It’s not enough to be talented.
What separates successful creators from the pack isn’t just their unique ability — it’s a set of traits and mindsets they apply to their creations.
No matter who you are or what you make, your success will be directly correlated to your willingness to embrace the following concepts…
1. Successful creators are self-starters.
No one will demand you create until you first demand it of yourself.
Your creations are a reflection of your ability to generate enough energy and motivation to bring them into the world.
Every morning, author Steven Pressfield puts on his work boots and goes to “work,” sitting at his computer and writing for hours.
He doesn’t do it because someone tells him to — he does it because he’s chosen to make creating his job and treat it as such.
2. Successful creators are consumers.
Great creators are always great consumers first.
Because a creator’s work is always born from the residue of the material they consume.
The same way the food you eat influences your health, the creations you’re exposed to and your experiences influence your creative work.
As Joe Strummer from The Clash once said, “No input, no output.”
3. Successful creators are entrepreneurs.
There’s no clear path to follow as a creator — you must carve your own.
This is an entrepreneurial challenge and requires an entrepreneurial mindset.
Creators must figure out not only their own way to create things of value, but also how to extract enough value from their creations to sustain their work.
The economics of creativity is the economics of entrepreneurship.
Chance the Rapper is as much an entrepreneurial force as he is a creative one.
For years, he turned down more than $10 million worth of offers from record labels instead choosing to remain independent and in control of his own business.
“Build a business where you’re the upper management,” he said.
4. Successful creators are artists.
Artists turn nothing into something.
They will ideas, opportunities, and value into existence.
But they don’t just do it for money, fame, or success — they do it because of an intrinsic feeling that they must.
Naval Ravikant suggests the best people in any industry are artists because they’re “someone who’s doing it for its own sake, who loves the craft, who just enjoys what they’re doing.”
5. Successful creators are risk takers.
Every creation is a gamble.
There’s no way to know you can bring the vision in your head to life or if anyone will care when you do.
Creators embrace uncertainty — they don’t run from it.
In 1965, at the peak of his fame in the folk music world, Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival to the astonishment and frustration of the crowd.
The move was said to have “electrified one half of his audience and electrocuted the other.”
Dylan wasn’t afraid to take a risk.
6. Successful creators are failures.
Most of your creations will fail.
Creators understand failure isn’t an option — it’s a prerequisite to success.
The only path to success as a creator is to have a stronger desire to create than your fear of failure.
The Beatles failed over and over again.
Of the 193 songs they released on albums (and hundreds more they wrote but didn’t release), only 17 went to number one on the charts.
7. Successful creators are inspirations.
Your creations will inspire others in ways you can’t imagine and may never know.
When you put something into the world — regardless of its success — you send a message to others it’s possible for them to do the same.
You never know who needs to hear that message and what it may inspire.
The creators of 90’s sitcoms like A Different World and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air likely had no idea at the time their work would years later inspire Issa Rae to go to college and create her own TV series Insecure.
8. Successful creators are scientists.
Every creation is an experiment.
You make something based on a hypothesis of its value, share it with the world, and pay attention to the results.
That “data” informs the creation of your next work and helps you improve.
YouTube star Mr. Beast spent five years making videos that flopped as he experimented to try to find the secret sauce to grow his channel, before finally scoring a viral hit in 2017.
He now has 46 million subscribers.
9. Successful creators are marketers.
Too many creators view marketing and promotion as dirty words that tarnish the purity of their creations.
That’s an excuse because they’re scared and insecure.
Your creations can’t deliver value to an audience if that audience doesn’t know they exist.
The promotion of your creations isn’t a selfish act — it’s a generous one.
Beyonce’s success is as much about her marketing prowess as her music.
From surprise album releases to her HBO special for Lemonade, she approaches the marketing of her art with the same level of creativity that goes into the art itself.
10. Successful creators are investors.
Every creation is an investment.
Creators invest their time, effort, resources, money, and heart into bringing an idea to life and to market.
If you’re not willing to invest in your creations, you can’t expect anyone else to.
Director Kevin Smith funded his first movie Clerks with $27,000 he put on his own credit cards and shot it at night in the convenience store in which he worked.
11. Successful creators are originals.
All creative work is inspired by creations that came before it.
If all you do is replicate the work of others, you’re not a creator — you’re a copier.
True creators combine the influence and inspiration of what came before them with their own unique spin or perspective to produce work that’s truly original.
Your creations are informed by your life and no one has lived the same life as you.
You’re an original.
Your creations should be too.
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