Shouting Into the Crowd

Sharing your creations online is kind of like shouting into a large, loud, busy crowd.

When you first start, there's little fanfare and you don't make much of an impression. You don't really catch anyone's attention for a while, but eventually the occasional passer-by takes brief notice of you.

After you've been at it for some time, you get a few people to stop, sit down and listen. It's a start, but compared to the size of the crowd, it doesn't feel like much.

So you try to get a little louder to reach more people. Maybe you spend some money to amplify your voice, or perhaps you ask a nearby friend with their own audience to mention the cool things you’re creating. This gets a few more folks to pay attention, but many just consider your extra volume an annoyance as they pass right by.

Occasionally, someone goes out of their way to put you down. It hurts for a moment, but once you see they’ve just been wandering aimlessly through the crowd being destructive and never contributing any of their own creativity or positivity, it’s a lot easier to ignore them. You know you're making something genuine and you can't possibly please everyone, though some criticisms do manage to stick around in the back of your head.

Much of the time you hear no feedback at all about what you’ve created. Sometimes you wonder if anyone even heard you in the first place, or if your friends and followers are just pretending to listen because they want to be nice. These thoughts can cause you to doubt yourself and question why you're doing this in the first place.

But every once in a while you’ll create something great that gets noticed by a lot of people, many more than you’re used to reaching. Some of them stick around and become true fans, but most probably move along with little acknowledgement. You realize you're going to need many more of these moments to build a big following, and it can be tempting to start focusing your efforts on reeling in as many people from the big crowd as you can. But spending too much time thinking about them can cause you to neglect the smaller group of people who are already genuinely interested in what you're making.

Eventually you conclude that you don’t get much satisfaction by shouting at the bigger crowd of people, whereas nurturing the small tribe you've built for yourself creates genuine, profound, mutually beneficial connections.

And as you pour your heart into creating great things and forging those deep connections with fans, friends and strangers from all over the world, the big crowd starts to fade away from your attention, slowly falling out of focus. Soon you realize that your crowd, no matter how modest it may be, makes what you do feel far more fulfilling. They more than make up in quality for what they lack in quantity.

…Of course, that’s usually when the rest of them start noticing.