The Book that Encouraged me to Start my Blog

The Book that Encouraged me to Start my Blog

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Featured on Hashnode

August will mark two years since I created my Hashnode account and started my blog. In reality, I wanted to start my blog months sooner but refrained due to fear and concerns about being judged on my writing. When I came across 📔Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon, it was the catalyst I needed to give me the confidence to take the leap and embark on my blogging journey. I am so glad I found this book and didn't let my fear hold me back since blogging has been such a rewarding experience.

Because this book was so instrumental in helping me start my blogging journey, I wanted to share the notes I took while reading it. I hope these notes will encourage you to start blogging and continue your writing journey far into the future 🙌🏽

1️⃣ Chapter 1: You Don’t Have to be a Genius

i) Find a Scenius

  • Scenius = ideas (masterpieces, products, etc) that are generated by a group of creative individuals. An “ecology of talent”.
  • Most of the time masterpieces of work are not created in silos.

ii) Be an Amateur

  • It is better to do something and contribute than to do nothing. There is a large gap between mediocrity and good. Even if you are mediocre, you can continue to make gradual improvements towards good.
  • If you share your passion, people who are interested in the same things you are will flock towards it.
  • Technology is moving at such a rapid pace that it is hard for people to keep up, and there are more amateurs out there than you think.

Quote of the Section 💬

Find a scenius, pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing. Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. - Austin Kleon

iii) You Can’t Find Your Voice If You Don’t Use It

  • The only way to find your voice is to use it.
  • If you want others to know about your passions and how awesome 😎 you are then you need to share it online.
  • You have a unique voice and it deserves to be heard 💛

2️⃣ Chapter 2: Think Process, Not Product

i) Take People Behind the Scenes

  • In all forms of work, there are two unique distinctions:
    1. Process
    2. Products of the process
  • You can form a unique bond with an audience by sharing your day-to-day process. By sharing this information you allow people to see the person behind the product.
    • Not only are people interested in discovering high-quality work, but they have a desire to be brought along in the creative process.
  • Believe it or not, people are actually interested in learning “how the sausage gets made.”

ii) Become a Documentarian of What You Do

  • There is an art to whatever type of work that you do and there are people who will be interested in that art if you present it to them in a compelling way.
  • How to show your work if you have nothing to show?
    • Gather the bits and pieces of your process and shape it into some interesting form of media that can be shared (ie, blog, YouTube video, etc).
    • Turn the seemingly invisible process into something tangible that people can consume.

Quote of the Section 💬 (This is one of my favorites throughout the book 🔥)

Whether you share it or not, documenting and recording your process as you go along has its own rewards: You’ll start to see the work you’re doing more clearly and feel like you’re making progress. And when you’re ready to share, you’ll have a surplus of material to choose from. - Austin Kleon

3️⃣ Chapter 3: Share Something Small Every Day

i) Send Out a Daily Dispatch

After you’ve completed your work for the day try and determine what part of your process you could share. This varies with the part of your process that you’re working on.

  • In the early stages?
    • Share what’s influencing or inspiring you.
  • In the middle?
    • Share works in progress or write about the methods you’re taking to tackle whatever take you’re currently focused on.
  • Completed the project?
    • Show the final product and/or share what you learned throughout the process.

ii) Turn Your Flow Into Stock

Stock vs. flow

  • Flow = feed. It’s the blog and social media posts. It’s the regular updates that remind people you exist.
  • Stock = It’s the durable stuff - the meat and potatoes if you will. It’s the content that people will discover via search and find interesting now and years down the road. It’s the stuff that will slowly build fans over an amount of time.
  • Magic equation = maintaining flow + working on stock
  • As you share regularly, you’ll start to see patterns in your flow. As you recognize these patterns you will take bits and bobs from them and it will help you build more substantial stock for the future.

iii) Build a Good (Domain) Name

  • A website is a great place to show your work. Fill your website with your ideas and things you're passionate about.
  • Don’t think of your website as a way to promote or sell yourself but rather as a “self-invention machine”.
  • Don’t focus on how many views your website gets. The important thing is that you’re putting yourself out there and doing your thing. If and when an audience flocks to your website, your content will be there waiting for all to see.

4️⃣ Chapter 4: Open up Your Cabinet of Curiosities

i) Don’t Be a Hoarder

  • Collecting and creating information are not as different as one might think. Typically one fuels ⛽️ the other.
  • Some questions to ask yourself as you reflect on what inspires you and which could potentially lead to helping you produce good material:
    1. What are you learning right now and where do you get that information from?
    2. What podcasts or newsletters do you subscribe to?
    3. Where do you get your inspiration?

ii) No Guilty Pleasures

  • Don’t be afraid to share what you like. Don’t worry about other people thinking it’s hip or cool. If you’re interested in it then other people most likely are too and those people will appreciate it.

iii) Credit is Always Due

  • This one is pretty straightforward. Give credit where credit is due. Never plagiarize. Always cite back to where you found information. If you’re sharing an idea or product that is derived from someone else's work, give them props. Don’t share something if you don’t know where it originated from.

5️⃣ Chapter 5: Tell Good Stories

i) Work Doesn’t Speak for Itself

  • If you want people to resonate with your work, you need to become a good storyteller. You need to be able to identify what a good story is and how to tell it.

ii) Talk About Yourself at Parties

  • When people ask what you do just give it to them straight. You should be able to explain your line of work to anybody. You may have to adjust how you explain what you do depending on the person you’re talking to but no matter how you do it, it should be understood by all. Tailor your response based on who you’re talking to.

6️⃣ Chapter 6: Teach What You Know

Share Your Trade Secrets

  • Try and share parts of your process that could potentially be beneficial to others.
  • When you learn something you should try and share it with others. Try and help people be better at things they want to improve at.
  • Don’t be scared that teaching your tactics will make you obsolete.
  • Turning back around and teaching something that you learned enforces that you truly understand a topic. If you can’t explain it well then you might not understand it as well as you think.

7️⃣ Chapter 7: Don’t Turn Into Human Spam

i) Shut Up and Listen

  • Make sure to be a fellow consumer of the audience that you would like to consume your content. Join the community.

Quote of the Section 💬

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’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector. - Austin Kleon

ii) You Want Hearts, Not Eyeballs

  • This section emphasizes that you want to connect with people on a deeper, emotional level and not just be concerned about the tally count of views.

Quote of the Section 💬

Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple. - Austin Kleon

8️⃣ Chapter 8: Learn to Take a Punch

i) Let 'em Take Their Best Shot

  • Punches = comments, and critiques on your work.
  • When you put your content out for the world to see you have to be prepared to hear the good, bad, and ugly. As more and more people see your work, you will be susceptible to more criticism.

Steps to allow you to handle the punches 👊

  1. Relax and Breathe - Take a deep breathe and accept whatever comments (positive or negative) that may come your way
  2. Strengthen your neck - One way to handle the punches is by getting punched a lot. So in order to prepare for this, you need to put out a lot of content. The more comments and criticism you can take, the stronger you'll get and soon you'll realize that the punches can't really hurt you after all.
  3. Roll with the punches - No matter what anyone says, keep persevering and doing what you're passionate about. You can't control what others say about you but you can control the quality of the work that you produce and how you react to comments.
  4. Protect your vulnerable areas - Don't be a scaredy-cat and not do something because you're worried about what others might say.
  5. Keep your balance - Always remember that your work is something that you do and does NOT define who you are. Keep close to your tribe and don't just define yourself by your work.

ii) Don't Feed the Trolls

  • Everyone has an opinion and the trolls like to show themselves when they can hide behind a computer. Due to this, make sure to carefully evaluate the feedback you get. Don't just listen to anybody. The feedback you should listen to should come from people who care about you and what you do. Be wary of feedback that does not come from within that criterion of people.
  • Consider not allowing anyone to comment on your stuff. If people really want to say something, let them reach out to you directly or maybe they'll even share how awesome your work is in their circles.

9️⃣ Chapter 9: Sell Out

i) Keep a Mailing List

  • This section is pretty straightforward. When you’re ready to regularly share your content, keep a mailing list. This will allow you to continually promote your work and maintain a loyal list of fans since they voluntarily agreed to be spammed by you 😁

ii) Pay it Forward

  • Make sure to thank those that helped you to get to where you are. Always give props and never forget where you came from. Always have an attitude of gratitude 🙂

🔟 Chapter 10: Stick Around

i) Don't Quit Your Show

  • Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Everyone’s careers have ups and downs so hang in there and stick it out.
  • Although you can’t count on success you can continually prepare for it. Make sure you’re always ready so that when your chance inevitably arrives, you’re ahead of the game and are able to take the most advantage of the opportunity ahead of you. Always be ready to be called into the game.

ii) Start Over. Begin Again.

  • Don’t get content with thinking you know all there is to know about something. There is always more to learn so continue to stretch yourself so you can grow and improve.
  • This section reminds me of the "Never Stop Learning" mantra from Thomas Frank.

Quote of the Section 💬

Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open. Document your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you. Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you. - Austin Kleon

El Fin 👋🏽

I definitely recommend reading Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon if you haven't done so already. Even if you've been writing for a while, it's still a great read and will ignite the passion to continue writing and sharing your work.

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As always, thank you for reading, and happy coding!