Core Concepts

Shiny Platform Syndrome

In: Core Concepts

Every few weeks, I'll get the bright idea that I should really be putting some energy into YouTube.

I mean, come on – it's a search engine. That's organic traffic to the things that I create! And the successes I've seen from creators on Creative Elements like Ali Abdaal, Roberto Blake, Amy Landino, Charli Marie Prangley...

I could do that, right? YOUTUBE is where the opportunity is!

...and then I come to my senses and put it the idea right back onto the shelf where it belongs.

These are moments of Shiny Platform Syndrome. I fall prey to them all the time. Luckily, Mallory helps me notice these moments too!

I understand why we fall prey to Shiny Platform Syndrome...it's exciting to start something new. When something is new it has LIMITLESS potential...and because we don't have any data yet, our imaginations run wild with what could possibly happen for us.

THIS platform could be where I find my luck!

And to further complicate things, we tend to get a (false) positive response when we launch new things. When we make a big deal about, "Hey come over here! I'm doing something new!" the people who care about us get excited too!

So the beginning on a new platform or medium truly DOES feel like something is different, because people tune in to see what we're up to.

But, slowly over time, the people who aren't truly invested in following along on that platform fall away, and your engagement normalizes back to the slow growth, plateau, or even decay that you were seeing on OTHER platforms.

And even worse: now you have to maintain all of them!

That's the real cost of Shiny Platform Syndrome.

I care more about Creative Companion and Creative Elements than anything else. THIS is where I put my best energy, and THIS is where I want people to find their way to.

But growth can be slow. It can be frustrating. And when I see someone else go viral on TikTok overnight, I think, "Maybe TikTok is the move! I can Tik...I can Tok..."

If I followed that impulse, I immediately make the work we truly care about (Creative Companion and Creative Elements) worse – because I've taken time and attention away from those projects.

By taking away time and attention, my work gets worse, it's less remarkable, it's less likely to be so good that people share it, and I'm digging myself into a deeper hole chasing TikTok glory that I'll never achieve.

It's not that I can't achieve TikTok glory...and it's not that YOU can't achieve TikTok glory! It's that we shouldn't expect to be GOOD at something without doing it a whole bunch of times.

And we can't expect RESULTS until we are good at something.

So when we follow our Shiny Object Syndrome, we're just signing up to become 1.) bad at something new and 2.) more mediocre at the things we've been practicing over time!

Shiny Platform Syndrome is a trap. It can make you excited to start and you may even see some initial (inflated) results...but now you have a huge, new commitment. You have new maintenance costs.

And, let's be honest, will you truly maintain that new platform?

"If I was really ready to take on YouTube, wouldn't I already be doing more video on my Instagram?"

Please. If you want to be known for your work – if you want to create something that people truly love – focus on that thing. Minimize your time and attention into other things for the purpose of getting great at the one thing.

Dividing your focus has a cost...and it's usually the very goal you're working towards.

Written by
Jay Clouse
I'm the lead Creator Scientist writing this newsletter. I also host Creative Elements, a narrative-interview podcast talking with today's top creators with more than one million downloads.

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