How to Build a System for Creating That Takes Care of Itself


Table of contents

Hey folks 👋

Just a note about the future of this email. George, our much beloved Creatorpreneur writer, has gone freelance recently (you can check out his website here) to write for other creators and so I (Tintin (yes, that is my real name)) have taken on the epic task of putting together this email every week.

Please always feel encouraged to reply with any thoughts, questions, content requests or just to correct any grammatical errors. 😰

Before we get into it, Creatorpreneur has a new course coming out soon about Camera Confidence, for those of us that find talking to a camera cripplingly stressful. Sign up to our waiting list here and be first to get updates on the launch of the course, plus some free resources.

So this week, we’re taking on one of the worst parts of being a creator, which is the idea of the heavy lift. The heavy lift is the feeling we get when we are creating from scratch every time, as we try to keep up with our upload schedule. We write, record and edit a video from a blank page every time, we write our newsletter from nothing or we tweet nonsense just to get something out. And the cherry on top, we do these things alone.

Creating like this slowly chips away at our energy and our love for our passion. But it does not have to be this way. The answer to this problem is to systemise our creative process as much as possible, so that everything requires a fraction of the time and effort.

Coming Up...

  1. The importance of systemising
  2. Mapping our system
  3. Optimising our system

⚙️ The Importance of Systemising

Systems are wonderful. They are everywhere and they constantly save us time and energy. You might have a system for unloading the dishwasher, organising your wardrobe or managing emails. They allow us to think less about how to do the thing and more about what we want to do. When we have a good system, we free up important brain power to focus on doing the thing well, not worrying about how and when we are going to do the thing.

There is a useful quote from James Clear’s well-known book Atomic Habits about systems:

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

That’s kind of it. It doesn’t matter how much we want to grow our audience or stick to our upload schedule, if we don’t have a good system to help us, we will consistently struggle to do those things. Or worse, burn out.

The ultimate goal here is to create a system for our creative side hustle that basically looks after itself. All we have to perform the required tasks to keep the system operating like “write for 30 minutes before work on Tuesdays” and “film for 1 hour each Saturday.” With a well designed system in place, we can move towards our goals with less stress and more intention.

So how do we start building a system that works for us? Well, the first thing we want to do is map our workflow.

🖼️ Mapping Your System

To make this more tangible, let’s take the example of creating a weekly podcast with your friend. To map our workflow, we want to breakdown the whole process from start to finish for creating an episode each week. For this example, there would be five main stages:

  1. Ideation - deciding what to talk about each week.
  2. Logistics - organising a time and place to meet.
  3. Recording - setting up equipment and doing the podcast.
  4. Editing - finalising the footage.
  5. Publishing - uploading to the relevant platform.

Now we’ve outlined the high-level process, we want to start breaking down each section with what it is we actually do in that part of the process. Let’s use Recording as an example.

  1. Charge batteries and have SD card with storage space
  2. Set up cameras for each person
  3. Set up lighting
  4. Check angles and framing
  5. Set up microphones
  6. Check audio
  7. Press record
  8. Film
  9. Transfer files from camera to laptop

These might seem obvious, but believe me, I’ve recorded a podcast many times and it’s amazing how often you turn up to record and one of you has forgotten your microphone, the batteries aren’t charged and the SD card is full.

Because these things are so simple, we rarely stop to reflect on the process and think about how we can improve it. So once we have mapped our workflow, we can start to think about how we make it less of a heavy lift each time.

📈Optimising Your System

The only thing we need to think about here, is this simple ERAD framework.

Eliminate ❌

Can we just stop doing some things that we think we need to do but really we don’t. E.g. do we really need two cameras or can we just use one? Do we actually need a light or is normal lighting fine?

Remove friction 🏎️

This is about having to spend less time and effort on certain parts of the process. E.g. can we do this podcast online? After every episode can we make a checklist of things to do to make next time easier like put the batteries on charge and clear the SD card (the pain is real).

Automate 🤖

There are so many softwares now that can help with practically every part of creating, so ask yourself are you spending time doing things that can be done automatically. E.g. can we use a software like Descript to speed up the editing process?

Delegate 💁

And of course, are there things we are doing that we can pay someone else to do. E.g. editing the podcast.

If we apply this framework to every part of our process and think about how we can streamline it as much as possible, it’s highly likely there are some big improvements we can make. At Creatorpreneur we track all our systems and processes in Notion so that as many of our workflows are as swift as possible, but of course, there is always room for improvement.

The takeaway here, is that when have a good system in place, you don’t have to think as much about how to do the thing, you just have to execute. Even better if you have someone to help you with the longer tasks like editing.

Yes, these things can take up front time and money, but if we are serious about creating a sustainable and scalable business around our creative side hustle, then it’s worth putting in the work. Creating does not have to be a heavy lift each time.

🤔 What’s next?

I’m looking at you now, fellow creator. Here are some next steps:

  1. Bullet point the main activities of your current creative workflow.
  2. Break down each activity into specific tasks.
  3. Review them against the ERAD framework.
  4. Streamline the activities you've identified.
  5. Bask in the relief of having more time, less stress and a system that takes care of itself.

That’s it for now.

Have a great rest of your week,

Tintin at Creatorpreneur

🐦 Creatorpreneur Twitter

We turn all our newsletters into tweet threads, so if you found this useful it’d be fab if you could show the thread some love ❤️ It really helps us reach new people :)

We tweet every day about Creatorpreneurs and the creator economy, and we’d love to keep the conversation going over there with fine folks such as yourself.

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