Sovereign Standard, Issue 20 Passionate entrepreneurs and creatives generate enough ideas to fill several lifetimes. That leaves us feeling torn between a desire for true craftsmanship and the need to “get ‘er done.”
Both the obsessive wrestling with details and the “it’s good enough” mindset have their drawbacks.
Put too much into any single piece of content - be it a blog, image, or video - and you’re drained. The rest of life and work suffers.
Fall into the “oh it’s fine!” trap and you start to churn out shoddy work that eventually compromises your reputation and your own standards.
“Just ship it” is what the cool kids do (Really??)
Everyone is skimming, so who cares about typos and a few head scratcher sentences, right?
You can follow “Done is better than perfect.” You can tell ‘em what you really think and hang a “F**k It, Ship It” sign over your desk.
This attitude totally has its place, but beware! You need to be conscious of when you’ve your standards have lowered too far in the quest for expediency.
And yet, craftsmanship is what sets you apart (and restores your self respect)
What if you’re creative winds blow too strongly to allow you settle for “good enough”?
First off, thank you for putting in that extra 20% that our fast-fast-fast economy says is no longer relevant. You are ready to exchange maximum output for singular quality. We still need masterworks and a dedication to craft that supersedes the dictates of the market.
Serial tech entrepreneur Brad Smith recently appeared on a on Good Life Project podcast. Seems like a nice guy, but there’s a reason he’s single! He’s a workaholic who admits he has sacrificed relationships and self care for work.
What makes him interesting is that after launching a web design firm and a social network and being consumed by the innovation juggernaut, he eventually came to head a lush print magazine called The Great Discontent.
This conversation inspired this post on craft vs. quick when interviewer Jonathan Fields commended Smith on his dedication, on working so tirelessly to make a magazine that was bloody beautiful and as close to perfect as possible.
When you have to "just ship" a story about craftsmanship
This is a "just ship it" kind of post.
I listened to this GLP interview several days ago and there’s no transcript. Ideally, I would listen to the entire one hour broadcast to catch exactly what was said about how satisfying it is to distinguish yourself as a craftsman in this “just ship it” world… but there are not enough hours in the day and the ROI just isn't there for me.
If you need it verbatim, you must be interested in listening to the whole thing. I’d recommend it - but not because Smith speaks to my soul.
As a mama whose relationships and caregiving responsibilities take up the majority of each day, it’s important to listen to an in-depth interview with one of these tech industry forces of nature. Guys like Smith pay a price for being an industry wunderkind - a price I am not willing to pay.
If you’re like me and often feel tempted to compare yourself to some crazy successful artist or businessperson, make sure you know what’s going on under the hood. (And whether they have any non-work responsibilities more taxing than feeding a goldfish.)
Your idols may have the luxury of full-time, immersive craftsmanship and you may not - at least not right now.
What do you need to ship and what do you need to craft?
Writing: A few misspellings or even missing words might be ok. Remember, however, the purpose of each sentence is to get the reader to read the next sentence. Write like a distracted second grader or confuse your audience with bad storytelling and you may lose them for good.
Images: A cheesy picture or misaligned text will probably only turn away the biggest design snobs. In your rush to post, however, make sure that you aren’t breaking any copyright rules. The lawsuit would be a lot more time consuming than tracking down a free-to-use image or investing in a subscription to a graphics library.
Video: Lighting, camera angles, editing so the viewer doesn’t see you press record… All optional if you’re not looking to romance film students. Just remember that sound quality does matter. If you’re competing with the wind or your iPhone headset mic makes an annoying clicking sound every time it hits the zipper on your hoodie (not that I have any experience with this…!), then you’re inviting your viewer to keep searching YouTube.
Ultimately, ask yourself whether each piece of content is intended to be evergreen - something that endures and builds your business and reputation over time - or if it’s just your day’s contribution to the hungry online content beast.
Entrepreneurs like you who balance “just ship it” and crafts(wo)manship
You don’t have the bandwidth to make everything a magnum opus (not that giving everything 120% is even desirable or effective). And yet, you don’t want to cut the wrong corners.
It’s about compromise. Here are two entrepreneurs who are making the right choices about how to expend their energies.
Balance your writing energy
Rebecca Wong, a psychotherapist in New Paltz, NY is developing a new theory called Connectfulness.
Rebecca has several projects in the works as she writes her way into this approach to family and relationships for parenting couples. She also has a thriving practice, two awesome little girls, and a marriage that she puts front and center.
Writing is important to her. Connecting to her online community is important to her. But so is living her life and being who her clients and family need her to be.
So, she has prioritized her in-process eight-part Reconnecting Parent Couples Series. Eventually, this will evolve into an ebook and may even serve as the outline for her “real” book that launches Connectfulness into becoming a household name.
Together, she and I may spend three hours editing each post - and that’s after she’s put together a solid first draft. (Yes, Rebecca is a Writing Coaching client.)
But then, there are the “everyday” posts she asks me to glance at. In 15 - 30 minutes we can get that post to “good enough to be proud of” so she can move on to what really matters.
Balancing your visual content production investment
Another business mama, Vanessa O’Keefe of Nessa Knows Best, a product review site for moms, makes the distinction between ship it and craft it when it comes to visual content.
What’s the difference between creating an image on your phone or hiring out a designer? Almost nothing when people are just looking at the image on their phones anyway. It’s just one more pretty picture that flashes by (and maybe gets a click) on Facebook. Sometimes you need to invest time and money into lush, original images, but not on “consumable” social media fodder.
Same with video production. When people are paying this mommy vlogger to produce a high quality product, she’ll use Final Cut Pro. But for many of her product reviews, she knows that the basic software that came with her Mac will do her just fine.
Define your own Sovereign Standard
Where do you fall, friend? Are you caught in “perfection = paralysis” or have you found yourself rushing to every finish line and essentially putting on a play with the set's paint still wet?
If you need help polishing your big project or need a second set of eyes to make your everyday writing pass muster, I’d love to be your writing coach.