I love ya Sean, but you are wrong.
At least a little.
I’m a big fan of Sean McCabe. I can’t think of another creator that outputs such prolific profundity. It’s uncanny. If you are unfamiliar with his podcasts, videos, and articles you are missing out on a lot. Period.
Imagine my surprise as I heard Sean call out my name in the middle of one of his daily videos and chastise me for the way I create a lot of my content — moment to moment.
“Travis, I know you are watching this. If you truly want to level up, you need to build up a buffer of pre-made content. No more waiting till the night before, that’s insanity!” 1
— Sean McCabe
This remark originates from a conversation that Sean and I had in Texas as his wife drove a few of us down the road, looking for some tacos.
The thing is, ya see, that conversation was over two months ago. And that’s the main reason I disagree about this buffer, and prefer to make content in the moment.
Let me explain.
Relevancy is the currency of connective content
I felt surprised and amused when I heard Sean speak to me in that video. — But how would I have felt if I had seen it the day or week after I returned home from my trip?
Validated, impressed, impacted, cared for.
Sean may have recorded that video the next morning after our conversation, I’m not sure. But his buffer stole the relevancy out of his comment. I was no longer tumbling the topic around in my mind. The connective tissue of time had been stretched too thin. As a result, his chastisement (albeit in good humor) stung a lot less, and was robbed of the likeliness of bringing about behavioral change. Hey, I’m up at 3AM writing this the morning I plan to send it to my subscribers. Yolo!
Interaction is the heart of engagement
Connective content goes the other way too. Creating a new video or two, a podcast, and a newsletter article every week in addition to my full-time job and the demands of parenting is difficult. I am uplifted and sustained by my audience. The replies to these emails, the tweeting of the embedded quote-images, the sharing of my creations; it’s all so supporting.
The immediate feedback I get from readers, viewers, and listeners is invigorating. If I were to engage with my audience over content that I was personally invested in six weeks ago, the fire and passion of my conviction would be chronologically offset. It would cause me to constantly uproot myself from the context of my current creative musings. Switching gears to reconsider and take feedback on topics that I labored over weeks ago doesn’t feel genuine to me.
The low-friction mediums of self-publishing and the immediacy of social media offers audiences a channel to engage with creators in a way that was never afforded to larger productions in the past. Independent content creators like myself are uniquely suited to leverage these tools to have a more intimate connection with my audience.
Solidarity is the result of real-time publishing
When I react to an email or a comment in a vlog or a newsletter a day or two after the comment was created I am able to join with that commenter in a moment of unity. A connection more intense than any editorial calendar could ever offer. People need to be spoken with, not spoken to.
This is why daily vloggers on YouTube are so powerful, they draw people in because they are immediate and relevant. What would it be like if Casey Neistat had a buffer? Casey often vlogs about the stress of putting something together for the next day. Once he lost all his audio. Another time entire clips of his created-in-the-moment episode was accidentally erased. Did he say to himself: “Whew! At least I have a buffer to fall back on!”? No! He vlogged about losing the footage. I connected with him over that tragedy. I’ve experienced it!
Casey would have never been inspired to be so candid and honest by the pressure of his on-demand schedule if it had fallbacks and failsafes built in. I would never have had shared that experience with him.
A shifted deadline is still a deadline
I’ve talked about deadlines before. I’ve written that “there is nothing that provides more motivation, inspiration, and pressure to complete than a deadline.”
If you tell me to deliver something on Wednesday, I’ll focus on the thing that is due on Tuesday. That’s just how I roll.
Sean suggests that I have a buffer of “six weeks of content, minimum!” The way I see it: even if you have a buffer of six weeks, you still have a weekly deadline! What is the real difference? You sacrifice immediacy and intimacy for a content cushion in case you break your foot or something.
But honestly, breaking your foot would make for some killer content! And people who care about you would want to know about it today, not in two months.
People exist in moments, not in batches
I’m not speaking in ignorance here. I’ve tried the whole content -in-batches approach to creation. It was really awkward. The whole experience for me was full of fits and starts. There is one series on my YouTube channel where from episode to episode I go from full-beard to clean shaven to mustache to full-beard again. It’s funny, but it becomes obvious really fast that the series did not take me literally the “12 hours” as I pitched it.
There was a disconnect there. People noticed it. They told me. I may have recorded that video three weeks ago. But on Monday morning, for a few thousand people, it may as well have been live. That’s the power of video. It’s so connective, people feel like it’s happening right now.
Here’s the thing: people live moment to moment. We connect and disconnect with people and ideas as spontaneously and as randomly as they enter and then leave our lives. Connection is all serendipitous. Existing in the moment with your audience is a more genuine approach to those connections.
I get it though, I do
There is a big difference between Sean and myself though. I am an individual publisher, Sean is a media company. He literally has employees. My professional career is a reoccurring story of joining small companies and helping them grow. I know that as your team gets bigger so does the complexity you have to deal with. Sean has people transcribing his podcasts, editing his videos, and handling his email. That all takes time. Sean runs circles around me in terms of output. He is a machine. He would truthfully take it as a compliment if you thought of him as a robot that never sleeps.
We are two people passionate about similar things piloting two different size ships. Sean is the captain of his crew. I am in a rowboat. He is taking more people with him, going faster, and making more waves. I am enjoying each time my paddle touches the surface of the water.