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This career path belongs to ambitious introverts

An ambitious introvert who wants it badly and flourishes in quietness is a formidable adversary in this internet landscape.

This career path belongs to ambitious introverts
[Photo: jasmin chew/Pexels]

Ah, online entrepreneurship, how I love thee. For a couple thousand years there, extroverts absolutely had the upper hand in C-suite politics. Sixty-five percent of board members prefer extroverted personalities at the helm, and extroverts dominate workplace scenarios in which ascending the ranks means frequent spontaneous conversation and marathon happy hour meetups. 

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Introversion had me so people-averse as a young adult that I chose a “no talking whatsoever” college major—classical music—and scooped up two degrees in it before realizing I hated people looking at me on stage, too. Oops.

I’m a sucker for the hustle, though. And that’s why I love the creator economy: My introvert-ness and love of depth is a prized and lucrative skill. If you identify as an introvert with a penchant for success, the creator economy might just be the perfect container for your next career move.

Creator life ain’t as easy as it looks. As an introvert, though, you have some innate advantages. 

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Here are four nuances to keep in mind.

Creator life requires deep work

Y’all know I can’t go one article without singing the praises of deep work. As attention spans continue to atrophy, the output produced from deep work will become increasingly valuable. Anyone who creates content day in and day out knows this; content is surprisingly cerebral and demands that you know how to get into a flow state on command.

Research published last year in the journal Personality And Individual Differences—and conducted by Tingshu Liu and flow OG Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi himself—notes two kinds of flow: social flow and solitary flow. Extroverts excel at the former and introverts at the latter, but usually, it’s solitary flow that is experienced more intensely. Loving alone time is critical for a viable creator career.

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An ambitious introvert who wants it badly and flourishes in quietness is a formidable adversary in this internet landscape. The key to finding traction in creator life is to finish what you start on a regular basis, and for many of us, that process can be a challenge. Dial into your deep work rhythms and you might impress yourself with what you can accomplish.

Creator life fits into an asynchronous work schedule

With millions of parents currently navigating child care solutions, the idea of getting paid while you sleep is nudging many professionals toward entrepreneurship. The creator economy allows you to create content today and serve it up tomorrow, an appealing proposition for anyone who juggles work and family responsibilities. Don’t wanna do any more Zoom calls? Monetize content you created six months or a year ago instead.

Well-crafted content can pull its weight for you for months and years to come. And while video was having its heyday for a moment there, the optical assault of TikTok and one too many Avengers action sequences has us retreating back to other content types. Audio and live audio are surging, and even the written word is making a comeback (Rejoice!). 

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Introverts leverage periods of uninterrupted silence to deliver their best work. And in the creator economy, what you’re paid for is delivering good work—not being available to respond to a thousand Slack notifications every day. 

Creator life requires rigor and repetition

To everyone who told me going to music school for French Horn was a waste of time…my Master’s degree in practicing is coming in very handy these days.

Idea generation is the fun part. Then comes the implementation part—and for many of us, that’s where drudgery rears its ugly head. Creator life requires a high threshold for boredom and a willingness to do the same mundane tasks over and over again for the sake of building a flywheel. The successful creators we see today who make it look easy often have years of content creation under their belts. 

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Additionally, when a study showed the different personality types images of faces and measured their reactions with an electroencephalogram (EEG), extroverted brains lit up and introverted brains did not. This doesn’t mean introverts hate people—we like you! —but we don’t need frequent social interaction in order to stay the course. In this case, being boring and low-maintenance is a huge competitive advantage.

Introverts are observant—especially of their own behavior—and this attention to detail helps to train the feedback loops you need to become fluent as a creator. Part of the recipe for success in the creator economy is to understand the platform you use for your battle-ax inside and learn it well. Creator savvy requires dialing in both what you want to say and what your audience wants to hear, and introverts have a hardwired interest in developing both sets of messaging.

…But it also requires periods of solitude and reflection

Emmy winner Michaela Coel said it perfectly earlier this year in her acceptance speech for I May Destroy You: “Do not be afraid to disappear from [this world], from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”

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Great ideas are a precious currency in the creator economy. Often, the best way to kick writer’s block is to take a break, clear your head, and let ideas marinate for a day or two. You might need to temporarily detox from constant inputs like social media. This creates space for original thoughts and excitement to bubble back up to the surface.

Quietness is an incubator for winning ideas, and introverts have the added advantage of feeling energized by solitude. If you can swing it and are creator economy-curious, experiment with blocking off some time for personal retreat and reflection.

Normally doomed to a lifetime of open-concept workspaces and office politics, ambitious introverts have a new avenue for greatness: the internet. Learn to wield the world wide web well and your tenacity for thinking will pay off for years to come.

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Nick Wolny is a former classically trained musician and a current online marketing strategist for small-business owners, experts, and entrepreneurs.


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