why you need to give it away (to be a successful creative)
We give it away because art is a gift, and the Internet is a gift economy.
“As the ‘greed is good’ exchange-based economic system goes into terminal meltdown, alternative paradigms are emerging.”
We give it away because the purpose of gifts is to establish relationships, and we are entering an age of interconnectedness like never before.
Our fates are so interwoven that by keeping others down, you provoke acts of hostility and retaliation that ripple through your network and ultimately bring you down. But by lifting others up, you create a rising tide that lifts you up.
We give it away because each person you draw into your network increases your reach and influence and potential audience. They can share it with people in their network, who share it with people in their network, and so on and so forth.
We give it away because the law of reciprocity is embedded in our soul DNA. If I give something to you, you feel a moral debt to do something for me sometime in the future (ie: buy my book). For this to be true, though, the gift has to be honestly given with no expectation of return and no sense of obligation, otherwise it no longer qualifies as a gift.
“In a market economy, one can hoard one’s goods without losing wealth. Indeed, wealth is increased by hoarding— although we generally call it ‘saving’. In contrast, in a gift economy, wealth is decreased by hoarding, for it is the circulation of the gift(s) within the community that leads to increase— increase in connections, increase in relationship strength.” — JoAnn Schwartz
We give it away because we live in an era of convergence. Just as your phone is no longer a phone, but a cell camera and a browsing device and a reading device and personal organizer and portable music player and entertainment system and the gods know what else, a writer is no longer simply a writer but also a marketer and producer of content, preferably across multiple platforms.
And marketing is not what it used to be. People have learned to tune out traditional advertising and the Internet has exploded the traditional idea of the ‘mass audience’. There are too many choices and too many different spaces online to hang out in for a single advertisement to reach “the masses”. For a ‘message’ to penetrate the culture, the audience has to take it and engage with it and share it throughout multiple networks. Marketing, creation, and community converge:
“The consumer control era has meant that creatives must make things that people want, that they seek out and share with their circle, or with the world. It has meant that the marketing end game has transcended reach, just grabbing eyeballs, and it has become a matter of engagement, of inviting a conversation and making a meaningful, ongoing connection….”ads” can be almost anything – a film, a TV show, a mobile app, a blog, a retail experience, a product, a song, a game, a distribution idea, a tweet…” — Teressa Iezzi, THE IDEA WRITERS: Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Age
We give it away because the most powerful marketing always had some kind of gift value: a level of meaning that reached beyond the so-called ‘message’ to touch or enrich the audience’s life in some way.
“The truth was that these brands had become phenomenally valuable not only because of their innovative features or benefits, but also because these properties had been translated into [archetypal] meanings. They were worth millions of dollars because they had gained a kind of meaning that was universal, larger than life, iconic.” — Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, THE HERO AND THE OUTLAW: Building Extraordinary Brands through the Power of Archetypes
We give it away because that’s how we attract the world. We give it away until they can’t live without it.
“…50 Cent didn’t get ensnared in that anxiety. Instead, he simply started giving his music away for “free” via mix-tapes and the Internet…[so] he could corner the street market and, in doing so, once again attract the labels’ attention. Whatever he might initially lose in earnings, he would more than recoup through creating legions of loyal fans. Fans who would actually be first in line to buy his “real” albums once he was able to get a deal….
50 Cent had courage because he knew all he had to focus on was making music honest enough to inspire both him and the streets…[He] instinctively understood Sri Satchidananda’s quote: When you’re honest, the world is going to run after you.” — Russell Simmons, SUPER RICH
We give it away because that’s how we transform the world. Gifts can be material and also immaterial. A gift can be a form of education or a mentoring relationship that empowers, and inspires. Because of the law of reciprocity, we feel an internal pressure that can only be discharged when we return the gift or pass it on in some way. This is the power – and pressure – of gratitude:
“if the teaching begins to ‘take,’ the recipient feels gratitude…I would like to speak of gratitude as a labor undertaken by the soul to effect the transformation after a gift has been received. Between the time a gift comes to us and the time we pass it along, we suffer gratitude. Moreover, with gifts that are agents of change, it is only when the gift has worked in us, only when we have come up to its level, as it were, that we can give it away again. Passing the gift along is the act of gratitude that finishes the labor. The transformation is not accomplished until we have the power to give the gift on our own terms” (47). Lewis Hyde, THE GIFT, Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
We give it away because in this networked, interconnected world, we must operate from a sense of abundance rather than scarcity.
“As the world goes vertical, something alchemical is happening: we are shifting from an economy of scarcity to an economy of abundance….Unlike physical resources (interestingly, though, much like love) knowledge increases when you share it. This is because of a curious property inherent in all networks:
As the nodes in a network increase arithmetically, the network’s value increases exponentially.
…You increase value by developing immaterial assets and enlarging people’s access, creating as broad a free user vase as possible and then charging for services that leverage that magnified user base.” — Daniel Burrus Flash Foresight
We give it away because for a gift to be a gift, it has to be an honest expression of soul. Which means that when we give it away, we can discover who we are.
“You are only as good as what you give away.” — Keith Ferrazzi