When You Can’t Outspend, You Need to Outteach
One tried-and-true formula to promoting your work requires you accomplish something, draw people’s interest (and sometimes money), by showing them how they can do the same thing. I’ll paraphrase what Kathy Sierra writes:
When you can’t outspend, you’ve got to outteach.
CEOs, creatives, and marketers all approach me with the million dollar question: But what can you talk about when you don’t have a story, or any accomplishments, yet?
Do something interesting and document it
My favourite example of this is Eddie Huang’s The Pop Chef. His restaurant, called Baohaus, was originally called the Pop Kitschen. Eddie writes in his first blog post, “So, the point of this blog is to document the opening of my new restaurant…. Leading up to the opening of my new restaurant, I’ll be showing you guys the recipes, the branding, the menu, etc. Should be dope, so stay tuned!”
Is starting a restaurant interesting? It’s alright for people who eat to live, but it’s meaningful to people who live to eat. If you’re like me, you stick around because Eddie can make anything interesting. The guy opens up a blog post, “ Getting a Loan,” with a photo of a masked robber pointing a gun at a barely visible bank teller. He uses words like “entrepoorneurs.” It’s funny. He makes up his own reader questions, then he answers them. He hits back at ideas that he doesn’t agree with.
Here’s a very short list of examples, off the top of my head:
- Ryan Leslie making “Lollipop.” Actually literally every Ryan Leslie in-studio video. Behind-the-scenes has never been the same after.
- Jennifer Dewalt made 180 websites in 180 days.
- Karen X. Cheng learned to dance in a year.
- Gary Vaynerchuk hit it on the nose with “Document. Don’t Create.”
- I’m 500 pages into the Lyndon B. Johnson biography that I thought I would never read because I read Robert Caro in the New Yorker, which led me to his regular-sized book on his process of working, which led me to this Bible-sized book. And now I’m thinking of getting the other ones…