Have you heard of the 90-9-1 rule? It’s “math” that proves consistently creating content — even if you don’t know what you’re good at — is the best way to make your life more interesting.
So in this post, I’ll explain what the 90-9-1 rule is and why it should motivate you to consistently create useful content for whatever groups you hang out in. Even if you don’t have a huge following, a business, or know what you’re good at. Especially if you’re a stay-at-home dad.
Table of Contents:
- 1: Why the 90–9–1 rule should blow your mind
- 2: Why you should think of content creation as a music festival
- 3: Now is always the perfect time to start creating.
- Summary and Action Steps
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Josh Haroldson. Right now I’m a stay-at-home dad, but as a photographer, writer, and podcaster, I’ve been creating content and sharing it on the Internet since 2007. I’m not famous or trying to build a billion-dollar business. But I have had tons of interesting opportunities come my way — all because of the content I’ve shared. I’m talking about everything from having dinner with the founder of Leinenkugel’s beer to going on an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico and doing fun projects for big brands like Lands’ End and Budweiser. So I know the power of content.
Lesson #1: Why the 90–9–1 rule should blow your mind
I first heard about the 90-9-1 rule during a fun conversation I had with Neville Medhora, the brains behind The Copywriting Course and host of the Neville Medhora Podcast.
He explained to me that in any group (online or offline):
~90% just watch
~1% create almost all the content.
That means for every 1000 people in a group, only 90 are adding to the conversation. And only 10 are consistently creating content. That’s a pretty small group.
Here’s why that’s super cool. If you’re consistently sharing content somewhere — even if it’s terrible — you’re part of the top 1% of EVERYONE in that group in terms of content creation.
And that small group, just 10 out of 1000, is the secret to why content will make your life more interesting. Here’s what I mean.
Lesson #2: Why you should think of content creation as a music festival
As Neville explained the 90–9–1 rule to me, I immediately thought of being at a music festival or a cool music venue — let’s say the Opry in Nashville.
Now, imagine what your life would be like if you got to hang out backstage at the Opry every day? There’s probably a non-zero chance you would:
- Interact with cool or influential people.
- Hear about neat opportunities or things to do.
- You might even get invited on stage — the 0.1% that are headlining have the power to ask you to jam with them in front of their audience.
That’d make for a pretty interesting life, right? And having actually been backstage at the Opry in Nashville, it’s freaking cool just being there. But what does that have to do with the 90-9-1 rule and creating content?
Well, here’s how the 90-9-1 rule applies to Opry:
- The 90% — the lurkers — are most people in the audience.
- The 9% — the participants — are the critics and tastemakers in the front row or the VIP areas. Their opinion matters. And it can be helpful if they like you. But, they’re not on stage.
- The 1% — the creators — includes everyone who is performing AND backstage.
So at worst, by consistently creating content, you give yourself a backstage pass to hang with the creators where all the action happens.
That’s why, if you want your life to be more interesting, you should always be working on creating more content, more consistently. Even if you never get to be the headliner, life is way more interesting backstage.
By the way, how did I get backstage at The Opry? Yep, from content I posted on @instagram!
Or, why was I talking with Neville, someone that I’ve learned a ton from? Again, in a roundabout way, content!
That’s why I know the math behind the 90-9-1 rule works. I’ve seen it play out in my own life again and again. I’m just a random dude from Minnesota. I’m not rich. None of my family friends are famous. But just by posting stuff over the years, cool things have come my way like:
- A trip to Mexico
- A gig for Food and Wine
- Dozens of freelance opportunities
- Sponsored posts with big brands like Budweiser, Lands’ End.
- A sponsored post for the company that made the wine at our wedding.
- A party at the hotel I planned because I cold emailed them.
- Connections with people I admire that I NEVER would have met otherwise
- New friends
- That backstage adventure at the Opry
- A couple of beers on a tour bus with The Brother’s Osborne.
- Tons of insight into what I like doing
To be clear, most of those opportunities came through things I’m good at, like photography.
But here’s the thing. When I look at a lot of the photos I posted back in 2008, some are surprisingly good, but a lot are absolute garbage. I got good because I practiced.
And what’s a great way to be motivated to practice? Yep. Regularly posting content.
Plus, you don’t need to be super talented to make friends. In the content world, people recognize when you’re enthusiastic, doing the work, and showing up consistently.
Lesson #3: Now is always the perfect time to start creating.
Don’t worry about having a business. Or a big, perfect idea. Or even anything to say. Just start. Get feedback. Have fun. Don’t take any of it too seriously. Pay attention to what works. And what sucks. Eventually, interesting things will show up.
And don’t worry about where to post. Just pick a place you like. And hang out there. You don’t even have to follow or interact with anyone. When I started on Twitter again (in 2021, signed up in 2009) I followed exactly 0 people. And my tweets didn’t get a lot of traction. But I didn’t care. I was just sharing things I thought were interesting and using that void to practice. It might not feel like it, but even if no one sees your content, it still exists! Maybe you reshare the tweet later. Or turn that into a blog post…guess where this post came from? That’s right, a tweet that nobody saw.
That said, if you’re not used to creating, here are a few things you can write about:
- Problems and Solutions from your daily life
- Goals and why they matter
- Funny memories and what they taught you
- Lessons you’ve learned in your daily life
Here’s what I want you to take away from this post:
- The 90-9-1 rule says that only 1% of people create almost all the content in any group
- By consistently content, you’re putting your voice in the top 1% of everyone in the group.
- Creating content is like getting a backstage pass at a music festival, you never know what opportunities you’ll get and what cool people you could meet.
Hopefully, this inspired you to start creating content! Either for the first time or more regularly.
ACTION STEP: I’d highly recommend reading Neville Medhora’s original post on the 90–9–1 rule. In that post:
- He explains the 90-9-1 rule in a lot more detail
- Shows lots of examples of where the 90-9-1 rule applies on the internet and in real life
- Has a ton of ideas you can use to create your first content, today
Then share a small piece of content on your favorite social media platform OR with a person in real life. And when you do, try hard to share it in a way that teaches, helps, uplifts, or inspires. Content ≠ Complaining!
And if you liked this post, can you share it with someone you think should be creating more content? That will help them and would make me super happy.