Realistic Building in Public for Introverted Founders
9 min read
As an introverted entrepreneur or creator, sharing your work and process in public can be challenging. Many of us tend to hunker down and focus on our products or projects, often to the exclusion of building an audience or engaging with potential customers or clients.
But sharing your work and process in public has many benefits that can significantly impact the success of your business or creative venture. It can help to build credibility and trust with your audience, gather valuable feedback and insights, and even lead to new opportunities and collaborations.
If you struggle with sharing your work and process in public, here are some tips that can help:
Reframing Why We Do This
I consider myself to be an introvert. I’ve been reclusive and inward-focused all my life. But this might not be immediately apparent when you see me and my work on Twitter. In fact, you might think that I am quite an outgoing and extroverted person, basking in public conversations and playfully interacting with thousands of others.
Well, it wasn’t always like that — and it certainly does not look like this all the time.
Once I realized that I figured out how to apply this to my public work as an entrepreneur. I don’t need to be an extrovert at all to build in public. I just need to surround myself with my fellow nerds. Other entrepreneurs. The kind of people that care about the same things I do. People who’d read the same books, listen to the same podcasts, and think about the same problems.
In short, I reframed my audience from a nebulous mass of strangers into a relatable group of my fellow business builders. This was all internal; nothing changed about the people I wanted to (or did already) serve. But making it about connecting with like-minded founders who are on the same journey as I was as well as prospective customers and clients who cared about the same things that mattered to me.
And this made it so much easier to ignore all the vanity metrics that people tend to focus on.
It’s not about how many connections you have. It’s about the depth of the connections you make and the impact you have on others. If you have something to share, others’ lives will be better if you make them aware of it.
With that reframe, it becomes more of a public service than an anxiety-inducing act. In the context of building in public, this means, first and foremost, sharing content that is relevant and valuable to your audience rather than just promoting your products or services.
Don’t get me wrong: talking about your work is always self-promotion. But it doesn’t have to be selfish. You can practice selfless self-promotion: if you focus on building relationships and connections with your audience rather than just trying to sell to them, you will naturally have to give them something useful and meaningful without asking for anything in return. Eventual reciprocity is real: humans can only take so much until they feel they have to give back.
And hey, if being kind and helpful makes people want to support and pay you, that’s awesome. Most people don’t have to act to be kind and empathetic — particularly not around our fellow niche interest nerds. We build trust in our communities by being helpful, courteous, and supportive.
Slow and Steady
And fortunately, this doesn’t have to happen all at once. In fact, it can’t happen overnight. Trust is slowly built and quickly lost. If you, ever the introvert, turn the extroversion crank to eleven from one day to another, people will wonder just how authentic you and your work truly are.
Start small and gradually increase the amount of sharing you do. If the thought of sharing your work and process on social media or your blog feels overwhelming, start by sharing just a few times a week and gradually increase the frequency as you become more comfortable.
The great thing about starting out like this is that barely anyone will notice your beginner mistakes. The few people who do will understand you’re just starting, and they might even help you get better at it.
Over time, you’ll feel like a fish in water. After all, once you write your 985th tweet, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. But it takes some experimentation to get there. And that takes time.
Small Chunks Mean Less Pressure
And a founder’s journey takes quite some time. Small bouts of progress —or tiny mistakes— are made every day. That gives you ample opportunity to share small chunks instead of having to deliver massive narratives.
Share behind-the-scenes glimpses and insights into your in-the-weeds work and process. Rather than only sharing the finished product, consider sharing some of the behind-the-scenes aspects: talk about how you think about the choices that lay before you and what decisions you end up making. This can give your audience a glimpse into how you create and help build trust and engagement. People love to follow an experiment from inception through implementation to analysis. It’s exciting to see other people face a challenge head-on.
Share your successes and wins and any challenges or obstacles you face. Not only does this cause people to invest their attention, but you’ll also find that they are more than happy to help you with actual solutions and perspectives right when you need them. You couldn’t wish for faster feedback cycles than the ones you get by publicly sharing your thought process.
Scheduling is Outsourcing Anxiety
But not all things need your actual real-time involvement. Some things can happen while you sleep or focus on work that requires you to be “in the zone.”
Use social media scheduling tools to plan and schedule your posts in advance. Many social media platforms, such as HypeFury, TweetHunter, or Typefully, offer tools that allow you to plan and schedule your posts in advance. This can take some of the pressure off and make it easier to share your work and process consistently.
It’s like having a digital messenger for your tweets. You orchestrate them safely from the confines of your happy place, and the scheduling tool takes over the anxiety-inducing task of actually sending the message to your social feeds.
Even as a builder-in-public, you won’t share time-critical things all the time. You probably shouldn’t do that at all. No matter if it’s ups or downs you want to share, give them time to breathe: for wins, wait a bit to see if it is overly optimistic — and for mistakes, it’s generally a good idea to work through them, fix the problems at hand, and then talk about them.
Writing a reflected report on your entrepreneurial efforts and scheduling it to be sent the day after will clear your mind of it the same way journaling helps us to extract nagging thoughts and push them onto the paper and out of sight.
Conversations Beat Yelling Into the Void
And in case your biggest issue is coming up with interesting things to share in the first place: there’s a way around that. Especially when you’re starting out, you don’t need to do much sharing at all — or at least not through standalone content.
Engage with your audience and respond to their tweets, comments, and questions. I call this the audience audition: finding like-minded people by chatting with them in the conversations started by someone else. Over time, these peers of yours will trickle into your own following, and you can start talking about your work in a way that feels natural: after all, you already know the people you’re talking to, and they know you!
When you share your work and process, engage with your audience and respond to any comments or questions they may have. This can help build a sense of community and provide valuable feedback and insights. Again, this builds more trust than appealing to authority or showing just the highlight reel of your business adventure.
Setting Up Systems
How then do you keep up a rhythm of posting, sharing, and engaging?
To help you stay on track and ensure you are consistently sharing your work and process, consider setting specific goals for the amount of sharing you want to do each week or month. This can help to hold you accountable and can also help you track your progress. I personally have a Notion-based checklist for the days of the week and what I want to share: two tweets here and half an hour of focused engagement there. It’s good to have structure to write, schedule, and engage even when you’re not feeling it.
Accountability is a big deal for doing this public performance — and yes, it is a performance. Staying consistent is much easier if you know that people out there opted into receiving regular updates from you. Twitter followers are one thing, but nothing says “I want to read your thoughts” as much as a newsletter subscriber. Consider turning your all-over-the-place Twitter content into a more streamlined weekly newsletter.
For that, create a system for organizing and storing your content, so it’s easy to access and share. As a Notion fan, I have a free-for-all page where I throw ideas and a Calendar view where I assign days to the more fleshed-out pieces of content. It’s good to have a list of ideas to riff on when you’re looking for new things to talk about. Equally important is the page where you throw inspirational content by other creators.
Use the Buddy System
And other creators aren’t just convenient sources of ready-to-imitate content. You can collaborate with creators or businesses and engage with each other’s work. This is particularly enjoyable when you’re both at the same stage or pursuing the same goals. The Software Social podcast by Michele Hansen and Colleen Schnettler is a glowing example of two founders who have found each other for support, encouragement, collaborative learning, and teaching, and just sharing their journey with each other and anyone who will listen. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable —because, for a weekly show, you’ll have to both show up every week and have something worth talking about— and leave public traces of your ambition and learning journey.
And it’s nice to build a real friendship along the way.
If this is too direct for you, look into founder communities where people regularly share their updates, like Ramen Club or the Indie Hackers community forums.
By taking these steps and making sharing your work and process a priority, you can build an interested audience on Twitter and other social media platforms, which can significantly impact the success of your business or creative venture. So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and start sharing your work and process in public today!
As an introverted entrepreneur or creator, sharing your work and process in public can be a daunting prospect. It’s natural to feel scared or unsure about putting yourself out there, especially if you’re not used to it. But by taking small steps and making sharing a priority, you can build an interested audience on social media platforms like Twitter that can have a huge impact on the success of your business or creative venture.
Ultimately, sharing your work and process in public can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, even for introverts. So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and start sharing today! You might be surprised by the benefits it can bring to your business or creative venture.
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