Cover image for Show Your Work!


Show Your Work!

Even if you're really good at what you do, you still have to be discovered by those interested in your work. Austin Kleon provides a how-to in this short, inspirational book.


Key Takeaway

Austin Kleon argues that sharing your work in progress, alongside the final result, is the fastest way to find those who may be interested in your work. Creating a steady stream of behind-the-scenes material with a willing community builds intrigue, and promotes greater engagement. The result, given enough time, is a portfolio that attracts clients/employers, and an active, interested audience.


Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work! is a simple guide to inbound marketing for creatives, which means attracting people by creating valuable content for them.

Value, in Kleon's mind, comes from the intrigue people have for creative work in progress. A behind-the-scenes look might seem mundane to creatives, but to others it may be useful, or fascinating, and you don't know which until you share it. This is Expert Blindness in action: an inability to self-assess our work for relevance to others.

A common reaction to this might be "I have nothing to share!", for which Kleon's advice is clear: start very small, focus on learning in the open, and find a community of like-minded folk.

Getting your work out there is the key to solving the "Trapped Equity" problem, where valuable ideas, thoughts, and rough drafts can't become useful to others because they're hidden away. To get the best return, it's vital to let all your efforts work for you.

Kleon's advice has similar tones to Cal Newport's thoughts in So Good They Can't Ignore You, particularly when it comes to honing a craft. For example, Newport argues that a "relentless focus on what you produce" is key to developing Career Capital: those rare and valuable skills that form the building blocks of career success.

Overlaps like these are to be expected in a fairly crowded career advice space, but Kleon's book finds a nice niche among creatives, rather than Newport's knowledge workers.

Ultimately Show Your Work! is an inspirational, enjoyable, short read, with plenty of pithy quotes to keep it interesting.

You can buy this (and signed copies) directly via Austin Kleon's site.

If you'd prefer to read this via kindle, or buy a separate paper copy, you can pick it up on Amazon.

Cover image courtesy of Austin Kleon, shared here, under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, with no modifications.

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