Are you terrified about publishing your work online? Do you know that you ‘should’ be putting content out there, but…well, it’s never quite perfect?
Many students, professionals, small business owners and freelancers struggle with this exact problem. We all know how important it is to develop a personal brand and/or online portfolio because today’s job market is so competitive, but ‘just publish it’ seems so much easier to say than it is to do! I was prompted to reflect on this through my teaching work in Digital Media at Deakin University.
Our Digital Media units encourage students to embrace the philosophy of Media Studies 2.0. which is based on students learning about digital media by immersing themselves in it; experimenting, creating, sharing, and connecting with others online. Senior Lecturer in Communication, Adam Brown, describes this highly practical approach as ‘learning by doing’.
I was brainstorming ways that I might be able to inspire confidence in students when the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ popped into my head. With several connotations and potential origins, ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ draws parallels to the concept of ‘learning by doing’. It’s also based on a similar premise to that of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which promotes the exchange of negative thoughts and patterns (bad habits) for positive ones (good habits), in order to affect change. In other words, ‘you are what you think’.
The more I thought, the more examples of ‘learning by doing’ or ‘faking it ‘til I made it’ I could identify throughout my own career. Two of these are below:
Starting my Journey as a Food and Product Photographer
In 2008, I had just bought my first DSLR camera and started experimenting with it at home. I was particularly interested in exploring macro photography and started creating artistic photos with natural elements (leaves, feathers, shells etc.) or food as subjects, but hadn’t engaged in any formal photography education yet. One day, my ex-husband (then, fiancé and business partner) told me that he’d volunteered my services as a food photographer for a major hotel group in Melbourne that he was doing signage for.
‘You did what?’ I said. ‘I can’t do that – I’m not ready!’
He assured me that anything I could produce was better than the amateur food photographs that the hotel group was using at the time, and if it didn’t work out, I could just waive my fee. Well, I went into full-on research and practice mode. Despite preparing as best I could, I was completely terrified when I turned up for my first shoot, but I concealed my nerves by putting on a big smile and greeting the Head Chef confidently. The session went as well as it could have.
Afterwards, I spent a lot of time editing (to compensate for styling, lighting and exposure errors) which served to quickly develop my Photoshop skills, and produce a more professional looking result. The client was happy, and I continued to shoot their food for several years afterwards.
As time went on, I upgraded my lighting equipment and honed my styling and photography skills so that I was able to spend a lot less time editing afterwards. I also went on to complete professional photography training and picked up many other food and product photography clients along the way. In the beginning, the only thing that got me through was a positive attitude, motivation to succeed and a good dose of adrenaline!
My First Role in Social Media Management
Around mid-2017 I was studying a Graduate Diploma of Communications, and one of my then teachers, Adam Brown referred stuart-hinds.com to me – they wanted someone to manage their social media and online marketing strategy. When I first read the offer, I was excited but unsure that I could deliver on the brief.
Despite my initial reservations, I contacted Stuart Hinds (an internationally-recognised Soft Tissue Therapist and Educator) anyway. We met for an interview, then he and his business partner confirmed that they wanted me to do the job. I immediately started researching, auditing their current social media accounts and developing a new marketing strategy.
It was an exciting opportunity given that they were just about to re-brand and expand their product offerings, and although their social media presence was minimal, Stuart Hinds himself had an established professional reputation in Australia and overseas. They also didn’t have a formalised social media marketing strategy at the time, so it was the perfect opportunity to develop something from the start, and (thankfully) see it grow so strongly as a result of my work.
I was lucky to have extensive small business and sales experience to draw on when I began this role, and my job-specific skills developed over time.
Often, there’s no substitute for being able to learn a set of skills in a practical setting. I strongly believe that if I had tried to learn the above skills in a traditional educational setting (through theory and simulation), then put them into practice later, it would have resulted in much lesser outcomes.
If you’re feeling unsure about how or where to start, I encourage you to just ‘start’. All you need to do is embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way, work hard and learn from your mistakes.
Even if you feel like you’re ‘faking it’ to begin with, you’ll ‘make it’ in the end!
Have you got any examples of ‘faking it ’til you made it’ to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below, or head over to Twitter.