You’re Being a Perfectionist About the Wrong Thing…

June 24, 2017 ​- 28 Comments

This is a follow up to my post about quality vs. quantity in content marketing. In that post, we came to the conclusion that you can only create good, high quality content through practice. And practice means creating lots of content.

You may agree with this premise, but still struggle to put it into practice. Today's video is a reframe that will help you overcome this problem.


As you can probably tell, I'm also proving my own point with this video, since I recorded this off the cuff and with low production quality. I hope seeing this, you'll agree that a "bad" video like this is better than no video at all. And I hope that motivates you to create some quantity over quality content of your own.

Shane's Signature

After reading Karen's comment, I wanted to share a picture with you.

This is what my "tripod" looked like while travelling... I didn't want to travel with too much equipment, but I still had to ship videos. Yes, that is my luggage, a trashcan, the bathroom trashcan and an upside down drawer.

Disclaimer: please only try this at your own risk... we're not responsible for your camera ;-)

About ​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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  • Hi Shane,

    I remember finding some of your first videos you made that were terrible and you were laughing at them and pointing out all the mistakes.

    It’s AMAZING to see how far you’ve come and how you crush it now!

    Could you send me a link to those videos again please.

    I’m about to start making my own videos and your ‘crappy’ videos inspire me! Your current videos intimidate me! :)

    If possible, thanks in advance!

    Great job here and over at Thrive Themes, thank you!!!


    • Hi Tim,

      I believe the video you’re referring to is the one from this post: The Grind.

      It’s a video of which I think I should make an updated version, one of these days. :)

      I’m very happy to hear that you found this inspiring and I wish you all the best with your own video making journey.

  • Hi Shan. I loved these last couple of videos and I took your advice and did my first review video on the YouTube channel.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jonathan! I’m very happy to know that you found this inspiring. :)

  • I’ve noticed lots of people doing the walking video like this. Have you noticed a difference in engagement between this, and just sitting at your desk like the videos you did weekly years ago?

    • That’s a good question! A video like this does feel more dynamic. On the other hand, the constant motion and shakiness can also make it difficult to watch.

      It’s too early to tell form my own video analytics, whether these types of video have better engagement, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

      • Hi Shane,
        i love your stuff since the backlinkbattle plan :D …. Thank you for keep going forward! .. for me, the walking videos makes me kind of seasick, and i have to listen only. :D

  • I have made hundreds of videos, but I have never made the off-the-cuff, quick, easy and relaxed version. I will try that.

    • It’s a new thing for me as well. So far, the reactions have been positive. Let me know how it goes for you. :)

  • Perfect timing of your video! Today I probably spent more time than I should on the article. I tried too hard to make it “perfect”. Also since English is not my first language it already takes much longer for me to produce content.
    I will need to internalize this thought process: Instead of trying to perfect this blog post just make it good enough and try to make better the next one!
    I’ll bookmark and get back your video when I feel again that I try too hard :)

    • Thanks for your comment, Gedas! I’m sure you’ll benefit from being less perfectionist about your content.

  • Karen M McCamy says:

    Hi Shane,

    As always, you are a true inspiration! First discovered you via Thrive, but now follow/watch/listen to whatever you produce!

    I’m another fellow perfectionist (although I frequently wonder if that’s just an excuse to *not publish* whatever! … It’s safe that way!) and you’re philosophy of “just good enough” has truly inspired me…to the point of now having a list of “30-Day Challenges” in Trello! I can begin to learn any “craft” in 30 days if I just start!

    Again…can’t thank you enough!

    BTW…I have my Nikon D5300 at the ready for my own newbie videos! Just need a tripod…I have everything else!

    • Thank you, Karen! I’m glad you found this inspiring. And 30 day challenges are a great way to ramp up your skills. I’m always amazed at how much progress one can make in 30 days of concentrated effort.

  • Thank you Shane, you opened my eyes!

  • Shane, this ain’t no crappy video! Just a different setting for a veteran :)

    For if it were, many others would have failed to be made or published!! I do agree we must avoid benchmarking as such to give oneself an excuse “it’s not good enough (yet) to be seen”!

    Yes we all gotta start somewhere. And practice, practice, practice. There’s always going to be that first video, blog post, website, etc, that we’ll create. And create them, we shall :)

  • Hey Shane. Great video and message.

    My question is about publishing publicly.

    My videos are quite bad; my delivery, lighting, sound. Pretty much everything is embaressing and cringy. I want to improve, but I don’t want this early work to be public.

    Until I achieve a minimum level of skill, is it an effective strategy to publish videos for my own analysis, but keep them private?

    Or is the public feedback (or lack of!) an important part of improving?

    • Hi David,

      That’s a good question! I think it’s better to publish your work. Not so much for the feedback (of which you probably won’t get any, early on). It’s more for psychological reasons. You see, if you create a lot of stuff but you always keep it to yourself because “it’s not good enough”, you’re not building a habit of shipping. You’re not training yourself to overcome that perfectionism. And as a result, you may never publish anything, because you’ll never feel it’s good enough. Or maybe one day you finally do publish something, but at that point, you feel there’s SO MUCH riding on it… if you get negative feedback, you might feel devastated and go back to not publishing anything. And if you get positive feedback you might be terrified of releasing something new, because you’ve set such high standards for yourself. Suddenly, everything you do now, at your current level of skill, looks worse to you than your early stuff did at the time.

      Another reason is the lack of “realness”. Even if you publish stuff and no one ever sees it, the fact that you make it public, the fact that someone COULD see it, makes a difference. It’s a totally different feeling between “I will publish this next Friday” and “I will finish this by next Friday and then hide it away on my hard drive”. It’s less of a real deadline, less commitment.

      For these reasons, I recommend publishing your early stuff, no matter how rubbish it is. In fact, start a channel and make your first video an explanation: explain that you’re about to release a whole bunch of rubbish videos, as a way to practice.

      • Thanks Shane. That makes a lot of sense. Oh well, time to start publishing something every day!

  • Your so Right! I am guilty of this..I research, and research, trying to make sure everything is just right. I waste a lot of time. Thank you for the video!

  • Frank Edwards says:

    Hi Shane,

    That’s a very thought provoking point you’re making in this video.

    It reminds me of a quote by Dan Kennedy, “It’s better to be prolific than perfect.”

    Which encapsulates your point exactly I feel.

    • Yes, that’s a great quote. I hadn’t heard it before, but it really summarizes this approach very well.

  • Kevin Cheng says:

    You’re so spot-on with this, Shane! I’ve been struggling with perfectionism my whole life, and there are many pieces of content, of value, of benefit to my audience that I haven’t published because in my mind, I consider them “still in progress” and not good enough. What you say here is SO honest and true: I’m too hung up on what this one video or blog post will be as a “finished piece of content” – and not on how much improvement I’ll have (if I keep working and publishing so I get ENOUGH PRACTICE, and where I would be in a year, 3 years, etc).

    And yes, there’s a social component to it too – but it’s even worse than that in my mind: To my audience, I’m supposed to be the teacher. If my content pieces look crappy to them, then they would lose confidence in me as their teacher. I think my content’s ‘production quality’ does convey some impression of how good I am with the content itself, fairly or not. So this is also why I’ve put off publishing content pieces until I think their production quality is within the ballpark of the people that I follow (like yourself and your stuff). So – you’ve addressed these worries and insecurities in me so well! I just want to say – I heed your message. I’ll work harder to keep that “reframe of getting enough practice for a long-term improvement” at the front of my mind. Thanks as always for getting to the heart of the matter in so many important fundamental things!

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m very please to know that this message got through to you. What you write is really something that could have been written by me, when I was a bit younger. So I have no doubt that you can overcome this problem just as I have. Good luck!

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is amazing.

    I haven’t released anything right now cause I’m so fixated on making things perfect. I always have to do more research before I create anything. Then I’ll recreate things because I feel inadequate in what I created. It’s definitely a fear of what people will think or say.

    Which shouldn’t matter !

    Loving the podcast and content. Thanks !

    • Thank you for your comment, Elizabeth! I’m very happy to know that this message reached you and made a difference!

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