A few nights ago, The Streamy Awards happened. The results — and the ceremony — pleased almost no one.
If awards can’t even please the people creating them, there’s a problem, and it starts with the basic goal:
Who are you doing this for?
Are the Streamys meant to be an award for web creators? A validation of the web industry itself? Or an appeal to the mainstream, intended to direct people’s attention to media they wouldn’t otherwise notice?
If you don’t know why you’re doing something — and who you’re doing it for — you’ll never know if you’ve succeeded… but you’ll definitely know when you don’t.
“It’s No Asimov.”
Let’s say you’re a mystery writer.
You’ve just spent the past year writing your latest detective novel. But before you send the manuscript off to your editor, you’d like to get a second opinion.
So you ask your friend, who only ever reads science fiction.
This could be a problem.
On one hand, your friend’s feedback might be crucial. Elements like plot, character, dialogue and pace are universally appreciated, regardless of genre.
On the other hand, if your friend has no exposure to mystery novels, she may not know which elements of your story are predictable, overdone or outdated. She won’t know if what you’ve written is groundbreaking or simply serviceable.
And, because she’s your friend, she may not tell you what you need to hear the most:
What if it’s bad?
Know Who — and What — You’re Working For
If you create an ad campaign for a client, who judges whether or not it’s successful?
You might think it’s wonderful… but the client may not understand it.
You may both think it’s perfect… but the audience may not respond.
Everyone might hate it, but it might be the most effective campaign you’ve ever launched.
Does that also make it your best?
Are you focused on numbers, sales, reach or authority? Are you more interested in the process or the results? Would you rather cause a large, brief impact or a series of small, ever-widening ripples?
Most importantly: who decides when you’ve succeeded?
Are you trying to please your boss?
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