Koontz, the number one fiction author, writes that you’re unique as an artist if there is a universe of formats for your work. It's simply a question of organizing it, focusing it, and concentrating it in such a way that it will leverage all the other values of the business. Meaning, each creator must think of their work as a franchise. As a property that lends itself to other mediums. Which might sound grandiose for some, but it’s a helpful lens through which to view our creative projects. In addition to making the work itself, every creator must also become knowledgeable about all the different possible iterations in which their intellectual property might be exploited.
FORMATTING — Treating your creative work as a property that can be exploited into numerous mediums
The shortest distance to someone’s brain is through your body. Your body of work, that is. That means putting yourself into as many mediums and channels and expressions as possible, so that over time, the total output of your work becomes a collection that people can access in many different ways. That means generating as many potential brand touches as possible, so the universe of people you’ve interacted with grows naturally and incrementally until eventually, the right group of people finds you. That means standing for something faithfully, so that you become a living embodiment of that thing, almost like a placeholder, bookmark, beacon or a reminder, which allows people to start equating you with the thing itself. That means staying with yourself as the world orbits around you, knowing that no matter how long it takes before people drift back into your atmosphere, they’ll still find you doing what you do, even if you’re doing it in new ways. That means getting up in the morning, listening to what you’re supposed to make next and shoveling coal into your creative locomotive, laying down track as fast as you can, without the fear that your best ideas are behind you. That means establishing themes in your work so your art is less random and more of a representation of your feelings and ideas and sense of life, like a physical index of your human value system. Volume, volume, volume. Watch your body earn its way into people’s memories. Shovel coal into this locomotive and lay down track as fast as you can. One exercise that’s helpful is reflect back on everything you have already made so far in your career. Even the projects that failed. Think of it as an abbreviated portfolio. An inventory to remind you how far you’ve come in your creative life, but also to help you imagine what other formats might be available for your ideas in the future.
I have no desire to sell my company. I’m not in the business of managing employees. There’s nothing about scaling that sounds even remotely attractive to me. And I have no exit strategy in mind. Small is an acceptable destination. In fact, it’s not just acceptable, it’s manageable, flexible, approachable and most importantly, profitable. However, I’ll never forget the words of my mentor, who once advised me to think of my brand as a franchise. A property that lends itself to other mediums. He explained that doing so would enable me to broaden my appeal, open my work to new markets, straddle multiple universes and lend myself to future business opportunities. It’s simply a matter of positioning. Framing my talents in a way that makes it easy for the marketplace to fill in the blanks. That way, I’m the one being targeted. Here’s an example. I’ve been a singer, songwriter and performer for more than fifteen years. But I’m proactive about alerting the world that I’m a musician for hire. It’s more than a collection of pictures and videos and albums, it’s also a diverse menu of professional service offerings including musical collaborations, media licensing, song coaching, writing workshops and more. My work is a franchise. And I want to position myself in a way that covers people who don’t know that they’re clients yet. What will you to do to give yourself more tickets in the raffle?
Weiss summarizes it best in his book about life balance. One success is virtually never isolated, but can be applied to a host of other formats, activities and audiences. With that attitude, every creator can change the relative size of what they think is their artistic territory. How does everything you make lead to something else you make? Think of your work as a franchise.
Turn a single, isolated success into other profitable expressions
Expand the relative size of what your think is your artistic territory
Raise your artistic uniqueness through a universe of formats for your work
Discover new iterations that are most optimized for the kind of expression you have at that point in your life