Category Archives: Creativity

1000 True Fans Is Enough to Make a Living as a Creative

What Does It Take to Create 1000 True Fans?

When I reported the analysis of my Medium stats, some of my readers suggested to analyze the number of claps as well. I didn’t follow that advice back then. Unlike views, reads, and fans, claps cannot be downloaded.

I received a comment a few days ago, that made me reconsider analyzing claps. My reader wrote that one of her posts received a low fans to reads ratio, but a high claps to fans ratio.

A Small, Engaged Audience vs. Wider Popularity

She asked me whether she should cultivate a small audience that liked her style or go for a wider popularity. My gut reaction to that question was to stick to that small audience.

Before explaining my point, let me mention that I’m writing from my intuition. I didn’t make a comprehensive statistical analysis on this.

The Goal of Copywriters, Bloggers, and Marketers

Copywriters, bloggers, and marketers try to get their readers to take certain actions. In my case this is to follow me on Medium and to sign up to my email newsletter.

Here’s a sample funnel of a Medium writer:

  • View the post
  • Read the post
  • Clap for the post as much as possible
  • Respond to the post
  • Follow the writer’s Medium account
  • Sign up to their email newsletter
  • Purchase their products and services

The number of people on each level is lower than the number of people on a higher level. That’s why we call this sequence a funnel.

The More People at the Top, the More People at the Bottom?

We might expect that the more people there are at the top of the funnel, the more people would be at the bottom of the funnel. This might not be the case.

A blogger could be wildly popular on the level of post views, but they might have a difficult time getting their books sold.

Another blogger might have modest post views, but they could be successful at converting those views to premium program purchases.

Who would you rather be? The popular blogger with modest book sales? Or a modest blogger with high premium program sales? Honestly, I’d like to be the second blogger.

How to Have Higher Conversion Rates

In order to be the second blogger, we might need to sacrifice popularity. Instead of trying to appeal to a broad public, we need to be ourselves and double down on what makes us unique. If that is an odd sense of humor, we need to cultivate it.

The idea is to polarize the public. That way, a portion of the public wouldn’t want to consume our content at all, but the rest would love it.

This discussion reminds of “1000 true fans” who are ready to purchase whatever product a creative puts out. I don’t think that we can create 1000 true fans by trying to please everybody.

What Do the Numbers Say?

In order to back my ideas with stats, I made an analysis of my last 111 Medium posts. I calculated the clap to view ratio of these posts. Then, I calculated the correlation between the views and the clap to view ratio. This correlation was -40%.

This doesn’t mean that we have an inverse correlation, but it doesn’t show a positive correlation either. What my reader suggests might be true.

The most engaging posts aren’t necessarily the most popular ones.

I can see this relationship clearly in my most engaging and least engaging ten posts. By most engaging, I mean the posts with the highest claps per views ratios. The least engaging posts are the ones that have the least number of claps per view.

Table. 1. My most engaging posts

My most engaging posts aren’t the wildly popular ones. On the other hand, most of my least engaging posts have above average views.

Table. 2. My least engaging posts

When I look at my least engaging posts, I see that some of them are among “my most hated posts.” I already wrote a post about why those posts had low fans to views ratio.

What Makes a Post Engaging?

I’m intrigued by the most engaging posts. Even though I analyzed all kinds of stats, these posts didn’t show up in my radar.

I suspect that a high read ratio contributes to engaging posts. I’m going to analyze what made these posts so engaging and report that in a future post.

If you don’t want to miss my post on writing engaging posts, sign up to my email newsletter. Once a week, I send an email that contains my latest posts on writing, blogging, marketing, entrepreneurship, productivity, and personal development.


I thank Michael K. Spencer for recommending me to look at the average claps per article and Catherine Turner for her question that inspired me to write this post.


As copywriters, bloggers, and marketers, our aim isn’t necessarily to be wildly popular. Our aim is to get our readers to take action at the bottom of our funnels. This can be following us on social media, subscribing to our email newsletter, and purchasing our products.

If you want to create 1000 true fans, you might want to let go of trying to please everybody. You might want to be unique in your own way.

As a result, you might be less popular with the general public, but you might end up with 1000 true fans who are in love with your work and willing to support you in every way possible.

Creativity for Problem Solvers

Self-awareness is the key to success. Peter Drucker has introduced several dimensions of self-awareness in his book, Managing Oneself. Here are a few examples from his book.

  • How do you learn?
  • How do you communicate with others?
  • What are your values?
  • Are you a decision maker or an advisor?

The idea in Managing Oneself is to know your strengths in each dimension and work from your strengths.

You Can Improve Your Weaknesses

I believe it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think you have to stick to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses. You can work on your weaknesses to improve them.

For example, I have already written two posts about improving your decision making skills. The first post is about four simple steps to use when making decisions. The second post is about improving your decision making skills.

Creativity vs. Problem Solving

This post will be about another dimension of self-awareness, creativity vs. problem solving. This dimension wasn’t mentioned in Managing Oneself. It’s a distinction that I observed among people.

Throughout the years, I have observed that people can be divided into two, creatives and problem solvers. Creatives are the artists, painters, musicians, poets, writers, and so on. Problem solvers are typically engineers, medical doctors, and so on.

As a software developer, I’m more of a problem solver than a creative. This post is written more for problem solvers. Who knows, maybe it would benefit some creatives as well.

Problem solvers need creativity as well.

Obviously, the society needs both, creatives as well as problem solvers. However, some creatives are compensated royally for their efforts. Moreover, a little bit of creativity would help a lot when solving problems as well. Therefore, I want to introduce a method for the problem solvers to improve their creativity.

Problem solvers could trigger their creativity by triggering their curiosity. They can trigger their curiosity by asking a set of questions to themselves and trying to come up with answers to these questions.

Define Creative Challenges as Problems to be Solved

In a way, by asking questions, problem solvers are defining their creative challenges as a problem to be solved. Then, they use their problem solving skills to answer those questions. That way, they use their strength to overcome their creative challenges.

I have already written two posts about the value of asking good questions. In the first post, I argue that asking good questions is the first step to success. In the second post, I argue that asking good questions is the only way to solve problems. Now, we are using the same method to trigger our creativity.

Ask Yourself a Set of Relevant Questions

When you need a creative solution at any moment, ask yourself a set of relevant questions instead of waiting for inspiration.

Suppose that you want to write a blog post about your business, but you don’t know what to write about. Instead of waiting for inspiration, write down a few questions and try to come up with several answers to each question.

Here are a few examples:

  • What can I write about my business?
  • How does my business benefit its customers?
  • Which message do I want to convey to my prospects?
  • What makes my business different than its competitors?
  • What is the unique selling point of my business?
  • Why should a customer choose my business instead of others?
  • How can I provide value to my readers in a blog post?
  • How can I write a post that would go viral on social media?

These are just some sample questions off the top of my head. Now, here’s a critical tip.

Don’t try to come up with the perfect question or with the perfect answer. Just try to come up with as many questions and answers as you can.

The problem solvers are usually perfectionists. They see things in black and white. A solution is either correct or not. That attitude might be correct when solving an engineering problem, but you have to drop that attitude when exercising your creativity.

Release Your Breaks

Nothing’s right or wrong when exercising your creativity. You have to exercise your creativity muscles as much as you can without censoring yourself or judging your ideas. Don’t think hard. Just start writing and let the ideas flow off the top of your head.

Just write down whatever pops up in your mind, no matter how silly it might sound. Just come up with twelve random questions and twelve random answers to each question. If you don’t judge your questions and answers, you can easily do that and end up with 144 ideas to write a blog post about.

Pick Up the Best Ideas

Now, pick three or more of those 144 ideas and compose a blog post around them. Is it possible? Yes, it is possible. Just connect the ideas that you have selected with each other in a creative way.

Remember, creativity isn’t about creating something out of nothing. Creativity is about finding new relationships between already existing ideas.


We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Working from our strengths is a good idea, but we don’t have to ignore our weaknesses. We can use specific strategies to improve our weaknesses.

If you’re a problem solver and creativity is one of your weaker points, you can use your problem solving skills to trigger your creativity. Just define your creativity challenge as a problem and use your problem solving skills to solve that problem.

Come up with 12 or more questions about the challenge at hand and come up with 12 or more answers for each question. Neither the questions, nor the answers have to be perfect.

Once you complete this exercise, you’ll end up with 144 creative ideas. Now, use one or many of those ideas to solve your creativity challenge.

8 Ways to Create Content on a Consistent Basis

In order to build an audience as a content creator, you need to publish content on a consistent basis. My goal with this blog is to publish original, interesting, valuable content on a daily basis. That can be a challenge for sure. So, in today’s post, I want to discuss how to create such content on a consistent basis.

When we think about creating content, we think about creative writing. When we think about creativity, we think about creating something out of nothing. However, that’s not what creativity is all about. Creativity is also about finding new relationships between already existing concepts.

Sometimes, I come with some creative ideas to write about, such as self-programming robots or a secret meeting of Illuminati. I’m pleased with the creativity in those posts. However, if I tried to come up with that level of creativity in each post, I would have only 14 posts in my blog instead of 140.

#1. Document

We can’t rely on creative ideas all the time, if we want to create content on a consistent basis. We need backup plans when our creativity muscles get exhausted. The first backup plan is to document. This is a tip I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary Vaynerchuk recommends to “Document, Not Create.” His rationale is that we should think ourselves as media companies and build a following first before creating. I agree with him. I have created some products in the past, which were used by only few people, because I didn’t have a following.

When you have a product, you can either promote with paid advertisement or with your own content. So, it’s better to create the content and build an audience first. In order to do that, Gary Vaynerchuk suggests that we document the process.

Documenting our process isn’t any less valuable than creating the product. The lessons we have learned in our process provide insights to the people that are earlier in their process.

For example, The Only Tip You Need to Grow Your Audience as a Blogger is a post where I documented what worked and what didn’t work in my blogging journey so far.

#2. Discuss

When we first start to create content, we think that we are allowed to produce content only on topics that we are an expert about. That’s a missed opportunity on multiple fronts.

First, we miss the opportunity to think about the different sides of a topic and reach greater mental clarity about it.

Second, we miss a chance to create original content, because discussing the different sides of a topic makes interesting content.

Third, we miss the chance to receive valuable feedback from our readers. It’s fine that we aren’t the absolute authority on a subject. We can just discuss the different sides of it in a post and then we can reach a conclusion or not.

If we can’t reach a conclusion, we can simply ask our readers for their opinions. Sure, it’s valuable to be the authority on a subject and to write about it, but it’s also valuable to ask a good question and to start a discussion on a subject.

The post, Supervisors, in Service of Their Subordinates or the Other Way Around, was about a topic, which I couldn’t make my mind about. I wrote a post discussing the details of each approach and reached a conclusion that is different than both of the options.

#3. Ask a Question

Curiosity is one of the strongest motivators. Sometimes, all you have to do to spark your creativity is to ask a good question.

Formulating your challenge as a question is also a good first step to solving it. For example, if your challenge is to create original content on a consistent basis, you can formulate that challenge as the following question: “How can I create original content on a consistent basis?”

Ask a question, stay with the question and a text editor or a pen and paper, and the answers will follow. For more details and examples about this process, read my post called Use Your Curiosity as Motivation and Ask the Right Questions to Succeed.

#4. Consume Quality Content

We are living in good times with respect to the quantity and quality of the content that we have. We have access to free or cheap content. Why not make use of it?

Sometimes, one idea you learn from a book or a blog post can make a huge difference in your life and business. One example of such an idea for me was to use growth metrics to optimize the stats of my blog and email newsletter and I have written a blog post about it.

The idea for one of my more popular posts, called A Buddhist Monk’s Take on Business, came from a book called Karmic Management by Geshe Michael Roach.

As long as you provide proper references to the original content, it’s OK to use the ideas of other people and to build upon them. That’s how ideas are spread and new knowledge is built upon the existing one.

#5. Summarize Your Own Content

When consuming quality content, don’t discard your own content. Sometimes, it’s interesting and inspiring to dive deep into your own blog and read what you have written in the past. Then, you can build on your own content.

One way of building on your own content is to write summary posts. I have written several posts on investing. At a certain moment, I wanted to summarize all of those ideas in a single post. That’s how I came up with the post, 7 Irrational Investment Beliefs and Their Alternatives.

Summarizing your own content is good for the people who don’t have time to read all of the related posts. It’s also good for the people who have already read all of those posts, because the summary serves as a reminder.

It’s good for the people who have just discovered your blog as well, because they have an overview of your work and they can go into detail and click on the posts they are interested in.

#6. Capture and Organize Your Ideas

I believe every person comes up with at least ten ideas on a given day. All you have to do is to capture them. My preferred method is to write them down in Evernote.

In the weekend, I go over the ideas that I captured throughout the week and organize them. I must admit that this is the challenging part, but it’s worth it.

Suppose that you have seven ideas about a topic scattered into different notes. If you organize those ideas in a single note, you have the basis for a blog post.

Capturing and organizing your ideas are the first two steps of the Four Steps to Becoming a Published Author.

#7. Dive Deep into Your Life Experience

We all have valuable life experience, but we take it granted most of the time. If you dive deep into your past, you’ll come across valuable life experience that you can write about. That’s how I came up with the post, Four Secrets of Leadership, and it was received well on Medium.

Don’t have enough life experience? Go have one! Do something challenging and write about it.

#8. Make Observations

We all have valuable content right in front of our eyes. All we have to do is to discover it, interpret it, and write it down.

After publishing 100+ posts on Medium, I had a considerable amount of stats collected in my account. There was a lot of value to be discovered in those stats.

What worked? What didn’t worked? What should I do more of, less of? Those were all the questions that had to be answered. As a result, I’ve written the post, 8 Blogging Lessons I Learned from My Medium Stats.

Your observations don’t need to be based on hard facts such as stats. You can also observe more subtle things and interpret them from a different angle.

Here’s an example. Even though Medium is basically a computer program, it’s great at motivating people to participate on it. From a different perspective, there are a lot of lessons in leadership to be learned from Medium.

Bonus: Take Good Care of Yourself

This is a bonus tip, but it helps a lot to take good care of yourself to create content on a consistent basis. Take care of the basics such as sufficient rest and sleep, exercising, having a healthy diet, and minimizing stress.

When I take good care of myself, creating content is like a breeze. When I have a bad sleep, don’t exercise, or when I’m in stress, creating content becomes a chore.


Creating content on a consistent basis might be easier than you think it is. When your creative juices are flowing, that’s great. Make use of them. If they don’t, you can use any of the methods discussed in this post to create content.

In either case, take good care of yourself and creating content will be a breeze.

Your Turn

What’s your favorite method to create content? What are your backup plans when you fail to come up with creative ideas?

How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs around Creativity

Take a moment and answer the following question before reading the rest of the post:

What is creativity?

The intuitive answer to that question is the following: creativity is the ability to create something out of nothing. That’s so obvious we don’t even question it.

But is that so? What if that definition wasn’t accurate? What if that definition was a limiting belief?

What if your definition of creativity was limiting your creativity?

What is a more accurate and helpful definition of creativity?

Creativity is the ability to discover new relationships between already existing concepts.

Discovering new relationships between already existing concepts is much easier than creating something out of nothing.

You can practice it. You can improve it. You can learn it. It’s not a God-given talent that is bestowed upon a few. Everybody can develop it with some effort.

Creativity in Business

Creativity is not only useful in arts, but also in business. I want to share a story that demonstrates the definition above brilliantly.

Seth Godin explained in an interview how he developed a series of books for 12 years old boys.

He realized that unlike 12 years old girls, 12 years old boys didn’t have the habit of reading books. They were more into playing video games.

So, he licensed the book publishing rights to Nintendo games. He knew that there were professionals who could turn movies into exciting novels in two months.

He hired a 12 years old boy to play these games to the end and he recorded the process. He hired a professional to turn that record into a screen play. Then, he hired another professional to turn that screen play into a novel. And he published that novel as a book.

Old Ingredients, New Product

If you look at this process carefully, Seth Godin didn’t create something from nothing. He just combined already existing concepts.

Video games existed. Novels based on movies existed. 12 years old boys who play video games, but didn’t read books existed. He just combined all of them and created a business out of them.

Optimism, Test Your Ideas First before Discarding Them

My first reaction when I heard the story was that publishing books for a demographic that doesn’t read books was not a good idea. But at the same time, it was an untapped market.

Seth Godin was able to see the potential in that market and tapped into that potential. So, we have to acknowledge him for his optimism as well.


Creativity isn’t creating something out of nothing. That definition is limiting your creativity. Creativity is combining already existing concepts in a way that didn’t exist before. That ability is something you can develop. All it takes is some effort.

Creativity is not only useful in arts, but also in business. When you see an untapped market, ask yourself how you can combine already existing concepts to provide a product or service to that market.

Don’t forget to be optimistic about your idea and test it on a small scale in the market before discarding it.

If you’re looking for an exercise to practice your creativity, here’s one.