Advice: Transparency, Openness, and Sharing
Updated: Aug 2, 2018
How much should I share? How should I share?
The internet has blessed us in many ways. It has made it possible to learn new skills independently and at your own pace, expose yourself to vast worlds of new sources of inspiration, and it allows me to get a little support from family on the other side of the planet.
One very important but less explicitly talked about feature of the potential of the internet is for sharing our projects and creative works. But I have noticed some trepidation about when and how to do it. So this post is about my perspective on this issue.
First of all it is very wise to make it clear to yourself why exactly you are looking to share something you have been working on. It should really be one solid reason, and it should be worth taking time to consider properly if you are unsure. Below I have listed a few possible succinct ideas.
I am sharing this because I made it, I am proud of it and I would like it to exist out in the world.
I am sharing this to ask for specific feedback on how it can be better.
I am sharing this to take part in a community or start a conversation.
I am sharing this to build a community and following of people with similar tastes.
I am sharing this because I want people to buy it and make me lots of money.
I am sharing this because I want to know if it makes you claustrophobic
Once you have made this clear to yourself, it is equally important to be explicit with the internet why you are sharing what you have. Sharing a picture with no message will most likely result in chaos or disinterest, because people will really not know if it is meant for them or not. The internet can also be a cruel and mean place, and so by clearly stating that you intention is, for example, to start a conversation and not for critical feedback, it takes a little power away from the trolls and makes it more likely that the community will be on your side if some anti-social behavior begins bubbling up.
If you are sharing it for two (or many) different reasons that is great, but my advice would be to find different and more specialized groups and share it separately with that separate intention clearly stated. Find a group that is mostly about critical feedback and ask them for exactly that, while also sharing the same item separately on a consumer page advertising it for sale. Trying to do both in one place will make it less engaging and muddy your intentions.
Timing is also important, I live in California so I make sure to share my work early in the morning so that people in other time zones are less likely to be asleep when it hits the internet. But you should be free to experiment, maybe more of your potential audience is online in the evening, or maybe your community is more active on their lunch breaks. It is important to try different approaches and track activity if you want to make the most of your time and efforts.
One last piece of advice on sharing I would make (and this might be controversial) is to share everywhere that there might even be a hint of suitability. This is important research and you can narrow down your effort once you get a sense of where your work gets the most attention, where you get the most value, and which communities get the most value out of you.
For example I posted this art and link in five different subreddits and I can very easily see which groups have a stronger reaction to what I am sharing. Over time I can use this information to focus my efforts in areas where it will be more effective.
Some people might call this shameless spamming, carelessly spraying my links around everywhere it might get a look or two. But as long as I read the description of the groups and make sure I am not breaking any of the group norms, this is important work in finding out where exactly there is an audience and community for what I am producing.
It takes time, but if you are willing to be brave, transparent and engage with the communities you can really get a good sense of where your work should live and where you should be spending your time online.
... you will also learn where the trolls live. Mostly under bridges.