Book Review: Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
“It’s not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to be findable” (Kloen, 2014, location 19).
As Austin Kleon began his book, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered*, he emphasized that in order to be successful in today’s world you need to be able to be found. One way to be found is to share your work, show your work, and work out loud. The fact that he wrote about showing your work and working out loud is what attracted me to this book. I think it is a very useful book to help individuals start working out loud in this new world.
Kleon’s book is 224 pages long and spans 10 chapters. Each chapter walks the reader from a position of not sharing at all to someone who is very active in the sharing community and sharing to learning.
Kleon shared his content in a very easy to read manner. Even though it was 224 pages, I was able to read it very quickly. In his first chapter, “A New Way of Operating”, Kleon pointed out that very successful people who he is following are very active sharing their products, their processes, and their thinking. I am finding this to be similar to the people I follow. I listen to their podcasts and read their blogs and they’re very willing to share so others can also be successful. Through this sharing, I have come to appreciate their expertise, and as a result, I have also purchased from many of them. I have purchased from them because I have come to appreciate what they have shared and have developed a level of trust.
Kleon noted that in order to grow we have to learn from other people. This means we have to hang out where these people are communicating, and in time, we also have to contribute to these communities. He explained that for artists and creative types there were physical locations that they would go to collaborate but as the world has moved to digital, there are also virtual spaces like blogs, forums, and discussion boards where they can have these collaborative opportunities.
As Kleon went deeper into his book, he offered techniques and strategies for slowly and incrementally sharing more. He stressed we are all beginners at some point in time and a good way of starting to share is to just talk about your learning journey. Others following your learning journey can also benefit. He suggested showing a behind the scenes look of what you’re doing. You may consider it routine but others may consider fascinating. He also recommended documenting your processes to show others how to accomplish something.
According to Kleon, you should share something every day. Put something new out letting people know what you’re working on, challenges you’re having, and teachable moments. This may start a dialogue with somebody else. The benefit of all these daily posts is they build up over time and this is how you become findable. With more content, Google search engines have an easier time finding you. As you keep adding to the network, the greater probability that you will show up in a search engine.
You don’t have to be everywhere; pick a platform that you like and share on that, but just go out and share. Some people complain they don’t have time to share on social media. However, if it is a priority for you, then you will be able to find the time. Look for those moments where you have downtime, and there’s always a moment of down time.
One of the more important pieces that I got out of this book was the question “so what?” Is what you are sharing useful? Is it useful to you? Is it useful to someone else?
The discussion about flow and stock was also very useful to me. The idea is that you have a regular flow of information and this balances with your stock, which is your evergreen material/ Evergreen material is content that can be used over and over again. Kleon noted that over time your content can grow from simple tweets to blog posts to articles to book chapters, and finally, to books.
Kleon also wrote about the importance of acknowledging others who are part of your process. If you find something from someone else, ensure you give proper attribution. This builds good karma. Not only do you recognize their hard work, they, in turn, may recognize you because you’ve highlighted their work. Always link back to your original sources. This is just good practice.
He also discussed using storytelling as a way to share information and even showed how you could use this strategy at a conference, workshop, or networking session.
One of the important notes that I got out of the book was that “if you want fans, you have to be a fan first” (Kleon, 2014, location 534). This means you need to go out and read what others are sharing and extend your appreciation by commenting, liking, or sharing. This is how you can extend appreciation and become a good fan.
This book has a lot to offer. There are tips from sharing in a virtual environment to working in a physical environment. Show Your Work! was enjoyable to read. Kleon created a path from having people know that you exist to actually monetizing what you do.
I think the concept of working out loud or showing your work is absolutely critical to businesses in today’s world. If you do not exist online, you pretty much do not exist. What’s the best way to get noticed? I believe working out loud, sharing what you do, how you do it ,why you do it is it is important. The book Show Your Work! can help you move from non-existence to a point where you are an expert in your area, your industry, and your domain. I recommend Show Your Work! for educators, volunteers, and business leaders.
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