Whose Advice Should I Follow?

By Sean Platt

Today’s question is: “What advice should I follow?” Or more specifically, “Whose advice should I follow?”

Because, let’s face it, no matter what you’re trying to learn online, there is a ton of information out there.

(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the Smarter Artist Podcast)

I firmly believe that when you’re trying to learn something, you want to figure it out yourself. I think we all have a little bit of that in us.

Most of us don’t necessarily want to sit there and read the instructions. We want to just open the box and start playing with the game ourselves.

I’m certainly guilty of that, but as I get older and a little wiser and more mature, hopefully, I’m a little more willing to slow down, take my time, get the information I need so I make fewer mistakes.

The best way to learn

Mistakes are good, they get you where you’re going with a little more seasoning, but that doesn’t mean you have time to make stupid mistakes or be careless and not look for the answers.

I believe that when you’re trying to learn something, the very best way to get better results and faster is to find someone who has done what you want to do and copy their methods.

Not wholesale, because you always want to look at why somebody’s doing something so that you can understand their results better and see how they apply to you.

My daughter, Haley, right now is trying very hard to learn to draw and to animate – to learn basics of Photoshop — and she’s downloading every single YouTube video she possibly can.

She’s spending a lot of time looking at other people’s techniques and trying to copy them.

That’s a really great thing to do, but on the other hand, even though there’s an abundance of information, no matter what you’re trying to learn, there’s also too much information out there.

How do you know whose advice you should follow?

Get your creativity into the worldIf you’re listening to this, you probably want to get your creativity out there. You want to learn to write a book, or you want to learn to publish faster, gather an audience, find people willing to pay for your creativity.

There are a lot of answers out there.

There are also a lot of answers from people who haven’t really done what you want to do. They’re selling methodology.

That’s not what you want. You don’t want a push-button solution.

You want to understand why things work so that you can apply them to yourself, and you really want to get people’s first hand experience as much as possible.

That means that you have to not get confused. It means you want to listen to one voice, but you want to choose the right voice, or a few voices and choose the right few voices.

That means that listening to a lot and really finding out what resonates with you.

What sounds true to your values and true to the kind of business you want to build. The kind of books you want to write, the way in which you want to publish, the way in which you want to connect with your fans.

Indie publishing is still a new field

This isn’t a publishing story because I haven’t seen a lot of really great voices because a lot of the people who are doing this, are doing it for the first time.

When I first started out, I wasn’t looking for those answers.

We stumble a lot because we’re always kind of making up what we’re doing as we go along and figuring out the answers, and then reporting back on them.

But when I first started out online, I basically just wanted to know how to blog, how to get traffic to my blog, how to build an audience.

There are so many blogs about blogging, it's a snake eating its own tail. Click To Tweet

Man facing sea of information and adviceEverywhere I went I could see another “how to get traffic to your blog” blog post. There was just too much noise. I really wanted to hone in and find the signal.

I really resonated with the way that Copyblogger did things. I knew that if I just read Copyblogger every day, and I bought the products that they put out, and I gave my allegiance to their voice, I would get less distracted, I would get less confused, I wouldn’t be looking for shining pennies all over the place.

I really think that’s kind of the way you do it.

There’s two things here:

First of all, you want to listen to a lot of stuff.

Don’t be afraid to go hunting. Don’t be afraid to really fill your mind with a lot of different voices, and then be ruthless about what you cut out.

It’s like writing that first draft. It’s not about getting a perfect story told in that first draft. It’s about getting as much as you possibly can onto the page because the job of the first draft is to get it all out of your head.

So, the job of your first draft in looking for advice is to get as much as you possibly can.

And then, you need to edit.

Revise what you’re allowing to influence you, just like you would revise your own work. Hack, hack, hack.

Get rid of all the stuff that isn’t relevant to you, isn’t relevant to your business. It doesn’t resonate with the way you want to do things, just mercilessly cut.

And then when you find a voice that you know you can trust, don’t be afraid to pay for information. Don’t be afraid to invest in good education.

That’s a place I see a lot of creative people misstep is because they’re always looking for the free answers and the free solutions.

Sometimes the people with the best experience, they want to charge for that experience, and that’s okay, as long as the stuff that you’re buying really is in alignment with your goals and the way you want to build your creative business.

So, my best advice is to go out right now and subscribe for a few blogs, a few voices.

Spend an entire afternoon, or maybe even a week, getting acquainted with what’s out there.

Then get to work murdering your darlings.

Sean Platt is the founder of Sterling & Stone and loves that he not only gets paid to make up stories and come up with crazy ideas, but that he gets to do so with his best friends. Together, they've also co-authored the bestselling non-fiction titles Write. Publish. Repeat., Fiction Unboxed, and Iterate & Optimize to help Smarter Artists get smarter, faster.

Sean lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Cindy and their two children, Ethan and Haley.

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