Make good shit

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

Do you subscribe to MKBHD on YouTube? If you follow this blog, then there's a very high chance you do. If you don't, then swap in whoever you like here, but I wanted to ask a simple series of questions.

Do you subscribe to MKBHD because he has great thumbnails?

Do you subscribe because his titles are snappy?

Do you subscribe because he's got a nice camera?

I would guess with very few exceptions, you said no to all of those. You may like that his videos look good or that the thumbnails and titles draw you in while still being classy, but those aren't reasons to subscribe to a YouTube channel, right? It's the content of the videos he and his team creates that keeps you coming back for more.

It's certainly possible that the thumbnails drew you in the first time, and maybe the high production values made you go, "oh this isn't just your average tech video," but the only reason you stick around and watch his videos on a regular basis are because you think the videos are good. This is also the reason you're going to share those videos with others.

I bring this up because it's the end of the year and I know people start to think about the following year and what creative projects they want to tackle, and sometimes that means figuring out how to be successful in that endeavor. My top tip for anyone either starting a creative project or trying to up their viewership/readership is to try and do the best work possible.

Ugh, that's so boring, though! It would be so much easier if I just said, "buy this tool and it will make your stuff better!" or "here's how to write video/post titles that will get people to click!" but I just don't think that's particularly useful. As boring as it sounds, I think the best way to build an audience is to make good shit, and while growth hackers of the world will obsess over thumbnails, titles, and the superfluous stuff you have to do on top of that, good shit wins in the long run.

The closest thing I have to a trick here is making things you yourself would want to read/hear/watch. Would you read the blog posts you write? Would you watch your own videos? Remember that making good shit is about making things people enjoy, so think about what you like and try to make things that you would be excited to see when you're browsing the web. We're all unique in our own ways, but if the internet has shown us anything, it's that basically whatever you're into, there are millions of other people out there who are into it as well.

Going up one more level, think about what people who get to your "content" (I hate that word, but it's a good enough catch-all here) to get out of it. Will they learn something? Will they be entertained? Those are the two things I try to keep in mind whenever I'm writing a blog post here or making a YouTube video. In the case of this very post, I think someone seeing this post will learn to focus more on the craft than the surface-level junk, and I hope I've written this with some personality and they'll be at least a little entertained. Hell, they may even disagree and this may spur them to post a retort, which is also great!

Yes, yes, yes, you need to market your stuff, so you do need to at least be decent at some of the marketing stuff (this blog post isn't titled, "Birchtree Post #3,945" after all), but just remember none of that marketing stuff matters a whole lot if people don't enjoy what you make.

How do you make good shit? Well, sadly you start by making bad shit, but if you keep working at, enjoying it, and evolving your craft, you'll get better soon enough. If you enjoy it, keep at it, you'll get there.