My Thoughts on Zulie Rane’s “You Don’t Need to Be Consistent to Succeed Online”
The other day, I stumbled upon a post written by one of Medium’s top writers, Zulie Rane, titled: You Don’t Need to Be Consistent to Succeed Online. But before I give you my disagreements on the matter, I’d like to clarify I’m not making some hit piece here.
I’m a fan of Zulie Rane and think she’s a terrific writer. Zulie is the person who got me interested in writing for Medium via Shelby Church’s Youtube video.
With that said, we live in a world where everybody you know, including that second cousin you hardly speak to, are trying to strike gold online. There’s more than one way to skin a cat regarding online success.
Zulie has her thoughts on the topic, and I have mine. Plus, some friendly discourse didn’t hurt anybody.
Let’s go through Zulie’s points.
1. “Your content fatigues you.”
Zulie states: “Consistency is all about establishing a routine and optimizing your workflow. But this comes at the cost of creativity. Your tight schedule doesn’t leave room for reflection, discovering new angles, or out-of-the-box solutions.”
I can empathize with the exhaustion of sticking to a rigid content schedule. I’ve experienced a sort of burnout with my budding Youtube channel. Forcing myself to make videos that don’t get my creative juices flowing freaking sucks.
Persevering through the rut you’re in, however, is what separates professionals from amateurs. Professionals show up even when they feel lazy and unmotivated, whereas amateurs don’t.
Another way of putting it: How do you want to be identified?
Do you identify as a writer? Well, writers write every day.
Do you identify as a runner? Newsflash: runners consistently run.
Do you identify as a Youtuber? If so, successful Youtubers work on improving their channel daily.
Succeeding online, or at anything in life, is like pushing a giant boulder up a hill. No matter if you move the boulder a centimeter, an inch, or a foot. If you continue pushing, you’re making progress.
If you stop, you’re losing all that momentum you generated. The boulder will drag you to the bottom, where you’re back at square one.
“Making it” online is very difficult. If it were easy, everyone on the planet would be doing it! Half the battle is showing up and fighting through the fatigue.
Professionals are consistent. Amateurs are sporadic.
2. “You never truly recover.”
The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck.
— Ernest Hemingway
I’ve only begun my writing journey, but I desire to make writing a daily habit.
I’m not talking about producing X amount of articles per day. That’s way too much pressure. Knowing how I operate and focusing on the results rather than the process will lead to the dreaded creator burnout.
Instead, my current approach is writing at least a couple of hours daily. That’s it.
I’m not too concerned with word count or how many articles I’ve finished. This method keeps writing an enjoyable experience instead of a two-ton burden where taking a break is necessary.
Also, I’m crystalizing my identity as a writer by committing to writing every day.
Remember, writers write. Creative people create. Day in and day out, no matter what.
3. “You neglect quality.”
Here’s an excerpt from James Clear’s Atomic Habits, illustrating the “danger of aiming for perfection”:
On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.
Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.
Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.
At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.
The fastest way to build up quality, whether you’re an aspiring writer, Youtuber, or content creator, is to put your shit out there. You’ll learn more by doing rather than obsessing over the work not being good enough.
But Shane, what if people hate what I make?
I get it. You’re afraid of falling flat on your face.
What hurts more, though? Eating some humble pie but learning from your mistakes and improving incrementally? Or would you rather stand on the sidelines full of regret because the fear of looking stupid paralyzes you to inaction?
I’d take the first option 100% of the time.
Success online is a combination of hard work, skill, discipline, and a little bit of luck.
The number of people who love what you put out there or some algorithmic god viewing your work favorably — these factors are out of your control. However, you have control over remaining consistent, rain or shine, putting in the work.
That’s all you can do.
Which side of the fence are you leaning on? Zulie’s seasonal approach or the more consistent one?
Both sides are valid, but I’ll let you be the judge.