I read a fantastic article a short while ago written by the great Ryan Holiday. In it, he tells a short story about an exchange between Jerry Seinfeld and an amateur comedian.
Young and naive, the comedian asks Seinfeld for tips on how to market his work for more exposure. ‘Exposure?’ Replied Seinfeld. ‘What do you mean, exposure? Just work on your act.’
Seinfeld is shocked and appalled by the question. Offended, even. A pure veteran in the comic world, Seinfeld doesn’t deem it necessary to focus on marketing, exposure or any of that other stuff.
Like the budding comedian, many of us waste a lot of time getting bogged down with the specifics of the digital world of creativity. We wish to learn the secrets - the tricks of the trade and ways in which we can growth-hack our way to success. But it’s not about that.
Sure, those things have their place. But they should never supersede our efforts to improve our skills. I’m a writer. I could spend days trying to figure out how to gain more exposure, but I don’t. Instead, I focus on becoming a better writer so that anybody who does find my work loves it and finds value in it and therefore feels compelled to share it.
Is that the right approach? I don’t know if there’s such a thing, but there’s no doubt that countless creatives across the globe have lost sight of the most important part of their craft: becoming the best at what we do.
So take a break from the marketing, growth-hacking and personal branding and spend a little time improving your work. You won’t regret it, and you’ll probably benefit a lot more form doing so.