You will fail 95% of the time, and that’s a Good Thing™A short time ago, I wrote about how the best way to get better at headlines is to write a lot of headlines. It cited a slideshow by Upworthy and how they have editors write twenty-five titles for each content piece they want to share.
There were a lot of nuggets in that slideshow but there was one that stood out for me, in part because there was no emphasis on it – check out slide #15.
Here it is:
Failure is expected
It gives you an idea of their success rate.
If you do the math backwards, with 5 posts being 0.3%, then they’ve put up close to 1,700 posts as of the slideshow’s creation.
933 posts don’t reach 10,000 views and 1583 posts don’t reach 100,000.
That’s a lot of grinding (and luck!) to get to the 5 superstars.
And this is after they already identified awesome stuff and put it through the Upworthy machine.
Remember, they hand-pick what they want to share (they don’t create anything) and they have an entire team trained in the ways of viral magic.
Failure should not only be expected, it should be embraced because it gets you one step closer to success.
Your skill is undeveloped
Ira Glass is the host of This American Life, a weekly radio show in which they tell stories about, well, American life.
He’s a great storyteller and he did an interview with current.tv about storytelling back in 2009 (here’s part one). There is one quote in that interview that sticks out for me, and a lot of people. Here it is, beautifully stylized by David Shiyang Liu, with a transcript below:
Transcript: Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good.
It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.
And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile.
It’s normal to take awhile.
You’ve just gotta fight your way through. OK?
The lesson? Your ability to judge your work, your taste, will be disgusted by what you produce. But in order to get better at it, to get better at anything, you need to practice.
To get better, you need to do the work. Day in and day out, you need to grind.
You need to put out 25 headlines. You need to fail often and learn from it, not have it get you down.
Then, one day, you’ll look back and realize you’ve built something great.
But that only happens if you start now and keep grinding.
Latest posts by Jim (see all)
- How to Auto-Tweet Posts from an RSS Feed and Tag Someone - December 20, 2016
- How to Delete a Website from Google Analytics - December 9, 2015
- Don’t Use Public URL Shortening Links in Emails - June 12, 2015