Show Your Work by Austin Kleon is a must-read book for creators. No matter what creative work you do, you must put your work out for others to see. That’s how you find an audience and achieve success with what you do.
I know many creative people who are not achieving the success and appreciation they deserve. After reading this book, I know exactly what the problem is. It is because these people are not showing their work. Most of them are perfectionists and they think that their work is not good enough or incomplete.
Austin talks about documenting your work, teaching what you know, and including other like-minded people to join the process along with you. He says that you don’t have to find an audience if you show your work. Instead, they will find you.
This book is about sharing what you love and sharing the process of your work. People love to know what goes on behind the scenes. So tell stories and provide value to people’s lives. Take feedback from your audience. Listen to what they have to say about your work.
You don’t have to be an expert. Instead, be an amateur. It is easier to be an amateur and share your work than to do so as an expert. Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.
Creative work is about the process, not the product. Like in any other field, there is a lot to learn in the creative field before you become an expert at something. But the best part is that in creative work, you can share your journey. You can find something you want to learn and do it in front of others. So, you can share your success and failures. Your work can be an inspiration to others in the same community.
“The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.”
“Share what you love, and the people who love the same thing will find you.”
Sharing your work has become easier than ever. Social media has given us the platform to share whatever we want and even connect with many people. It is also good to have your personal space where you can share whatever you want. Austin suggests that you get a domain with your name and start a website/blog. Even though social media allows you to connect with many people, you cannot rely on them and consider them as your audience. Having your own space allows you to connect with your audience directly—with an email list, for example.
“In this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.”
“We don’t always know what’s good and what sucks. That’s why it’s important to get things in front of others and see how they react.”
Start documenting your work and recording your process. As you do so, you’ll start to understand and see your work more clearly. In addition, you will feel like you are making progress. Sharing becomes easier if you document the process. However, you don’t have to share every part of the process. Don’t share everything you have documented. Instead, share a little something every day. But most importantly, share.
Don’t know what to share? Here are a few things Austin suggests:
- Share your influences and what’s inspiring you.
- Write about your methods or share works in progress.
- Show the final product, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned.
- Report how your projects are doing.
- Tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.
Learn to take criticism. You cannot satisfy everyone. Austin says, “When you put your work out into the world, you have to be ready for the good, the bad, and the ugly.” So, you should not let the haters stop you from doing the work you love and sharing it.
“The more criticism you take, the more you realize it can’t hurt you.”
“You can’t control what sort of criticism you receive, but you can control how you react to it.”
You can share other people’s work too. But, remember always to give credit when you are sharing other people’s work. If you don’t know the creditor, don’t share. Further, learn to appreciate other’s work too. Don’t be jealous of their success. Instead, celebrate together. Help, support, and inspire each other.
Try new things. Be curious. Do more. Share more. When you complete something, start something new. Always keep the ball of creativity rolling.
I highly recommend you to read Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. His work has inspired not just me but many best-selling authors and creators like Ali Abdaal, Ryan Holiday, and more. So grab your copy of the book and start showing your work.