Show Your Work! Summary & Lessons Learned

Lately, I had been watching Ali Abdaal’s Youtube channel, which is all about learning how to study and how to be more productive.

I came across a video where he recommends the book Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. I was already familiar with this author because years ago I had read his book Steal Like An Artist, and had loved it!

Ali mentioned in the video how this book was one of the reasons that he started his channel, and that the book encouraged him to start his blog with his name as the domain name.

I became very curious and decided to start reading the book right away, as I felt that the content of this book might help me decide what to do with my own website.

Below I will share with you some of the lessons I learned from “Show Your Work!”, as well as some of my favorite quotes from the book.

  1. It’s OK to be an amateur: when someone is in the early stages of learning something, they are not afraid to make mistakes. They possess a certain enthusiasm about learning and a certain spirit that a professional might have lost in the journey. “Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”
  2. Document the process: if we record the creative process of the work that we do (not just the finished product), we will form an ongoing connection with our audience. “Whatever the nature of your work, there is an art to what you do, and there are people who would be interested in that art, if only you presented it to them in the right way.”
  3. Share the process: build a website with your name as the domain name, and share whatever it is that you are working on as long as it is useful or entertaining. “One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work.”
  4. Tell good stories: people love stories, and so it is important that we learn how to tell good stories. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. “Artists love to trot out the tired line, “My work speaks for itself,” but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them.”
  5. Don’t keep what you know yourself: Teaching others what we know will generate more interest in our work and add value to it, so don’t be greedy! “The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials. Create some tutorials and post them online.”
  6. Become worth following: don’t waste time trying to get followers, and instead use that time to get better and what you do. “How many people waste time and energy trying to make connections instead of getting good at what they do”

As I read the book, I thought to myself, “I’m always reading books about self-improvement, or watching videos about finance and nutrition. I have all this knowledge that I always wish I could share with others, yet I don’t.”

I bought my name as a domain name, just as Kleon recommends.

I came to the conclusion, that even if nobody ever reads my blog, then at least I will have this to leave to my children, and pass down all my knowledge that I have learned throughout life to them.

What is cool about having my name as the website’s domain name, is that the website can evolve with me.

As I grow older and learn from different experiences, my thoughts and values will mature alongside me.

I can write about anything I have learned, and not care about the google algorithm not ranking my blog posts high enough on the page.

I feel free to be me. I feel free to share whatever I want, whenever I want.

I needed somebody to tell me that was ok, and Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work! did just that!

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