Thursday, March 19, 2015

Staying Motivated by Recognizing Your Audience

This week, it's been hard for me to stay motivated.

• Am I doing something that people actually like?
• Am I resonating with an audience?
• Do I even have an audience?
• Does any of this even matter?

The truth is, I should be doing this regardless of whether or not I have an audience. My goal in starting this project was to produce more content, to get myself back on a creative routine, and to actually stick to something. So far, I've been pretty proud of myself. The work I've done has been humbling, yet solidifying in the fact that I need to continue.

There have been days when it was clear that I was making a difference. That I did, in fact, have an audience, that they were paying attention, and that they were inspired by the work I was doing. This by-product of a somewhat selfish goal is actually the most rewarding part. But when the days come that my work doesn't seem to have an impact, I can't help but feel let down and unmotivated.

But what's truly in my control and what isn't? I can't force anyone to like my work. I can't force it to be inspiring. I can, however, continue to create it. I can continue to publish it, to write about it, and to keep doing it over and over again, because it's true to me. It feels in alignment with what I should be doing now, whether or not it resonates with anyone else. If it does, then wonderful! But if it doesn't, I have to ask myself if the work resonated with me at all. If it did, then I succeeded. If it didn't, then I need to re-evaluate why it is I'm doing the work, and how I can dive deeper into it.

On the flip side, the amount of 'likes' I get on facebook or instagram can actually keep me motivated to create work. Any lack of responses, while at first can be crushing, ultimately gets me fired up to create something even better. If my audience didn't respond to something, then I just have to make something that will. But it's important to remember, though, that even if it rings true for me, doesn't mean it'll ring true for others.

It's also important not to get caught up in the 'like' cycle. This can be rather addicting, and posting work simply to see how many people 'like' it, isn't a healthy intention. The 'likes' can be a gauge, but it's relative. The more followers you have may provide more likes, but percentage-wise, there won't be that much of a difference.

When you create work that's true to you, your audience will grow naturally. Instead of focusing on gaining followers, focus on the ones who are already following. They're following you because your work or voice resonates with them. Earn their loyalty by consistently showing up and providing high-quality content. The more you focus on the ones who are already 'sold', you're staying true to your artistic voice. When you create work simply because you think someone else will like it, you're selling yourself short. Be true and honest not only with your audience, but with yourself.

The work is derived from passion; from the need to create and produce based on your own voice and perspective. But to stay motivated, you must remember that the people who are inspired by your work, are counting on your consistency. You may not touch or reach everyone you know, but the 4 or 5 or 500 people that are influenced in some way by it, those are the ones you are creating for. Think about them when you're producing your work, and your motivation will manifest from there. Think of your audience and the words of admiration and appreciation they've expressed. Think of the ones who have followed you from the beginning. Think of how you feel when you follow the work of artists you admire. You get up in the morning to see the work they've published, simply because you know it will brighten your day. Your work can brighten someone else's day, too. Someone you may not even know, or may ever know.

Again, you can't control how people will feel about your work. But, if you create from a place of truth, honesty and passion, you will attract those that are longing it. You will naturally inspire and influence others in ways you never thought possible. You are doing this for you, but you're doing this for them, too. It's as if both parties are sharing in a dance of motivation, inspiration and creation.

Introducing Painting #9: 'Repurposed' (4x4 inches, watercolor).

The earrings featured in this piece were ones I created out of vintage beads, found amidst my grandmother's costume jewelry. I love how retro, yet glamorous, they look. 

I've decided to donate this pair, along with several others I had designed over the past year or so, to a work-sanctioned silent auction, supporting a colleague's daughter, who's fighting a rare disease. You can read more here:

Original Instagram photo: