Austin Kleon Show Your Work

Recently, I’ve been waking up feeling excited to start each day. This is particularly amazing since on most nights now, I tend to stay up, working through as much of the long list of to-dos for this site as possible. I’ve found that I’m excited because I learned to celebrate the little victories and milestones along the way, which keeps me motivated on this personal startup that requires a lot of time but generates no revenue. I think that a crucial part of startup life is learning how to celebrate the milestones, however insignificant or small you might think they seem, in comparison to the bigger establishments out there.

So, here we go! These are the 4 milestones since I started this website in June:

Milestone #1: Over 300 unique visitors and 1,800 page views!

It was such a happy moment for me when I first reached 100 unique visitors and 1,000 page views. But then an amazing thing happened – the numbers kept going up, friends started to leave really positive comments (to which I’m really grateful for), people email subscribed to this blog, and I started getting random followers from all over the world on Twitter (follow me!) and YouTube (subscribe to my channel!). As a side note, Dave McClure, the founder of the weighty early stage venture capital firm 500 Startups, also started following me on Twitter, which was a big moment for a small person like me. It’s really encouraging to consider these traffic milestones against when I first started this website in May with zero visitors. Back then, the website was scrappy and bare, and other than photos of Antarctica, there wasn’t anything else as I didn’t start writing till mid-June. I’ll start to work on improving engagement metrics going forward, but it’s great to have the initial traffic.

I’ve always enjoyed writing. And now that I’ve started writing again, I’ve been exercising my idea generation muscle everyday. So keep coming back, share the word, or email subscribe, because I am now constantly overflowing with ideas of travel and startups-related stuff that you would be interested in reading. Time permitting, you can expect more value-packed blog posts coming!

Milestone #2: A US travel magazine asked to publish one of my photos.

I could hardly contain my excitement for an entire morning, after I got an email from a journalist who wanted to publish one of my travel photos in her magazine. To be honest, I had actually never heard of the magazine before, and they basically stole my photo without paying for it. In the end, they decided to write the column on something else instead, so they didn’t need my photo after all. While I was disappointed, I learned 3 things from this. One, learning how to protect my rights was part of growing up as a photographer. I needed to change the way my photos were published on my website. Two, my photography was good enough to be published. And three, if you kept doing what you loved, it really could open new doors unexpectedly.

Milstone #3: The Guinness World Records website linked to my YouTube video and sent me more than 1,000 video views overnight.

While I was learning to optimize this website, I also learned how to optimize YouTube videos. You may not know this, but YouTube has the most number of daily searches after Google, and it’s important to optimize videos as much as any online, written content, in order to rank well in YouTube search results. I did that for a video I took of Singapore breaking the Guinness World Records for the largest Chinese drums ensemble, and the Guinness World Records actually found my video and linked it to their site! I’m still learning loads everyday about SEO (search engine optimization), which is a difficult nut to crack. But occasionally, small milestones like these give me the drive to keep learning and doing.

Milestone #4: I got fanmail.

So, I got two books called Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative and Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon in the mail one day without any details on who sent it to me. In the end, it turned out that one of my friends who really liked what I was doing with this blog sent it to me to encourage me to keep writing and creating. So to my wonderful friend: thank you. I’ve read both books, and they were absolutely marvelous and insightful reads.

How do you celebrate the milestones in your startups? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

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