Show Your Work! – Austin Kleon. The Importance of Community.
I recently read Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. Austin is a writer who uses drawings, photos, and blackout poetry to illustrate his points. Each chapter is a lesson on self-promotion. Not only are the tips good, but it’s stuffed with helpful images. I recommend it for creatives with no idea what to do after hitting “Publish.”
My big take away is the importance of community and relationships. The obvious but not so obvious fact is that we’re dealing with people when we sell, individuals with interests and passions. How we relate to our audience is very important.
I don’t usually post to social media, but when I do it’s to promote something. Other than that, I’m silent. I used to be proud of that fact. Kleon, on the other hand, recommends sending out a “daily dispatch” (47). Share your rough drafts, your current inspirations, what music you’re listening to, and what you’re working on. Documenting your creative process allows followers to have “an ongoing connection with us and our work” (38). He talks a lot about connecting with your audience, telling good stories, and being part of a community.
There’s a chapter called Teach What You Know. “The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others” (117). This ties into documenting your process: share your secrets and fans feel closer to what you do. Another plus, they will want to pass on what they know as well. I’ve heard of this “teaching as you learn” principle before, and it’s one of the reasons I started my blog.
This is a coffee table book: short, fun, and insightful. There are a lot of great lessons and it’s a very easy read. I’ve shared only a few here, but if you’re a note-taker like me, you’ll constantly be jotting down ideas as you read.