Last week, the writer Josh Spector published a tweet that I think a lot of content creators should print out and tape above their desks: “It's so much harder to build an audience than most people realize,” he wrote. “You're not failing — you're doing the work. Be patient.”
Spector was speaking to this nagging feeling many creators have at the back of their minds that they’re not growing quickly enough. We compare ourselves to really successful creators and worry that the gulf between us and them is too wide.
But it only seems that way because we often become aware of a creator’s success after they’ve already hit it big. We weren’t there to observe them grinding it out, day after day. We didn’t see them produce content that barely anyone consumed.
In fact, if you listen to any interview in which a successful creative talks about their career, you’ll often discover that they toiled away in obscurity for far longer than you realized. Before that A-list comedian landed their Netflix special, they bombed their way through hundreds of open mic nights in front of tiny audiences. That Marvel action star went on thousands of auditions and failed to land even small roles on long-forgotten TV pilots and commercials.