Let’s make a reasonable guess that you (yes, I’m talking to you) consume a lot of content on the Internet. Content like blog posts, tweets, articles, photos, gifs and videos. 

You know what’s weird when you think about it? Far less than 5% of people who consume content on the web also add to it. That’s like putting twenty people in a room and then all twenty of them consuming the thoughts of just one of them. 

There’s a consistent phenomenon across many web communities in terms of the ratio of users who create and consume content. The general rule of thumb seems to be: 90% of users consume, 9% create a little and 1% create a lot.

Want some proof? Here’s some stats:

Wikipedia

Out of 32M+ U.S. registered users only 0.2% actually contribute anything. This is kind of scary when you consider how much we rely upon Wikipedia for our instant need for facts. Source.

Twitter

44% of users have never sent out a single tweet. In fact, 90% of Twitter’s registered users don’t tweet hardly much at all. And only 3% of Twitter users even post on a daily basis. Source.

Youtube

Youtube garners almost 5 BILLION views PER DAY from it’s 1.3 billion regular users. And yet roughly 2 million videos are uploaded per day. Meaning it’s far less than 0.1% of users who are creating all the  content which we view on Youtube. Source.

Reddit

Reddit, which calls itself the front page of the internet has only about 1% – 3% of its unique viewers submit comments that make up the sites content. Source.

Amazon

Less than 1% of people who purchase books will leave a review. Meaning 100 people will trust the review of one person to inform their book buying choices. Source.

Facebook

One of the web companies that has managed to break the rule here is Facebook, cracking the billion active users in a single day in August this year. That said, I’ve not been able to find data on what percentage of Facebook users post daily or monthly on the social network.

So what can we take away from all of this? Well, here are a few of my thoughts.

  • You don’t have to be J K Rowling to get yourself into the top 1% of internet users. You just need to start producing and posting stuff.
  •  If you’re an entrepreneur or investor, it’s worthwhile remembering the 90-9-1 rule of thumb when setting targets and goals for your projects. If someone says to you that they expect 20%+ of their users to contribute content in their app then you should start laughing.
  • Be aware that what you read on the internet is not a representative sample of the population’s opinion, it’s a distorted expanded view of just 1% of people.

So why do so few people create content in comparison to the numbers of people who consume it?

When I think of my own internet habits I can understand why it happens. I struggle to devote the mental bandwidth to creating something new rather than just perusing through the unlimited amounts of aggregated and curated content provided by the webs content hubs. After a long day of working (or more likely procrastinating) who has the patience and discipline to be a creator? 

Notime

But is it just mental energy that stops people from being creators? Maybe it’s something else. 

Posting anything online requires a level of vulnerability. When you click ‘post’ you are sharing your own personal worldview and opinions with everyone. And unfortunately there are a lot of people on the internet who will be all too quick to criticise your opinions – which can be psychologically painful. I can’t help but wonder if it’s more fear or laziness that prevents people from being creators rather than just consumers. 

So why be a creator? Here’s a few reasons why it’s a really good idea:

  • You can charge more for whatever it is you do
  • You’ll get more organic opportunities
  • You’ll develop a greater sense of ’self’ and ‘find your voice’
  • Your audience is an asset
  • You’ll be more employable

Naturally, when you create content, a number of people will see it. Over time, as you get better at making it (and promoting it) you’ll start to build up an audience. The longer you do so – the larger your audience will become. 

In 30 years from now which version of you do you think will be happier? Version A: Spent most evenings and weekends buried in their Facebook stalking, youtube hopping, Instagram or on Netflix. or Version B: invested their time into creating something new and slowly developed mastery over a long period of time. 

So, next time you’ve got an empty Sunday afternoon or weekday evening – instead of binge watching the latest Netflix series (they are so damn good!) consider using that time to create something to upload on the internet, anything – and see how you feel afterwards.