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Austin Kleon, in the middle of an amazing presentation on creativity, work, and the Internet:

6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it.

If there was a secret formula for getting an audience, or gaining a following, I would give it to you. But there’s only one not-so-secret formula that I know: “Do good work and put it where people can see it.”

It’s a two step process.

Step one, “do good work,” is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Fail. Get better.

Step two, “put it where people can see it,” was really hard up until about 10 years ago. Now, it’s very simple: “put your stuff on the internet.”

I tell people this, and then they ask me, “What’s the secret of the internet?”

Step 1: Wonder at something. Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.

7 Responses to “How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)”

  1. on 13 Apr 2011 at 2:25 amTom

    Saying “put it on the internet” is the answer to putting it where “people can see it” seems rather extraordinarily oversimplified. If the good work you do is funny youtube videos, you might be right, but if you are an artist or a musician or a writer or a painter of a more serious bent, figuring out the right place on the internet to get your work, or how to get the right people to link to it, and so on, is not nearly so simple.

    If I wanted to start reading really good fiction posted on the internet, for example, I’d have no idea where to start. Which is to say that if I’d written really good fiction, posting it “on the internet” would not do a lot to find me an audience.

  2. on 13 Apr 2011 at 7:53 amjon

    What are the other 9 things?

    I appreciate that you include the concepts of reflection and revision in the “doing good work” step. It’s highly improbable that “good work” will exist without it.

  3. on 13 Apr 2011 at 9:58 amDan Meyer
    jon: What are the other 9 things?

    Gotta click the link.

    Tom: Saying “put it on the internet” is the answer to putting it where “people can see it” seems rather extraordinarily oversimplified. If the good work you do is funny youtube videos, you might be right, but if you are an artist or a musician or a writer or a painter of a more serious bent, figuring out the right place on the internet to get your work, or how to get the right people to link to it, and so on, is not nearly so simple.

    Chalking the creative output of the Internet to “funny youtube videos” is probably the definition of “oversimplified.” Name the creative endeavor. It isn’t hard to find somebody whose career has been made on the Internet. Your choice of “fiction” is particularly simple to locate:

    Amanda Hocking is 26* years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. This is her blog. And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book1/70% per sale for the Kindle store – that she makes a lot of money from her monthly book sales. (Perhaps more importantly: a publisher on the private Reading2.0 mailing list has said, to effect: there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own.)

  4. on 13 Apr 2011 at 2:13 pmJohn Lustig

    It is the simple things that stick. Taking a good idea and replicating it or even making it better leads to transformation. Anything that is innovative and does not promote status quo practices, sounds like a great practice for educators.

  5. on 14 Apr 2011 at 3:19 pmGuin the Sped teacher :)

    I love your ideas!!! It’s shooting off sparks in my brain of things I can do with my 4th grade special education students to help them see the big picture!! I am thinking of all kinds of cool things we can do outside of the classroom and pencil paper tasks so they can “get it” more so than any worksheet I can stick in front of them! I look forward to reading more of your blogs and discovering what other types of ideas I can come up with it!! :)

  6. on 14 Apr 2011 at 5:40 pmTom

    Dan:

    Of course you can find someone whose career has been made online in most fields, but that doesn’t really address my fundamental point.

    It doesn’t strike me as a coincidence that every time I read about a self-publishing success story, it’s someone writing in genre fiction (sci fi / fantasy) of the kind for which there exist large entrenched internet discussion groups, often linked to online and human social groups (conventions, etc).

    From what I can tell, Hocking’s key business move was sending novels to the right bloggers for review and presumably turning them on. This isn’t so fundamentally different from sending her book to publishers for review as she had done before. In both cases she pushes her work on someone who can help her market it. She just found a more receptive audience in the blogosphere than in the publishers.

    None of this is to say that your base points are wrong, but it is to say that I think the question of how you put stuff where the right people can see it is a complicated one, and that “the internet” is still talked about too much as magic pixie dust when it happens to be the medium that leads someone to success (i.e. when an influential blog and not a print review pushes you to fame).

  7. on 15 Apr 2011 at 12:36 amEmilie

    Hello!

    I’m a french math teacher (Paris) , I’ve just discovered your blog this morning surfing on the web. I think that’s amazing the way you bring mathematical problem to your students.
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing all your ideas, I’m going to use it with my own class. I really appreciate your vision of teaching and your classroom management is remarkable.
    (Sorry for my English…I’m improving it reading this blog ^^)

    Emilie