You’ve finally finished your masterpiece. You’re beaming.
You feel good about it this time.
Could this be your big break?
You’ve added a funky title and some trendy hashtags.
You hit publish, feeling a mix of excitement and some trepidation.
An hour later…
Three measly likes and a comment from a stalker.
Doesn’t the world appreciate quality art/tweets/photography/film-making/writing anymore?
Online guru guy said create GREAT content. That’s precisely what you did.
Maybe you do suck after all.
Your motivation to do more is out the window.
It could be days…weeks until you build up the courage to create something new.
. . .
Crappy traction. Anyone who has had anything to share with the world has been there.
Your confidence may have taken a hit, but the last thing you want to do now is to create less.
Many people say it’s all about the quality. But that’s not strictly true, even if it is the case for a few lucky one-hitters.
Creating QUALITY things is no longer the be-all-end-all solution to attracting an enthusiastic audience these days.
With the range, depth and amount of talent out there, bolstered by the fact that more people have access to better tools, quality is now a given. It is expected.
You can paint like Van Gogh (in public) today and still go unnoticed. It’s the sad truth.
But there is a solution…
To make an impact; to gain traction; to see engagement with what you do, now requires you to go beyond quality.
You need a host of other things too. Understanding your audience, creating from the heart, being authentic, being unique, being up to speed on trends a little, but most notably…
You need to show that you believe in your work.
When you create one or two great pieces, this might attract some attention, but usually, it’s not enough.
How best to show that you believe in your work?
By building a significant body of visible work. You need to be sitting on a pile of pieces before you can even expect traction.
The 300 Rule
I’d go as far as saying that you should not expect any traction until you have put out (published, shipped) at least three hundred great pieces of work.
This is the kind of quantity to look for at the very least.
No groaning at the back, please.
It is this level of quantity that leads to:
- Refinement and mastery of your skills;
- Being faster, more efficient and better at flow;
- A growing sense of momentum and energy;
- Getting a better sense of what people WANT;
- More ‘nodes’ through which to attract attention online and elsewhere;
- More ideas and more ‘aha’ moments that lead to more electric, more emotional output;
- Others believing in you because you believe in yourself, by showing up often or every day.
Repetition is persuasion.
There will be massive backing for what you do when you have given it massive backing yourself.
What kind of stuff?
When I say ‘three hundred,’ obviously this is an arbitrary number. It could be less than that, but it could be far more. This will vary depending on your form of output.
I’m talking about the kind of stuff that you can create in a day or so.
If you’re a writer, this might mean amassing 200–300 articles. For an artist, this might mean 300 days of solid painting. If you’re a photographer, 300 good images (out of thousands more).
I added over 350 illustrations to a stock website a decade ago before anyone gained any real interest in my pictures before I started a career as an illustrator.
I’m only just starting to get decent traction with my articles, having written over four hundred.
Beyond this, the pieces that make up your body of work are likely to gain much further interest if some commonality binds them; a common thread comprising one or several of the following:
- A common style;
- A common message or theme;
- A common medium;
- A common voice.
And so on.
It might be that the first 200–300 of the pieces or more don’t even have a thread because you are still finding it. That’s ok.
I hadn’t developed a style until I’d put out over at least 300 individual illustrations.
But you will get there by doing the work, testing, exploring and tweaking.
So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t getting the attention you feel you should be getting. It takes time and work.
This will come when you are aware of the value of creating a tight, and consistent body of work that is rippling with your character; your own voice.
Have faith, and don’t stop if nobody seems to be taking any notice.
It might be that you need this time in the ‘darkness’ to make mistakes, and get good.
It takes courage to publish something when no one is listening, but you must.
Keep creating in abundance; you must create relentlessly. The faster you go, the quicker the traction will come.
Eventually, all those little pieces you’ve been accumulating will reach a tipping point.
The moment when people can’t help but take notice.
If you have patience and awareness…
That day will come sooner than you think.