2. Make Deadlines (Jonathan Coulton)
You can’t afford to be too precious about your work. Caring is important, but preciousness is the opposite of making stuff. There is no room on the internet for Special Snowflakes who want to procrastinate all day and then drink themselves to sleep and dream about their unwritten novel. To build an audience, you have to be consistently good and often surprising.
An anecdote: my friend Jonathan Coulton was in his mid-30s. He’d been working at a software company since he graduated from college (with a humanities degree), and he was in charge of a team of programmers. It was a great job, and his wife was pregnant with their first child.
That’s the place in your life where you usually put away your dreams, right? Because stability is more important than blah blah blah. But Jonathan did the opposite. He’s the most thoughtful, reasonable man in the world, but when he thought and reasoned, he decided that if he didn’t at least take a genuine swing at being an artist, he’d be a lousy role model to his daughter. So he quit.
He started a project called Thing A Week. He wrote and recorded a song every week for a year. It was brutally difficult for him. A few times, he recorded dumb covers out of desperation. Jonathan’s a talented guy, none of the songs stunk, but some were slighter than others (one called “Mr. Fancypants” being a prime example of this category). Some, like the beautiful ballad “You Ruined Everything,” about his daughter, are anything but slight.
In the process of putting out this work every week, in a remarkable new way, he found fans. Some of the songs went viral, with the help of fan-made videos. Today, Jonathan earns an income that far outstrips what he earned in his Good Real Job, and despite what some may suggest, it was a brilliant (and in many ways replicable) plan, not a fluke. Jonathan backed himself into a corner, and found that he became a success.
You’ll want to make sure you read all 12 steps…