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Show Your Work!

Gift Egwuenu
Frontend Engineer and Content Creator. I'm passionate about making the web accessible to everyone and also an advocate for building open-source software and developer communities.
Originally published at giftegwuenu.com on ・6 min read

What do you mean by "Show your work!"? This is what my brain tells me the first time I stumbled upon this book. I already do that no? I think I already do but I was so sure I will take out more from reading this book and I was not wrong. After reading lots of reviews on GoodReads I decided to get a copy and see what I'm doing wrong or need to start doing. In this article, I'll share the insights I learned from reading Austin Kleon's: Show Your Work!

Hardcover of Show Your Work By Austin Kleon

You don’t have to be a genius

The first chapter starts with this very statement we always shy away from when thinking of putting our work out in the world. I personally have this problem when I think I'm not a genius so I shouldn't be talking or sharing about a specific topic and I'm certain a lot of us feel that way too. In this chapter, Austin proves that is not a good yardstick for measuring what work we should put out.

We should all be Amateurs because amateurs are willing to try different things, learn in public and share all the knowledge, rinse and repeat without the burden of thinking we have to be an expert.

Think process, not product

I like this statement so much! He's calling on us to start thinking of our work as a process and not a product. I can decide to create a book, course, tool, or even a library in private and come back with the finished product this is how a lot of artists and creators think.

This idea is different it's calling on us to share all the process behind the scenes of creating our work. You might think this is not a great idea may be because your process is messy and not streamlined for anyone to understand. Share it anyway!

Think Process, Not Product

People want to see how we create the things we create, from ideation to result and it's important to make them part of the journey to the product. You can think of it as a way of documenting your work out in the open.

Share something small every day

Once a day, share some part of your work it might be unfinished yes, remember think process nor product. Doing this will create compounded results as you see small changes leads to remarkable results.

"Put yourself and your work out there every day and you'll start meeting some amazing people." — Bobby Solomon

Share something small every day

The format for sharing doesn't matter, we have many different platforms like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube for showing our work. It's also important to have a domain on the internet where we own our own content and it's great for your brand.

"Carving a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time" — Andy Baio

Open up your cabinet of curiosities

Don't be a hoarder. Be open to sharing your process as well as where you get your inspiration and ideas from. The people you follow are interested in learning how you come up with all that you do and seeing as creatives it is evident we collect inspiration from different sources we should be open to sharing that too. Also remember, attribution is very important and we should attribute when necessary. How do you know when to do that I love this sketch flow that shows exactly how.

Open up your cabinet of curiosities

Tell good stories

We should all be good storytellers. When it comes to showing your work we should be able to tell great stories about the work we do and not selling your self short because you're either trying to be humble or modest.

Teach what you know

Learn to share your knowledge by teaching others too, this is by far the best way to keep improving yourself. Teaching people doesn't subtract value from you it actually adds to it.

Learn Teach

By teaching people what you've learned you get to solidify that knowledge more giving you even more leverage than you get if you just keep it to yourself.

Don’t turn into human spam

Sharing what you do online is great until you start overdoing it and only open to promoting your work without promoting or reading other people's work. It's always good to know when you're turning into spam. The people you're trying to reach care about your work the moment you make it all about yourself they sense it and can stop supporting or patronizing you.

Don’t turn into human spam

Be open and genuine, don't focus on the follower count or how many subscribers you have let that be organic, and remember people connect with you because they enjoy your work don't make them think you're just after the numbers or popularity.

Learn to take a punch

Be ready to take a punch. When you share your work publicly be ready for the good, bad, and ugly. People can be mean on the internet especially with relaying feedback or criticism. Don't feed the trolls if you get bad comments from your audience try to ignore or block them out. Only focus on the good things and the audience that finds value in what you're doing.

Sell out

It's okay to charge for the value you create. Many people are made to believe as content creators we all should be doing free work. It's okay to start putting out work for free but the moment you feel it's time to start charging them don't feel guilty about it. We put in all the work and effort and we also have bills piling upright so that's certainly a valid reason to charge for your work.

Sell out

Remember to pay it forward too when you are successful be open to pivoting other voices so they also can make it to where you are.

Stick around

It's not always going to be rosy. we can either feel success from all the work we've done or feel like absolute failures but it helps to think of this as a journey. The road to success isn't going to be smooth at all times and keeping at what we do regardless of the outcome should be something we always hold on to.

Stick Around

Of course, it's easier said than done when you feel you need to quit, take a break instead and continue when you feel alright to start again not start all over from scratch. it's hard to start over because our work still exists and all the knowledge gained from previous work still remains with us.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a very insightful read and I took away a lot from reading it. It's the type of book I can always pick up to go over again and again and still learn something from it. I really liked the artwork incorporated into it as well.

I'll rate this book 5 stars because it changed how I view myself as a creative person. If you are trying to build a brand or put more work out in the open as a content creator this should be the next book you read.

Get the book here :)

Discussion (1)

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Jordan Kalebu

A good one , Thanks for sharing