Something I want to stress at the end of this chapter is that there will always be a lot of noise out there—people going viral on social media, being successful, and getting attention—but I think it’s important not to lose sight of your own strengths, and to focus on figuring out your personal direction and potential.
To make your creative career sustainable, the majority of what you do needs to be tailored to your strengths and what you enjoy doing personally. So, you need to set up your systems in a way that you can do exactly that, and show appreciation to those who support you.
Finding Your Strengths
Finding your strengths takes time, and it won’t happen just by thinking about it. You have to try plenty of things, and see which of them you enjoy. Don’t worry about looking unprofessional at first—you need to find a direction, so you know where to go and what to work on. Before you can grow, you need to allow yourself to be a beginner, and find out what’s worth spending your time on.
To name some examples, you could start a YouTube channel with tutorial videos, upload clips on SoundCloud, make short videos on TikTok, or anything really—the possibilities are endless. Try as many things as possible, and see which ones you can see yourself growing into.
When you see someone getting a lot of attention on social media, it can be hard not to compare yourself to them and feel bad about the things you aren’t doing. Even if this doesn’t affect you much in the moment, it can have a detrimental effect in the long run. My advice is to reframe your thinking and be happy for the person, and to use what they do as ideas for things you can try out.
Building Your Systems
Once you’ve found something that you enjoy doing, you can put the other things aside and focus on it. Learn more about it, and get better as you go. It’s a gradual process, but if you pay attention to your progress and direction, you will get better at it. At this stage, you can also think about how you can potentially monetize it or use it to your advantage for promoting yourself.
For example, my personal workflow is to make tracks in a relatively short amount of time, so I’ve set up a Patreon account that plays to this strength of mine, where I give out two tracks every month. This is something that not every artist can offer. If you were to just copy someone else’s system without figuring your own strengths first, you will just burn yourself out. Start with something small that you know you can do, and then grow into it.
Another example for a system I’ve built for myself is that a few years ago, I started making vlogs on YouTube, and so I found that I enjoyed the process of capturing what I was doing. While my videos at the beginning were very unprofessional and probably boring, I kept working on them, and eventually started making 1-minute short vlogs on my Instagram that ended up doing very well! This is a strength of mine that I never would have discovered if I hadn’t just thrown myself at making videos a few years ago, and now I’ve built it into a system that I enjoy, and that helps me make content for my socials. Keep in mind that you also don’t need to stick to the same thing forever, and sometimes it can be useful in unexpected ways.
In conclusion, I would say forget about the noise, and build your life (the time you spend) around what you enjoy doing, and what you can give to the people that support you—financially or otherwise.