What if You Don’t Want to Write Blog Posts, Make Videos & Do Creative Work?

Here on ActiveGrowth, we talk about creating things of value, improving your skills, building and shipping things rapidly and generally becoming better at challenging, creative work.

If you're thinking that all that sounds like a lot of work, you're absolutely right! Not only do we advocate doing a lot of work, we also advocate doing very difficult work.

This could be a problem. Maybe you got into online marketing because you wanted to do less work and because you were hoping for some hands-off, passive ways to make a living...

If that's the case, I've got some bad news and some good news for you.


You're a Creative, Whether You Like it Or Not

I'm writing this post because many people feel enormous resistance towards creative work. If you're not sure what I mean by that, think of getting in front of a camera to record a video for your business, right now.

You don't wanna do that, right? You probably really, really don't wanna do that.

Because it's a difficult, long process and it puts you in a vulnerable position. And even if you've done it 100 times before and you try your best to make a great video, you probably won't like the result very much.

And here I am, telling you that you should do this difficult, unpleasant thing, not just once, but many times, continuously, for many years to come.

The Easy Way Out?

You don't have to do any video marketing for your business. You probably should and it would probably help your business grow, but you don't have to do it.

There are other marketing channels that feel a bit safer and a bit more hands off. Blogging, for example. Or Facebook ads. Or what about that Amazon FBA thing?

here's the problem: no matter what you pick, you still have to do creative work. There is no easy way out.

And I can prove it. With logic.

The Logic (Read it & Weep)

We are all creatures that seek comfort. We like the path of least resistance. And so we want something that's hands-off, that doesn't put us in a vulnerable position and is as easy as possible.

The problem is that if any such opportunity exists, it is immediately eroded by market forces.

If there's an easy, reliable and hands-off way to generate traffic, it will be immediately automated, outsourced to cheap labor, scaled and commoditized.

When a new opportunity arises, there's a very brief window of time during which a solopreneur can benefit from it. If it's a real opportunity, the market will very quickly be flooded and the solopreneur will be competing against larger companies that use software and workforces to squeeze this new market for all it's worth. It's a race to the bottom and unless you're the one with the software and the workforce, you'll be crowded out.

If this sounds familiar: it's the exact same reason why the business opportunities on every "hot new social platform" must decline steeply, as more people use the platform (see: Instagram Created a Monster: On the Inevitable Decline of Social Platforms).

What if You Do Get the Software & Workforce?

So, I stated that unless you have the software and workforce, you'll be left behind. What if you go for the software and workforce, then?

Bad news: creating software is complex, creative work. Using software may be expensive and time consuming, but it's not enough to get you an advantage, because many others will be using the software as well. Unless you have a better way to use the software or have staff that do work for you, you're stuck in that race to the bottom again. And of course, coming up with a better system and hiring people to implement the system for you is, you guessed it, creative work.

Creating and then selling software for all those people racing to the bottom is better. It's a way to move up the food chain. But as already mentioned: doing this involves highly complex creative work.

So, what to do about this situation?

Embrace the Challenge

This post is one of many pieces of content I've created that basically does two things:

  1. Discourage readers from pursuing hands-off, seemingly passive, seemingly easy business opportunities.
  2. Explain why I always advocate creating real products that offer real value and selling them directly to real people.

I keep emphasizing this in my writing because I keep seeing this same problem. I keep seeing entrepreneurs looking for the easy way out, looking to avoid the difficult, complex, creative work.

Let me end this on a more positive note than usual (yes, I do enjoy being the harbinger of doom in this space - maybe a bit too much): I want to encourage you to embrace the challenge. Creative work is difficult, but doing difficult things can be immensely satisfying. Doing difficult things is how you grow your skills and your skills set you apart from the competition.

And there's the good news: by trying a little less hard, you'll get better, faster.

Let me know your thoughts on this. Especially if you disagree! I'd love to hear from you and start a discussion so please leave a comment below.

Shane's Signature

About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • John B. says:

    I don’t mind the doom at all!!!

    Great points – and it resonates because every time I do one of those exercises where you are supposed to identify what your passion/core thing/USP is, it always comes down to solving problems. I love problems. It’s why I’m a chemical engineer and then attorney. I love being able to make good solutions to the problems no one else wants to solve.

    The problem for me is that I have a million interests that I really love to follow!!!

    But, this post is one of the reasons I’m a fan of this experimental site. Thanks, Shane!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Ah yes, that’s a problem I am all too familiar with. I wish I had a good solution to being interested in too many things all at once, but I’m still working on that one myself.

  • Nelson says:

    Thank you, Shane. Always giving us so much love.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Nelson!

  • Peter says:

    I think it all boils down to the fear of being judged. For me anyway. That’s why you get resistance towards creative work.

    And I especially liked your 80 percent blog post, that was really useful for me as a perfectionist! So thank you a lot for that. :)

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, I think you’re right. This is the real “danger” of doing creative work. It exposes something personal to the world and we’re afraid of people pointing and laughing.

      One of the many obstacles we need to overcome, on an entrepreneurial journey.

  • Cheefoo says:

    I use creative problem solving skill to tackle a difficult problem, by looking at it with different angles. Believe it or not, a solution will be presented when i wake up. Yes, i do agree that creative work requires lots of hard work and especially thinking. Not everyone wants to think. It’s hard work to think. Sometimes, social media painted a picture that you can have success easily without much hard work. Of course, there are some minority that have great success immediately by tapping on the right people.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment! That’s an interesting point about waking up with the solution in mind. For problem solving it can indeed be a good idea to “take the problem to bed” and let your brain work it out while you sleep. :)

  • JimC says:

    For me, it always comes back to the same old thing: I go round and round trying to find interesting ways to make a video related to my business, which is related to the game of darts.

    There are many YouTube videos of people just stood there in front of a dartboard talking about whatever they are talking about it. They work, but it’s the same old boring stuff.

    I spent an inordinate amount of time learning to integrate Powerpoint with Camtasia so I could be different and make a slide presentation, but this also was somewhat boring, so I scrapped the idea.

    I am now back to planning, planning, and planning, trying to come up with an interesting way to present my ideas, and so far I have failed dismally.

    I have spent countless hours of just wasted time on this, and I am now at the point of giving up and sticking with just written material, although I know we are in the video age and I would like to join it.

    So, for me, this video was spot on. It summed me up perfectly. I spend hours and hours of a day wasting what precious time I have going nowhere, and I feel I am losing the battle…


    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Jim,

      Thank you for your comment! I can understand your frustration and I also understand your desire to do something different, something that really stands out.

      The one thing I encourage you to do is to make those boring videos anyway.

      I know you want to do better than that, but please give yourself the opportunity to learn by doing. For me, I can see that the way I think about making videos now is totally different from what it was a few years ago. Through the experience I’ve gained from making hundreds of videos (many of them boring and unremarkable), I’ve gotten to a point where I have the skills, experience and resources to make something different and better. I would never have arrived here without going through the process of making those not-so-great videos.

      Look at even the video in this post: this is not a great video. The production quality is practically non-existent. And there are a thousand things I could have done differently to make my point more saliently. But the video is still worth creating and publishing. And it takes me one small step closer to making a better video in the future.

  • Thomas says:

    I think you really hit it right in the nail Shane, and that’s something that I’m starting to fall in love with.

    More specifically, I’ve come to the conclusion that the moments we feel the most alive are the moments of deep struggles, and that above all, human struggle is an attribute that fundamental defines who we are both as an individual and as a species. As such, I now see entrepreneurship primarily as an medium for building one’s character (e.g., vision-casting, , detailed planning, numbness to resistance, maintaining consistency).

    In a sense, this is akin to the process whereby a person gets rid of his sugar addiction, in that while the person might initially attach high amount of pleasure to consuming sugar, he now realizes (at an emotionally level) that these pleasures are nothing good to have and have done much to hold him in hostage.

    And just like many people are addicted to sugar in real life, even more people are addicted to instant gain. In that regard, the ultimate goal of entrepreneurship is to get rid of this pernicious addiction to instant gain, by re-evaluating our emotional attachment to it that robs us of so many choices and opportunities.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Wow. Yes.

      That is really well thought out and I couldn’t have said it better!

    • Hsiaowei says:

      Super well said.

  • dennis hague says:

    Shane i under stand ,no easy way out. It would be nice helping members with making it easy as possible by making your themes easy to manage and get started.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      That’s what we’re working on over at Thrive Themes, yes.

  • Jay P says:

    Hey Shane,

    Long time subscriber, first time commenter here. =P Couldn’t log in with the Facebook button for some reason?

    Thanks for this post. I found myself agreeing, disagreeing, annoyed and happy at this post. Strange round of emotional response, so I wanted to explore this idea.

    Quick background – I’m in the middle of hiring people to help with parts of my work that I simply can not get done myself. Mainly meaning writing content.

    I’m reading your post with a confused frown on my face like why not just outsource this stuff? Get a video editor to help with the video work, a writer to help with the blog posts, a chef to brew vegan coffee, right?

    It’s just efficient to not waste time on things you simply can not do yourself, I thought.

    Then I realized, regardless of how many helpers you hire, you’re still always the instigator, the driver. Even after they’ve fully adopted your mission statement and goals and can work 99% autonomously, they’re still looking to you for guidance and inspiration.

    You’re essentially hiring people to become extensions of your creativity.

    So in that sense, every process is driven by a creative desire.

    Sure, we have businesses (affiliate websites for example) that run on completely nameless, faceless, impersonal content that may even provide a semblance of value to the visitor. But somehow businesses that are built on a template never work as well as the businesses that are driven by a creative desire.

    I guess what I’m saying is – find out what your form of creative expression is and focus on doing exactly that. Whether it be singing, creating videos, writing, building businesses, teaching etc. The content will take care of itself.

    • Hey Jay. :)

      For sure you don’t have to do every type of creative work in your business. It’s just that you can’t really escape it, either. Like you say: even when you hire creative workers, they need to have a framework to work from that defines things like the tone of voice, the type of content etc.

      One of the reasons I made this video is because it’s a mistake I also made. I thought you could just hire a writer or designer or whatever and they’d take care of all the writing/designing/whatever. But that’s rarely how it works out. The work is far from done once the contract is signed.

      Anyway, that’s for sharing your thoughts here. And I wish you all the best with growing your team!

  • Thank you Shane. I am learning a lot from you. Keep up the good work.

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