The Top of the Funnel is where every project of mine starts off. I define it as a constant practice of generating content. It’s the mining of raw material—snapshots of ideas, infatuations, or intuitions. My own examples include: journaling, street photography, and recorded conversations.
It’s liberating to not have to prioritize quality and just get things down—no matter how repetitive or unorganized it may seem. When I journal, for instance, I’ll include paragraph breaks for easier reading, but that’s the extent of my editing. I don’t even stop for misspelled words or incorrect grammar. Who cares? No one’s going to see it but me anyway. The same goes for my street photography. I carry a small camera around, set to give me the highest percentage of usable images possible. I even have it make black and white jpgs so that I’ll have minimal post-processing to do. They just have to be descriptive of what I’m witnessing. At this stage, I want to relieve myself of having to make creative decisions. Anything that gets in the way of recording is eliminated. top of the funnel_0004.jpg top of the funnel_0006.jpg top of the funnel_0002.jpg top of the funnel_0003.jpg top of the funnel_0005.jpg top of the funnel_0001.jpg
When you start to expand the boundaries of what you consider creating content, suddenly everything becomes fair game. I started thinking about how many stories I’ve forgotten over the years during nights out, or the funny jokes I’ve told while smoking weed with friends. That’s a wealth of material relegated to the dustbin of memories! Nowadays, I record most of my conversations with friends using a voice recorder and lapel mic. I usually get shit for it the first time it happens, but most of my friends are used to seeing me mic’d up by now. I usually wait until I have a few good recordings, then send them off to a transcription service to generate a text file to work from (Sites such as Rev provide cheap and easy transcription online).
By far, the best thing about having a Top of the Funnel practice is that it relieves you from the performance anxiety of being ‘creative’. I intentionally set the bar low to prevent any of my various psychological-defense-mechanisms from sabotaging the work. It’s as if I’m fooling my ego into thinking I’m chopping wood or something equally mundane instead of making anything original. It’s easy to dismiss, but for a lot of artists, this inner battle can be a daily struggle, and a serious hinderance to being productive. To implement a successful Top of the Funnel process, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind:
- Quality doesn’t matter
- It’s all about volume
- No filtration, just intuition
- Failure is cheap
- Constant practice over perfect practice
- Be open to chaos
- Use uncomplicated tools
If you keep it up, you’ll have a wealth of content at your disposal, but realistically you’ll probably only use 20% or less of it. That’s normal, though. At least you’ll never suffer from a shortage of ideas!