What to do After Your Work Goes Viral

The Truth About Going Viral

Everyone wants to be famous for something. We all want to do something epic, something worth remembering. But maybe fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I have good reason to believe that it’s not.

An archived post on my blog recently caught some traction and went viral, sending over a million people to my website in a week. It’s causing me to rethink why I do my work and whether or not artists should chase audiences.

Here’s what happened:

  1. An article about traveling while you’re young was picked up randomly by a student leader in Singapore one year after I published it.
  2. That person shared it on Facebook with a travel group he led on campus.
  3. Each person in the group shared this with their respective networks, and it spread to similar student groups in the Philippines and Malaysia.
  4. In about 24 hours, the post had made it all the way around the world, finishing its tour in Brazil.

The first time this happened, 0ver 150,000 people visited the blog. The second time, it was about half that amount. And then the third time, it reached over 1 million visitors and was shared via Facebook over 250,000 times — all in about a week. Pretty crazy.

But here’s the craziest part: none of that matters.

The confusion of virality

After the article went viral, I was confused and anxious.

What did this mean? Should I change what I write about, focusing more on this topic of travel? Should I try to keep as many of those visitors as possible? And what would I do when Monday rolled around, and I had to start blogging again?

The next week, I hit the old grindstone again, and the Internet had already forgotten about me. My traffic spike had mellowed out, and I was back to zero, forced to earn people’s attention all over again.

I tried to drag out the success, of course, tried to prolong that temporary feeling of fulfillment that fame brings. But for some reason, it wasn’t enough. And through the process, I learned something:

Every week I go back to zero. And so do you.

No single creative success can be sustained. That’s why you can’t create solely for profit or praise. In the end, the thrill never lasts. If you want to be an artist, there has to be something more than fame that sustains you.

Just ask Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was an inexplicable, runaway success. After she wrote the book and it raced up the bestsellers lists, people asked her a cruel question:

“Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to be able to top that?”

The answer, not surprisingly, was: Yes. She worried she’d never be able to write another book that achieved such success. In an amazing TED Talk, she said, “It’s exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me.”

This worry held her back, caused her to hesitate and wait years before writing and publishing another book. But eventually she did. And how she did it was unique. Courageous, even.

She went to work, anyway. She treated her life’s work as just that — a job.She started believing in the idea of a Muse, a spirit that indwells artists. She resigned to a more mystical, creative process, and began to understand that “success” wasn’t up to her.

No, her job was to show up.

We must do the same

No matter how amazing you are today, you have to get up and put the hours in tomorrow. And the next day. And so on.

Because that thing inside of you that causes you to create already forgot yesterday’s successes, it’s hungry. And if you don’t feed it something new, it will eat you alive.

That, my friends, is why artists kill themselves, why they get depressed after a monumental success and never create anything again. After going big with some huge, mega success that plummets them into instant stardom, they seemingly have nowhere left to go.

But that isn’t why they got into the game in the first place. And it’s not why you and I are in it, either. At least, I hope not.

Fame is not enough

Doing creative work for mass consumption is not fulfilling. Sure, it’s a nice byproduct, but it can’t be the focus.

This is why I write (and often) every day. Not for the fans and followers. But for me. Because if I do not, I feel like something is missing. The accolades never seem to completely satisfy. Only creating can fulfill you after the fanfare fades.

So do something creative today. Scribble a note in your notebook. Snap a photo. Bang out a few chords on the guitar. Hit “publish” on that blog post you’ve been stalling to write.

Show up and do your work.

Whatever you do, please, don’t live in the past. And don’t wait for the future. Now is all you have. So, artist, create. It’s what you were made to do.

Source: Medium

About the Author: Jeff Goins is a writer, blogger, and speaker who regularly talks about how to live a life worth writing about. He is the author of three books. For thoughts on writing and life, you can join his free newsletter.

4 Business Lessons from Giovanni DeCunto

What a Famous Artist Taught Me About Business

 

When I recently started spending time with world-renowned artist, Giovanni DeCunto, never did I expect to learn a thing or two about business.

In fact, I was spending time with him to learn about art; all kinds of art, including his paintings which have attracted celebrity collectors from around the world. He has spent more than 60 years studying art while also creating a name for himself as a global expressionist. His paintings may be found around the world in places like the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong and in the private art collections of Tony Bennett, Lionel Richie and Tom Cruise, to name a few.

 

In his effort to teach me about art, he unknowingly painted me a picture of a better future for my companies — a better way to run my empires. Here’s how to run a better business in four simple strokes:

1. Be that good.

One of Giovanni’s favorite quotes is that of Leonardo da Vinci — “Make sure it’s so good it doesn’t die with you.”  DeCunto strives for perfection on every canvas. He does not track time when he’s painting, because he allows nothing to detract from his sole focus of putting onto canvas what lives within him. For DeCunto, it’s not just about making art, it’s about making art so good that it will live forever.

In business, good enough should never be an option. A business, like a painting, may live forever if the original creator strives daily for absolute impeccable results.

2. Be disruptive.

Giovanni says that it is impossible to impact any person unless you disrupt or disturb then. We live in a world where communication is coming at us 24-7 from phones, email, text, voice, television and other outlets. If you can’t be heard, you cannot create impact. Giovanni says that he aims to create art that disrupts people when they see it, because by doing so, he can get into their head and create an impact, even just for a moment.

So it is true in business. If you want to create traction for your business, you need to get good at stopping people in their tracks, disrupting old behavior and making them think.

 

3. Finish what you start.

DeCunto says that he has never been able to leave a canvas in an unfinished state. Even if the painting isn’t done yet, it looks like it’s completed, and an observer could interpret its meaning. He says that the world is full of enough incomplete projects. Most people are great at starting and poor at finishing. He says that whatever your art is, you should learn to get good at finishing it.

What would your business look like if you finished everything you started? After all, your business is a masterpiece too.

4. Be a free-thinker.

Giovanni says that he does his best to avoid watching television or reading media, because too often, it is just a one-sided communication of the facts. He says that his art requires that he be a free-thinker, so he sticks to learning facts by studying history and then creating his own interpretations.

The way this has transcended business for me is that I constantly have my head buried in books and case studies, always trying to find out how someone else would solve the issue at hand. Giovanni has taught me how to better rely on my own intuition and my own past experiences to make solid decisions for the future of my business.

You are more than an entrepreneur — you are an artist. Create a legacy, disrupt people often, finish what you start, and know that you already have the answers inside of you. Keep on making your art.

 

From: Stacey Alcorn

This article was originally published on  Entrepreneur Magazine

Pharrell Williams — performer, songwriter, producer, designer and entrepreneur — sat down for a rare, in-depth, career retrospective discussion with Jason King, professor at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and host of NPR Music’s R&B channel “I”ll Take You There.” The conversation took place on Monday, Oct. 26 at New York City’s Town Hall.

King moderated a freewheeling and in-depth discussion on Pharrell’s legacy of creativity, blending music, fashion, design and his singular style, from his beginnings as a teenage prodigy and multi-instrumentalist in Virginia Beach in the early ’90s through the hits that earned him Billboard’s Producer of the Decade in 2010 to his current status as multi-media superstar.

Quote of the Day: How to Pick the Right Business Idea

There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve all come up with at least one million dollar idea at some point in our lives. Some of us are think tanks and have a journal full of potential businesses that could be a hit.  The problem with having multiple ideas is trying to figure out which one to take the leap of faith with. Choice paralysis can set in and prevent us from making a move at all. If you’re a little all over the place with your thoughts, here’s something to ask yourself:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What makes me happy?
  3. What does the world need?

Put all of your ideas through this filter, and the one that can answer all three of these questions is the one to go with. Winner winner chicken dinner.

7 Lessons You Can Learn from Taylor Swift’s Marketing Strategy

It’s amazing who you meet on random outings like a vision board workshop, and somehow connect to someone you probably wouldn’t otherwise. That was definitely the case with my colleague Sarah McKinney. I didn’t realize how similar our paths were until I came across an article she posted on Medium, breaking down Taylor Swift’s extremely successful marketing strategy that heavily focuses on community building. This article was too good not to share with you all, and hopefully you can take away something from it. Sarah is a freelance columnist, strategy consultant and singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, CA. She is extremely knowledgeable in her space, and I would highly recommend following her on Medium. Search @sarahmck.

 

Here’s the article originally posted on Medium:

Entrepreneurs: 7 Lessons From Taylor Swift On Community Building

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a bit of a Taylor Swift obsession. It began much like it did for her other fans, I assume. I related to her lyrics, and found myself singing along to her songs when driving (alone) in my car. Thirteen years her senior and studying business in graduate school at the time, I justified my growing interest in her as a fascination with her entrepreneurial savvy. Flash-forward and I’ve now purchased all of Swift’s music, read and watched countless interviews, and enthusiastically tweeted the article she penned for The Wall Street Journal and her open letter to Apple. I even wrote and released a song in the hopes I’d be able to reach her and she’d want to record it. Like I said, it’s a bit of an obsession.

One of my jobs now is writing articles as a freelance columnist — most often on the topics of entrepreneurship, creativity, and social impact. Recently I was chatting with Kathryn Cicoletti, founder of The MSB Cheat Sheet, about how brilliant I think Taylor Swift is. I’d just returned to Los Angeles after seeing the “1989 World Tour” in Santa Clara, and was explaining some of the things Swift did during her show to create a strong community vibe. “I need to apply what she does to my business! Will you please write an article about this with me in mind?” said Cicoletti. I sparked at the idea. And whenever that happens, I know I have to take action. So here you go entrepreneurs: 7 lessons from Taylor Swift on how to successfully build community:

1. Transparency builds loyalty. Be honest. No excuses.

The intimacy fans feels with Taylor Swift is no accident. Her lyrics have always felt like private journal entries that she decided to let the world read. She grew up in front of us, sharing all of her thoughts and emotions along the way, and has never tried to be anyone other than herself — irritatingly likeable to some, but unarguably likeable all the same. And as a thank you for this commitment to being authentic, her fans have stayed with her and grown exponentially in number over the years.

It’s common knowledge that consumers prefer brands they perceive as being authentic. As an entrepreneur, it’s temping to project an image of success prior to achieving it in the hopes you’ll more quickly attract people to your business. While this strategy may prove fruitful in the short run, people aren’t stupid and will leave you once they realize they’ve been duped. Don’t lose sight of the long view, and let your personality shine through. I’m sure you’re lovely. And even if you’re not, doing this will expedite some important character building life lessons.

2. Know your audience, and honor your responsibility to them.

I was aware that Swift’s core fan base was significantly younger than me, but didn’t anticipate how that would impact the “1989 World Tour” experience. At several points throughout the show the music would stop and Swift would begin chatting with the audience like we were BFFs, sprinkling tidbits of the wisdom she’s gathered over the years. The little girls around us were eating up every word. Even though Swift has grown up, she still takes her responsibility to young fans seriously.

Know who your most loyal customers are — study them and understand what makes them tick. Keep them in mind as you continue to roll out new products and services. Don’t try and serve the people you wish were loyal in the hopes of attracting them. Be true to your mission, your personal passion, and continue to talk to your most loyal customers. Allow things to grow organically from that place. If you don’t know who these people are inside and out, start researching them pronto.

3. Humanize your community. People like to know what they’re joining.

Before the release of her latest album Swift hosted private listening parties at select fan’s houses around the country. She made headlines for randomly sending fans gifts in the mail. During one of her recent shows she devoted a song to a woman in the audience whose son Ronan died of cancer, saying she read the woman’s blog regularly and was deeply touched by her journey. She shares fan-generated content she likes on social media, and shows YouTube videos of people covering her songs and dancing to her music before her concert begins.

Most consumers want to know what kind of community they’re joining before they sign up, and it’s your job to bring your community to life. There are many ways you can do this, but whatever you do must fit with your brand’s personality. Think about how you can bring your audience to the forefront and let people know who they are. The Skimm and SoulCycle are two brands that come to mind, when thinking about startups that have done this very well.

4. Create a strong tribe of (offline) support.

Sure, some have criticized Swift for taking the whole #girlsquad thing to an extreme, but the importance of surrounding yourself with a strong tribe of supportive people can’t be diminished. Besides, her current critics are probably the same people who were vocal about her needing to go have some “girl time” after her relationships with the Kennedy kid and Harry Styles went bust. Having a solid group of girlfriends provides the added benefit of ensuring she doesn’t come across as social media obsessed — confusing her online community with real life friendships.

Being an entrepreneur can be isolating. Long days spent behind your computer screen and checking off a never-ending list of “to do” items can make it easy to replace real life connections with Facebook likes. At least occasionally, when you catch yourself crafting your next clever post in your mind, pick up the phone and call a friend instead. Ask them how they’re doing. We know the business you’re building is important, but offline relationships will keep you sane, and ensure you don’t come across as a needy social media addict to your customers.

5. Have the courage to pivot (before you have to).

Swift didn’t need to leave the Country genre for Pop — her album sales have been pretty insane straight out of the gate and showed no signs of slowing down. Making that leap took some courage. She had to follow her heart and trust that her fans would follow. She was also pretty strategic in her decision to include a few very pop songs (e.g., “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”) on her last Country album, Red. And yeah, the popularity of that track probably eased some of her worries about what she planned to do next.

When monthly traffic and sales numbers continue to rise it’s easy to assume clear skies ahead, but it’s important to stay ahead of the market and always be anticipating future needs before consumers can articulate them. Innovation is just like that. And too many big companies die because they stop being nimble enough to innovate ahead of the competition. Don’t get too comfortable. Be diligent about reading industry news, surrounding yourself with “idea” people and read as many books as your brain can handle. Be strategic in your risk taking, and if you get it right, you’re community will grow in ways you can’t currently comprehend.

6. Become an advocate for those with less power.

One of the things I’m most impressed with about Swift is how she advocates for songwriters and artists that aren’t in her same position of power. Removing her music from Spotify and her open letter to Apple make clear that she’s not messing around, and cares about creative people working hard to make it in the music industry. It’s a fantastic example of leadership to set for her young fans, and demonstrates a lack of narcissism. This wins her even more fans, because she’s tapping into the fan bases of every public figure who speaks out in favor of her advocacy work. Brilliant.

I know I know, you don’t have 45.5 million Instagram followers. But you can start doing this kind of thing on a much smaller scale. Say yes to having that coffee with someone who reached out, and wants to learn from your experience. Attend industry events and get involved in issues that don’t just affect you, but others working in your space. Be proactive and positive, and find simple ways to give back. Write blog posts on open platforms like Medium to highlight social issues you care about. Eventually you may be having Swift-like impact within your industry.

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

The fact Swift invited Lisa Kudrow on stage during one of her LA shows to sing “Smelly Cat” with her makes clear she doesn’t take herself too seriously. In 2009 she rapped with T-Pain in “Thug Story” — the lyrics poking fun at her squeaky clean image. She played an irritatingly enthusiastic girlfriend in the film Valentine’s Day, said yes to hosting SNL (instead of simply being the musical guest), has admitted to naming her cats after characters in TV shows, and manages to always bounce back from adversity with a smile on her face.

I know it can get overwhelming, but please try and keep your sense of humor. Be silly. Poke fun at yourself. Go out of your comfort zone. Have new experiences that have nothing to do with growing your business. Give yourself permission to take risk. And when you make mistakes? Shake it off.