This month has been so great for me as I was able to share four incredibly amazing illustrators. I was inspired to step away from writing and sit down to work on creating content that I wanted in this space. I’ve been having a similar conversation with Kayla Hollatz of #Createlounge on Twitter about getting back to the blogs we loved reading. Three years ago, I think the creative blogger was at its best. We were sharing from personal experiences. We were all sharing what we were learning. There was more of a vulnerability from creatives that I grew to adore which made it easy to create communities authentically. A lot of other things also happened in 2013, between the downfall of sidebar ads and the upheaval of blogging advertising networks, there were many changes happening when it came to making money from blogging. We began to focus on creating original content, which has been fantastic; but somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the authenticity and moved towards the narrative of formula-based content creation for the sake of passive income. I can’t be the only person who can’t tell sites apart or articles apart from one another anymore. I’m not even sure who is who in the space which is why it’s terrifying to see creatives obsessed with the rules that have been created to be successful online.
Rules Don’t Always Matter
As creatives, we’re taught technique but we’re encouraged to think outside the boundaries to create your own work. Somehow the formula of make your site look this way, use this CMS, have this type of Instagram feed, and use this tone of voice has become the go-to response when one is defining success online. I wrote about being accountable for giving advice online a while ago when I saw this type of thinking taking over my blog feed. I’m less than impartial to this type of systematic thinking being the standard today. I have a hard time understanding the rules that don’t allow for creative growth or thinking. How can following someone else’s steps replicate personalized success for yourself? There are rules that are old, tried, and true like always crediting work that’s not yours. You’re capable of doing what you’re passionate about without following someone else’s guidelines.
Following Your Values, Not Trends
The word “trend” is defined as a general direction in which something is developing or changing. There aren’t any qualifiers of whether something is going in the right direction for you. That reason alone is why it’s important to set values for yourself. I love everything Kelsey wrote in her post about finding your values. Doing value-based business can be contributed to the success I’ve found in my businesses. As part of finding my values, I also learned to define success in my own terms. Worrying about someone else’s prerequisites to being a successful creative will fail you every time. There is power in setting your own values to help create the rules you need to thrive.
The problem with following trends is that they’re so short-lived and not always the best for you. There are some great trends that have helped me become a better creative in life and business. I’m learning to live a more minimalistic lifestyle, being healthy is so much easier today than it was a few years ago, and I’ve enjoyed learning more about the art of hand-lettering. It’s ok to like things because you just do. Steph Crowder of Fizzle had an amazing interview with the ladies of the Creative Empire podcast. She said something along the lines that one person decided gold foil and calligraphy was popular and it somehow set the standard for design for women. It’s ok to like those things and it’s totally ok if you don’t. Don’t let society define the way you create. Create the way your heart knows how to.
Creating Rules for Success
The thing about advice online is that it’s simply that, advice. You can learn amazing things everyday from people who have built admirable empires. There are people whose talent and success is beyond my reach. I look forward to hearing their stories. You can learn from their mistakes and those stories can push you to do better. The reality is that it’s up to you to create your own rules for success. It’s not anyone else’s job to create the life that you want but your own. You’re responsible for how well you’re doing. No matter how many Facebook groups you’re engaged with, it ultimately comes down to you utilizing the resources to fit your needs. There are people who are passionate about seeing other creatives succeed and their work gives you the tools you need to define your success. There are also equally as many people who see this as a lucrative way to make money and won’t hesitate to sell you things you never needed so they can meet their own terms of success.
This is why creating your own rules is so important. When the dust settles and there’s no one else available, how will you meet your goals? How will you use what you’ve learned to keep growing? Taking a formulaic approach to creativity is a quick way to become disingenuous. I can tell you about my day-to-day schedule, what tools I use, when I work, and what techniques I use; but without your own authenticity, you’d only become a carbon copy of me. (No one wants that!) You may even be what you feel is successful but you would never know how successful you could have been on your own.
There are more people online speaking up for originality and I’ve really be enjoying those articles. Yes, it is nice to be noticed. It’s great to receive engagement online but those things don’t matter if you’re not being true to yourself. Even more so, what type of longevity will you have if you’re constantly following in someone else’s footsteps? I challenge you to create the way you want, not the way that is popular right now. Do something outside of the box. Push your limits and challenge yourself to create the way you want. You can start by making your own rules.