I picked up Austin Kleon's "Show Your Work" as a bedtime read, but underneath it's colourful cover is a novel framework for every modern creative worker to build an online presence around their work. I didn't sleep very much that night and I took notes – it's the exact marketing framework I have been searching for.

His framework is not just useful for artists, but also for engineers, entrepreneurs, marketers, and innovators in any field.

Common Sense Way to Share Your Work

2 common traditional frameworks to share your work

1. Create then promote your work

Most of us (me included) are taught to believe :

  1. Your work is separate from your process
  2. Don't show your work until it's finished
  3. Promoting your work happens when your work is done, or close to the end of it

This framework is illustrated on the left.

2. Gather an audience that might like your work

If you have done any sort of social media marketing or online marketing, you will recognize the framework on the left.

  1. Pick a target audience that you think will like your brand/work/product/service/book
  2. Share content that will interest them so you build an audience
  3. When your work is ready release it to this audience

Draw Backs of Common-Sense

The biggest downside of using method 1 is that when you release the work, there might not be an audience there waiting for your work. Therefore marketers came up with method 2.

The biggest downside of using method 2 is the man-power that is required. Constantly releasing content your audience will like is a full time job. This works well for big brands, but will take a toll on a single creator or a very small team.

I tried both, they are both not overly practical nor sustainable.

Austin's New Marketing Paradigm

Austin Kleon's internet marketing framework
My visual interruption of the Austin Kleon's framework

What Austin Kleon proposes fill the needs of modern creative individuals extremely well. Out of his many insights I think one stood out for this purpose – your work process is just as important as your work.

your work process is just as important as your work

In the digital age, it makes way more sense to document your work as you make progress and share those documentations with the world. This can be a photo, video, Tweet, idea board, a blog post, etc. He goes in much more depth about what to share, read his book.

As you share your work online eventually the people that are drawn to your work will find you, and the people you will attract will be actually drawn to your work.

What to do with the information

Since finishing the book, I realized that I already produce a lot of documents as I work. I think most of us do, but just don't realize it. All we really need to do is to polish up the work documentations and start sharing.

For example, this post is from my reading notes. I read the book in the search for a more effective and productivity way to look at social media, blogging, etc. I have only been exposed to the first 2 methods, and I have always felt a lack of authenticity in them. Kleon's book outlines much more authentically way of sharing work.

Now, I have just shared my reading notes. And I encourage you to share your work in progress, you will feel freeing.

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Nancy Lin

I'm a new mom & an entrepreneur trained in engineering and finance. I enjoy designing systems.
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