I Hate Being a ‘Content Creator’

I quit

Sarah Smith

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If you’re reading this, it means that you’re a Medium subscriber. And if you’re a Medium subscriber, that means that you couldn’t get enough of success porn, listicles about writing listicles, the 10 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Genius, the struggle, the hacks, the grind.

I mean, that’s why I’m here, anyway.

At some point, I decided to sell online classes to finance my fiction writing. I released a single class with no launch, no lead-up, and was miffed when nobody signed up (except for one miracle human who somehow found my site — Jack, you’re the tops).

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

And thus began my long slog through the labyrinth of articles and tips and Medium screeds about how to get an audience to buy your stuff. I’ve been wandering in these woods for the last three years, and in that time, I’ve tried most of the strategies — the same strategies that will be thrust at you any time you want to grow an audience, whether that’s in the service of your business or your first book or your creepy ambitions as a thought leader: content creation.

What this means is pumping out articles, text, videos, podcasts, and whatever tangential to your business to establish you as a leader in your field. You’re supposed to “give value” and “serve” because, after a certain point, the reader is so beholden to you for your generosity that they simply have to return the favor by buying your thing.

“Content” is such a generic, flabby term. It means … what exactly? “That which is contained,” according to Oxford Etymology Online. Still vague! Contained by what?

In autopsies, the coroner notes the contents of the deceased’s stomach. In the frontmatter of a book, the index notes the contents of the chapters within, whether it’s a fly fishing how-to or an Alan Watts book. That’s because content just means “stuff that’s in something.” You’re no longer a writer, you’re a filler-upper. You’re that metal tube at Build-a-Bear that stuffs batting into the plush skin of a soon-to-be teddy. Your words are reduced to stuff.

But of course it isn’t just words. It’s also Instagram and TikTok and just about anything that you make in conjunction with a social media platform of some kind. Why? It becomes much clearer if you examine the food…

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Sarah Smith

Novelist. Tarotist, poet, lazy Virgo. Nothing is real; magic is real. Writing is a way to see in the dark. sarahelainesmith.com, @braindoggies