When was the last time you contacted a creative and wrote a heartfelt message of thanks? And I don’t mean saying “thanks” or pressing like, retweeting or reposting. I mean writing down what their post, video article or ongoing inspiration meant to you? Telling them with gratitude and honesty #ThankU4Creating?
I’m not accusing you, it’s merely a question. We consume voraciously and expect creators to consistently publish new content to feed our demand desires. Do we ever slow down for 5 mins and take the time to tell them how they helped us or inspired us? Made us laugh, or rescued our day? I suspect like me you don’t, and I wonder why?
Has gratitude fallen from grace?
Remember when thank you notes were part of normal etiquette? After a lovely dinner, a heartfelt gift, we sent a note. That was the standard behaviour.
Our music was available from the record store, reading material from bookshops and art hung in galleries. Creativity and culture had a cost. And that’s not the 1950’s either, that’s the 1990s and the 2000s.
Today we have inspiring and creative (and free) content in abundance, so we consume it, without a second thought or thank you. We’ve deleted gratitude and replaced it with complacency.
It may be free because it’s on social media, but the creator pays. The trip to the pub, the Netflix movie, the walk in the woods or a weekend trip, they missed those. They dedicated that time to create something that we scroll through in seconds. Not taking even 2 mins of our time to say #ThankU4Creating.
The time & creation factor
Do we consider how long it took the creator to generate the idea, plan it, create it, edit it, test it, action it, and share it with the world? I doubt the thought enters our minds.
Consider a simple blog post. Do you know how long it takes to write, edit, do the SEO, format, post on WordPress? Create the social content, post on all the social channels, monitor and reply to feedback? One post can take me 15 – 25 hours. Granted my posts are 2 – 5k words, but that’s half a working a week. Imagine how that feels when you get a couple of likes or visits to your website, yes, it’s soul-crushing.
The planning and the pruning is the really hard bit, Dolly Alderton, Writer
I worked in marketing and campaign management 10 years ago. We would have entire teams and several agencies dedicated to creating and disseminating each campaign. Photographers, copywriters, editors, graphic designers, web designers, PR, Advertising experts, email experts and the list goes on. Online creators do ALL that to get their creations in front of you, and most of them do it ALONE!
Is misplaced envy overpowering our gratitude?
There’s a pervasive and erroneous myth that if someone has a social following or a blog that they are automatically making money?
This is not true. It costs money and time to have a social following, make a blog and create ongoing content. Creatives make money if you buy. That means purchasing their art, book, course, attending their class or if they are a pure influencer then through brand sponsorship.
The money doesn’t fall from the magic tree because they have 50k followers. Many of them work day jobs or make money through advising brands or helping people one on one. Their blog is the front end to a consultancy or their advertising platform to a business that gets less than 5% conversion rate if they are lucky. 1% is more like it.
I blame the get rich cowboys online who sell the endless dream that sucks us all in, but the truth is much different. Our envy is thus massively misplaced.
Aspiring “celebrities” chasing #instafame will find they are measured to within an inch of their life. Creators are not handpicked on cuteness yet on conversions. The days of the #instagoddess” being paid for butt selfies are numbered.
And yet we lump in real creators or business people using these platforms to showcase their work with the easy #instaeasyriders. We don’t take the time to express our thanks or gratitude, as we incorrectly believe that the money tree generously gives to all, who achieve some magic follower number.
Real creators with substance and talent need our love and kind comments more than we think. Creation is cutthroat, and behind the veil of #instacreation lies a lot of #instasadness. Jealousy brings us all down. Lifting people up and saying a simple #ThankU4Creating with an honest authentic message helps more than you know.
The Uncomfortable Truth
We have all read the story of the girl who got into serious debt chasing Instagram stardom. Just like we’ve noted that brands & influencers are waking up to the scams plaguing both sides of the industry.
Every week there’s a new opinion or expose. Marketing execs exposes the scams that the influencer platforms peddle, the big name brands are sharing numbers and the truth on fake followers. And the magazines are saying that everyone is spinning us a yarn, unsurprisingly, since influencer marketing is hitting their bottom lines.
It’s big business, backed by big money and it’s getting ugly.
Still, YouTube videos abound on how you can make an easy 10k a month, but the reality of the microbloggers and their real experiences is largely concealed. I found just a couple of transparent bloggers who lift the veil on YouTube and it doesn’t make for easy listening.
Yasmin Jones Henry a millennial Journalists who writes for the Guardian and the FT and is editor of Work in Fashion wrote in the Financial Times that she believes that old-fashioned skills and talents will make a comeback and that in essence the days of the unskilled “influencer” are numbered.
Meaning that the real creatives will have a chance of shining through perhaps? Once the butt selfie brigade falls from grace. But again, it’s our job to help lift them up, encourage them and stop them from seeping into sameness.
The Future of Creation
The real artists; the ones creating the fantastic content, showing their authentic selves and creating a better society for us through their honourable activism are still not rising to the top of the search pile. The ones giving up their trip to the pub or the weekend away, to slave at their art and talent and hope that someone gets them or that they will find their tribe.
The brave ones pulling from the depths of their soul, transitioning their pain into art, abuse into poetry and prose are there. But they remain largely unseen, driven down the algorithms by star-crazed youths and horny guys inflating the culturally vapid influencers feeds.
The future of our countries rests on creativity, yet we collectively stuff it down. Watch the short pixaresque film and tell me you did not get a tear in your eye.
“Our future economy will be built on creativity and technology. With artificial intelligence taking over routine tasks, there will be immense opportunities for people who combine creative, technical and social skills”. according to the creative industries federation.
Work that requires a high degree of imagination, creative analysis, and strategic thinking is harder to automate, says Mckinsey in Harvard Business Review. So the opportunities in society are there, but they won’t be if we don’t lift up the emerging creators amongst us.
Writers and creative blocks are real. They are suffered by even the most creative amongst us. Elizabeth Gilbert ( Eat Pray Love), Brene Brown and many more all admit to having them.
If even the most famous successful people that walk amongst us get blocked, though not believing in themselves, imagine how easy it is for an emerging blocked creative to give up, shamed at the lack of support they received.
And that in part is what has driven me to write this post to encourage me and I hope you to lift up creatives and creators that light up your day, inspire your life and work and make your week better.
In the last 3 weeks, 3 people wrote to me to tell me how much they appreciated the work that I was doing and told me how I had helped them in some way. I don’t think this was a coincidence, as I was literally ready to give up writing and close the blog.
Like many other writers before me who publish online, the exhaustion of being an entire marketing department in one person was too much.
I had no idea if I was making an impact on anyone, or if my words were wasting server space. It did not help, that I’d taken myself off social media at that point either.
I complained and lamented and felt sorry for myself and mortally embarrassed that I had even tried. Then I got those emails and I changed from feeling like I was polluting cyberspace to feeling that I was making a positive impact. I can’t begin to tell you how good that felt.
I realised I was complaining that no one was commending me, but then I wasn’t lifting anyone else up either. I’d created my own pit of despair and had more attitude than gratitude. And that’s not pretty or clever!
So last Tuesday I vowed to change that and to publicly commend people that have had a positive inspiration on me, through their work online and off-line. As you see, just three little emails turned my life, my mindset and my thoughts around.
Gratitude, love and appreciation changes lives,
Let’s do it!
P.S The background image is by an artist called Annelie Solis. She’s a 29 year old artist from Trinidad and Tobago. Her paintings are contemplations of personal and universal themes—the infinite beauty of creation/nature/life being a wellspring of inspiration. As well as this, she also has a project called The Sage Path, which is a yoga, meditation and wellbeing retreat in Trinidad and Tobago.