Don’t Just Consume, Create!

I’ve been having a long, back and forth discussion on “whats wrong with the youth of today” with various folks of my, somewhat advanced age group, and I think I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  1. We are probably saying the same things about “the youth” that our parents said about us
  2. The divide is not between the young and the old, it’s between those who consume or create
  3. It’s never been easier to create, so why don’t more people do it?

I’ve heard many laments about the employment situation as well – both young and old are having trouble getting jobs. They spend endless hours looking for work and then spend other endless hours watching YouTube videos and playing video games. Pretty soon, as time goes on, less time is spent looking for work and more time is spent on entertainment. Eventually, entropy and human laziness being what it is, most people fall into the consumption trap. They spend all of their time consuming, and none of their time creating.

A few nights ago, I was talking with one of my sons about his career path. He’s always said that he wanted to develop video games. So I set him up with Unity and he cranked out an app called Birdhouse Mania (with some help) and it is now sitting in the app store, where its racked up a grand total of 6 sales. Better than zero, right? Prior to this, he would spend all of his spare time endlessly playing video games or watching YouTube videos, when he could have been cranking out more games. He was consumed by consumption, not creation. Of course, creation is much harder than consumption, so he’s back to his old ways, but I’m pushing him to create more.

One of my other sons chose music as his major, only after a lot of hand-wringing and major swapping. He had trouble figuring out how to actually make a living at it so he first tried chemistry, then math, and finally realized (after lots of pushing from my wife and me) that he should major in music since that’s where his talent lay. But how to make money at it? Create, not consume!

In my experience, no matter what you are interested in, if your interest only ever drives you to consume things created by others in that interest, then you will never make any money from your interest. Consumption doesn’t pay. However, creation DOES pay. It pays directly in some ways, and indirectly in others.

My music major son listens to and plays a lot of music, but never records it. I’ve encouraged him to start a blog, post stuff, video or audio record himself playing, join social networks, interact with others. Create some content featuring his talents, that might lead to money. He talked about a pianist in Russia who charged $470 a year for access to her library of videos, and the ability to send her questions and have her post new videos answering those questions with techniques to solve the issues asked about. Not only does she make money from the subscriptions, but she also creates more content for her library. It’s a win/win – for her and for her students. Creation pays. So I suggested that he do something similar, he said it was too much work, and went back to his studies.

But I digress. My point is that if you have an interest, don’t spend all of your time-consuming content on that interest. There may have been a time in the past, prior to the internet, where it was near impossible to create monetizable content from your interests, now its completely doable. Difficult, but still doable.

So to all of those out there who are unemployed looking for their next opportunity, whether you are a high schooler, a newly minted college graduate, or an industry veteran finding yourself between jobs – now is the time to put this time to good use and start creating. Set up a blog, on Tumblr or WordPress. Spend time blogging about the stuff you are interested in. If you want to learn to code, just do it. If you want to learn how to write video games, just do it. Spend some time, between job searching, creating, blogging, recording videos or podcasts. Get as much content out there as you can, while you can.

The more content you generate, the more content will get out there, the more chances that someone who can give you that leg up will see that content. Or if you are even luckier, you can just live off of the content you generate, via AdSense income, affiliate links or whatever.

The point is – time in creation is much more valuable than time spentĀ in consumption. And nothing is stopping you from creating, right now. So go create!