How to get TRACTION with your creative work: my three guidelines

You’ve been creating, making, doing and stressing, and STILL, the traction isn’t there.

What is traction?

Traction is when increasingly more people engage with your creative work.

Traction is when people increasingly like, subscribe and comment on your work.

Traction is when more and more people buy your products, and tell others about it enthusiastically.

When you don’t get traction, even after putting in a lot of work, it is disappointing.

So disappointing in fact, that you feel it physically. You lose momentum. Your initial excitement floats away. You lose faith.

It’s easy to get angry. To give up.

You may try something else, or you might operate at a low-hum. Not doing enough to make the dent you know you could.

. . .

We all have real, yet to be unearthed potential. We can all hone something that the world needs.

So we really, really, really do not want to stall or quit.

I’ve seen traction in my work. I’ve seen it in my writing; in my illustration business, in my social media engagement. I’ve had over 100,000 people read my articles in a month. I know that it is possible.

I know that it takes plenty of work. You know that.

I also know that with the right awareness, we can reach traction more quickly and more effectively.

I have not yet seen traction with my online product sales. I have not seen it in my podcasts, nor in my videos. I am optimistic. I have energy. I am excited.

Why? Because I know my guidelines. I know what works. Even in a rapidly changing world.

There are rules for traction that I know will work.

Here are mine: 

1. You must be continually improving.

I know so many people who create a lot, and they may even do it consistently. But traction never happens. Why?

They are not improving all aspects of what they do, their product, their brand, and even themselves.

“Extraordinary results happen only when you give the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work.” ~Gary Keller

You must stretch a little further with each piece you put out. You need the self-awareness required to be interested in improving, and figuring out how to do that. Learn continually, and apply it to making your thing 1% better every time.

This means making it connect emotionally; it means telling a more succinct and memorable story; it means sharpening your style and threading more finesse into the process.

It is better to put out something less than perfect than nothing at all, but you can not afford to allow quality to decline. You cannot afford to be sloppy.

Continually expand your value. Be obsessed with getting better. Do whatever it takes to make your product and the brand around it irresistible to people. It can be with the right amount of attention.

Don’t keep butting your head against a wall. Improvement will change this.

If you don’t have the time and energy to improve what you do, you need to figure out a way to allow this to be. Put 80% of your work time into that thing rather than 10% into ten separate things.

In my case, producing incrementally better content that helps people be more productive is my 80% focus. It’s critical that I write, learn and talk about this particular area. 

It is the core aspect of my work because it brings attention to my brand, blog and my other products. It builds credibility for me in this field.

2. Be Aggressively Consistent

You’ve heard it before. Show up. Be consistent. However, it holds power when it comes to traction.

It is a continual process.

You must keep putting out material. Not just creating, but consistently sharing and marketing it too.

Follow Alex’s ideas like the above, on Instagram

This leads to getting more creative about what you produce. It means you start going deeper into your content, rather than skirting the surface. It is depth that makes people take notice, and see you as an expert.

To add some spice to this, you will get better results if you can be aggressively consistent.

Put more out than feels comfortable. Share more than the finished piece. Share the process; document your surroundings; tell your story.

This will speed up your progress and your process. It will also increase your motivation and your energy levels.

You will need to get disciplined about how you use your time, and when to block it out consistently to focus on the tasks that matter.

It is ok to be a creative maniac. It is a good thing to stir yourself up into a whirlwind of enthusiasm for your work.

In fact, it is your only option, if you want to reach traction.

Get excited, and commit to producing a LOT.

Picasso was the perfect example of this. He produced over 50,000 pieces, including drawings, sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and prints. Look at other world-class creatives, and you’ll see the common thread shared by most of them:

They were productive maniacs and were aggressively consistent.

3. Have a SIZEABLE foundation

You may be consistent, hugely talented, and continually improving, but still not see the engagement for which you were hoping.

That’s often because you have a small or non-existent foundation.

People need to see that you have a developed substantial foundation of work before they start taking you seriously. You need to show the world that you mean business and that you are passionate.

You must present a portfolio of work; a visible backlog of progress and past pieces.

More than anything, having a broad foundation of work behind you means that you have taken the time to evolve; to develop a skill to a much higher standard. It is those sharper skills that lead to traction because people can see and sense them.

People know when you have experience and have demonstrated persistence. They respond to it.

“Repetition is persuasion” ~Scott Adams

Before I started seeing any traction with my writing, I had built up a foundation of over three hundred written articles on my blog. People began to take my work seriously after this point.

This is why I have a rule I call the ‘The 300 Rule:’

Don’t expect to see any traction or any enthusiastic response until you have put out at least three hundred written articles (or their equivalent concerning work put in).

Knowing this instils a renewed energy in those that hear it, as it does for me.

When you see that you have a foundation to build, all there is to do is to go out and create it. That is exciting. This excitement will move you towards traction more quickly than had you merely ambled along.

Of course, you can see success before you hit the magical three hundred, and many of you will. Just don’t expect it. Don’t be disheartened when nothing happens.

Just keep pushing forward.

Follow the above guidelines, maintain your path and have faith in what you set out to do.

The results will come.

– –

Here’s your action step:

Commit to a content schedule for one piece of output, whether an article, a drawing or a podcast that goes out at a particular time, at consistent times each day or week.

Get an accountability partner at our Red Lemon Slack group or pay for one on Coach.me.

For example: I will write and publish an article every Tuesday and Friday before 11 am no matter what; no matter how you feel. It gets done, and it gets published.

Put it in your calendar and set reminders.

Make the commitment and make sure it gets done.

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