The First Barrier Is the Biggest (KS Lesson #274)

18 June 2020 | 10 Comments

Over the last week after posting the Stonemaier Games declaration of action in support of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reaching out to, corresponding with, and finding ways to support BIPOC content creators who filled out the form at that link.

A few of those conversations reminded me of some advice I’ve given to various content creators in the past. I can’t recall writing specifically about this topic on my blog before, so I thought I’d share it today.

It can be daunting to post your first podcast, blog entry, or YouTube video, just as it’s scary to get your prototype to the table for the first time. I’ve heard from a decent number of content creators who are waiting for the right moment or until they have a certain number of episodes recorded or until they’re fully geared up or you’re worried if you can sustain it. Perhaps you can relate to this–you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.

In the meantime, though, they aren’t posting anything. They haven’t even started yet.

What I’ve learned through personal experience and by watching other creators go through this process is that the first post is the biggest barrier. In fact, if you don’t make that first post, there is a significant chance you’ll never post it. Conversely, after you post for the first time, it is significantly easier to post a second time, a third, and so on.

One of the creators I spoke with recently talked about the impact of the coronavirus and how he can’t get together with his friends to post the first video. I talked to him about the “first post barrier,” and I suggested that they simply sync up for a Zoom call and record it as their first episode (we sponsored a few months of Zoom Pro for them to remove the financial barrier). The conditions don’t need to be perfect to create and post something.

By recording/writing and posting a few times, you’ll realize firsthand what you need to do this right and to keep it going for the next 10 weeks and beyond. We tend to get caught up in hypotheticals, but you don’t know 90% of what you need to know until you actually try it. I experience this every time I get a new prototype to the table.

The entire concept of your content is flexible too. You might have a great idea for a series of videos about medium-weight Euro game strategies, but you may find that you have a lot of fun filming your cat push pieces off your gaming table. But it’s all theory and guesswork until you film and post that first video.

If it helps, rest assured that hardly anyone will see/hear/watch your first post. You won’t know who your audience is until you’ve posted a number of times. There’s a certain sense of creative freedom in talking at the void.

And if you’re not able to make that first post, one consideration is you don’t actually care about it as you thought you did (see this post). This is perfectly fine. Sometimes the idea is much more exciting than the actual execution, and if you’re not into it, there’s no need to stress about it. There are plenty of ways to express your creativity.

For the record, I’ve experienced all sides of this. I was very hesitant to start an Instagram account, but then I made my first post a few years ago, and it was so much easier to post again after that. Same with this blog, my personal blog, my YouTube channel, and so on. For every one of them, the first post is me basically saying, “Okay, I’m just going to give this a try and see how it goes.” Those first posts are really rough around the edges, but that’s okay.

I’d love to hear your experiences with posting for the first time in any format. Or if you want to create some kind of content but haven’t done so yet, make your first post today and share it in the comments here.

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10 Comments on “The First Barrier Is the Biggest (KS Lesson #274)

  1. I just wanted to pop in and say that I just discovered your blog. Seriously, WOW! There is so much great content in here that I can’t wait to dive into more! Thank you so much for all of the insight that you are willing to share with those of us just starting out on this board game creation journey. I am also just now starting to go through your “A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide” book, and being sure to take lots of notes on everything!

    I don’t always have as much trouble with the first post personally… it’s keeping the momentum going past the second or third post where I stumble the most. A lot of times I am just at a loss as to what else I should post. I’m thinking perhaps it might be a good idea for me to brainstorm a list of post topic ideas before starting back up again so I have something to pull from so I don’t end up hitting that wall which inevitably just causes me to abandon my blog for extended lengths of time.

    1. Thanks Lydia! I’m glad you found this blog, and that’s interesting to hear about the second or third post being where you start to stumble. I keep a running list of ideas using a web app called Trello–it’s a huge help, as there are some days that I have lots of ideas (and having a place to keep track of them ensures that I don’t forget them) and other days where I have no ideas and need to refer to the list.

      1. That’s a great idea! I’m familiar with Trello. I use that regularly in my business for keeping my client work organized. However, I hadn’t even considered using it for keeping a list of ideas for blog posts! Genius! I’m working on trying to come up with some ideas of what to put on that list now. Thanks so much for the response!

  2. Jamey,

    Great post…and so very true! A number of people had reached out to me to pen my thoughts as a Game Developer, based upon my 2019 interview on BGDL. I took time in November and December to sketch out my outline and in January, I launched my blog, via BGG and posted it on a number of Facebook pages. The response has been wonderful from both game designers and would-be fellow developers. Whether the viewership is 1, 10, 100, or 1,000 on any given month to me is somewhat irrelevant, as you’re posting YOUR thoughts and they will remain in perpetuity for many people to read both now and into the future.

    I can, as someone who is now halfway through the year, and have started percolating ideas for my 2021 blog, echo your sentiment…just start now!

    Cheers,
    Joe

  3. Great post – and timely for me personally… I’m in position where I’m about to go down that road as part of a game project – and we’re weighing the idea of doing a web series following the entire project (which is almost more intimidating than the actual brief for the board game!). I wrote a fairly lengthy post on the topic on BGG earlier today for those interested in some more background (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2450479/thoughts-potential-new-board-game-design-web-serie). But it’s great advice that you often don’t know what you’ll need to do until you start… it’s kinda like having kids. There is never a perfect time – you just have to do it!

  4. I went through this a couple of years ago with my current blog. I figured I just throw it out there and see what happens. I originally planned on posting once or twice a month but after the first few weeks, I got into a regular schedule and have posted at least weekly for the last two years.

    I’m now committed to the weekly schedule (a post every Tuesday morning) and sometimes it can feel like a bit of a burden to have to meet the deadline but most of the time it provides the drive to make something creative that week. As Jamey said, that first post is the hardest.

    And you don’t always stick with what you started with. While the general theme of my blog has remained the same, resources for sci-fi rpgs, the actual contents is always changing. I started working on some adventures, sprinkled in some rule systems, created some spaceships, and then pivioted to creating printable 3d ship models for a while. I’m now shifting back to my original work on adventures.

    1. Tom: I appreciate you sharing your experience with this in regards to your blog. I really like what you said about how your original vision for the blog can change quite a bit after you actually do it and find what you like to write about (and which posts resonate with your audience).

  5. Thanks as usual for the advice and encouragement Jamie! I want to start creating more content and posting about my game, but it is difficult to get past that initial hesitancy.

    There’s a scientific theory called the Lindy Effect about this exact phenomenon if you’re interested!

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