You Don’t Have To Be A Genius. Just Be Regular, Like Bran Flakes.
Eat them everyday and you’ll deliver a bit easier.
The burning question from every creative entrepreneurs mouth is “how do I get noticed?” The real answer always comes as a harsh blow when I reply “Your audience has to notice you!” You need to be so good that you fill their need and become un-ignorable. Ouch, that’s bitter for anyone taking his or her hobby and trying to make it their profession.
Let’s sweet that declaration with todays topic – how we can hack and build a loyal audience. Recently, I read an awesome book by Austin Kleon called ‘Show Your Work’. With three NYT best selling books and a keynote opening speech at last years South-by-South-West Festival on his impressive C.V., he’s definitely a great authority on the subject of sharing your work and getting discovered for your creativity.
To make it big, there’s a necessary conversational dynamic to be had between you the artist and your potential audience. If you want anyone to buy into you and what you do, you need to be the person that shares your value everyday and actively participate in a community that has already accepted you. I really like the idea that sharing needs to become a routine. You need to stop yourself from hoarding all the information you consume and give back whatever your skill is. People have reciprocity flowing through their veins. When you give value and you do it on a regular basis people automatically want to support you and get behind your campaigns. You could even become an influence for someone else to follow in your footsteps and that can be even more rewarding. Credit where credit is due, they will always promote your work in return. (Thank you Austin for inspiring this post!)
Being the sharer will allow you to turn your hobby into a profession seamlessly because you already have an audience to perform to. We all eventually want to make some money from our art, which means trading our performance for monetary value. I don’t particularly like the word sell instead I prefer integrity! In the best case scenario, by the time it comes to selling, you should have already metaphorically ‘sold’.
So how do you begin to grow an audience, and are you even good enough?
Using Brian Eno’s brilliantly crafted concept of Scenius, we can easily see what holds us back from sharing everyday. “We all have a fear of falling short to our inner genius and feel we have no place sharing our work until we somehow miraculously reach genius point”. Brian humbles us with this idea that no one is a genius, “the greats of history absorbed the scenes around them, stole and improved upon the work for their own”. Cormac McCarthy also says “books are made out of books”. I like that, it paints such a big picture for such a little quote! Eno adds nicely “it doesn’t take away from these great individuals to say they weren’t solely responsible for their masterpieces but good work wasn’t created in a vacuum”. A powerful concept!
This kind of thinking in our digital age is allowing us to think less about hiding the backstage activities of our projects. Open the doors on secrecy, let our guard down and unmask that exclusive illusive quality usually conserved for the final viewer! Inviting everyone in on the process and gaining appreciative audiences while doing so builds warmth, trust and success. People are simple and only interested in one thing, people! They want to know how others do something and then want to run with the information for themselves. This is a fantastic time right now where we can develop a fellowship around our learning processes, allowing others to learn in return. And potentially get paid for it.
Sometimes documenting your process can be as equally entertaining as the actual release. The outtakes of ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ the legendary Metallica documentary is proof. A documentary about – a documentary about Lars Ulrich. There’s nothing better than that. The process is so messy but people appreciate the opportunity to see you at your most vulnerable. It allows your audience the trust they want to put in you. Gaps are bridged, relationships are formed and careers can be built organically. And with more integrity than hiding!
We all sometimes feel like we are living day to day without anything to show for it, but what can be highly rewarding is just to show your work at what ever stage it’s at. The feedback you receive can be highly surprising. Your work can be evaluated at a much higher standard using someone else’s perception rather than your own ego. Your ego needs a good kicking anyways! Even if you get negative feedback, a little self-talk spin-doctor action can help make constructive criticism of the remarks. It all adds to the final value of your performance. Even when you don’t feel ready, you can gather the pieces and get something out for review and then have people love you for it.
For his book and keynote, check the links below.