This principle has been essential to my success.
How do I make great content?
By making more content, and observing what spreads.
How do I improve my skills?
By working with more clients, and noticing who grows the most.
True learning comes from action — we build muscles by doing things, not just reading about them.
It takes quantity of action to develop quality of results.
Yet, if you feel you’re not taking enough action, self-compassion is needed.
Remind yourself that action can be primarily about playful experimentation. Action is much easier when you don’t give yourself the pressure to perform, but rather, the permission to play with a skill or a project.
How to balance quantity and quality?
As an example, I think about content in stages.
Stage 1 is any content that is first posted or published.
Did I spend 5 months or 5 years on it before publishing? Or did I spend 50 minutes on it? Whichever it may be, if it’s the first time it’s touching the world, being put into the marketplace, I still consider it “Stage 1”.
Therefore, it’s more efficient to spend less time working on any piece of Stage 1 content.
Stage 2 is looking at my previous Stage 1 pieces, selecting what the audience liked the most, and spending more time editing those pieces. Then, I re-publish and re-distribute them.
In other words, I spend time improving the pieces that already demonstrated potential, based on my audience’s reactions. I let the audience tell me what “Quality” means… not my own self-judgments.
As an example, this very blog post was first written in 2017. Now I’m taking the effort to improve it and to re-share this new version.
Stage 3 is to integrate and monetize the Stage 2 pieces that fit within a particular topic.
For example, I do this with my books, each of which is an organized collection of my blog posts.
Think of it like a Buffet:
(Remember buffets, those restaurants that existed in the before-times? I used to love those…)
The owner of a buffet restaurant notices which of the items gets more interest, and which items are ignored. Over time, she’ll increase the types of items people love the most, and remove the ones that people don’t care for. Why cook stuff no one wants to eat?
By following this strategy, the restaurant becomes more well-loved over time.
You can do the same with your own content and products: try lots of things, and then notice what people find most helpful, and then offer more things like that.
“How does my audience have time to consume all the content that I’m putting out there?”
Back to the buffet analogy — the owner of the restaurant doesn’t expect any one visitor to eat every item!
Similarly, I’m not expecting you to consume all of my content. That’d be putting too much pressure on you!
It’s my job to simply put content out there, and it’s my audience’s job to pick and choose what they like to consume.
Similarly, your audience will tend to only consume the pieces that are popular (that have the most “likes” or comments.) When they have time, they might try a few other pieces of content from you. But it’s all optional.
Therefore, offer more options…
By putting out more content, we give our audience more chances to tell us what they like and don’t like . If they don’t resonate with something, they’ll simply stay silent.
This way, we are giving ourselves more opportunities to learn about our audience and what they really want.
By publishing more often, you learn more quickly about your audience’s preferences and needs.
If you only created one piece of content a month, you only have 12 opportunities per year for this kind of learning.
However, if you publish 1 piece per week, then you give yourself 52 opportunities a year to learn and grow.
You remove the emotional charge…
By publishing more often, you won’t be heartbroken if some of your content doesn’t do well… just like the buffet owner doesn’t get sad that some people don’t like a certain dish.
If you only share one thing every now and then, having it rejected is relatively more painful than if you share more things more frequently.
More experiments in art…
By focusing on quantity, you give yourself more experiments in self-expression.
You expand your horizons quickly.
With every piece of content you create, you are developing a more empowered self-identity. You start seeing yourself as a creator, not just a consumer.
Actually, you’re already applying this principle…
No matter the speed of which you put content out there, you are already learning through Quantity…
Do you only contact 1 potential client or referral partner a month? Then you only give yourself 1 opportunity per month to learn.
Do you instead make 3 contacts a week? You will learn more quickly what it means to contact people in an effective way.
We learn more through action than consumption.
Real learning happens when you do things. You are always applying “quality via quantity”… the only question is: how much are you producing, and therefore, how quickly are you really learning?
By shortening the cycle and producing more, you learn and grow faster.
“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” — Emerson
Also, there’s no such thing as “Quality”…
How do you define what Quality is?
How much do you need to “like” it before it’s called Quality?
How much do you need to feel OK with something before you put it out there?
By using this mushy metric of “quality”, you are only empowering your own self-judgment. You’ll end up having a hard time putting things out there.
Decide today to stop judging your own content.
Switch your mindset to Quantity. That is what can be measured, and therefore, planned for:
- You can measure how much you write.
- You can measure how many courses you create.
- You can measure how many people you contact.
Therefore, you can easily plan for quantity… yet the process helps you develop Quality.
“I’ve got to do it right the first time.”
“I’ve got to make a good first impression.”
The first video I create… the first website I put out there… the first online course I release… the first book I publish… has to be Quality.
You’re putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s a vicious cycle of hesitation, self-judgment, not-enoughness, and procrastination.
Remember that it is impossible to define Quality. It’s an illusion.
Focus on Quantity — e.g. how many pieces of content you create, how many people you contact — and over time, Quality take cares of itself. It is miraculous.
So don’t try to “do it right.”
Do it quickly so you can work on the next version.
You can apply the Quality via Quantity principle to any part of your business:
— Content creation (articles, videos, images, webinars, courses, books.)
— Seeking potential referral partners (you get better the more you outreach.)
— Client sessions (you’ll improve as you do more of them.)
— Your products and programs (they get better as you launch more.)
“The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”
“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.” ~Brian Tracy
“Done is better than good.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert
(This article was originally written in 2017, updated in 2020.)