Quality or quantity? Which one is better?
A debate as old as blogging itself. As old as content creation itself.
We admire the “prolific” individual, yet we also stress the idea that quality is of the essence.
But the tricky thing is that it takes a long time to create quality content.
The Perils of “Killer Taste”
In 2009, during an interview, radio host Ira Glass shared a few insights into what it means to be a creative
What drives us to create in the first place is our taste and a desire to create content of the quality we often consume.
“Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?”Ira Glass
He later goes on to make his most valuable contribution: the most important thing that you can do as a creative is to produce a huge volume of work until you become good enough to create work of the same quality as you consume.
You bridge the gap between what you produce and what you admire by spending a lot of time working on developing your skills.
It makes sense, and this particular insight has become almost a myth, being written about over and over again by countless creatives, online marketers, and artists.
But a question arises.
If the quantity of work determines the quality of our content, how do we best use our time?
Do we spend 50-60 hours working on an article, refining … and refining … and refining until we have the perfect post? Or do we spend 2-3 hours writing, editing, formatting, and publishing an article, and then we do it again and again?
How do we create quality content?
Do we strive for perfection? Do we aspire for progress?
If time determines the quality of our work, how do we seize it in such a way that we progress as fast as possible?
If we need to put in 10,000 hours of work towards becoming world-class bloggers, what type of work do we have to do?
Using Quantity as a Beginner Blogger
I believe one of the most important aspects we should become aware of is the fact that, no matter how much time a beginner spends trying to write a quality article, they’re going to fail.
It makes sense. They have yet to acquire the skills they need to create quality content, and no amount of tinkering will ever deliver the desired results.
There’s something else.
When you’re just starting out, you are enthusiastic and passionate about your blog, and you should spend the first couple of months capitalizing on that enthusiasm.
The first couple of months are for creating a portfolio of content, as imperfect as it may be, and networking with others, engaging other bloggers in your niche.
The more time you spend behind close doors, the more you lose your drive and motivation to grow your audience.
And there’s something else worth considering. As a beginner, you cannot take advantage of the social proof of having a large audience, so potential readers will look for other ways to determine whether you’re worth the follow.
A sizable portfolio of work often does the trick.
On the other hand, having only 3-4 articles published, no matter how good, don’t act as an incentive to make first-time visitors commit.
Wasting half of your productive time trying to replicate the quality you most admire in others is a poor way to take advantage of the first few months of blogging.
The More You Fail, the More You Learn
In many regards, we are our own worst critics. Yes, it’s our taste that gets us in the game, and it’s our taste that makes us aspire towards a certain level of quality in our work, but we learn an awful lot by putting ourselves out there, by experimenting with different types of content, by making mistakes, by asking for feedback from our readers.
It took me a couple of years to acquire the insights about blogging I needed to be able to spend enough time thinking about an issue to come up with a different solution.
In other words, when you’re just starting out, you can’t see the angles, and you can’t escape the box long enough to provide original insights, and no amount of work will change that.
In order to write like yourself, to find your style, you first need to write like a bunch of other people, and you must produce and publish a lot of content before you figure out an ideal framework that allows you to grow as a blogger.
Just like going to the gym for the first time, it’s important to go through the motions and get those reps in, rather than trying to do the exercises perfectly.
Because, quite frankly, you just can’t get it right.
The Truth Will Piss You Off and Then Set You Free
Quality content isn’t the only factor or even the primary factor that will allow you to build a community.
It is what it is.
People will follow your blog for a bunch of different reasons, including:
- How you engage with their own content.
- How you interact with other people’s content.
- The ideas you share.
- How frequently you publish new content.
- How consistent you are.
My own work is often lacking in terms of quality. It happens. And, as an irony of fate, the articles I spend most of my time on are the ones that rarely get read.
This is not to say that quality doesn’t matter at all, but it does prove that there are a lot of factors that determine the way our readers interact with our blogs.
I have often found myself building genuine relationships with bloggers whose content was not of the quality that inspires me or makes me think, but they were genuinely nice people.
It was the way they interacted with me that made the difference.
So don’t waste a lot of time trying to create quality content, especially if you’re just starting out.
Content is king, yes, but quality is just one aspect of content.
Quality is just one aspect of content creation.
Consistency is another. Frequency, a third aspect.
And if content is king, distribution is queen.
A blogger we often notice interacting with others in the online space, while also distributing a lot of their own content on various social media platforms, is one we will grow fond of, regardless of the quality of their work.
The Road to Quality Content Is Paved With Good Intentions
Ultimately, what matters most is our desire to improve our skills. The trick is to practice in a deliberate way.
A beginner’s mindset is essential.
The moment you think there’s no more room for improvement, that’s when everyone else starts to surpass you.
Believe me, I’ve done it, over and over again, and it’s a desolate landscape to go through.
Don’t aim for perfection, but rather focus your time and energy towards progress.
That’s what matters most.
A few key aspects to keep in mind:
- Quantity gets you quality.
- The trick is to practice in a deliberate way.
- A beginner’s mindset is essential.
- If you’re just starting out, it’s best to focus on producing and releasing a lot of work.
- Frequency and consistency also matter. A lot.
Quality versus quantity will always be one of the most popular debates in the world of content creation, and, in the end, just proves that it’s all a balancing act.
From time to time, as we try to grow our audiences and provide our readers with clear benefits, we might feel like walking on tightrope.