Wouldn’t it be great if everyone knew how awesome you really are?
It’s possible, according to writer and artist Austin Kleon. The secret is to be “findable . . . (to put) your work out there and make it discoverable while you’re focused on getting really good at what you do.”
In his book, Show Your Work!, Kleon wants you to imagine how great being findable would be:
- Imagine if your next boss didn’t have to read your résumé because he already reads your blog.
- Imagine being a student and getting your first gig based on a school project you posted online.
- Imagine losing your job but having a social network of people familiar with your work and ready to help you find a new one.
- Imagine turning a side project or hobby into your profession because you had a following that could support you.
To accomplish this, advises Kleon, “all you have to do is show your work.”
How? Here are 5 ideas from Kleon’s book:
- Become a documentarian. Whatever the nature of your work, there is art in what you do. So collect the scraps of your process and shape them into “interesting bits of media that you can share.” Start a journal, keep a scrapbook, take photographs, shoot video or gather your research.
- Send out a daily dispatch. Now that you’re gathering stuff and documenting your process, find a little piece you can share today. “If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you,” writes Kleon. “If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final products, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned.”
- Choose the sharing channel that works best for you. Your daily dispatch can be whatever you want–a blog post, an email, a tweet, a YouTube video or some other media. Of course, social media sites are ideal places to share, but don’t worry about being on very platform; choose based on what you do and the people you’re trying to reach.
- Turn your flow into stock. “Stock and flow” is an economic concept that writer Robin Sloan has adapted into a metaphor for media. “Flow” represents the small bits, like social media, while “stock” is the durable content that’s more substantial and stands the test of time. To truly show your work, you need to maintain your flow while building up your stock. In Kleon’s experience, “your stock is best made by collecting, organizing and expanding upon your flow.”
- Tell good stories. Although we’d love to believe that our work speaks for itself, that’s not the case–we need to be advocates for our work. Says Kleon: “So if you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.”
Most of all, enjoy the journey. Treat showing your work as an integral part of your thinking process, not another chore to check off your list. By doing so, you’ll get the credit you deserve.
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