How to Build an Online Presence: 3 Easy Tips

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here .

Do you want your work to become popular? What is the key to building an online presence?

In Show Your Work!, Austin Kleon offers specific insights on how to share your work with others. He recommends having your own website and engaging with social media platforms to showcase your creative process and help people find you.

Check out how to build an online presence to boost the popularity of your work.

1. Make Sharing a Habit

What is the key to learning how to build an online presence? Kleon advises you to make sharing a habit, preferably a daily one. A practical way to do this is to post on a social media platform such as Instagram, Tumblr, or Youtube every day. He encourages you to try out new platforms as they emerge—if you find something that works for you, stick with it. Whatever platform you use, make time to do it daily. Regular posts generate a steady stream of content for people to see, which creates more opportunities for people to connect with you.  

According to Kleon, posting to your blog or sending an email to your subscribers are also effective ways to share regularly, and they give you even more control over the content. For instance, certain social media platforms limit the number of characters you can use in a post. By contrast, in a blog post, you can write as much as you want. Consider adding blogging and emailing to your routine. 

2. Give the Context Behind Your Work

Posting your work daily is good to build your online presence, but if you post without providing any explanation—no context or backstory, for instance—you’ll be missing out on the opportunity to engage people even more, claims Kleon. He suggests that this is because people tend to value things based on their understanding of the context of those things. For example, if you bought a marble bust from a thrift store and later found out it was an ancient Roman artifact, your opinion of its value would probably change.

How Pleasure Works

Kleon refers to the work of psychologist Paul Bloom on this point. In his book How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, Bloom argues that we enjoy things more if we believe them to be authentic or unique

Based on his research, Bloom believes that humans can’t help but prefer things that they understand to have some special origin. This is why it’s important to explain the special origin of your work to people—if people believe a piece is special, they derive more pleasure from experiencing it. Therefore, one way to get people to enjoy your work more is to simply tell them why they should.

Contextualizing your work is a matter of crafting a story, according to Kleon. This isn’t a skill that comes naturally to everyone, so he suggests you follow good examples: fairy tales and myths, for instance. Such stories have a problem, work done to solve that problem, and a solution. More basically, they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. 

For example, tell people about the sunrise you saw on the way to your office or the hours of research invested before finally discovering the one resource you’ve been hunting down for days. When you finally publish your book, followers may be more inclined to get a copy since they know how much labor went into it. 

3. Have Your Own Website

As important as it is to post and contextualize your work on social media, having your own website gives you more control and an even better way to build an online presence. Kleon is adamant that you should have one. If you don’t already have one, buy a domain name and build a website (or have it built). Fill that site with your story—your interests, thoughts, products, and so on. Even if people don’t visit your site now, if you keep up with it, you’ll be ready for people to find it when the time comes.  

Kleon attributes most of his success to his blog on his website. For years he posted pictures of his illustrations, poems, thoughts, and ideas there. These were the bits of content that got him found. For him, a website allows people to learn about you regardless of social media trends, which are always changing. 

How to Build an Online Presence: 3 Easy Tips

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Austin Kleon's "Show Your Work" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Show Your Work summary :

  • How to succeed at your creative endeavors
  • How to make money off your creative work
  • Why you should share your creative process

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *