Dear Indie Comic Creator, Stop Looking For Your Come Up. Just Show Up.
August 24, 2016
Social media has been a boon for independent comic creators—it connects us directly with our audience on a personal, intimate level. They follow us, we follow them, and we get a chance to look into the lives of the people we’re making comics for.
As awesome as it is, it’s also a source of pain.
Working so hard on a project but having only a 100 followers—or only a handful of 10—when another project drops and gets thousands is disheartening, to say the least. To think that something you’ve put your soul into isn’t reaching everyone is a hard pill to swallow. Because even if you don’t admit to it, we all seek some form of validation.
And social media has made it easy to get that. Or extremely difficult. And if your efforts keep landing in the latter category—all of this feels worthless.
Social media is a blessing and a curse. It extends your reach to potentially thousands of people, but can also make all your efforts feel like a drop in a bucket. But you have to stop paying attention to the numbers. Keep creating.
You Want Your ‘Come Up’, But the ‘Come Up’ Isn’t Checking For You
You and I both know we can’t hire the social media gurus to promote and market our product. That’s the leg up the big companies have on us. We manage and juggle it all in the name of our audience and to get our product into their lives.
But it’s hard.
Juggling the day job with your creator duties can be difficult, and expecting to wait for the results is even harder. You get impatient; you want to be out there now. Not 2 years from now. You got a case of the, “It’s my money and I want it now,” kind of impatience going on because you want everyone to see what you’ve been working on so they can be as enthusiastic as you are. Because ultimately, we’re creating for them, not ourselves.
And the sense of immediacy is a thorn in your side. It nibbles away at your confidence, hitting you with questions—Why is that creator more popular? What are we doing wrong? They must have a connect or something. Their stuff isn’t that great. Have they seen mine yet? And that’s the minute you start doubting yourself.
You create an epic downward spiral that begins affecting everything you do with your project. You’re no longer the strong, indie comic creator. You’re an intimidated kid mucking around in the big kid’s playground. You lost yourself. Because you thought it was your “come up” time. You were looking to be put on and it didn’t happen.
Impatience, jealousy, and expecting immediate results, fame and fortune will be your downfall if you’re not cautious. Stop paying attention to the work of others.
You Got Some More Grind Time. The Hustle Isn’t Over.
You’re not perfect.
I’m not perfect.
We both could stand to improve our talents: writing, drawing, coloring, lettering—the whole 9 depending on what you do. But let me tell you something. It’s going to take more time and more dedication to get your ‘come up’-moment. You just started playing the game. This is the first quarter. You got three more to go champ. And I need you to finish.
Work Towards Achieving Mastery, Not Likes
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. That’s any field, from science to art—even you and I making comic books. Ten thousand hours of grind and hustle to become the very best.
That’s 20 hours a week for 50 weeks for 10 years.
Read that again: 20 hours a week for 50 weeks for 10 years.
To achieve mastery in any field requires 10,000 hours of practice.
Don’t believe me? See: Noah Bradley.
But I know that concept feels like too much. So let me give you something a little more microwaveable that isn’t really microwaveable, but a lot more digestible. Because if you and I can be honest with ourselves we don’t always want to hear something like that. We want it quick. We want it fast. And we want it to result in fame and fortune. But I can 100% guarantee you won’t find anything like that on this blog or in our podcast. But I do have something that’ll take the sting out of that tall order of 10,000 hours.
Start By Showing Up Everyday for 2 Years
You can’t give this 5 hours a week for a month for 2 months and expect people to know who you are. You want to know what this is going to take? You showing up for at least two years straight for anyone to care. We’re not even talking about mastery. We’re just talking about for people to notice what you do.
Two years. 2,000 hours. Only 8,000 more to go. See. Microwaveable, yet, not microwaveable.
It’s going to be hard. It’s going to suck. It isn’t going to be pretty. But if I can show up every single day for the last 5 years and get this far, you can too. And we’re not even that big. Our following is incredibly small. But that came with showing up every single day first. Then people started to care. People started to feel an emotional connection to our characters and call themselves fans. People started to say things like:
- You’re inspiring to young artists and writers.
- You guys are great at branding and marketing.
- Hey guys! Love the content you all put out. Just found the podcast and saw the mini issues—awesome stuff!
- Do you guys have any apprenticeships?
- Can you look over my script and characters?
- Where can I purchase the mini issues? What else do you guys sell? I’d love to buy something.
Showing up every single day for two years will:
- Make you money.
- Build an audience.
- Help you develop the tenacity needed to survive.
- Will keep you focused.
This does not produce immediate results. You have to invest in the time and energy it’s going to take to get your come up moment and keep working without the expectation of being seen. Think of your project as happening soon, not tomorrow. There is no one in the world who can turn around a quality project in a day.
Take your time.
Nothing Happens Overnight. Not Even “Overnight Successes”
Don’t let your lack of immediate success deter you—that should be a word you banned in your lexicon with your project.
“Immediate” is a killer.
Trees don’t grow immediately, they need time and patience. Be a tree in a world of weeds. Weeds sprout fast. They’re immediate. They’re also easy to pull out of the ground and toss away like yesterday’s news. But a tree? Have you ever seen what it takes to uproot a tree? You need equipment. Big equipment. And a whole lot of patience to do it the right way. That tree is grounded. Its roots run deep.
Be a tree in a world of weeds. Your roots are going to ground you and give you an epic foundation to stand on for the trying times ahead.
So take the time now to cultivate around your project. Work on your work. Show up. That’s all I want you to do right now and stop looking for the come up.
- Don’t expect anything by showing up every day.
- Don’t set any expectation that something grand will come out of showing up every day.
Your only job for the next 24 months is to get your grind matched to your dream and work on your work.
This is the only advice you need right now.
I want you to internalize it.
And once you do—once you’ve ground out every single second over the last 24 months—watch where you end up.
Show Up Every Day For 2 Years by Sean McCabe, seanwes
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