Never before in history has there been a better time for individuals to market themselves and their ideas than today. Thanks to social media platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, and WordPress, communication has now been democratized. Everyone now has a voice.
The question then is, what are you going to do with yours? If you want to be like the many individuals who are successfully spreading their ideas and building an audience in the process, then you have to do one thing. You have to pick yourself.
“People get good gigs because they stand up. You don’t get picked. Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself.” – Seth Godin
The end of the gatekeeper
All of us are surrounded by people who don’t want to bet on themselves and are just waiting around until they get picked. These are people who generally say things like,
“If I was just picked by HarperCollins to publish one of my books, I would be successful. I sent them my stuff two months ago and I still haven’t heard anything back yet.”
Understandably, this mindset makes sense because for a large part of history, you had to be picked in order to be successful.
If you wanted to be an actor, a musician, or an author, then you had to be picked by a director, a record label, or a publisher.
By getting picked, it put us in situations for our work to be seen. But today is entirely different. All at once, all of these gatekeepers lost their power. Today, you don’t need anyone to pick you in order for you to be noticed because you can just pick yourself.
If you want to be a music artist, make an album and sell it on iTunes. Start a YouTube channel. Build an audience on SoundCloud.
If you want to move up the corporate ladder, then solve a problem. Create opportunities. Lead.
If you want to write, then write. Build a blog on WordPress. Self publish on Amazon. Contribute to other publications.
For all these situations, the only thing you have to do is pick yourself. But the reason people will continue to not want to pick themselves is because most people want the security of someone else picking them.
We don’t pick ourselves simply because it doesn’t feel safe.
However, once you realize that no one is going to pick you, then you can focus on what really matters, which is getting to work on building your own brand. This was something I had to realize, which was that no one was going to choose me. If I wanted an audience then I had to build it myself.
One year ago, if you would’ve told me that I could become a successful writer by not following traditional methods, I wouldn’t have believed it. For the longest time, I thought that the only way to become a successful writer was to major in journalism and get hired at someplace like The Atlantic, The Times, or The Post.
I was completely wrong.
I quickly learned that you don’t have to be chosen by a publisher or a big media outlet to be a writer. If you want to write, all you have to do is write. So that’s what I did. I created a website and I started a blog. I set up an email list, wrote an eBook, contributed my work to big publications, and started writing on LinkedIn. As a result, as more and more people started reading what I wrote and extending the conversation with their comments, I started building an audience.
The best part about this idea is that…
When you pick yourself, others will pick you as well
Whether you’re a writer, an entrepreneur, or a musician, when you start creating content at a high enough level that it resonates with a group of people, you’ll start to get noticed.
Since I’ve started writing, since I’ve started picking myself, many companies have offered me many writing opportunities. Marketers have asked me for my advice. I’ve become a contributor for The Huffington Post. And I’ve also been humbled to be apart of LinkedIn’s ‘Top Voices’ list for 2016, which celebrated the top writers on LinkedIn.
The benefit of living in the world today is that you don’t have to pitch yourself to anyone anymore. Today, you don’t need the approval of a gatekeeper to be a writer, a creator, or a musician. All you have to do is pick yourself. And if your work is good enough, then eventually other people will start picking you as well.
I picked myself, and so should you.