I wrote this for some of the young creatives I worked with on content production skills. Unlike most of the things I write, this still sounds right to me some time later:
all you need for using social media in your work is basic intelligence and intuition for things that are interesting for various groups of people, different than yourself.
(As well as common decency and ability to take any idiotic order without a blink, but that is useful in every job.)
Otherwise in few years time, when the facebook party is over, you’re going to be the douche who wrote pages upon pages on using likes “to drive sales” and “create brand engagement”. There, I said it.
You can’t make a job out of putting together articles from press releases and other people’s writing on your subject. It’s a useful skill to have, as you will be asked to do it in any number of jobs. But it’s not a career.
Your career is to tell stories. Business might be changing, industry might be falling apart, but stories are intrinsic to human nature. When you’re down, listen to This American Life.
TAL host Ira Glass once said that the best creatives “invent their own paradigm and then inhabit it better than anyone else could”.
There is no golden solution for functioning in the shifting landscape. Any one who tries to sell you one, is bluffing.
There is creating content and there is curating content. If you’re ever stuck as to what the difference is (or just stuck), visit brainpickings.org.
Whatever you use – attribute. Don’t steal photographs, even if it’s really tempting. Photographers have it even shittier than we do.
Learn hard skills: editing, proof-reading, coding, data analysis. Check guardian.co.uk to see what the best version of mainstream is doing.
Run your own project. Make your own decisions, be your own boss. Deploy all your knowledge, focus all your effort, invest your own money.
Meanwhile for money, you can do whatever: work in a pub, put articles together from press releases, or bullshit people about “creating brand engagement”. Anything and any one stopping you from writing your next piece is an enemy.
You are the Banksy of journalism. And don’t you forget it.
Forgive if this sounds a lot like a crappy motivational manifesto, for a crew of a sinking ship. Every other day it feels like we are sinking.