Show Your Work! Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Show Your Work! talks about the importance of being discoverable, showcasing your work like a professional, and networking properly in order to succeed with your creative work.

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Show Your Work! Summary

It’s no secret that we live in a highly competitive world. While digitalization and social networks help billions of people every day to share insights with each other in an instant, this disruptive factor has led to an increase in the level of competition worldwide. Being good isn’t enough anymore, and geographical locations often mean nothing in the professional world. Fortunately, Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon can teach you how to stand out from the crowd, let people be part of your process, form the right network, and allow yourself to become findable. 

How? Let’s explore my three favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Creativity is a shared process, so make sure to establish connections and keep track of your work.
  2. Nowadays, being a clever professional and showcasing your work implies building a strong online presence.
  3. People who think alike are more prone to help each other out, so build a platform to attract those people to you.

To learn more about showcasing your work, networking right, and being more curious and open to ideas, keep on reading, as we’ll explore each lesson one by one!

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Lesson 1: To be a successful creator, you have to stay connected to a network and document your work

Conventional theory teaches us that geniuses are oftentimes antisocial creatures. That they spend their lives trapped in their own minds and as a result, masterpieces emerge. However, this approach to creativity is wrong. Because it fails to address the role of curators, friends and families, sources of inspiration, and many other contributors. Therefore, a great first step towards becoming a creative genius is to network, share, and be open to new perspectives.

The process of creating added value in the world is a complex one, but one thing is for sure: no great mind developed a masterpiece solely on its own. Only by reading previous work, researching, sharing ideas, and listening to others, can we build a comprehensive bigger picture and come up with even greater concepts. Once you start contouring your masterpiece, you’ll have to document it. 

Showcase your process, the journey behind it, and develop an audience around it. Because frankly, the world is full of hidden geniuses, so why become one of them? Don’t be afraid to show the world your work, even if it’s unfinished. Therefore, go online! Create a community on a forum, a social platform, or even Youtube videos. Documenting can help you receive highly valuable feedback as well, so there’s a lot to gain from it!

Lesson 2: To grow as a professional, you must go online and build a community there

The author swears by the value of an online presence. He states that if it wasn’t for his website, many of his books, art shows, and even friendships, wouldn’t exist. Truth be told, the online environment plays a huge role in our lives. Whether we like to admit it or not. It’s where we connect most with each other and share ideas, concepts, life events, struggles, and whatnot! 

Showcasing your work doesn’t mean just popping up at events, meeting new people, talking proudly and enthusiastically about your portfolio of skills and accomplishments, but also being present where everybody is: online! The internet provides a series of opportunities for professionals in all fields, and it’s the only place where you can meet everyone at once. While social media is a great way to connect with your audience, the author thinks they’re not going to be here forever, just like in the case of MySpace. 

Unlike social media platforms, websites are safer. Once you buy a domain and make sure to renew it before the expiration date, you get a personal space online to showcase your work the way you want to, such as through a blog. In fact, this is how the author started out as well. He shared his ideas and stories through blog posts, and then went on to become quite popular because of those. The lesson here is: build a website, buy a domain, and invest in a web designer. 

Collect email addresses to share important updates and news, and keep posting regularly. This way, when someone new encounters your web page, they’ll see it’s an active and valuable one.  At the same time, your normal audience will keep on receiving what they signed up for and therefore remain loyal to your website. You could also insert a few “buy now” buttons to monetize your work if that’s one of your goals too. However, quality, relevancy, and added value should be your main priority.

Lesson 3: Use your platform to attract and inspire people who think like you

To make the most out of your platform, it’s particularly important to share the right ideas and create a general theme that speaks to your personal interests and your own view of the world. Why? Because as you’ll post regularly you’ll attract a certain niche, and those will be your main audience. 

People will come to you because they’re interested in what you have to offer. And since there are people for any area of expertise, you’ll want to go for something that you’re passionate about. That way, you end up building a community with people who are similar to you. More importantly, as you attract and connect with them, you’ll build a community in which members will help each other out. How will this benefit you? Through referrals.

As you post valuable content and give credits to the references used, they’ll do the same for you. Growth follows more growth, and authenticity will always be respected and valued. There will be times when your true opinions and what you love will be disrespected. However, you ought to stand true to your perspective and your passion. In time, the right people will find you and become your loyal audience, then turn into your loyal customers, and later on advocates.

Show Your Work! Review

Show Your Work! emphasizes the importance of networking correctly, creating a loyal audience to support your work, and most importantly, showcasing the part of your work that creates added value, inspires people, and shows your authenticity. Reading this book will shed some light on the importance of being discovered rather than remaining an unknown genius, and why leaving a trace through your professional endeavors is something you should aim for.

Who would I recommend the Show Your Work! summary to?

The 30-year-old artist who feels embarrassed to showcase and advertise their art, the 35-year-old employee who has great ideas at work but is afraid to speak up, or the 40-year-old entrepreneur who wants to learn how to become more popular online and advertise their business.

Last Updated on February 20, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.