Building in public – this will look great in my autobiography or I will be embarrassed in 2 years
As most of you would know by now, I am a content creator trying to build a newsletter, blog, and an instagram account discussing what I love the most – books.
Caveat: This post is not meant to be gyaan. I have not ‘achieved’ or ‘made it in life’ for me to look down upon people and tell them what to do. As I intend to pursue some projects for a couple of years at least, I want to document thoughts and processes at crucial junctures. There are 2 ways these projects could go. I could lose traction, become lazy, stop doing this. In which case, this post will be banished to the dark corners of the internet. Hopefully, I keep doing this, improve, create value for people and this becomes a thing a couple of years from now. If that happens, I want to be able to look back and see how I did things when I was just starting out. Some of the advice I received on the internet, like Ali Abdaal telling people to not look at metrics and just post at least a video a week on YouTube till you hit 50 videos are from the perspective of someone who has made it big and is looking back. Once you have put some time between you and the experience and hindsight bias creeps in, the advice cannot be authentic. That is not Ali or anyone’s fault, but just the way the human brain works. I hope my project becomes fairly successful and this article is of value to some one starting out a couple of years from now.
I have been writing the newsletter regularly for over 3 months now. I have been posting at least one reel per day on my instagram. I have been lazy about the blog, but I have posted 10 odd pieces (and 40+ book reccos) over the last 3 months. And I intend to create more content. However, in this limited time, this is what I have learnt:
- Creating Content on the side makes me better at my day job.
- Every morning, I wake up, think about what book I am going to recommend and think about why I like that book. Once I read the newspapers and get ready for the day, I spend 10-15 minutes shooting. Spending time thinking about a book I enjoy makes me relive the fun of reading the book, reminds me of long-forgotten insights and gives me the right amount of energy to start the day.
- Posting Instagram Reels on Sunday seems to get a lot of engagement.
- Usually, my reels get around 100 views a day. However, when I posted them on Sunday, the views would jump 10x to around 1000. While 1000 is a small number, for a fresh account growing organically, it is massive. I have not yet looked at Indian numbers for when is the right time to post content, but I hope this helps.
- Reduce Friction – Prioritising a good amount of content over good content.
- When I started this blog a year or two ago, I put out an introductory post committing to posting regularly, but I never posted as I worried that my content was not good enough. Trying to think of a good post also meant that until I felt that the ‘right’ idea had come along, I would not post anything. This was stupid and counterproductive. My content is not great (and perhaps not good), but regularly writing has mildly sharpened my writing muscle and writing regularly makes me think more.
- An important aspect of this is I try to reduce friction which stops me from posting online. For example, I could have told myself that I need to learn editing, buy a good camera, get the right lighting and then start making Instagram reels. However, that would not have worked for me. First, I don’t have the money to buy all that and second, I am too lazy to learn editing or learn to produce a video before I put it out on the internet. So, I started with my old Nokia phone, my table lamp for lighting, and spoke about books I liked. This has led me to get going and now that I have some experience and fun, I can focus on making my work better. This is far better than never starting in the first place.
- Talking about one book a day is unsustainable
- When I started, I thought that I could easily talk about one book a day. However, I have realised that to do this consistently for a year, I should have 300 books I liked and should have read them within the last 2-3 years (for me to recollect why and what I liked in it). There is no way I can do this. This is a problem I am trying to solve. One thing I have done is to start a new series on Interesting Trivia (like where you call it tea, where you call it chai; how survivorship bias works, how Pillsbury sold more instant cake mixes)
For context of where I am on my journey – I have posted approximately 35 Instagram reels, 44 newsletter editions, 20 blog posts and have reached a total of 12000 views on Instagram reels, and reaching 1000 post views on the newsletter and the blog.
I hope I do more of this and do it better and maybe the numbers will improve.
If you liked this post, please consider checking out my newsletter and my Instagram. If you want to see my book recommendations, go here.