Success from Things You Don't Care About

I often find that my most successful projects come from things that I don't really care about.

I had just finished a YouTube that I spent a week working on; a couple of days working on the graphics, a day of voice recording, and a few more hours coming up with a nice thumbnail. I uploaded it, and eagerly awaited the YouTube algorithm to award my quality work with a burst of views and watch time. I sat and waited in anticipation. Hour one went by, nothing. Okay, maybe it’s just a little slow today. Let’s wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow comes, and my video still sits at less than 1k views despite having 200K subscribers.

No love for what I do

This is a discouraging scenario that I frequently find myself in. There are projects that I put in a lot of time and effort and gain little reward. I once worked on an app for two months, only to receive 10 downloads after advertising it everywhere. I had previously done a video on a topic that I found super interesting and educational but it received no love from YouTube.

Meanwhile, there are numerous occasions when I bullshitted some video or side project and it became a success. My bixby remap app, was completed within two hours and received over 10K downloads. My comparison of Fortnite on the iPhone vs the Samsung Galaxy was recorded and uploaded within an hour and received an extraordinary amount of views.

To be honest, I don’t know if I would consider these to be successes. The things that go viral and gain traction are often the things that I don’t care about; it’s the stuff other people do. So naturally, when I create content I have to constantly ask myself, what’s my goal and who am I creating it for. If I am creating it for myself, then satisfaction is easy. If I think the video is interesting or the app is a good idea, then by all means do it.

But if I am creating for other people (as often the case), then I need to accept that there’s going to have be a balance of giving other people what they want. Ideally, I shouldn’t sway too far from what I find interesting (so I will never make Fortnite videos), but I might have to do some things that I find mundane and pointless (like showing how to run Windows XP on your phone).

It all relates to the age old question of do you pursue passion or profit.