A commercial cartoonist I follow – Tom Fishburne aka The Marketoonist – recently published a post on the concept of the Creator's Code. (This was devised by Hiut Denim & David Hieatt – here's a link to Tom's post + see graphic)
The aspects that interest me the most are
Point #5: Chase the work, not the money. The money will come in time.
And Point #9: There are no short cuts. Do the work! (If I was being picky I'd also amend #10 to read Great Green Tea Helps.)
But seriously... Points #5 and #9 are the ones most people get wrong – and in the case of #5 usually get the wrong way around and focus entirely on chasing the money.
In both instances the killer factor is short-termism aka instant gratification – unrealistic expectations – looking to make a quick buck.
I've seen this with magazine and website publishers (I've been the launch editor of a number of titles) and software businesses/startups. Let me explain...
With publishing, the way you shouldapproach a new magazine launch is to focus on generating insanely great content – which will then attract readers. And this in turn attract advertisers and their money.
Sadly too many publishers approach the project from the opposite direction: "Oh look, here's an industry niche with an untapped marketing budget, let's get ourselves a slice!"
So they fill the zine or site with advertorial (sponsored copy or whatever else they want to call their pay-to-play model) that keeps the advertisers happy – and they will certainly never dare run stories remotely critical of their advertisers.
But then they are surprised when nobody reads the publication (readers aren't stupid) and they subsequently lose the advertisers. Add in the way many publishers set unrealistic targets for new publications and 12 months later you see the publication being quietly buried.
With software companies the situation arises when they are trying to expand into new market but, once again, they want to do it in a hurry. So, they spend a shedload of money on advertising (usually in the wrong places) and sponsoring events (usually the wrong events) and then are surprised to discover, 12 months later, that they are not market leaders. Like unsuccessful publishers, they then pack their tents and slink away into the desert.
With startups, the problem is usually outside investors who have unrealistic expectations that the business is going to be The Next Big Thing and pull the financial plug before it ever has been given a proper chance to thrive and succeed.
These are all long-term commitments. There are no short-cuts, you have to do the groundwork. You have to get the basics right and then you will reap the financial rewards.
Anything else is folly. Short-termism is the enemy of creative innovation and promise.
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