A few days ago I asked this question:
Is there a path to creative success?
As I’m sure you know, the answer is yes.
Now, the definition of success varies wildly. But I like to define creative success like this:
The ability to do creative work we’re proud of and to keep doing that work.
By that measure, most of you reading this are already creatively successful. You just might not know it yet.
If there is a path to creative success, what is it?
Here’s part of it: Consistency.
Choosing to show up ever day.
Choosing to do the hard and frightful work, day in and day out. Not waiting for permission. Not waiting for inspiration. Not waiting for a faster, fancier, more expensive gizmogadget.
Whatever it is you want to do with your art, you have to show up every day and make something. Failing to do this will be your single biggest roadblock to doing your best creative work.
As you know, I’ve been at this full-time writing racket for 5 years now. And still, day after day, for 5 years, one of the biggest challenges is to get my butt in the chair and write.
Once I’m here, typing, the second biggest challenge is to be honest.
Because — as I mentioned yesterday — when it comes to creativity and entrepreneurship, I consider the most important advice I to be this: focus on consistency and honesty.
Consistency and honesty are, I believe, the backbone for how you can make a living as a creative entrepreneur / artist.
Consistency is important for two reasons:
First off, the internet thrives on patterns and regularity; showing up every day lets people know they can rely on you to be there. It also keeps things moving and is the “machine” you use to build your business assets and stock and flow content.
Secondly, even if you’re a talentless dweeb like me, writing (or doing anything) every day will help you become better at that craft.
Honesty is important because it’s how you build trust with others. (Obviously.)
Do you want to earn the respect and long-term attention of your audience? Be honest. Always seek to provide at least 51% of the value between you and your readership.
Regardless of how you serve your audience, always give as much as possible. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
Do this and you’ll be signing up to play the long game. By building trust and providing “preeminent” value, you’re proving to folks that you’re the real deal and you have something to offer.
Five years ago, when I first announced that I was quitting my job to write here for a living, I asked people to sign up for a subscribing membership at $3/month.
400 of you signed up the first day.
As much as I like to think you signed up because my sales pitch was awesome and heart-felt, the truth is that it was awesome and heart-felt… No, seriously, those of you signed up for a membership back in 2011 did so because I’d been writing consistently on my site for several years. Over those years I built up trust you guys — with my readership — and so when I asked for your direct support, it was an easy decision for hundreds of you.
A few years later, when I launched The Focus Course, 600 of you signed up in that first week. And it wasn’t because The Focus Course has an awesome landing page (Though it certainly does. Thanks, Pat!). It’s because I’d been writing about focus for so long that you guys trusted the course was not just snake oil.
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To sum this all up:
People want to connect to the artist as much as (if not even more than) they want to connect to the art. That’s why a signed book is so much more valuable than the Kindle version; a live concert more memorable than listening to an album on iTunes.
Consistency means relationship building. Remember from 1,000 True Fans? This is where you connect with your readership, audience, customers, and provide ongoing value to them.
Consistency is also means doing the work every day. Never wait until you’re inspired to do the work because quantity leads to quality. (Which is a whole other topic we’ll dive into later.)
Honesty means making the choice to be transparent and genuine. Have fun.
Showing up to do the work every day isn’t easy. And there’s more to it than just putting your butt in the chair and writing for an hour.
You’ve also got to think about how you’re spending your time and energy when you’re not in the chair. Up next, I’ll be sharing about keeping life in balance.