After a recent conversation online, I realized that there are
several excruciatingly simple ideas that can help anyone
get their creative project off the ground. These tips
are operative regardless of your industry, niche or
experience level in any particular field.

If you miss any of these easily overlooked items, your chances
of success will most likely suffer. Make your creative
life easier by having a glance at this “top ten” list (in no
particular order) of points and see where you might
have room to improve. I’ll definitely be doing that myself
throughout my own creative life. Maybe you can benefit from
having this post as a quick reference, too.

Note: These came from the tip of my tongue after a few hours
of the ideas bouncing around in my head, so there may be
a bit of repetition; revision will probably take place
over the next few days.

10 Blindingly Simple, Easily Overlooked Tips From a Fellow Creative

1. If you want feedback from others, be prepared to receive it.
If you don’t want feedback, don’t ask for it.
If you get feedback
that you don’t like, accept it gracefully; above all,
recognize that egotistical whining (usually in the form of
self-justification or blaming others for your problems) will only
annoy people who would otherwise have been able
and willing to help you.

2. Don’t fall in love with impressive tools at the expense of
simple concepts that work regardless of what technology
or medium you’ll use.
The most important question is:
who are you and why does anyone care? If for some reason
you can’t present a list of past achievements,
you’ll have to present convincing evidence of your
abilities (see point #4). E-begging for funding on Kickstarter
or cross-posting to every community on Reddit isn’t
going to make your life any easier unless people
care enough to say “yes”.

3. If someone buys one of your artistic pieces, ask them
if they’d like to be contacted when you create
your next one.
Build a list of people who already
want what you have to offer and stay in touch
periodically until you’re ready to launch your
next work of art.

4. If you’re a relatively unknown artist, be prepared to
give before you get.
Give samples of your work
to prospective readers/viewers. Give samples to
prospective collaborators. More generally, give
people as many ways as you can to get past their
initial skepticism about whether or not you’re serious
about your craft, and whether or not what you do
is what they want. Find out how to navigate the difference
between giving away enough and giving away too much.
This depends on your purposes and how you want to
distribute your work. Suffice to say that it’s far from
all-or-nothing; you can give a valuable representative
sample of your work without having to give it all away for free.

5. Don’t try to “convince” people that they want what you’ve got.
Spend time finding people who want what you’re creating.
Learn how to present your creations to them
in a way that encourages them to respond favorably
and strongly. Don’t waste time with people who tell
you “no” or “maybe”. There are exceptions to this
rule, but they are few and far between. Eventually, you’ll
find that “no” sometimes means “tell me more” and “maybe”
sometimes means “there’s one more thing I’d like you to say
that I haven’t heard yet.” There’s a reason why marketing
is its own discipline, and if you don’t have that expertise,
you need to find it if you want to succeed on a larger scale.
In the meantime, focus your time and energy on the “yeses”.

6. If you want to get paid, act like a professional.
The specifics of “professionalism” can depend
on your audience. At the most basic level, make
sure that anything you show to potential readers/viewers
is at the level of what you want them to buy. The format
and presentation (personal blog versus complete website,
for example) often matters as much as the content of your art.
Again, this depends on your audience and how you want
to present yourself. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your
readers/viewers. If you were going to gladly buy a creative
work, who would you buy from and under what conditions
would you (or wouldn’t you) buy it?

7. If you want to get paid, make sure you get paid, and
make sure that the payment you receive reflects
the value of your time and effort.
This means that if you want to step up your
creativity to the level of getting paid, don’t
be fooled by encouragement from people
who aren’t paying you. Make sure that your
ego and desire for attention aren’t substituting
for positive sales figures.

8. If your skills are deficient in a particular area,
find someone who has those skills
— and be prepared
to pay them (or barter) for those skills. Ask yourself: is it
better to fail and have the consolation that you tried
your best, or is it better to succeed by doing the
needful to reach your goal? Even if you do everything
necessary, you may still not reach your goal. The skills
you learn from being able to accurately identify your
weaknesses and find people who can help overcome them
will make your next effort that much more likely to
succeed. Playing it safe and making excuses for a halfway effort
only teaches you how to make excuses for future failures.

9. If you can’t find others to help (or lack the funds and
resources to buy or barter), assess whether or not
you really want to do it all yourself
. These can be
tough questions: is the goal attainable if you want to
be a one-person team? Is it true that you can’t find
anyone to help, or are you not looking in the
right places? Is your ego telling you that you need
to do everything yourself in order to bask in the
imaginary glory, when the reality is that without
help, you may never even reach the finish line?
Be prepared to stretch yourself artistically and in terms of
how much effort you’re willing to pour into your work.
Eventually you’ll get where you want to be — mainly
because most people give up far too soon. On the other
hand, knowing your limits can help you overcome them
without breaking you in the pursuit of greatness.

10. Don’t rush to create a masterpiece on your first try.
Hone your talents on smaller projects first.
This requires you to first identify those talents
that you’ll need to hone. There is one major difference
between a hobbyist and a pro: people want what the
pro has to offer enough to pay for it, and the pro
knows how to place a number value on their work
that people are willing to pay. Getting to that
level will take years of dedicated effort.
Thankfully, you love what you do and would have
been doing it anyway, so stepping up your skills
is an expected and exciting part of the game.