The case for exploration

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey

Hi, everyone! And welcome to our newest subscribers—we had quite the influx this week following Smooth leadership’s decision to “make a ruckus” on LinkedIn (aka post about our open roles 👀). Turns out LinkedIn really is so back! 

No matter how you found Smoothletter, we’re jazzed you’re here. And we promise we won’t…



We’re still on LinkedIn in the year 2019.

—Kinsey, cofounder & head of editorial at Smooth Media

Why Exploration Wins for Knowledge Creators

High on the list of reasons we love working with knowledge creators? Their deep, infectious passion for the niches they cover.

Nine times out of 10, the knowledge creators we talk to and work with didn’t set out to become the career content creators they are today. Instead, they were so full of curiosity and excitement about a specific topic that they couldn’t help but start posting about it online.

We think that’s one of the biggest competitive advantages for knowledge creators. They’re not inaccessible experts speaking from an ivory tower—they’re eager, excited explorers sharing their expertise and digging into a topic or industry right there alongside their audiences…and that creates a level of connection mostly unattainable for traditional, faceless media.

Take creator Jacklyn Dallas of NothingButTech, for example. Jacklyn is a true tech evangelist—and not just because she let everyone on our team play with her Apple Vision Pro.

  • When you watch her videos, you both see and feel her passion for understanding the ways tech can change our lives and world. I mean, she took her first steps in a RadioShack…of course it makes sense that she’s an eager participant in the content she creates. She knows her stuff, and she’s so excited to share it.

  • A great example? Her recent video testing every single Vision Pro app…all 614 of them. We got to see firsthand how much time Jacklyn spent making this video. Her dedication is unmatched, and we can vouch for the fact that she’s doing this because she genuinely wants to learn how tech works in the real world.

This kind of audience x creator relationship represents a big shift for media. For a long time, authority was the most important currency in the media. And while I still believe wholeheartedly that the journalist’s pursuit of truth is a noble and valuable one, I think we lost the plot somewhere post-Walter Cronkite. We started to conflate perceived authority with value.

That misattribution is what gave us a generation of journalists doing journalism for other journalists. Mostly to impress each other. There’s a time and place for those deeply investigated, Pulitzer-contender pieces, but “scoops” and 20,000-word profiles aren’t the only way to create valuable and insightful content.

Knowledge creators do it every day. But the key difference? They’re less obsessed with authority and more obsessed with the subject matter at hand. They’re talking about cars, space exploration, consumer tech, or whatever their expertise is not because they want street cred from other creators…but because they want to talk about it. It’s what they love. It’s what their peers love.

Curiosity and excitement are no substitutes for expertise, of course. But when you can pair deep industry knowledge with enthusiasm for learning with your audience? That’s where you eclipse “content” to make something really, truly meaningful. 

Knowledge creators dedicated to exploring the worlds they’re building with their audiences are doing just that.

  • Cleo Abram on quitting her job to become a YouTuber, her creative process, and the value of a niche.

  • Enormous shoutout to my friend and force of nature Fortesa Latifi (who’s a journalist but someone I’d consider knowledge creator adjacent) who not only launched a major editorial package about influencer families in Cosmopolitan, but also announced she’s writing a book about that very topic!

  • Over at The Publish Press, the team had a great write-up of all the creator headlines at South by Southwest.

One last thing: So how ’bout that potential TikTok ban? How’s everyone feeling? I, for one, am thrilled that we may soon be free from “TikTok accent.” But I’m also equally devastated that we may soon lose regular access to constant updates on Princess Kate’s whereabouts. Win some, lose some I guess.

Especially if you’re Josh:

See you next week!