Why architects should be sharing more online
Sharing is like rocket fuel for your online presence
If you only learn one thing from this book I hope it’s that sharing is vital if you want to create an online presence. The mantra of today is “the more you share, the more you receive.” If you’re the sort of person who is scared that someone is going to steal your ideas then the web is not going to be happy place for you. It will just frustrate you as you see everyone rising around you. Sharing is like rocket fuel. It propels your online presence in a way no would have imagined 20 years ago. So share good content and wait for the opportunities to start happening.
Why is sharing valuable?
Here’s four reasons.
Traffic and Exposure.
Providing regular and valuable content gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site. Sharing increases your exposure and your site traffic.
Clients who “get you.”
Sharing how you do things, and what you believe in online is brilliant for clients. Rather than having to sell yourself to a random client when they walk through the door you explain yourself publicly. You increase your pool of potential clients by doing this, but you also filter them. Clients who approach you after reading your blog or site already know you very well. They already get you, and that’s why being online is powerful. You can be who you actually are, rather than trying to accommodate the adhoc pool of clients you transitionally would have access too. By matching yourself with better clients to begin with, you increase your chances of completing better projects, which all feeds into your ability to get more clients and continue the positive cycle.
Better Google Rankings.
More visitors means better Google Rankings, which flows back into more visitors. More visitors also increases your chances of other sites linking to you, which again increases your Google ranking.
You build communities.
When you share content you have an opportunity to create communities. Imagine thousands of people who follow your work and how you work. You build capital in that community because you’re creating something useful. This community becomes your support network and they want you to succeed. They connect you with the people you need to meet and before long more doors are opening then you ever thought possible. You don’t need to focus on this too much at this point, just remember the mantra, “the more you share, the more you receive.”
Share how to create, not just what you create
Something I learn from the world of photography is that sharing what you create is not as valuable as sharing how you created it. Many photographers have beautiful portfolios, but they are never as famous as the photographers who share the process of what they created. People are no longer just consumers of art, they want to be creators themselves. When I upload an image I say, “look at me, aren’t i amazing.” But when I share something useful I instead say, “this isn’t just about me, you can do this too, and if you share back then everyone wins.” It’s a different mentality and its that good will that creates bonds between people and its no wonder that large communities have formed around this type of sharing.
Sharing and the cycle of learning
This is an idea that mulls around in my mind quite a bit. It’s the concept that our ability to learn anything is based on how quickly we can access information, put it into action, and then learn from our activity. Architecture for example has a very slow learning cycle. It can take several years before we finish a project and get a chance to see if our ideas were valid or if they need to be improved. Sometimes this cycle can stretch out into decades! When I started learning photography however I noticed that the learning cycle was much faster. It was instant gratification to take a photo and then see it pop up on the LCD screen. But there was more to this. The learning cycle of photography wasn’t just because of the technology of digital cameras, it was because of the huge amount of content that photographers had uploaded to the web. Many photographers had figured out that if you share then you start to create communities around your work and that is incredibly valuable. And while this is great for those sharing, it has a much bigger implication.
Industries that share openly online create a form of collective and accessible intelligence. It’s like we plug into each others brains and form a super computer of human knowledge.
All that information creates a form of super highway of learning. It means that more people have more access to knowledge and this speeds up learning. You no longer need to go to a class or a university, you simply type a phrase into Google and you’re plugged into a form of artificial intelligence. I know this is all sounding very sci fi, but that’s exactly the world we’re living in. We want to know something and then suddenly we have the information. Imagine 20 years ago if you wanted to learn something. What would you do? Maybe go to the Library and get some overly simplistic book, or maybe sign up for a course. Now you can plug into the web and get knowledge from some of the greatest minds around the globe. There’s only one problem. We’re not sharing architectural knowledge in the same way as photographers. We’re not sharing much at all. We know how to get a few projects up onto the web, but we don’t explain the process or the behind the scenes info. We don’t share our details and we don’t add to a collective knowledge. We keep working in isolation and guarding our knowledge. The architects who understand how valuable it is to share first however will change this and their practice. If photographers are any sign of the potential of sharing then be prepared for the next generation of architects to be defined by their online presence. Those who communicate are heard, and those who are heard have more opportunities to create.
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What can you share?
- Professional images of your completed projects
- Lots and lots of behind the scenes photos taken on your iphone
- Information about your projects that the media can use. Think about providing a form of media kit with each project. Talk about the clients brief, your response to it. Give them an architects statement and list the design team, the materials used and basic information like location and size. Give the media everything they need to write a story.
- Interview yourself, your clients and anyone involved with the project. Record yourself using anything you have. Use the video recorder on your iphone, or by a fancy microphone and record a skype call. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what’s important is that you tell the story of your project online.
- Screen savers of your projects
- Details. Both finished, but also details that you’re working on. Don’t think that sharing is just one way. By giving your details out to the world you may actually find people wanting to help you refine them.
- Sketches. As you finish a quick sketch share the idea.
- Yourself. Give people access to you. Invite people into your studio. Bring the community you create online into the real world.