The trouble with making things

Making things is fun. It’s creative. It’s challenging. It’s educational. I think sometimes I enjoy the process of making something more than the final product - because when it’s finished (or at least mostly finished) you then have to do something with it.

I’m in the business of making digital things, but I guess this problem is the same (perhaps even worse) with physical things

Making things things
Photo by fatedsnowfox

The problem I’m referring to, is getting people to look at what you’ve made.

Making things for yourself

I have made things in the past to learn or practice a new technique - with varying levels of success. When you make something for yourself, you are the intended audience; you like it or you don’t and you use it or not. If anyone else likes or finds the thing you made useful, that’s great! But the reason it’s so great is because it’s a bit of a bonus; a fringe benefit.

When you’ve made something for yourself, there is no impetus to heavily self-promote or twist the arms of your friends to share it to their networks. I find this a massive relief because it’s something that I really struggle with.

Making things for others

Making something for other people is a completely different story. If the aim is to provide information or solve a problem they have, you have to tell them about the thing you’ve made.

Where to start?

Social Media

My go to place for “telling people stuff” is Twitter. It seems a good enough place to begin. However, Twitter is the home of information overload. The chance of getting heard there can be quite slim.

Other social networks might be the next stop along the self promotion track; Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Youtube, a hundred others that I don’t even have accounts for…?

Twitter is really the only social platform I use consistently and as a result, I barely have a handful of “followers” on other networks - which kinda makes sense, how many social networks can you keep up with? I struggle with one.

Resource sites

A lot of industries have news or resource sites. These come with various degrees of baggage, politics, trolling and rules which can be a bit of a minefield to navigate. However, if the industry eyeballs are there, I guess it’s a good place for spreading the news about your creation.

Finding these can be a bit of a challenge though - I guess they should promote themselves better.


You could pay people to talk about you in the form of advertising or sponsorship. If you’ve created a thing that people will pay for, this is probably the most successful route for getting the word out. If you’ve got money, the more you spend in advertising, the more likelihood you have of reaching more people. Spending money to make money is a reasonable value exchange and works. At least, in theory.

But what if you made a free thing? Should you fork out hundreds of currency to try and coax users to come and check your stuff out? You could, but something about that doesn’t feel right. For one thing, you’re guaranteed to be out of pocket. For another, there’s no guarantee you’re buying the right attention; at least when promoting things to your followers they are already somewhat interested in what you have to say.

Shameless Self Promotion

Which ever route I try, I sooner or later run in to the uncomfortable feeling that I’m bombarding people with my constant self-promotion. This happens without fail just as I’m crafting a tweet or filling in a “submit a resource” form on a link sharing site. More times than I can count, I’ve deleted what I was going to say and closed the browser tab.

What’s the point? They won’t want to hear from me.

I would say to myself.

Shameless Value Spreading

The trouble with feeling bad about shameless self promotion is that the people who suffer are the ones I/you/we set out to help in the first place.

I’ve made an awesome resource for people leaning CSS and unless I promote it, all the people who could benefit from finding it probably won’t.

As much as I battle with the fear that people don’t want to constantly hear me waxing lyrical about my latest project, if I give in to that (probably incorrect) assumption, the potential audience for the thing I made are actually the ones who suffer.

Doesn’t that kinda defeat the point of making things in the first place?

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