Creator reflection, Q4 2023

Welcome to another edition of creator reflection. As always I answer three questions:

  1. How did I move forward?
  2. What requires improvement?
  3. What did I learn?

In this edition, I cover tackling bottlenecks, building up internal libraries, complex vs. simple videos, what’s more important than a great edit, the 3 steps I’m taking to improve gamification within content creation, and more.

How did I move forward?

Produced 2* videos that were major bottlenecks. The first was moving video part 2, which was even more testing than the first, but I persevered anyway and delivered a video that I personally didn’t like that much, but people who are in my ecosystem seemed to enjoy it, so that was good to see. Then, I crafted the long-awaited haircut video where I reveal my bald head, but the asterisk comes from the fact that I didn’t fully finish it before the end of the quarter, so it’ll be released shortly after. These two videos were my main focus content videos — especially because they were inherently bottlenecks that were killing my progress elsewhere — so I focused in to get them done so I could work on more important things.

Writing. Even more writing was had for consulting, which I’m excited to release in 2024. Some private, some public. As videos? Likely. And also put together some scripts/outlines for upcoming videos, too.

My internal library for memes and reactions. Over the course of the whole last quarter, when I saw a good meme or something funny that had meme potential in something I was watching (especially places where people aren’t normally looking), I extracted it and saved it in a folder with other memes. And doing this every damn day is building up to be a great library. It’s fucking awesome. You’ve gotten to see some of this already in moving video part 2 and the Spotify Wrapped 2023 video, and will see many more in the upcoming year because I’m having fun with these.

Design. Levelled up my typography, tried out some new styles, and leaned into using more effects. Whether it was using DaVinci Resolve to craft a divider for a video or Photoshop to make a highly edited thumbnail, I was pleased with many of the things I was guided to make this quarter.

Color grading. Over the past handful of videos, I’ve gotten some good practice with a whole slew of footage with different cameras and formats thanks to these flashback sequences I keep doing, and I seem to have cultivated a style of color grading video, which I’m relatively pleased with. But that being said, I really crave getting a better camera that can capture richer blacks, as the ZV-1 struggles to do so — especially at moderate light levels. I also need to upgrade my key light to help with this, because that’s part of the challenge too. In time though, in time. Maybe in 2024, we upgrade both? 👀

Motion Array. I built a solid library of assets thanks to Motion Array — light leaks, overlays, textures, resolve effects and more. So far, it’s been super valuable to me, and I’m grateful they have a lite-license option so I can pay a small price to continue using their assets without downloading anymore (because honestly, I am good for now lmao).

Cleared some energetic patterns around resistance to editing that really helped me. And it’s come to my awareness that I have a lot more to clear around this, including with writing too, and I want to tackle this even more intensely in the near future to make the whole process even easier and faster.

What requires improvement?

Complex videos. I’m so tired of it bro. It’s disgusting how much time and energy it took for me to make moving video 1, 2 and the haircut video, and I’ve genuinely had enough. This reminds me of back in 2020 when I put myself through hell with all of those vlogs, and I hit a breaking point where I couldn’t make any more of the same content and needed to evolve. I’m tired of editing like this, because these last 3 videos have taken me way longer than I expected them to (genuinely feels like forever at times) and I don’t have the time-luxury to afford creating like this as it’s taking away from my business results. There are many reasons why it’s taken so long — resistance to letting go of certain things, my standard for speeds, how I view myself when it comes to speed, and I’m tackling all the above. But at the same time, I’m experiencing a pull to focus on making simpler videos with more volume in 2024, so that’s going to be the main focus of the upcoming videos after this haircut video. That being said, while I work on simplification, I’m also going to work to upgrade my processes, learn from better editors and work on my habits, identity, mindset, and energy to see what potential I can unlock around handling more advanced videos for when I want to/need to do something like this (or more intense) again.

How few messages I’m communicating to the world. Continuing the point above. Sure, it can be very artistically fulfilling to put out these highly edited videos and absolutely flex my creative muscles to show everyone what I can put together when I really care. And while I wish I could do more of these, ultimately, I can have way more of an impact when the content is simplified and there’s a steady stream of consistent messages with way less b-roll, graphics, music, and intense editing. The focus is about to shift to my message and the value I’m bringing to the end-watcher, rather than enjoying the editing experience I put together. Whether that be in written, audio or video.

Consulting-focused content. Now that these videos are done, I have so many things I want to produce around productivity, self-improvement, and spirituality, in regards to consulting on my main channel. And I’m so ready to absolutely go to town with a minimalistic style and focus on delivering value in a way I’ve never delivered before. The shift is finally about to go away from me and onto you and I’m so excited.

Locals. What I want to do with this is now clear. But it’s time for me to actually begin posting casually and sharing many exclusive moments — I’ve been putting this off. Also, either work through my inner resistance to putting together deleted scenes once the project is done or just ignore my bullshit and do it (as this is a key part of my locals).

Newsletter. No functionality yet, this fell to the wayside. But at least I now have a PO box so I’m now CANSPAM compliant and can legally send out newsletters once I set up the functionality. LFG.

Podcast. I thought I would’ve had this up and ready by now, but it took a back seat to bringing the “bottlenecks” to completion. Now that these are all but done, after I get the newsletter up and running, I’m going to bring back the podcast, and I can’t wait to get back to delivering messages on a consistent basis in a way that needs to be barely edited. It’s such a hack to improve as a communicator, but it’s also such a relief as an editor to just talk. But before I bring it back, I really need to go through some exercises to get more clarity on who the podcast is specifically for, the type of content matter I want to talk about, the problem I want to solve and the overarching mission.

Recording set up. I’m fortunate to have many options here at my apartment of what I could have as a backdrop, but I’m not exactly sure what the right move is. I’m going to continue to test things out to find the right setup, but at the moment I’m intrigued by 1) the corner area of the couch for more casual recordings 2) the blank wall with some sort of shelves or something behind me for more serious recordings 3) some sort of diagonal set up (maybe like my haircut video’s a-roll) and 4) at my desk, for reaction videos. Curious to see what you as the watcher like most, so let me know in upcoming videos.

Organization of creative projects. Specifically referring to when I constantly have new b-roll and photos coming in, and how hectic it’s gotten with the haircut video for example. I’ve been testing out organizational systems using both folders on my local drive, as well as using a combination of bins and timelines inside my editing projects to try and further organize the footage. But overall it’s pretty chaotic and the processes need significant improvement.

Organization of global asset management (ie. music, memes, overlays, etc). It’s not up to par right now. I’ve made steps in the right direction, but I’m unsatisfied with where things are currently at.

This stupid ass thing I do where I am resistant to duplicating timelines/toggles with “versions” in editing and writing respectively, if it didn’t change much. This small little thing holds me back from so much more than you might imagine, because I struggle to move forward when I don’t have a path to revert backwards if I don’t like where I went. Thank god I’m not a painter lmao. I should probably work on clearing this pattern because it’s pretty irrational, but having “version history” does really help you be a braver creative, even if you never end up reverting to a prior version.

Gamification of content creation. I’ve lost a lot of the fun I remember having with editing at the moment, but I realized that in theory, I have this level of warrior that comes alive when it feels like a game or a sport, and this can be applied to editing too if I create the right environment and rules. I’ve already begun working on this, but the major takeaways and things I want to improve are 1) segmenting out my outline area so I can zero in on one section to improve it without redundantly duplicating the other 95% of content that stayed the same 2) internal lists and checklists of assets for guiding my process of options I want to acquire 3) overthinking less, experimenting more 4) adding more actions into a checklist or my internal project management flow so that it feels like more of a game and I’m moving forward, which I’ve definitely been slacking with of recent, and as a result, it’s felt less fun.

How little I spend making time in the “honeymoon” phase. Meaning, that period of time when the idea is fresh, exciting, and you’re completely fuelled by raw passion. It’s the best. I can’t wait to get back to this. It’s so exciting to film and edit videos from this place, and it’s one of the biggest things missing from my creative process at the moment.

Consistency. Need to improve this in 2024.

What did I learn?

I’m a knowledge-based creator. It’s more valuable for me to put out messages consistently than to create amazing videos. People aren’t watching primarily for me to flex with videography or video editing skills, though that is a nice added benefit from time to time. They’re watching for the message, the perspective, the hack. They want their problem solved. They want the positive impact.

Fuck complexity. It’s not worth it for me at this point to put together these highly edited videos. It’s far more valuable for me to lean into simplicity and create more videos. They’ll still be well edited, but they’ll take a lot less time, be way more fun to make, and will allow me to significantly up my consistency, potential impact and brand growth.

Your v1 should be bad. It’s a first draft for getting all the shit out, for brainstorming, for ideation. Then, from there, you can carve it into something good, maybe even something great — but definitely something worth sharing.

Experiment more with how you use timelines. Use things differently than you’ve been told to. Have timelines dedicated to experiments where you can use it as a scratch pad. Have another timeline to hold all your initial cuts, and another to hold all the best selects. Duplicate and increment your versions more frequently than you probably think (v1, v2, v3, etc). Use timelines for organizing assets like music, photos, and other things too. There are so many things that timelines can be used for and your mind is the limit.

If every video begins with an outline, then all the writing I’ve done over the course of the last 12 months means I’m sitting on hundreds and hundreds of videos just waiting to be filmed…

You may dislike something as a creator that your audience likes. You can be so hard on yourself and your creations that you don’t see reality clearly. But they may still like it, so be cautious with scrapping something just because you specifically have a negative association with that piece of art. [observing my perception of moving video part 2 vs the audience’s]

Filming with a diagonal backdrop is sometimes one of easiest ways to take a basic background and make it look more aesthetic.

As a small creator, if you manipulate the EQ, strongly reduce the DB’s & have talking covering much of the song, you can finesse the flagging of YouTube’s copyright system. But as you get bigger, you will get manually claimed.

Thank you for your time and attention. If you got value from this content — whether it was an insight, strategy or even a laugh — please consider sharing it with a friend who might benefit from it too. By doing so, not only do you help them out, but you also help support my content creation efforts and expand the reach and impact of the content I’m sharing.