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Nobody Cares About Your Art

7th April 2019

This is a fundamental rule of permission marketing: nobody cares about your art. Why?

People are paradoxically two things at the same time: constantly selfish and looking for what benefits them, and also committed to making life more wonderful for other human beings who they care about.

That’s why we share art, and art here I am referring to ideas, products, and experiences. We want others to experience them too, to make their life more wonderful and to gain the social capital that comes with “knowing stuff”. When you talk to people about “my art” or “my blog” or “my product launch”… they don’t care. What do they care about?

The story they can tell themselves and their friends about.

Some examples:

  • An Apple user’s story could be “I have good taste when it comes to computers.”
  • An Instagram user’s story (pun intended) could be: “I love sharing my experiences with my friends.”
  • A speciality coffee drinker’s story might be: “I care about giving the farmers a good deal, and treating coffee as a treat, not a commodity.”

So if we want to attract, share and sell our stuff, what do we do to get people to care?

First, earn permission.

Seth Godin talks about permission marketing in his book by the same name, and we earn the privilege of communicating with people about things they might like by connecting with them and being missed if we were gone. We do this by creating our work for and with others, and sharing it with them rather than blasting it at them.

Second, don’t abuse trust.

Trust is easily the most underappreciated asset of a company or business. It is nearly impossible to measure in quantifiable metrics, but it is probably the most important asset you can possibly develop. Pat Flynn talks about his most important metric: thank you notes. If people are thanking you in person, by letter or comment, then chances are you’re doing something right. As soon as you abuse that trust, it’s gone and it’s very hard to re-earn.

Third, be clear on who your work is for (you or them).

If your art is something you do for the love of it, that’s great. Just be aware that most people won’t care, and if you want to make your art into a career you might need to think about a structure that allows people who like it to say “this is for me”. That might mean doing a live painting every week to give away on your YouTube channel. It might mean doing the research to write a 40,000 word ebook that you give away for free. Or maybe you just have to let people try your single origin coffee for free without expecting them to come back.

That way, when they come back of their own volition, you have the [temporary] privilege of permission to share your art.



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