It’s easy to think you know everything there is to know about a subject you’ve specialised in or are offering professionally, but, likely, you’ll only have a tiny fraction of the knowledge and mastery available in your craft.
Opening the Floor to Others
When you let someone else have their say on something, you get their unique insight and a glimpse into their monologue, values and beliefs. This dialogue gives your ideas and thoughts further opportunities to achieve their full potential. When presenting your work, or gathering feedback, it’s easy to let your ego take control – especially as a designer or creative who has built up their reputation, skills and offering over time, it can be hard to adapt from what you think “works”.
Instead, find that moment that things feel “done” and rather than hitting send or publish, head out to get a second opinion. That sanity check should ideally be with your ideal customers or clients, as they have the opinions most valuable to shaping and improving your work. When you get that feedback, you might have gotten it just right, and if you haven’t – you’ll have the opportunity to ask how you can improve and iterate, so it better serves that kind of human you’re looking to help.
Remote Cabin Fever
It doesn’t matter if you choose to work from home, a co-working space, a pub, a cabin in the woods, or a coffee shop, when working remotely it is inevitable that loneliness set in, as will the neurosis that can come as a result of creating in isolation. When making alone, you always need to be seeking out advice and getting the thoughts and opinions you need to guide the future decisions you’ll make and keep you motivated to push onwards.
You need a response from your action.
You’re a human, with desires, wants and worries, along with a need for response, affirmation, or instructions when you do something. Even though feedback gathering and user testing are more complicated when working from home or in an environment of your choosing, it is not impossible. You need to seek out and engage with those in your audience willing to help and give you the feedback you require to progress and drive forwards.
This need for better targeting is all the more relevant in this era where we are always sharing our thoughts and work into the sea of noise that is the internet. Sometimes things you put out there won’t get the response you expected — This can suck — But instead of getting caught down in the dumps, take action to improve. Try going directly to those who represent your audience or demographic and when you get the opportunity to ask those people questions and get their opinions — act on it and get the instant gratification you seek, and in turn be able to tailor what you create in future to better work for those who fit your persona.
It’s like when you’re painting, you get a tactile response from putting the brush to the canvas, and in turn, your brain receives information on what happened so you can adjust in the future to better convey your ideas through your brush. To improve even faster, find ways to involve others in these instant response situations so you can adapt. Make gathering opinions on your ideas like the act of painting, something you are continually improving and adapting to be better. When you let others give their opinion openly and freely, you see the results of your work rather than trying to guess what the results of your work or be, so always ask questions. Always be working towards making sure that you are testing your ideas and getting your thoughts out there in the world, gathering the critical opinions that you need to guide your philosophy and identify the things that make your audience care.
When you find that kind of relationship with your customer where you provide value and what they are looking for, you learn what to show that kind of person to inspire action. Discovering those things they care about, then presenting your potential audience with the roadmap to improve and become the kind of person they want is what gets you the trust and paying customers you desire.
Answer this question:
“How can you provide the most value possible for that person you hope to become your customer by showing up and helping them day after day after day?”
Use your answer to guide your next steps, by following the script, taking those actions and combining in the knowledge from speaking to those you’re hoping to impact, you become telepathic and can predict the actions of your audience, to be able to serve them the best you can. When you allow people to share their opinion and get thoughts and feelings, you can find and focus the lens you use to make sure that you’re always trained on that person that you want to be helping. So get those opinions and constantly seek to be finding new things about your audience to find the authentic emotions that guide your work.
Ask for Help
When you get caught up in an idea or lost at sea working on a direction, you can either struggle in silence or ask for some help — I’d personally suggest the latter for the sake of your sanity.
It is too much work to use your own mind all the time, and a poor use of resources is to spend time struggling, so borrow the brains of others to stop yourself being overwhelmed — ask for help, grab the life raft and float in the right direction.
Stuck for ideas on whom to ask for guidance on your journey? Here are some suggestions:
- Customers or Clients (obviously) – Be them past, present or potential, get in touch with those who buy your offer, or similar things, and ask them questions – use the answers to guide your goals and iterations in future rounds of work.
- Coaches and Mentors – Life coaches and specific business mentors can be like therapists for your work, I highly recommend them (just as I recommend traditional therapy) to keep yourself on track. When looking for mentors, for both paid and for free, try and find someone who has had the experiences you predict you’ll experience yourself.
- Feedback / Mastermind / Testing Groups – Curated collectives like these are great to sanity check your ideas with like-minded, experienced or relevant people – always make sure to accommodate the needs of your audience when putting together groups like these.
- Friends, Followers & Colleagues – Sometimes, those closest to you can best see your mistakes and shortcomings to give the seemingly obvious opinions that improve your work substantially, it’s a case of identifying those people in your circle who provide a valuable input that betters your output.
No matter who you work with to get feedback on and improve your work, make sure you provide that person with context. Without the context of your decisions and what you’ve learned about your audience, those you ask will be unable to relate and give their best opinions to help in the right way.