Show Your Work

July 19, 2020

People are interested in how you work, if only you presented it to them in the right way.

Build good reputation online.

Carve out 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.

How can you show your work when you have nothing to show?

  • Scoop up the scraps and the residue of your process and shape them into some interesting bit of media that you can share.
  • Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down.

Share something small every day. Send out a daily dispatch. After you are done with day’s work, go over your day and find one little piece of your process that you can share. If you work on something a little bit every single day, you end up with something that is massive. One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into something special.

Whether people show up or not, you’re out there, doing your thing, ready whenever they are.

If you are in early stages, share your influences. If you are in the middle, share your work in process. If you have completed the project, share the final product and write about what you learned.

Credit is always due. If you share the work of others, it’s your duty to make sure that the creators of that work get proper credit. It is the right thing to do.

Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. The same is true of your own work. The trouble is, you don’t always know what’s good and what sucks. That’s why it’s important to get feedback.

Don’t post things online that you are not ready for everyone in the world to see. Post as though everyone who can read it has the power to fire you. What will your mom think? There is a big difference in sharing and oversharing.

Tell a story. When given an object, people’s assessment of it - how much they like it, how valuable it is - is deeply affected by what you tell them about it. Words matter. Stories matter. People want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work affects how they value it.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re always telling a story about your work. Every email you send, every text, every conversation, every blog comment, every photo/video/tweet - they’re all bits and pieces of a multimedia narrative you’re constantly constructing.

Teach what you know. Think about what you can share from your process that would inform the people. What are your techniques? What kind of knowledge comes along with your job? The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful links. Create tutorials. Make people better at something they want to be better at.

If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice.

Find your kindred spirits. As you put yourself and your work out there, you will run into your fellow peers - the people who share your obsessions, the people who share similar skills, hobbies, etc. Do what you can to nurture your relationships with these people.