Show Your Work (Austin Kleon)

28 December, 2020 - Book, Creativity

Show Your Work!

The real gap is between doing nothing and something. Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.

That quote is my favourite from the book and perfectly summarises what it is all about. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon is about getting known by sharing your work with the world. It is not enough to be good, you have to be findable and the best way to do that is by building sharing into your routine.

Austin describes this through ten guiding principles. Each chapter has some great nuggets of information and quotes, but here I will just mention two main themes through the book and a few passing thoughts.

Share your Journey

So back to the quote at the start. Being an amateur is great, because it means you understand the beginners mindset and know how to go from nothing to something. So how do you do this? Well, by sharing the process step by step - not just the final efforts of your work. Lets be honest, although seeing someone post a picture of a great looking homemade meal, what we really want is to know how to make it ourselves.

Showing the behind the scenes not only gives your audience a better appreciation of the process, but ways in which they can learn, interact and be a part of the journey. Just through starting up my website I have had chats with friends on how I made the website and what the plans for it are. One of the hopes for the website is to share some of the projects I work on in my spare time and the progress as I work on it.

Deciding on what to share can be tough sometimes, but the best way to partly alleviate this is by keeping notes on what you are doing and recording the process. This will allow you to reflect on how far you have come and can help in what you could share. However, should it be shared? This is simply put by Austin - if it could help at least one person in the world, then it is worth sharing.

In short, share what you know or want to learn. Share the process in the open. Share what went well and not so well. Share what you love and find interesting, the people who have the same passions will find you. Oh and most importantly, reflect on how that process went and take that into the next journey of learning out in the open.

You can't be content with mastery; you have to push yourself to become a student again.

Share others

Although it is cool to share your journey and what you are working on, we don't live in a vacuum. There is so much cool content out there, from new technologies and ideas, to the journeys of others and their experiences. The Internet is a big place. One area I have recently discovered and found interesting is Indie Hacking, some notable mentions are Andrey Azimov and Pieter Levels.

Through sharing what you like and find interesting, it informs your audience on who you are, what you do and provides another way you can interact with your audience. It can even be a better way of showing who you are, sometimes more than your own work. This is one of the best ways you can connect with people and find those with similar interests. So share what you like, but always remember to give credit as well as how you found the information.

As Austin puts it, don't turn into human spam. Be an open node and share the work and journey of others you find interesting. In doing so you can be part of a community of likeminded individuals, fostering a relationship of collaboration and ideas.

If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector.

Closing Remarks

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It provided loads of insight from what and how to share content to just how to get going in the first place. This book emphasises that we all have something to contribute, even if it is something small, it can help someone out there.

Would recommend this book to anyone into creativity, whether or not you make or are looking to start sharing content, it is a great and easy read with some valuable advice.

Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time.


  • Ali Abdaal for the book recommendation based on this article/video.
  • The author of the book, Austin Kleon. He has written a few other popular books and has an interesting blog.
  • Amazon link if you are interested in getting the book (I can make a commission for purchases made through this referral link).
  • Designed by Antonio Iuliano.