Five Reasons Creatives Should Build In Public

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For over three years, I worked on my book in a vacuum.

I loved the practice of daily writing in solitude.

The problem was that I had no idea whether or not what I was creating was actually something people in the world would appreciate.

I know that I shouldn’t ultimately care about what others think about my creations, however, I did find myself eagerly wanting others to read and respond to my ideas.

In my 38th month of writing, I discovered Write Useful Books by Rob Fitzpatrick. His approach to writing in public is something that has forever changed my approach to (and opinion of) creating things in public.

Building in public refers to the practice of transparently documenting and sharing the progress, challenges, and learning experiences of a person or organization as they build a project or pursue a goal. This often involves sharing updates on social media, blogs, podcasts, or other channels, and is often embraced by startups, solopreneurs, and creators as a way to build a following, receive feedback and support, and gain exposure. Building in public can help foster a sense of community, increase accountability, and provide a valuable source of content and insights for others to learn from.

For those musicians out there, this is equivalent to the 100 days of practice trend that hit social media several years ago. In exchange for sharing their practice routine every day, the hope was that the musician would gain a robust following of fans that they could connect with in the future.

The challenge for creatives, of course, is that we’re hesitant to put anything out into the world until it’s perfect.

While I do think there is still some magic in saving a new piece of art to be seen on the concert hall stage or in the gallery for the first time, I believe there are five huge advantages for creatives to share in public.

  1. A creative’s ability to market themselves is the future of our field. Like it or not, the creatives who can build a following online are going to benefit in real life. Building in public is one great way to build an audience and to ensure that what you’re creating is on the right track.
  2. Building in public builds the habit of regular posting. When it comes to building an audience online, consistency is the key. Developing a habit of building in public is a great way to get into a routine because it gives you something new to post on a regular basis.
  3. Building in public forces you to embrace imperfection. Perfection is the enemy of consistency when it comes to regular posting online. Find beauty in the imperfections of your work in progress and build confidence in allowing yourself to regularly post about the things that make you human.
  4. Building in public helps you gain valuable insights from your community. I went through an extensive beta reading process with my book, gaining valuable insights from a community of about 40 readers. Over the course of six months, they gave regular feedback and support on my writing, which was only about 70% complete when I sent the manuscript off to the first group of readers. The insights and wisdom I received from them objectively made my book better.
  5. Building in public enables you to connect with other creatives. One interesting thing about building in public is the community it creates. Being vulnerable and putting out a creation that is not fully baked is a great way to start a conversation and commiserate with your community. The most important part is not your creation itself, it is the exchange of ideas that comes after, making your sharing in public routine invaluable.

Whether you are writing a book and inviting beta readers into your writing process, committing to 100 days of practice, or building a new online course and asking for feedback, building in public is an incredible way to build a following and learn from your community.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll consider diving in today.

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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