Today’s blog post is about a question I don’t ever get asked, but I wish people WOULD ask me:
Tom, why should I share my work online?
Great question, Tom!
And I’ll explain in one second.
But first, a backstory…
I started my terminal leave from the Army 1 year ago this month (actually, 28 June to be exact, but I’m a little delayed on posting this).
Terminal leave is the confusing name the Army uses to describe paid-for-time-off. When I left, I had accrued about 2 months’ worth.
In other words, while I’d get paid like I was going to work, I could instead drink beer, grow a beard, and build tent forts all day long (winner-winner-chicken-dinner).
Here’s a video of me celebrating:
*warning: none of this was rehearsed (and it can never be unseen)
So that was me 1 year ago.
1 year ago, Tom?! What have you been doing since then?
Good question Tom, I’m glad you asked:
I’ve been sharing my work.
And since I’ve had such a good time with it, I think you should do the same.
5 reasons to share your work online
It’s fascinating looking back at what you’ve created, isn’t it?
Whether it’s art from grade school, writing from high school, or college / post-college work, it’s fun to look back to see how far you’ve come, especially when it’s one of those projects that embarrasses you (better yet: surprises you)…
Years later, these snapshots of our past are astounding, aren’t they?
But more important than yourself (yes, there’s such a thing) is your family (and friends).
Have you ever wondered about the story of your grandfather or great grandfather (or mother)?
How cool would it be to read the words of someone close to you (by blood or otherwise) who lived 100, 200, or 300+ years ago?
How fascinating would it be to walk in their shoes?
That’s what I consider when I write.
Yes, I write for people here and now, for the people who appreciate what I have to say, but I mostly write for myself. And when I write for myself, I’m really writing for future generations of little Toms (or for other idiosyncratic, future revolutionaries).
The point is: why keep your life just for you? Why not share it with those who come later?
I promise you this: they want to hear your story.
2. Learning and Growth
Simply put, we learn more by teaching.
There’s a lot of literature and studies about this, so I won’t bore you with proof (just DuckDuckGo it).
But I will say this: learning – real learning (not academia’s fictional take on it) – occurs when we teach.
And when we learn, we grow.
And isn’t growth – in wisdom, knowledge, faith, and beyond – what’s most important?
If you’re content with being the exact person you are today 10 years from now, ignore this part (and the whole article).
For the rest of us – it’s time to start teaching, and there’s no better way to teach then documenting and showing the work you do on a daily basis.
3. Because People Care
Not sold on the personal benefits of sharing your work?
What if I told you people cared about your ideas?
Not just family and friends (although they may end up your most grateful fans), but strangers. People you’ve never met before in your life. People from around the world.
It sounds weird to write (although it shouldn’t, since I do all my shopping online, all my work online, and I even found my wife online…true story), but the people you DON’T know online can become your biggest supporters and even great friends.
Of course, to make those real connections it means being transparent and vulnerable.
i.e. show your work.
4. Become an Expert
You don't have to be an expert to share your work.
But by sharing your work, you BECOME an expert.
Simple isn't it?
My friend Nathan Barry, whom I interviewed for my next book on starting, finishing, and shipping collaborative projects, has written extensively on the subject of gaining expertise from writing.
In fact, he wrote the book on it: Authority.
I’d say that makes him an expert.
Following his lead, I wrote on Pay What You Want pricing. Guess how many advanced degrees I hold in that subject matter area? Guess how many awards / ribbons / medals / trophies I’ve gotten?
And it doesn’t matter.
Because I write on the subject, I’m considered the subject matter expert - to my surprise really…until I take a step back to realize the truth: we trust and respect the people who share their work.
So why wouldn’t you share yours??
5. Because Resumes are Dead*
Honestly, I’ve felt this way long before it became a popular opinion (okay, maybe not popular, but common in my social media streams…that counts, right?).
Since grade school I thought the idea of putting your experience on a piece of paper made little sense (yes, I was a forward thinking youth).
After all, if you’re good at what you do, if you create a lot, surely your work should speak for yourself, shouldn’t it?
Who would have thought, only 10+ years later, that society is catching up to this fact – at least in industries and roles where work – what you’re capable of producing – is more important than your prior bosses canned praise.
We’ve known for thousands of years that it’s who you know not what you know. Before, that meant getting lucky based on where you were born and to whom.
Now, those rules don’t apply anymore - not to the extent you might think they do.
Now, who you know is self-determined.
Because you can GET to know just about anyone in the world.
You guessed it – by sharing your work.
Since I’ve started writing, podcasting, publishing, and instigating various projects (from business incubators to veteran’s membership sites), I’ve gotten to know some incredible people. My podcast connected me to someone who I later published, my blog allowed me to write for some massively popular websites, and publishing my own books got me interviewed on some of the most well respected business and marketing sites on the internets.
I also built real relationships with just about everyone I've come in contact with.
Don’t you think it would be handy to know the people you admire personally?
Don’t you think that might help you in the future?
I think so, but maybe that’s just me…
Beyond entrepreneurship, showing your work is important for employers.
Zappos recently removed resume submissions altogether, instead opting for an internal social network to determine who is or isn’t a good fit for the company.
Zappos isn’t the only one – almost every tech startup out of Silicon Valley has the same policy: show me what you’re capable of doing – your portfolio – not a resume.
If you’re worried your work isn’t good enough right now to share, don’t worry: you wouldn’t be able to sneak your way into one of these positions anyway. Better to share before you feel ready so you can improve and grow then wait on the sidelines to be ignored.
*resumes are not dead if you’re looking for middle management positions inside corporate bureaucracies, but for more and more startups, the idea of a resume is a relic.
How You Can Start Sharing Your Work
I wouldn’t rely on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networks to do what I’m recommending here. These platforms don’t care about you and owe you nothing (read the fine print).
Conversely, starting a blog and paying for your own domain name + hosting…
That’s something you own (and with cheap backup technology, it’s impossible to lose).
So my recommendation?
Start a blog.
It doesn’t have to be crazy or intricate. A simple blog can be set up in a few minutes.
If you go with a legit hosting company like webfaction, their documentation can walk you through the whole process (or if you ask nicely, they might even do it for you).
Once you have a blog / website set up, start filling it in a little bit at a time.
Consider it a long term / long form project…something that’s never supposed to be completed, only improved over time and then shared with the people who want to hear from you.
And trust me – we want to hear from you.
So what are you waiting for?
Started, finished, and shipped in Teakettle, Belize.
Writing time: 3:49
Soundtrack: The National
Leave a comment and let us know your top reasons for sharing YOUR work.
Or if you don't share your work yet, why not?