Tutorials & Tips

4 ways you can inadvertently undercut yourself

People often ask me what they can do to reach their goals as a webcomic artist, blogger, or other indie creator. Everyone’s situation is different, so unfortunately, I can’t tell you what path works for everyone.

However, there are standard things that DO NOT work for everyone. There are some of the the common recurring behaviors that I see which will do nothing but hurt your career.

1. Complain about other creators all the time: There are jerks everywhere. I run into them all the time. You’d never know it, because it’s not worth talking about. For example, someone was a jerk to me last week at a convention. The result? I didn’t care. I actually forgot that it happened until I went to write this post and had to think of a good personal example for you.

Why did I not care that someone said something jerky? Because the guy was a nobody. His behavior is why he’s a nobody. To quote Shit My Dad Says:

“Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit.”

It might seem more frustrating if you are just starting out in your career. I’m here to tell you that no matter how popular you get, there will always be clueless jerks. It has nothing to do with your skill, it has everything to do with the fact that the jerk in question doesn’t have a nice life. Jerks are weak-minded people.

Constant complainers are also weak-minded people.

Only complain about something if you can visualize the complaining bringing forth a positive result or discussion. If you are always complaining and not doing anything positive, you are just the wuss that no one listens to.

Don’t undercut yourself by broadcasting that you are weak.

2. Start drama all the time: I am referring to people who are always involved in flame wars. Successful people don’t have time for this stuff. They have other things to worry about like taxes, or a book release, or their tour. You won’t catch Neil Gaiman or Sarah Michelle Gellar spending hours a day on a forum in the midst of an internets flame war because they don’t have time and they are successful enough that they don’t get upset about what people say as easily. If you want to be perceived as successful, you won’t either.

Again, don’t undercut yourself by broadcasting that you are weak.

3. Use words that talk about how you aren’t serious, suck, or are otherwise unmotivated: This seems like a no-brainer, but a large number of (especially) webcomic bios talk about how they “suck” right there in the bio. It’s not funny or awesome. It’s stupid. I cant see what you look like or talk with you on your website. You choose your rank in your internet life by what you put on your site. Don’t choose the rank of incompetent loser. It is such a stereotype that webcomics are losers that we don’t need anyone adding crap to the fire, thanks. Even if you think that you suck, for freaking crying out loud – shut up.

Don’t undercut yourself by telling people you aren’t capable.

4. Aren’t friendly or are too shy: Reach out and talk to people! So many people expect things to come to them. I have news for you – THEY WON’T. Convention invites, new friends, press – all of these things you have to seek out and ask for while proving that you are worth it.

– Replying to email should be a priority – even if it is just to say that you need more time to think of a reply.
– Always follow people back and accept friend requests on various social networking sites – unless you like possibly sending the message to a stranger that you don’t want their money or support. You never know who that person is.
– Always reply to messages. If people are conditioned to think they can’t reach you, they won’t email you at all – even with big opportunities. I know I’d rather hook up a friend who replies to me often than someone who is unreachable.

Don’t undercut yourself by limiting the size of your team.

Doing what you love is hard – the last thing that you need is to be subconsciously undercutting yourself. Overall the best thing is to stay positive and associate with positive people who will pick you up when you are down. Wear all of those rejections, mistakes, and bouts of insanity like badges of honor. I am not going to lie and tell you this success is as easy as a numbered list – but I am going to tell you that if you KEEP GOING and stay positive you will make it. If you stop and fall prey to anger or negativity, you won’t.

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