3 min read

We underestimate the scale of the internet

It's hard for us to wrap our heads around the millions and billions of people online. But once we do, the possibilities are endless.
We underestimate the scale of the internet

I live in Parma, Ohio where the population is approximately 79,000.

Our little suburb, which is the biggest of Cleveland, Ohio, is divided into 9 Wards. In order to get elected as the Ward councilperson, you need to convince 51% (a slight majority) of 55% (the average voter turnout) of 1/9 of 79,000, or 2,462 people.

This is all you need to become an elected official.

It can feel like a big or small number depending upon your context. But we're talking about a single suburb of a medium-sized city in one country.

What happens when you multiply this reach by 1,000,000?

The YouTube all-stars understand what is going on

One of my favorite shows on YouTube is Millennial Money by CNBC. In it, they profile different people aged in their 20s and 30s, and show exactly how much they earn and spend every month.

Most interviews are what you'd expect: a maintenance worker making $80k in New York, a customer service representative making $45k in Denver, a real estate professional making $90k in Los Angeles.

But every now and again, some are astronomically different. For example, a YouTuber making $6.1 million in Las Vegas and another making $6 million in Ventura.

Then there are examples like this one where they 10x-ed their high-end clothing business by starting a TikTok, or this guy who turned their music education business (which was essentially online tutoring) into a multimillion-dollar course library using YouTube tutorials.

Content is an amplifier. And the internet is the stage.

Traditional careers and campaigns grant you access to traditional results because the scale of your impact is limited by traditional channels.

There's no way a real estate worker can sell 10 houses a day on their own. But with the internet, they can earn as though they could.

There's no way a small local bakery could sell a million cookies a day. But with social media, they can scale attention which can be monetized in a myriad of ways, other than just by selling cookies.

It's silly to just come right out and say the internet is huge, but it's the truth. And it's so big, it's difficult to wrap our heads around.

For those of us who have been to stadium sports events or concerts, we've looked around in awe at the power and energy a crowd that size can generate. However, do we realize we can amass an audience 10x, 100x, or even 1,000x as big?

As the internet gets bigger, think smaller

The caveat is that in order to seize the opportunity such a massive scale provides, we must run in the opposite direction.

We must think small, niche, specific. When we create, it cannot be for every person. We must create for the one. A single idea evoking a single response, emotion, or action.

The more target our approach, the more likely our success.

Because by targeting that one person, we end up stumbling upon something innately human which will ultimately resonate with thousands, if not millions, of others.

The 10x effect

It’s easier to 10x your income than it is to double it.

The first time I read that quote, I had to put the book down. I was jarred.

I'd always been taught to think in a linear fashion. Incremental growth was common, rational. Exponential growth was, well, impossible.

Except that it wasn't. It was only invisible.

And then the ones who realized how to access it made it visible and the whole world shook.

I still think YouTube is the most powerful platform in the world because, more than any other, it continues to make the impossible possible for so many creators.

Scale is now not only a reasonable desire but there is an increasing number of paths to achieve it. TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, niche communities on Reddit, Discord, and even to a lesser degree the universally hated FB and IG still have roles to play.

At some point, the exponential opportunities these platforms offer will promise a more practical upside than the linear, traditional routes of yesterday. Perhaps for Gen Z and beyond, they are already there.

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