The Intimidating Zero


How a small zero actually feels when you’re just getting started

Back when we started this blog — I think it was in ’99 or 2000 or something like that — we had no idea how many readers we had.

Early publishing software was about publishing, it wasn’t about audience counts, it wasn’t about measurement or reach or engagement. It seemed like a miracle that you could just write something and have it show up on a web page! And that someone might magically find it! That was enough!

And it was great not knowing!

There was no pressure back then. You wrote because you wanted to, not because you had to create content. Could anything be more banal than “creating content”?

And most importantly, you didn’t have a big fat zero staring right at you. Go sign up for a new Twitter, Instagram, of Facebook account today and you’ll be rewarded with a ZERO. No one’s there. Say something and no one will hear it. Did we tell you that you have ZERO followers? ZERO friends? An audience of ZERO? Enjoy!

What a welcome, eh?

It’s so intimidating for newcomers today. Even though it’s so much easier to publish today, publishing tools keep reminding you hardly anyone’s reading. So technically easier, but emotionally more difficult.

I like that Snapchat doesn’t share follower numbers. You just do because you like to do. It’s fun to do.

I wish other publishing platforms would hide subscriber numbers for the first handful or articles, or the first 30 days. Or something like that. Give people some time off stage before they begin performing. Let them write or share in the shadows — getting the hang of it, feeling it out — before they start telling you who’s out there listening or watching. Just encourage creation without thinking about who’s in the audience.

Just a thought.



The Intimidating Zero was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original post by Jason Fried and software by Elliott Back