Twenty years ago, if you were publishing content on the Internet you were blazing a trail for tens of millions to follow. Your words had the opportunity to shape lives. Not because you were smarter or wiser than everyone else. It’s because you were one of a few voices getting a LOT of attention.
We denigrated conventional publishing because the corporations were controlling the door of influence. They decided who got in front of an audience and who didn’t. And we didn’t like that. We craved the democratization of publication. In other words, we wanted everyone to have the opportunity to speak and be heard.
Democratized Publishing Has a Fatal Flaw
The problem is, if everyone is speaking, then no one is listening. And as more and more people adopt online publishing, more people are talking. Conversely, fewer people are listening.
So the platform has been democratized. But the size of the audience can never be equal for everyone.
When you have 1,000 people publishing to an audience of 50 million, there’s room for every single one of those 1,000 to reach 50K unique audience members with no overlap. When 20M people publish to an audience of 50M, each publisher can reach only 2.5 unique audience members. The rest is overlap. And when there are twenty thousand times more voices, the chance of even finding the relevant and interesting voice is virtually impossible.
How does this apply to you?
So you convert your thoughts to text, video, or audio, and you press a button to send it hurtling out into space. What then? You took the time to add flesh and bones to a formless idea, only to, what, have it rest in isolation on some server farm in Ohio never to be seen again?
The chances are that only a dozen or so people will ever encounter your work. MAYBE you get lucky and a few thousand people see it. Unless it’s the greatest, saddest, or funniest thing they’ve ever seen, it dies on the vine right there.
So before you go to the trouble of writing a blog post, recording a podcast, or publishing a vlog, ask yourself two questions:
- Will I be okay if my content goes unnoticed?
- What could my content do for someone who needs it?
Once you have the answer to those questions, you can do the math to see if it’s worth your time.
For most people, it’s not worth the effort after a few months to a year. The payoff doesn’t equal the cost.
But for the few who persist and breakthrough to gain an audience, they have the chance to find out what impact their words could have.