Isn’t the Internet great?
Never in human history have we had a better tool for getting our creative work in front of more people.
I’m now able to draw a picture on my iPad, and instantly share it to thousands via Twitter and Instagram. I may even pick up a few likes.
The thing is, with such a wonderful, free tool, you’re not the only one doing it.
Millions of other bright-eyed artists are taking to the Internet to share their work too.
And so the challenge is not in the actual sharing of creative work, but in getting the attention it might deserve.
Attention is an extremely valuable currency in a world whose creators are clambering to be seen.
We need attention to have someone to create for in the first place.
We need attention to build a following; to make money; to gain recognition and to make a difference.
Most of us need some attention to maintain a shred of sanity as we work hard to bring beautiful things into the world, too.
I certainly know how hard it is to work hard to produce something, only for it to get a few measly views.
If it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed in a sea of talent, yet it’s easier than ever to reach people, how do we get more attention, more of the time?
There are a few ways, including paying for advertising and getting someone famous to endorse your work. These might work in the short term.
But in the interest of genuine, organic and long-term attraction and attention, you simply must create in high quality AND in high volume AND with consistency.
To borrow and place a spin on Steve Martin’s ‘Be so good, they can’t ignore you’…
…Create so much they can’t ignore you.
There is a certain point at which your work will find what’s known as ‘traction’. Traction is a sign that your work is having an impact on the world.
Traction is when people start buying your product in greater numbers. Traction is when your user base starts to grow exponentially. It’s when people increasingly share your work.
No matter how good your work is, there is always a phase in which your work will have little effect on the world.
You can make a dent — perhaps even puncture a hole with your work, eventually. We see people make dents every day, and they put in the work.
You need to create a lot, with regularity, building up a pile of great work to start building this traction — to reach this tipping point.
Don’t expect real traction until you’ve put out hundreds of pieces of output.
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, says that ‘repetition is persuasion’. In fact,you can persuade almost anyone, with anything, if you persistently keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t go away.
There is credibility in volume. Which is why you must make more.
I didn’t get any attention when I was starting out as an illustrator for at least a year and a half of solid work. It wasn’t until I’d added over 150 illustrations on iStockphoto that anyone starting buying my work.
It wasn’t until after I had added over 350 illustrations to iStock, that I began attracting decent client commission work.
Creating plenty with regularity will improve your craft, and it will push you towards traction and attraction.
In fact, it is the only thing that will guarantee traction and ‘success’.You can only improve and attract more attention, the more you create.
Austin Kleon talks about how there is a phase before you are well known that you can use to get better at your craft in relative anonymity. Use this time to produce a lot, and become exceptional before you start gaining traction.
Most creatives — even extremely talented ones — never reach real traction because they don’t create in volume, consistently.
It might be the hard truth for some. It’s an even harder truth for people who make things, but don’t truly love, and get into flow with what they make.
That’s why your work needs to make you come alive.
You need to make a decision on what you will do every day (at least most days) to eventually create so much that people can’t ignore you.
You need to commit, and you need to persevere with patience. You need to be ready for that zero-traction phase. Expecting this will help you drive through it and continue to create.
As one of my online mentors Grant Cardone says: ‘Anything worth doing, is worth doing every day.’