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BE A CONTENT MACHINE

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

I am continuously reusing content from libraries I created 20 years ago. I have few regrets. One regret is not capturing more content than I did and the second is not backing up the content I've lost to hard drives gone bad.


1. TRUST YOUR GUT


As a content producer, everything boils down to copy, images, video & audio clips, building blocks and templates. How you organize and catalog all your content is dependent on your organizational skills or a tool. (More on that later.)


If your gut says snap that pic, do it! If that melody won't get out of your head, capture it however you can. I give away or sell the majority of the fine art pieces I create. However, I always capture photographs of the finished piece and sometimes while its being created. One suggestion for when you get the urge to take out your phone and snap that pic: take both stills and video. You may not use the video immediately or at all. But why not have it. I've been so happy that I've had the forethought to capture video because the audio was perfect for a project.


2. HAVE AS BIG A SANDBOX AS YOU CAN AFFORD


When I built this current PC, I started with 10TB of storage and all the processing muscle to handle all the high-end tools I knew I would be using all the time. When working on traditional drive arrays, organize by what makes the most sense to you. If starting with a content management system is in your comfort zone, get it up and configured. If not, you will be using hard drives to store and organize your content in a way you feel most comfortable.


If you have ever spent hours looking for that one photo you think might be in 2019 and might be in an album labeled between March and September, then you know how maddening it can be to find it. It can absolutely be a creative mood killer. You have to find a method, create a process, leverage a tool or live with whatever contemporary search method you use.


For those who are using their hard drive folders in their default fashion, I suggest you adopt the philosophy, "never too many copies". I will be going through images and an idea will pop into my head and I will create a new folder for that idea. Then I will create a copy of the image in that new folder. Anything that might also work within the framework of the idea is also copied there. Let's say they are pics that you think will work for a video project you have. Title the folder accordingly so it will jog your memory of the idea. With your new copy, you can edit it however fitting and never compromise your original. Moral of this story is never be afraid of having a gazillion copies.


If possible, using a content management system that gives you more comprehensive taxonomy and parent/child capabilities. The first couple I tried were Joomla and Drupal.


3. EXERCISE DAILY


Treat your creativity like its a muscle that you need to work out daily. Yes, we are all busy. Life, especially now, can exacerbate an already starving creative self. Being a content machine, means that you are constantly creating new content because it has become a sustainable habit. You could because you can, but you will because of successful habits. Here are a few of the things I do to produce content on a continuum:


  • Windshield Time - there are a couple of different ways to leverage commute time or any other driving time.

    • Brainstorming - Before you depart, give yourself an assignment and do it between landmarks. Turn off the radio. Set your phone camera to either capture the road or yourself and start the video record button. You can do this between maybe a series of stop lights (so it is time boxed into nuggets). Let's say I want to brainstorm a theme for a new painting. After I start recording, I may sculpt it down by describing whether I want something warm or cool, dark or bright, etc.. I then might start throwing out themes, subjects and concepts and see what sticks. Turn off the recording and get on with your driving or day. At worst, you are further down the idea trail then you were. At best, you can end up with a recipe to follow, or some audio or video to use for some later purpose. If the piece is exceptional and amazing, you'll be stoked that you have that nugget of content.

    • Edit notes - Even if I am in love with a mix, I will take it and listen to it in the car. I may listen to a song 10 times back to back and be jotting down notes or asking Siri to create a note for me. This also works for draft voice over takes or stuff I am writing. I will record myself reading the copy and then listen to it while driving. I will make edit notes when I come to a stop.

  • Work in timed spurts - Many times, I may only have 1.5 hours to create and knock out some content. One tactic I do is to set a timer for 30 minutes. I will do some Photoshop work for a couple of different projects during that time. If at the end of the 30 minutes, I'm struggling, I will move on to something completely different... like work on some animation frames. However, if instead, I am kicking butt, I will keep going for another 30. I try and have at least 3 ideas that I can do for each of the 30 minutes. Therefore, if one isn't working at all, you have two more things to leverage that time with.

  • School from your workspace - No matter how long you've been using your tools, there is always a lesser known feature or a technique or an add on, but definitely something new to learn. Break from your work routine and watch a YouTube instructional video or feature review. Watch an online tutorial. Take notes. Practice while its fresh. Brainstorm some project ideas that could incorporate this new adoption. Let that inspire you.


Watch your self-made content multiple exponentially. Good luck! ~ WS



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