Show Your Work! – A New way of Operating

This book came my way after watching Ali Abdaal’s video How writing online made me a millionaire. Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work! is a great book and an enjoyable read. This book’s aim is to give the reader a way of getting noticed and gain an audience all the while doing what you do best. Ultimately a different way to self-promotion.

I had originally planned to make this as one post, which I struggled getting everything I wanted in. So, with some advice and a well timed post form K E Garland, I’m making this into a short series. I hope you enjoy.

Image from austinkleon.com website

This first chapter is really a starting point to the idea, and covers the whole concept in a nutshell. The idea of sharing your work, progress, learning and inspirations.

Almost from the start Kleon gives a quote from Steve Martin who always said “be so good they can’t ignore you”. Kleon adds to this by stating an audience to our work needs to find us, so we need to be good and findable. This really is true, the amount of talented artists, musicians, singers and actors out there is unreal, but because they don’t show what they are capable of they are never found. This is pretty true in most things, talent alone won’t get you far. Being able to put yourself “out there”, making yourself findable is also just as important.

With a nod to his first book Steal Like An Artist (soon to be read), Kleon says the people he “steals” form and admires all have one important thing in common, they share their work. So as they feverishly work away, they share snippets of the work online, things they have found in relation and even inspiration. They have built this into their own routine. In fact you should check out Kleon’s Twitter feed to see a great example of this.

Doing this can bring multiple advantages:

  • Shared Knowledge – for others to learn and develop.
  • Friendship – Finding like-minded people that can also help you as much as you help them.
  • Feedback – whether positive or negative, feedback can be helpful.
  • Patronage – if you are lucky followers might help you out finically, by buying your product or direct aid.

This book goes into depth about different ideas and advice on how this could help you and how you can take advantage of this method. As Kleon said ” I wanted to create a kind of beginner’s manual for this way of operating”. He wants us to change a view on this to a never-ending process of development, learning and sharing for all to see all the while becoming findable to an audience.

Finally to drive home how useful this can also be, Kleon explains how having a blog for example, showing all your own work, development and learning can help with future employment or clients. They can see what you are capable of and your knowledge without the need of a traditional resume. In fact, talking about padronism earlier, a hobby could always turn into a dream job with the right support.

This is the introduction to the book, the following chapters are far more in-depth and full of great advice and information. I highly recommend reading this book.


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