and flexible goals
- Do not feel bad if you cannot hit your goals
- Treat it as something extra that you do when you have time
Pitfall 3: Competition
Whatever niche you choose, there will be other content creators you will compete with. Even if you are not competitive by nature, you might find yourself focusing on others more than on yourself.
A bit of healthy competition is fine, though. But solely focusing on others and trying to better them is unhealthy. The best advice I can give you is to focus on yourself and your content. Spend your time and energy on improving your content.
It sounds super cliche, but that is the best thing you can do. Obsessing over your competition is not going to help you in any way.
Pitfall 4: Engagement bait content
It's extremely easy to fall into this pitfall. I talk from experience because I have done it many times. It's so easy to fall into this pitfall because engagement bait content brings numbers. Numbers inflate the ego, so you feel good as a result.
When I say "engagement bait content", I refer to the type of content whose sole purpose is to boost stats without bringing value.
With engagement bait content, you gain a lot in the short term but lose a lot in the long term. In the short term, you gain a lot of visibility, likes, and shares. In the long term, you gain a bad reputation.
When you feel like you are falling into this pitfall, ask yourself:
- would I still create this piece of content if there were no numbers (page views, clicks, etc.)?
If the answer is no, you are likely creating engagement bait content.
Of course, statistics such as views, likes, and shares matter in some measure. Who wants to create content that nobody watches, likes, or shares? The main idea is to focus on creating valuable content. Let the numbers be a consequence of the content quality.
Pitfall 5: Copying others
You might feel tempted to copy when you see other content creators doing well. I strongly advise you against doing it. Besides getting a bad reputation, you can also get in legal troubles.
Inspiring from others is fine, and everyone is doing it to a certain degree, but straight copying is not. I suppose you would not like others stealing your work either. Create your content!
Creating content is a beautiful activity that can bring many benefits. But it also has drawbacks. My hope is that this article helps you avoid the common pitfalls so you can create content in a healthy way.
If you wish to start creating content:
- find your why
- pick a niche
- choose a medium
Then just do it (and try to avoid the mistakes mentioned in this article)! The more you do it, the better you get at it.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that I am not a guru, I am not perfect, and I do not hold the absolute truth. I still make mistakes and constantly work on improving myself and my content. I wrote this guide for other content creators, but I also wrote it for myself.