The Ripple Effect
When you make anything — a product, painting, essay — and no one responds, did you even create anything at all?
It’s the question that keeps any emerging builder, creator, or writer up at night. But it’s the wrong question.
Because we make art, not to attract views or make money. We make it to communicate truth, to experience life, to become a little bit more of the people we want to be. We make it to build communities, and scale a sense of belonging. And yes, off the back of doing all of that well and with consistency, we can attract views and make money.
The biggest sink hole for emerging creators is focusing on the results instead of the conditions — chasing views, subscribers, and likes, instead of trying to perfect their craft or build a strong community.
Take Yes Theory, for example. They are the gold standard for digital community, and have created some magnificently clickable pieces of content. But when I ask people (which I do frequently) which video converted them to being a Yes Theory fan, their answers are never one of the big hits. And almost always reference an extremely personal one.
Platforms would tell you that these archival videos are worthless. They’re at the bottom of the pack, far below the top tier in views, likes, comments, and transactions. But in the grand scheme of things — they’re the ones that actually matter.
That’s the thing about creating. You have no idea what’s going to happen when “your thing” enters the world. Maybe it sits in obscurity, maybe it goes viral. Maybe 100 people buy hoodies off of it or ten people decide to quit their jobs. Maybe it touches a million hearts, maybe one.
All I can say for sure is that the quantifiable results will never fully capture the impact.
Ben Nemtin from The Buried Life calls this phenomena “the ripple effect.” He says — by doing what you love, you inspire people to do what they love.
To me, that’s the point. To create, to make, to do what you love — whether you’re getting paid or not — for as long as you possibly can. To do your very best to capture it and package it so that a community can interact with it. To build something you’re proud of. And finally, to have the courage and audacity to press publish with fervor and consistency.
Because that’s where all the serendipity is.