A few nights ago, I got home from work around 7pm. I was due to meetup with some fans (via my standing offer of coffee) which lasted until 9pm. I got back home and spent a few hours preparing for a physiology supervision I was doing that week. As it approached 11:30pm, I thought to myself ‘okay I could film a video unboxing my new AirPods Pro, or I could just forget about it because the world doesn’t need another AirPods video’. After a bit of hesitation, I decided to take the extra 15 minutes to film that video and send it across to my editor.
Cristian did a great job editing it the following morning and we uploaded it to the channel that day. Much to my surprise, the video shot up to #1 in my YouTube analytics (ie: had the highest view count relative to time online compared to my preview 10 videos). It was a video that took me 15 minutes to film, was completely unscripted, and in which I was being a bit silly thinking to myself “this is terrible content surely no one cares”.
Reflecting on this, there are a few lessons that come to mind.
1. We’re terrible judges of the quality of our own work. Our internal critic is always the strongest, and often the stuff we think is bad might resonate with others in ways we didn’t expect. My brother and I regularly have this feeling about some of our podcast episodes - we put them out, thinking 'this one was a bit pointless, we didn’t really break much ground’ and the next day we get emails from listeners about how that episode changed their life.
2. It’s often worth putting a bit more effort into things. I remember 18 months ago when I was filming my iPad note-taking video, the autofocus on the camera malfunctioned and would go in/out of focus every few seconds. I’d started editing the video, but decided to take 30 minutes to refilm the whole thing just to get rid of the focus issue. That video’s now on 4 million views and been the single biggest source of growth for my YouTube channel. I’m pretty sure things would’ve gone less well if the focus in the video made it annoying to watch.
There’s a balance here though - on the one hand we’ve got the idea that 'perfection is the enemy of good’. We can become paralysed by wanting stuff to be perfect before we put it out there and end up never releasing anything. On the other hand, we know that sometimes, going that extra mile, putting that extra effort will pay dividends in ways we don’t expect.
Haven’t really figured it out, but I guess being aware of the balance is the first step. I’d love to hear what you think :)