Shiny Creator Syndrome

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Have you ever felt like you’re hopping from one favorite creator to another, trying to imitate what they do while still figuring out your own thing?

That’s what I call Shiny Creator Syndrome (SCS).

Instead of sticking to our style or ideas, we get caught up trying to mimic the success of others we admire. It’s like Shiny Object Syndrome, where people chase after new gadgets or ideas, but here, it’s all about who’s creating what.

This thing happens a lot more now, thanks to the internet.

With platforms like LinkedIn, X, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, a new “it” creator pops up daily. It’s tempting to think, “If I just do what they’re doing, maybe I’ll get there too.” But that can lead us down a path where we’re more about imitating than creating something truly ours.

SCS is about the struggle between wanting to be like someone else and finding our voice.

It’s easy to think we must change our actions just because we see someone else succeeding. In the rush to follow the latest trend or creator, we might lose sight of what we want to make or say.

This Dispatch will explore ‘Shiny Creator Syndrome,’ why it occurs, and how it affects creators. More importantly, I’ll discuss ways to deal with it. After all, it’s about finding a balance between inspiration and creativity.

Understanding SCS

What’s happening with Shiny Creator Syndrome and why is it worth discussing?

The Psychology Behind SCS

First off, why do we even fall into this trap?

A big part of it is just being human. We compare ourselves to others—it’s natural. When we see someone doing well, we think, “Hey, maybe I should be doing that instead.” It’s also about not wanting to miss out. Seeing others succeed makes us worry we’re being left behind. And then there’s choice overload. The internet’s full of cool people doing cool stuff.

Deciding what’s your thing can be overwhelming when there’s so much to choose from.

Manifestations of SCS

So, how do you know if you’re caught in the SCS loop?

It shows up in a few ways. Maybe you’re constantly changing the kind of content you make, hoping something sticks. Or you’re hopping from one platform to another, trying to find where you fit. It could also be about genre—today, if you’re into cooking videos, tomorrow, it’s gaming streams.

It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, except it’s your creative energy you’re tossing around.

The Role of Social Media

Social media is a big player in why SCS hits so hard.

It puts us in this endless cycle of seeing others’ highlight reels and comparing them to our behind-the-scenes. Every like, follow, and share becomes a scorecard. The pace at which trends come and go on these platforms can make your head spin. It creates this pressure to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant constantly. But it’s about more than just keeping up.

It’s about thinking you must mimic success to achieve your own, which is different.


On Personal Growth

It’s tough to make real progress when you’re always watching what someone else is doing.

Imagine trying to learn a new language but switching which one every few weeks. You know “hello” and “goodbye” in ten languages but can’t converse in any of them. That’s what SCS can do to your skills and projects.

Instead of getting good at something, you spread yourself thin, and your growth needs to improve.

On Authenticity

Your voice and what you bring to the table sets you apart.

But finding your sound gets tricky if you’re constantly changing your tune to match someone else’s hit song. People can usually tell when something’s a bit off or not quite “you.” And let’s be honest, the internet’s already full of duplicates.

What grabs attention is someone being genuine and bringing something new to the party.

On Mental Health

Let’s not sugarcoat it; constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling like you must play catch-up can be exhausting.

It’s like running on a treadmill that keeps getting faster—you never really get anywhere, but you’re too tired to jump off. This can lead to burnout, anxiety, and even questioning if you’re cut out for this at all.

Your well-being is more important than liking, sharing, or subscriber count.

Case Studies

Let’s look at a few real-world examples based on my coaching experience. I’m not naming names, as these stories are stitched together from everyday experiences many creators face. They highlight the journey, the struggle, and sometimes, the breakthroughs.

The Up-and-Comer

First up, we’ve got someone who started with a bang. They had a unique angle on travel vlogging, mixing comedy and personal storytelling.

Their first few posts caught some attention, and it felt like they were onto something. Then, they noticed a surge in cooking channels. Suddenly, travel seemed less relaxed. So, they shifted gears, kitchen-bound, trying to ride the wave. Views didn’t spike as hoped. Next, they dabbled in tech reviews, then fitness. With each switch, their original voice got quieter.

It wasn’t until a long-time follower commented, “Miss your travel stories,” that they realized they’d lost track of what they loved doing in the first place.

The Perfectionist

Then there’s the perfectionist, a creator who crafts detailed, high-quality content.

Yet, each video took weeks, sometimes months, to produce. Watching others churn out content at lightning speed made them anxious. “I need to post more often to keep up,” they thought. So, they started cutting corners, aiming for quantity over quality. The shift was gradual, but the drop in engagement was not. Their audience had fallen in love with their thoroughness and attention to detail, qualities lost in the rush.

Feedback from a loyal viewer helped them see that their strength was in the value they provided, not the volume.

The Trend-Chaser

Lastly, we meet the trend-chaser. Always looking for the next big thing, they jump from challenge videos to reaction content and then to whatever hashtag is making rounds that week.

Initially, it was exciting. They felt like they were always on the cusp of going viral. But the hits were few and far between, and the content felt disjointed. It was a conversation with a fellow creator that sparked a change. They discussed the importance of passion in what you create. This led to a pivot back to a topic they were genuinely interested in, even if it wasn’t “trending.”

Engagement slowly started to climb again, but this time, it felt different—more sustainable and fulfilling.

Strategies to Overcome SCS

Let’s discuss how to dodge those pitfalls and keep your creative spark alive.

Cultivating Self-Awareness

The first step is to get honest with yourself about why you create.

Is it for likes, follows, or something deeper? Understanding your motives can help steer you back to your core interests when you’re tempted to veer off course. Regular check-ins with yourself can keep your goals and values in focus.

Ask, “Does this project feel true to me?” If not, it might be time to reassess.

Focusing on Depth Over Breadth

Jack of all trades, master of none, right?

Diving deep into a specific area sets you apart as an expert and allows you to create more meaningful content. When you focus on mastering one skill or niche, you build a more substantial, more engaged audience.

People are drawn to passion. They can tell when you’re genuinely interested in your topic, which keeps them returning.

Building a Supportive Community

Surround yourself with people who get it.

Find other creators who share your values and can offer constructive feedback, not just praise. A supportive community can be a sounding board, a source of inspiration, and a reality check when you’re tempted to jump on the latest bandwagon.

Collaboration over competition can lead to more authentic and fulfilling creative endeavors.

Setting Boundaries with Social Media

While social media can be a powerful tool for creators, it’s also a significant source of SCS.

Be intentional about your consumption. Set limits on how often you check your feeds and remind yourself that what you see is usually a curated highlight reel, not the whole story.

Use social media as a tool to connect and inspire, not a yardstick for your self-worth.

Wrapping Up

Navigating the world of content creation is challenging, especially with the ever-present lure of Shiny Creator Syndrome tempting us to stray from our path.

We’ve explored the roots of this phenomenon, its impact on our personal and creative growth, and strategies to combat it. The journey toward overcoming SCS is ongoing, with a constant balance between inspiration and authenticity, growth and grounding.

As creators, our power lies not in mimicking what’s already out there but in uncovering and sharing our authentic voices. We genuinely connect with others in the genuine, unique, and sometimes wonderfully odd parts of our creativity.

Embracing this can lead us to create more fulfilling work and meaningful connections with our audience.

Now it’s your turn.

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Gareth B. Davies

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