As an entrepreneur, do you ever feel exhausted by the obligation of social media? The constant pressure to post, publish, tweet, share, update your status, and gain exposure? I have good news.
You can relax and do more of what you really love. Your creative work.
I was recently inspired by Cal Newport’s article on Rhodes Scholars. After interviewing several of them for research, he said he noticed a trend among them. They all seemed particularly annoyed by their press coverage. Cal says,
“When you win a Rhodes, not surprisingly, reporters will seek you out and write articles about you. Most of these articles follow the same shock and awe template of listing the student’s accomplishments, one after another, in an attempt to overwhelm the reader.
It was this article format that annoyed winners.”
Cal later goes on to explain how the real reason these scholars rack up such grandiose resumes has little to do with seeking out impressive opportunities, but everything to do with their dedication and focus to their field while continually shipping high quality work. In short, opportunities find them, because they are making a difference in their field.
Most importantly, he concludes,
“Shipping things that are unambiguously valuable generates significantly more interesting and high-return opportunities than exposing yourself to lots of different people and ideas.
You probably don’t, in other words, need to invest dozens of hour a week into cultivating your social media community, or thousands of dollars a year attending feel good conferences, to stumble into the Next Big Thing in your career.
A significantly more effective path is to instead ship things that catch peoples’ attention.”
Did you catch the importance of that??
If you’re a creative entrepreneur, you will find far greater return in focusing on creating and shipping things of significant value, than you will on growing your email list or twitter or Facebook followers. It’s not about how many people you know or how much attention you get. When you are creating and shipping things of great value, the opportunities find you.
This is of particular interest to me, especially from a Digital Detox perspective.
I have spoken with many creative entrepreneurs who are convinced that the majority of their business success rests on their marketing exposure. The thought of cutting back on their social media time instills fear that it will negatively hurt their business and they’ll disappear into oblivion. And so the rat race continues, with significant amounts of time each day dedicated to crafting posts, publications, tweets, and shares, so that more people can find them. Unfortunately, putting so much faith into marketing exposure, so often keeps creatives from doing real work, when the majority of their time is spent trying to gain or maintain an image.
As I look back on my own experience the past few years, I can attest to how true Cal Newport’s theory is.
I started teaching online photography classes in 2010, when the entire concept was relatively new. I did my best to create the highest quality experience I could, and doing so brought me some of the following incredible opportunities:
- One student of mine happened to be an influential photography blogger. After taking my course she asked if she could be an affiliate, (something I had never done before), because she was so impressed by the course experience and knew her community would want to know about it. My affiliate relationship with her proved to be exceptional in growing my business.
- After making a few free videos and posting them on my website, I was contacted by Studio 5, Utah’s Lifestyle T.V. show, about appearing as a photography expert on their show. When I asked how they found me, they said that they had seen my videos on my blog and were impressed with my on camera presence and teaching. They knew I’d be a great fit. That invitation turned into an entire series of features.
- Shortly after taking my beginning photography course in person, two sisters asked me to photograph them for a magazine editorial that was featuring their business. This lead to my first publication, and a contract with the magazine for several other features.
- A few years later I took an online webinar from a world famous photographer. After the webinar series concluded, I was sent a standard survey for feedback on the course experience. (Yes, those same surveys, that many of us often ignore;) His course message had been great, but I had a dozen ideas on how he could improve his teaching and course experience. Bravely, I wrote out all my ideas, pushed send and went on with my life. Imagine my surprise when he personally contacted me and hired me as a consultant for his next class! That association led to speaking opportunities at conferences and played a significant role in changing my career trajectory.
I can’t identify a single pivotal moment in my career that came from social media or trying to meet the “right people”.
I’m not saying that it can’t happen. But I do strongly believe, that when you focus the majority of your time and efforts into shipping quality work, the opportunities and influential relationships really do find you.
This should come as a great relief to those that really love their work.
Stop worrying about putting YOURSELF out there.
Instead, focus on putting your highest quality WORK out there.
Brooke Snow delights in the pursuit of a meaningful life. Sign up for her FREE e course “Living A Thriving Life” to learn more about how to find true balance in your life. Brooke lives in Northern Utah with her calm husband, adventurous 5 year old son and bouncy baby girl.