As artists and technologists, we're in our own world. We're a unique breed. We're creating, designing and dreaming. That's part of our DNA. It's what we do best. Interacting with other humans... not so much.
For years I've been creating, but I haven't really been sharing. That has hurt me. I'm sure I've missed out on some great opportunities because I haven't been "loud" enough. This year, I decided to change that. I'm creating AND sharing. Everything I create, no matter how shitty, will be shared. I'm sure I'll have failures, but the exciting part is, I'm sure I'll have a few big successes. That's all I really want. In reality, that's all I really need.
You will fail. End of story. You'll fall on your face. But, the great thing is, the internet's attention span sucks. Your failure will soon be forgotten. Don't worry about it.
We're all here to make money. We need to eat. If you're doing this for the "love of the craft" then you're simply practicing a hobby. If that's you, there is nothing wrong with that, but I suggest you stop reading the rest of this article. You won't find it useful. For those of you who love what you do AND want to make a living doing it, read on.
Don't hide in anonymity. Use your real name.
Last year I switched all my accounts' user names to my actual name. No more hiding in the darkness. Whatever I said was now real. It counted. It's actually a weird but liberating feeling.
Go to meetups.
Seriously, do it. I know what you're thinking, "screw that, why do I want to talk with a bunch of random strangers? Most people that go to those are greasy salespeople". Guess what, you're right. Most of them are filled with people handing out business cards. Ignore them. Find people that are interesting. They don't have to work in the same industry as you, in fact, I'd suggest seeking out people in industries other than your own. You spend most of your time at work or school associating with like minded people, step out of that bubble and understand the needs and pains of others.
Want to know the secret to a good conversation? Shut the fuck up. Plays right into our wheelhouse, right! People LOVE to talk about themselves. Let them. Just listen and learn. You'll make new friends and gain a potentially valuable contact you can lean on in the future.
Create opinionated material and share the shit out of it.
It doesn't matter what it is, but it MUST have your voice. You must take a side. Nothing is more boring than a politically correct bland message. That's what corporations do. In an effort to please everyone, they please no one.
Create and be proud. Don't hide it.
I've been guilty of this for YEARS. I always had a feeling that my work wasn't good enough, creative enough or valuable enough. I wasted SO much time. I'd second guess my coding style, or my choice of design software. I got caught up in the design/development circle jerk.
I'm over that now. I'm sure my code can be refactored to run faster. I'm sure the way I use Photoshop could be improved. But I'm also sure that I'll never be 100% perfect and if I continue to strive for perfection, I'm 100% sure I'll fail.
Understand trolls will always try and bring you down.
It's easier said than done. The reality is, it stings. You'll question your work. You'll start seeing their point. You just have to realize they are wrong. Chances are, they are an insecure douche and have nothing better to do with their time than belittle other people. They are faceless.
Being loud doesn't mean you need to be obnoxious.
"The squeaky wheel gets the most grease". It's true. Unless you make yourself known, nobody will care about what you're doing. It's also important to know there is a fine line between being loud and being obnoxious. I've seen people cross the line before and it's never a good thing.
Talk to people and discuss ideas.
In person is best, but a phone or email conversation will work too. We often get stuck behind our computer. Always remember a computer is just a tool. Feel free to contact me and talk.
Your ideas are not unique, your execution is. Ideas are like assholes, everyone has one. The differentiator is your execution. Think Different! ;)
Your first mission:
- Change all your accounts and use your real name
- Find a meetup in your area a go to it
- Create a small project and share it with your target audience. For example, if you're a front end designer/developer, create a nice set of buttons and give them away for free on Designer News, Reddit and any other design related community you can think of. Don't over think it. Just create something and share it. You have 24 hours. GO!
For the brave souls that accept the challenge, please let me know how it goes for you. I'd love to hear your stories!
Have other tips or strategies that have helped you? Let me know and I might update the article.
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