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Show your work: Who are your influences? What are you learning?

Apr 6, 2019

Show your work: Who are your influences? What are you learning?

I’ve been avoiding reading this book for months.

It’s been in my book stack, reminding me with its bright yellow cover that it’s there, ready to be read, ready to encourage me and give me new ideas.

Actually, that’s why i was avoiding it. I knew this book is about sharing what you’re working on, and over time it all builds up and you get noticed and it does you (and your business) good in the end.

And while I know that is true (and I preach it to my clients), what prevented me mentally was that I’m aware of how much i have to share, and feeling like it’s all cobbled together without one specific direction. It’s the niching problem all over again. Yes, I have a business with an exclusive niche…but that’s not the only thing I share.

One of my clients pointed out recently that i am constantly writing. “How come you’ve never written a book?” he asked. “You’re such a prolific writer, you’ve got so much content you can call upon to pull into a book.”

I do have a lot of content. I have blog posts, and documents and guides, and websites, and instagram posts, and these Notes you get every Saturday.

But despite the fact that I have an exclusive niche, this content can feel like a job lot, a pile of Legos that needs to be sorted through.

It’s not only written content. I also do sketchnoting and photography and sometimes, when i need a break or want to stretch myself creatively, painting and drawing.

There are so many things I’m learning and working on that it feels like a hodge podge with no theme. Walking, sketchnoting, photography, reading, marketing, creative agency, niche, travel, Isle of Mull, rest, Harry Potter….what stands out? What gets noticed? I have a few followers here and a few followers there.

I’m aware it sounds really arrogant to have this problem. “I don’t know what to share because i have so much to share.”

But really it’s the problem we all have.

There is so much to share.

How do we know what to share and what not to? How do we get people’s attention about the thing we’re working on, and get to where we want to be? How do we find ourselves, like Austin Kleon, writing a book called Steal Like An Artist and then following it up with Show Your Work and then the newest book he’s written called Keep Going? How did he get to that place?

It’s strange how I avoided reading this book. I was afraid it would just confuse me further. Too many things to share! Too much going on!

But actually (and this is the whole point of a book) it’s encouraged me quite a lot.

The message I’m beginning to see is that when you continue sharing what you’re learning and doing and writing and reading, eventually, a theme will emerge.

I’m still in the middle of the journey.

A few years ago i had someone ask if they could essentially franchise The Profitable Firm for another niche market. What we’re doing for accountants, but done for….financial planners. IT consultants. Designers. That sort of thing.

I really wanted to do it. I was flattered and honoured and i know I have a solid business that could achieve that, and I love mentoring and helping people. I wanted to help this person.

But I said no, because I’m still playing the game.

You don’t start coaching others when you’re still coaching your own game. We’ve won a lot of games here at PF, but right now we’re pushing through to the championship. Once we’ve nailed that, it can be franchise time.

Focusing on an exclusive niche is absolutely the right move. And we’ve been able to focus really well at PF because of it. What I’m working on now is discovering my own personal niche – the thing or things I, personally, do really well, and sharing those.

The key is to share what you’re working on, yourself – and also what interests you.

“What music do you listen to? What movies do you see? What do you collect? What do you pin to the cork board above your desk? Who’s done work that you admire? Do you have any heroes? Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do – sometimes even more than your own work.” Austin Kleon

Show your work

My influences are all worth sharing because they clue you into who i am, and what i do.

Sometimes even more than my own work.

I send these tips and sketchnotes out every Saturday! Sign up to get them here.