As I'm writing this, one of my drawings is going stupidly viral on Reddit. That same doodle landed with a thud almost everywhere else; frankly, I'm surprised that it's doing well. There have been lots of things I thought were way funnier that have been voted into the garbage heap of the internet, though... so I guess I don't really know what people like, or what they want, and that's ok.
I used to try to figure that out for a living, and the answer was pretty simple: people wanted things from celebrities they knew and loved already. So we worked with celebrities to distribute content, and that worked really, really well.
Being a celebrity, though, meant that those people had to be as middle-of-the-road and bland as possible in order to hold on to their fans. They could never have anything even remotely controversial coming from us, because they had to be really choosy about what they were going to be controversial about. They knew – or they felt they knew – that they only had one or two shots to say something outlandish and still get work.
Subscribe to get these in your inbox daily
Yesterday's snail drawing, which is sitting at over a thousand upvotes on Reddit right now (massive for the subreddit it's in, where getting to a couple hundred is relatively rare), is just that kind of innocuous thing. No one is really ever going to be offended by snail vs. snail, there's no violence (well, maybe a little implied), and it's enough to make someone smile, but not enough to make them laugh out loud.
I will admit that it's pretty scary putting something up every day, knowing full well that there are algorithms, trolls, business, and all sorts of other things out there that will swat down my doodles. In many ways, it's scarier that what I do at work, because at work, I know that what I do works, and what I do makes money; the only thing between me and success there is pitching and executing.
Doing something creative, on the other hand... there's absolutely no way to know what's going to be successful and what's not. And while there's a massive temptation to say, "Hey, that worked once, let's do it a thousand more times," I'm not a Hollywood studio that has run out of ideas I'm willing to chase down yet. Plus, outside of dad jokes, which definitely get funnier every time I tell them, most things don't get funnier when repeated. Comforting, maybe, but not funnier.
This led me to think about what actually scares me, and why it scares me. I came to a conclusion, which is that if something that scares me lives largely in my brain, then it's probably not real:
Being scared of posting things on the internet is just like that – it's entirely in my head. And, sometimes, randomly, it works out well.