Ship It

We are all artists. No matter what you create, there’s a distinction between creating art and shipping it.

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Here’s a useful definition of art. How does (re)defining art this way change the way you think about your own contributions? What is your art?

My favorite author, Seth Godin, often writes about going beyond the status quo by creating remarkable art. As we explore and expand our creative practice, Godin also suggests that if we don’t ship our art (i.e. send it out into the world), that it is all for naught. He leans on how art is all is about connection, and if nothing is shipped, there cannot be connection.

Entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, side hustlers, students, and community builders willing to ship, fuel positive change with their art. Unfortunately, the ego often fears external evaluation. This fear is compounded when a lack of success may occur, which is always possible. As apprehension calcifies over time, it becomes tough to resit the temptation of hiding our thoughts, emotions, and activities within the safety of solitude.

Creating art to enjoy by yourself can build skills and provides internal layers of sentimental value, but to go beyond the status quo, push past the fear of feedback.

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Failure is an illusion. We either succeed or learn.

The world is loud, so avoid wasting time shouting just to make noise, but know that we need you to ship your art. This encouragement is not an excuse to rush into bad ideas, ship something that hasn’t received proper attention, or not deliver on a promise. It is however, a friendly reminder that pursuing perfection can devolve into an enemy of progress.

We’ve all heard inspiration like that before, but listen to those you admire. Perfection is rarely required when all you need is enough success to continue creating art. Let such liberation fuel confidence. Translate expanding confidence into fresh curiosity. Augment this curiosity with creative action. Rinse and repeat.

As belief in oneself grows, one interesting hesitation is disguised by good intention. We tell ourselves it’s not wise to be too self-serving. This is virtuous, but sometimes endless humility makes silence feel safe. As we protect ourselves by staying quiet, a self-limiting restraint develops. For example, many people find writing into journal to be therapeutic, but are quick to dismiss the idea of sharing these beautifully raw writings with others. Of course it’s good to internalize some things, but as you learn more about yourself through writing, know your art can make an expanded impact when it ships.

Ready to ship your art? Think about your own super powers and the people you care about. How might connecting these two things provide value? Experiment with small actions and as this develops into a practice, expand the connected nature of your creativity. As your art connects with those who care, find a cadence that allows you to be consistent. Seth Godin suggests that we all ship something daily, but one size does not fit all and the right tempo depends on the art you’re planning to ship. To find your own signal, consider your personal bandwidth and the audience you seek to serve. Talk with others and experiment, then tweak your timing to find the right rhythm.

If you’re shipping art, I’d love to hear what makes it remarkable and how you stay consistent. If you’re looking for new ways to make a ruckus, the Roasted Reflections library and my curated Resources page will help spark fresh movement.

No matter your current state of now, thank you for continuing to create art. More important, thank you for being courageous enough to ship it.

Content Creation: Graphic Design

Graphic design brings everything together. Multimedia marketers use graphic design to transform raw content into branded stories. A powerful position awaits entrepreneurs who combine graphic design with other multimedia marketing skills.

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YDNTB just received another big endorsement!

When it comes to learning graphic design, first find software you like. I prefer Adobe Photoshop, but Canva is a free option that’s grown in popularity. As you explore graphic design software, you’ll learn a lot just by tinkering. Simple effects like backgrounds, banners, borders, gradients, and text overlays will soon become child’s play. These everyday enhancements strengthen the continuity of your content creation. You can also watch tutorial videos or take a class to go even further, but for most busy entrepreneurs, the basics are enough to make the marketing message more consistent and thus, easier to connect with an audience.

The ability to bring your own ideas to life saves time and money. The time saved from less creative collaboration can be spent delivering more content. The money saved can be used to push stories further. Fewer cooks in the kitchen also makes pure brand alignment a breeze.

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My go-to resolutions for photos/graphics I plan to share throughout social media, is 16×9 paired with a complementing square version.

As you build new projects, maintaining brand alignment must become second nature. To achieve consistency, use the same colors, fonts, and logo pack for every project. If you’re a lone wolf or working with a small team, a dedicated document to highlight brand guidelines will help maintain long-term alignment. A more official document with assets and guidance on how to use everything, often called brand guidelines or a brand kit, will add increased value the more different designers interact with your brand.

This rigidity can feel less adventurous and even lazy for true creatives. If that feeling creeps in, think of brand guidelines like skipping past the small talk. You now have more creative freedom to mix up the story! This combination also makes stories more remarkable. The added variety keeps things interesting, while the consistency avoids brand confusion.

Be distinctive with graphic design, but stay consistent to the aligned narrative that sets you apart.

UP NEXT: Skill #5 – Creativity

Content Creation: Videography

Videos put humans in a trance. They capture attention through movement and provoke a wide range of emotion. Those who activate video within their marketing efforts invite viewers to see, hear, and feel their message in a powerful way that makes the audience part of their story.

Like photography, smartphones are an easy way to start creating video. On your phone or with any other camera, here are a few simple techniques to keep in mind.

Orientation – If the audience will only be watching the video from their phones, a vertical orientation is fine. If you want more freedom to use the content in other ways, it’s best to use a horizontal orientation.

Stability – Eliminating jagged movement makes video more enjoyable to watch. It can feel cold to capture, but let the scene play out while the camera is stationary. If movement is required, don’t expect ultra smooth video from a handheld device. Internal stabilization helps and you may be able to get by using stabilization features in video editing software, but motorized gimbals, mounts, and tripods make it easier to be smooth with the raw footage. Stabilized video looks sharp, but also provides added flexibility. For instance, a few panned photos will be less noticeable when combined with smooth video. This can help fill in gaps to bring a story together.

Resolution – When it comes to resolution, you can always shrink high resolution down, but not the other way around. Consider shooting in higher resolutions to have more options with the footage.

Even with so much power packed into a smartphone, relying on one device is limiting. When you realize the value of video, do yourself a favor and invest in a dedicated video camera. Video cameras are fun to use with features built to deliver specific results. High-end video cameras are great and can capture amazing footage when used correctly. Unless video production is a part of your business, pricey equipment may be overkill. Lower priced options can also capture magic and are less risky to use. A good first purchase that will only set you back a few hundred bucks is an action camera with a handheld tripod. These small cameras are easy to use, capture sharp footage, and offer additional mounts to explore unique angles. Most important, the versatility and durability makes these small cameras less intimidating.

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The only trick to an action camera? A habit of using it.

Another cinematic angle that adds intrigue to any story is aerial video and photography. In the past, aerial views required expensive aircraft and professional equipment. With consumer drones, capturing high-quality aerial footage is easier than ever. With the proper licenses and little practice, anyone can rule the sky.

No matter what equipment is used, the effectiveness of video comes down to an ability to deliver something enjoyable to watch. Once video is shot, the real work begins. Anyone can shoot video, but it takes practice to capture shots that tell a story while evoking an emotional viewing experience. Organizing, editing, and stitching clips into a concise, brand-boosting video is a valuable art form that takes serious time and perpetual learning.

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Along with a deeper dive into videography, the endless debate between polished video versus live, raw video rages on in the Marketing chapter of YDNTB.

As you evolve your craft, remember that a great video is not about conveying every detail. It’s about delivering an atmosphere where viewers can emotionally feel the story being told. Make your marketing videos concise, enjoyable to watch, and rewarding to share. When videos stir up a combination of emotions that convey a consistent message in contrasting ways, your marketing becomes mesmerizing.

UP NEXT: Skill #4 – Graphic Design

Content Creation

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore six multimedia marketing skills to make students, entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and intrapreneurs dangerous.

Skill #1 – Writing
Skill #2 – Photography
Skill #3 – Videography
Skill #4 – Graphic Design
Skill #5 – Creativity
Skill #6 – Organization

Before we begin this series, which can also be found in You Don’t Need This Book, let’s start by examining the impact of content creation. When it comes to marketing, content is the currency used to earn attention. As attention is earned, content becomes the instrument to share stories with people who care.

Telling your story is easy, but doing so without becoming too self-serving takes practice. If your voice always sounds the same, it will pave a one-way street. Instead of always pushing content, curiously pull from your audience. Be inversely charismatic and socratic by asking sincere questions and leaning into motivational interviewing habits. Actively listen and interact within these absorbing conversations.

Don’t be afraid to spread the word, but limit your storytelling until it flows into the discussion. When your stories add value within the context of an existing conversation, your narrative will be more appetizing.

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Listening, sharing, and learning from stories is how humans communicate, work together, and evolve. When applied to marketing, the narratives we share connect us to people who help us succeed.

In the information age, content is available and consumed in infinite ways. This makes attention scarce, so stories wrapped around remarkable work becomes more important. Consistency is huge, but adjust content for environments that work in your industry. Aligned, yet diversified content will optimize how the world hears your story. Formulating a combination of text, graphics, photos, audio, and video will give you an edge. Consider what content gets noticed and compare that to how hard it is to produce. No matter where content lives, make it clear why consumers should care.

As content creation continues, encourage organic engagement that can translate into repeatable conversions. In the connected era, the easiest way to do this is online. The nice thing about digital content is that it’s used in so many ways, yet it’s the easiest to create. Even if it’s taking small steps at first, it’s worth learning how to create your own content. Multimedia marketers can forge content that is quick to digest and made to share. This allows ideas to spread. You win if people share your story, so let’s make it easy.

UP NEXT: Skill #1 – Writing

Threaded Thoughts

Let’s talk tactics. Here is a simple technique to absorb, translate, and share the (audio)books you read.

Start with one tweet, then reply to that same tweet over and over again. The result is a thread (sometimes called a tweetstorm) that combines your key takeaways and gives you a single link to share your collective thoughts.

Here are a few examples…
Tribes – Seth Godin
We Are All Weird – Seth Godin
This Is Marketing – Seth Godin
Free Prize Inside – Seth Godin (ideal for intrapreneurs)
The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin (great for students)
Startup Community Way – Brad Feld & Ian Hathaway
Think Like A Freak – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
The Hard Things About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
Angel – Jason Calacanis
The Almanack of Naval Revikant
BONUS THREAD – Big Thoughts in Little Tweets

Why is this helpful? If you’re thirsty to learn from (audio)books, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as authors bombard you with knowledge. Passively enjoying (audio)books is fine, but this organizational exercise forces you to slow down, which reduces the numbing effect. In short, crafting concise tweets that are all connected forces you to feel the experience.

Another benefit to sharing threaded thoughts, is that each public post draws out more focused contemplation. I’ve found this technique makes me think deeper, use words carefully, and has actually made me a better writer. Such value is compounded when the entire thread can be retrieved with one link.

Lastly, this exercise generates accountability. When this exercise becomes a habit, you spend extra time with that first tweet, knowing it may become be the foundation for a neat collection of thoughts. As the thread expands, you’ll feel momentum that keeps you listening/reading. If progress stalls, the lingering sense of an incomplete project may bring you back to finish the literary journey. If you must get through something quickly, just craft a smaller thread, but include one post that lists the page numbers for areas that caught your attention. Such a hack is still better than nothing.

To be clear, this exercise is not about pirating content or echoing knowledge like a parrot that sounds smart. It’s about sharing a meaning narrative while leaning into what resonates for you, knowing you’re creating a relic for others (including your future self) to enjoy as well.

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Tag me on Twitter if you try this! I’d love to follow along and will definitely chime in if you experiment using You Don’t Need This Book.