The transformational reframe that will unlock your visibility
The simple formula and the 180º flip that make sharing your work feel easy.
The previous two pillars I shared with you are very self-focused…and that’s basically exactly what I warned you about in the beginning of this article.
We creatives are really good at following our own instincts and creating based on what matters to us. We’re highly trained at this. This approach is rewarded in school.
Obviously, that doesn’t have to mean creating in a vacuum, but it does tend to mean shutting out the audience and what they might need or want.
And, I want to acknowledge, there are real dangers to the integrity of creative work inherent in listening to the audience if you’re in the wrong moment in your process, or, especially, if you have the wrong audience, who pressure you to do something that is out of line with your intention.
There are dangers too, in listening to online negativity—or even positivity. It can deform your relationship with your work.
But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
This isn’t about a popularity contest. This is about empathetically putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and thinking through: What will make this work fascinating…to them?
The third pillar of compelling messaging:
What does your creative work offer?
The key to nailing this down is a formula I picked up from Alex Blumberg (of This American Life and Planet Money, and founder of Gimlet Media). He used it (and I’ve used it) to help focus storytelling.
I’ve since discovered, however, that it’s a game-changer for everything from an email subject line to a multi-volume novel series.
Here it is:
The XY Formula
I’m making an X, and what’s interesting about it is Y.
Yep, that’s it!
Crazy, I know.
Here’s the thing.
You can very easily make the grave mistake of crafting an XY Formula from the same perspective that you’ve always had: the creator expressing what’s important to them, from deep inside.
The key to to the magic of the XY formula, though, is that the Y, what’s “interesting” (or compelling, surprising, inspiring, whatever makes sense for you), is what’s interesting to the audience.
Let me repeat that, and let it sink in:
Your job is to figure out the Y of your project, from the perspective of the ideal audience.
This is far more challenging than it sounds.
The biggest pitfall for most creators is that they’re unable to put their complex relationship with their work out of their head and think like someone totally new to their work.
I hear things like,
“…and what’s interesting about it is, it recapitulates the relationship between scientist and subject and explores the theme of trust.”
That might be the core underlying theme of the piece, and in the end, that deeper meaning might be what makes it amazing.
…but it’s definitely not what’s going to grab someone who is coming to this creative work cold.
This is the crucial 180º flip that’s required to truly close that loop.
This is how you get what’s inside your head into the heads, hearts, and hands of passionate fans and customers.
Once you have your three pillars, you have what you need to create compelling, clear, effective communication about your work and why it matters.
Yes, there is more to learn about marketing your work and growing your audience!
Like, what do you DO with these messages once you’ve got them?? (We cover all that inside our program Authentic Visibility, of course.)
But this is the essential first stage that will put the power in your hands to talk to anyone about what you do and why it matters.
But it’s surprisingly hard to stick the landing on that 180º flip.
That’s why I put together a free 90-minute class specifically for creatives, ridiculously named “How to get people wildly obsessed with your work.”
In it, I teach a key activity (I call it “what’s your motivation?”) to flip your perspective 180 degrees, and start to use your audience’s perspective to inform how you share your work so that they’ll GET IT (without selling your soul or debasing your work).
I also lead you through how to apply that new perspective to create an ultra-short, highly effective bio you can use on social media, like Instagram.
It’s a great class. People love it, and have found it highly effective.
But the secret to creating compelling messaging isn’t the class.
It’s doing the work.
The elephant in the room
I know you didn’t log onto Facebook today so you could take action on your creative career dreams.
When we found each other, you were scrolling Facebook for… reasons.
Maybe you were trying to escape your life a little?
Have you heard of the “Lie Flat” movement?
It’s a real thing, a protest movement that started in China—where the standard for how much you need to sacrifice to your job is even more punishing than it is where I live, in the USA—when a factory worker decided to just…stop.
Opt out completely and live off as few odd jobs as will keep him alive.
The Lie Flat movement is an absolutely reasonable reaction to being totally disempowered, forced to live by others’ rules and others’ priorities.
And it’s analogous to what I’ve seen holding creatives back, for years.
Creatives see a binary choice: Keep trying to make it as an artist or writer like they tell us to do it (AKA keep churning out more stuff and wait for someone to discover us)…
Or opt out, just throw up our hands and give up.
(…while a secret, vulnerable part of us continues to hope that somehow, someday, our creative work will magically be insanely in demand, and support our life)
Waiting and hoping.
Because taking any control over our success seems utterly unachievable.
So maybe you’ve been there.
I know I have.
And maybe there was a little Lie Flat frisson in your moment of Facebook-scrolling.
What you were probably NOT doing is looking for a class about how to build your audience that will take 90 minutes of your time…and demand that you put in still more time, if you want to see the results.
I kinda sprang this one on you. So if it seems like a big ask, I get it.
Dreaming → Learning → DOING
Spoiler alert: I’m here to teach, help, support…but you have to apply this new insight to your work to see results.
Learning will help you perceive what’s not working.
It won’t fix it for you.
Step 1: Dreaming
Dreaming is the important first step of…really any big project, especially one as challenging on so many levels as effectively marketing your amazing work.
Dreaming, laying out your vision, that’s how you build motivation and maintain it when the going gets tough.
When you clicked the ad that brought you here, you were in Step 1.
Step 2: Learning
Learning is Step 2, but it’s tricky.
You might not be learning when you think you are…
→ How many “free resources” have you signed up for and then never looked at? Just signing up makes you feel like you’re “learning” when you’re really stuck at dreaming.
And you can just as easily get stuck in “learning” perpetually…
→ This masquerades as “perfectionism”, which sounds like a good thing! You have high standards! But is actually just fear that “people” will hate it/you.
Here’s the thing:
Just downloading info into your brain, absorbing …stuff… doesn’t equate to learning, not really.
Easy come, easy go.
The problem is, if you don’t get to Step 3—DOING—nothing changes.
Maybe that’s OK. Maybe it’s still time to lie flat for a while. The desire to change your circumstances has to come from within.
You also might be on guard, because you’re not a wet-behind-the-ears noob.
You know what this is: it’s a “webinar.”
And, yes, in total transparency, I’m going to invite you to join our awesome “marketing for the highly marketing-averse creative” program, Authentic Visibility, at the end of this class.
That’s how I can help you carry through and make actual changes in your visibility.
Step 3: DOING
But even if you have no intention of joining a paid program, if you’re ready to take action to shift your ability to communicate effectively about your work, take the class. It’s honestly as chock-full of useful action steps as I could make it. There’s even a free worksheet to help you organize your work.
What’s important is that you take the commitment to action (for yourself) seriously.
In fact, if you want to skip the pitch, you can stop the video at minute 63:28.
The opposite of the Lie Flat movement and feeling like “why bother?” isn’t diving back into the hustle, trying to choke back your (very justifiable) discomfort to produce totally misaligned crap “promo” just so you can survive.
It’s choice. Control over your circumstances.
This comes when you take action.
And it comes WITH responsibility. (Again, to yourself.)
When you sign up for this class, you’re BACK in Step 1. Dreaming.
It’s up to you to get to Step 3, where the real goodness happens.
You have to be ready to take action, uncomfortable action.
I get it, it’s a lot.
So here’s my plea:
Don’t sign up for this class unless you have 90 minutes you want to devote to the project of getting your work seen over the next 7 days.
There’s a timer on the class, to prevent you from squirreling this away this in your digital vault to add to the pile of things you are dreaming about learning about doing.
And the video has pause and rewind enabled. So if you need to pause and take the class in a few chunks, that’s totally fine.
In fact, that’s not a bad idea: you can implement between sessions.
Supporting your control over your attention is my priority.
So in that spirit, I want to ask you to go, right now, and check your calendar.
Not in theory. In reality. Do you have 90 minutes over the next 7 days?
Block it in.
Done? Awesome. NOW put in your email below and sign up.
Not done? It’s totally up to you, of course, but I really recommend that if you’re not going to actually take the class, or if you just want to “learn,” and not act, then save yourself the angst.
Don’t sign up until you’re ready. We’ll be here when you are!
If you prefer to just get on our email list so you can think about it, here’s where you can go to stay connected.
… But if you’re inspired to take action to build an audience, get your work seen, and sell more work…