The Art Of Self-Promotion: 6 Tips For Getting Your Work Discovered
Writer and author Austin Kleon shares some guidelines for promoting your work without spamming from his new book, Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered.
The subtitle of the writer and artist Austin Kleon’s new book, Show Your Work! is “10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered.” But that subtitle could just as easily be, “How to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerkface.” It’s an incredibly useful and compulsively readable short book about how to use social media and networking if you’re a creative person of any stripe.
Kleon, who gave the Keynote speech at this year’s SXSW, isn’t giving the same tired advice. The key to his method is to continuously share your work, whether or not you think it’s absolutely perfect, or absolutely finished. In fact, he encourages writers, artists, and musicians to pull back the curtain on their work and show the process. “By letting go of our egos and sharing our process,” Kleon writes, “We allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work, which helps us move even more of our product.”
We spoke to Kleon from his home in Austin, Texas, about how to use networking to your advantage, how to set boundaries to avoid burnout, and how to stop being what he calls “human spam.”
Don’t Worry About Being a Genius. Be a “Scenius”
Kleon cribs the term “scenius” from the musician Brian Eno. It means that you should get a group of creative people around you and have a collaborative relationship with them. Kleon cautions against the artistic myth of the lone genius pounding away in a garret somewhere. “Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute,” Kleon writes.
He created his own scenius online. Kleon says, “I think what has been the most remarkable in my career is that I’ve never been part of a geographical scene. I didn’t move to New York after college. I didn’t move to L.A. I moved to Cleveland, and there’s not a whole lot of a scene there. But what I did have was the Internet, and I became part of a scenius by putting my work out there. I started blogging in 2005, and back then, we were all connected, we just didn’t have social media in the same way as we do now. You’d just post things to your blog and people would send you comments or emails and you’d slowly find people as they stumbled across your work. When I did work I really liked and put it online, it attracted the people I wanted to meet. For me, being online, that was my scenius. That was my moving to New York in the ’70s. Or Paris in the ’20s.”
Kleon notes that you don’t have to be in the same medium as the people in your scenius. In fact, it helps if you’re not. He says since moving to Austin, he’s fallen in with musicians and filmmakers in addition to writers and artists, and those relationships have informed his work.