You owe your audience quality.

In some ways, there's nothing new about this. For years, we've been reducing the length of everything we consume. The average pop song is a lot shorter today than it used to be, for example. But if you're building your business on content - something almost everyone is shifting to - it's even more important.

The sad fact of the matter is, audiences are busy people. They just are. Audiences, customers, they're all being bombarded, every waking hour, by stuff that demands their attention. By ads and social media posts, and podcasts, streaming music, Netflix, Snapchat and the rest of the bunch.

We're competing with content that people either have to consume (because of social norms demanding they don't ignore people), want to consume, or instinctively and compulsively consume. We're competing with every second and every notification on every screen.

What does that mean for us?

It means that we can't waste time. We can't waste precious time, we have to focus what we create on the people who don't have 30 minutes to read a 10,000 word post, but who might have 2 minutes to consume an infographic that can sum up the same thing.

It means that we can't create mediocre content that aims to just drag eyeballs, we have to create something of value. Something people will stop and take in, regardless of whatever else is popping up.

It means that we can't be ready to churn out the same stuff that everyone else is doing. We have to think outside the box, and inside the minds and the habits and the interests of the people we're trying to reach.

At the end of the day, audiences don't owe us anything.

Audiences don't owe us their time, and they certainly don't owe us their attention. If we can't find ways to get through to them, it's not their fault - it's ours. The truth is, they give us all the keys we need. We know what they want, why they want it and when, because their online behaviour shows it to us.

It's up to us to make sure that we're building valuable content. That's one of the biggest focuses I have as a writer, as a content creator. I know that in order for us to reach the businesses who will love what I do, I have to give them great information and killer stories. Because good enough just isn't good enough. Not anymore.

If we don't listen, and if we don't provide the right content, we have nobody to blame but ourselves when the work that we create goes unheard, unread and unnoticed.