A Book That Helps You and Your Creations Get Discovered
Useful self-promotion ideas I found in "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon
How can you build an audience? What’s the right strategy? What should you do to get noticed?
These are some of the questions that Show Your Work by Austin Kleon helps you answer. And here are some ideas from the book that made me go “Aha! I’ve never thought about that!” or “Damn, you’re so right about this.”
Show Your Work (in Progress)
Please don’t ask me to create and publish something new on a daily basis. I don’t like that. I’d rather write one well-thought-out article a week than one shallow piece a day. I’m for quality over quantity.
Show Your Work made me rethink this. It made me change my mind about what to share.
Who says you have to release a finished product every day? A fully edited YouTube video a day? A clean-sounding podcast episode a day? A well-researched article a day? No.
Instead of doing that, you can share bits of your creative process: the behind-the-scenes, the drafts, the reflections, the notes, the preparation, the sketches and all that messy thinking that goes into the making of your creation.
This could take many forms. For example, here’s what I’ve just posted on my LinkedIn:
Working on an article about what I’ve learned from “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon. Have you read it? Did it make you change your mind about anything?
It took me 20 seconds to write this. It’s nothing special. But I’m sure people who read and liked the book won’t hesitate to start a conversation about it, and, maybe, I’ll make some new connections.
“Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.” — Show Your Work, P.19
Interesting and Useful
Some people say that posting photos of yourself and your life is a way to connect with your audience on a human level.
I’m not against that.
But I see the Internet as the noisiest and most cluttered place in the world. There’s so much virtual junk out there. There are so many people who keep talking and posting and publishing even when they have nothing to say.
That’s why I love Austin’s idea of sharing only what’s interesting and useful. No photos of cats, dogs, or babies. No selfies. No pictures of sunsets, food or coffee. If you’re a maker of things, show your work — that’s enough.
You think that what you’re planning to share won’t help or interest anybody? Then don’t share it.
Who or What Influences You? Share That Too
Who or what inspires you to make stuff? If you’re a video-maker, for example, you may have a favourite YouTuber.
Sharing the work of that YouTuber and how it influences you is something worth doing as it can give people an idea about who you are as a creator.
So show your work and who or what inspired you to complete it too.
“Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do — sometimes even more than your own work.” — Show Your Work, P. 77
Don’t Be a Human Spammer
Human spammer = someone who doesn’t bother to listen to other people’s ideas but demands that others listen to theirs.
I’ve been a human spammer — many times. I promoted myself in social media groups without ever having engaged with anyone or anything in those groups. Thankfully, I realised how arrogant that is and stopped doing it.
But I still spend way more time caring about my stuff than engaging with other people’s creations.
I still need to find a healthy balance.
“If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be good citizens of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector.” — Show Your Work, P. 127
So let me be a connector for once and tell you that David B. Clear, a cartoonist and writer, wrote a brilliant article on this topic. It’s funny, well-written and makes this point even clearer than it is in Show Your Work.
Notice What Others Are NOT Sharing
I’m a teacher of English and follow other teachers online. You can’t imagine how many of my colleagues share content where they explain the meaning of random English words.
To increase your chances of getting noticed in a crowded online world where no one ever shuts up, pay attention to what other creators are showing and notice what’s missing. Then make an effort to fill the gap by sharing your work.
I love this idea. Jeez, be worth listening to!