A lot of articles and newsletters these days are long-form covering heavy topics. I’m not sure who has time to read them all.
I certainly don’t.
The emails I notice myself reading the most often are short, punchy articles that cover one topic and one idea. Things like what Seth Godin produces.
It’s not that I have an attention deficit—though we all kinda do online—it’s that there is a value vs. time deficit in most medium and long-form content.
In other words, the value I get out of most long-form content is small relative to the cost of my attention.
My hunch is others feel the same way. So, I have three alternative approaches:
- Create short-form content with as little fluff as possible
- Use audio to convey ideas when possible
- Focus on a single, highly specific topic for each post
Audio has been a big part of The Mentorship subscription so far. Probably more than 80% of posts are short-form audio podcasts. The rest are short-form text and video posts.
It’s intentionally created that way because I’m busy and so are my subscribers.
As a busy professional, I’m working when I’m at my desk—not consuming content (unless it’s a course).
If I have a minute to read someone’s content, it’s probably on my phone during a break. Which means I’m rarely reading long-form digital content unless it’s very specific and high quality.
In contrast, I have a lot more spare time away from the computer, such as on walks with my dog, driving, cleaning dishes, or while doing other chores.
I can’t work during these times, so I like to learn instead.
I don’t think I’m alone, so I’m betting on that in the way I produce content.
As a result, I’m optimizing for three things:
- Busy people reading on their phones
- Busy people who like to consume ideas via audio
- Busy people who cherry pick specific topics with specific benefits
There’s no right or wrong way to create content. I’m just doing it this way because that’s what I want from content right now.
And since my target audience is generally people like me at earlier, similar, and future stages of their independent careers, my hope is that this bet with this approach pays off.
Long-form articles aren’t bad. There’s a place for them, to be sure. It’s great for SEO and content that requires nuance and detail.
But it’s just hard to get busy people (like you and me) to justify giving their time in the hopes they’ll get commensurate value.
Unfortunately, the value in many cases is smaller than the time investment to retrieve it.
I personally prefer a slow trickle. One specific idea after the next. Leading to a bigger whole.
After all, our minds can only take on so much at a time.