I spend a lot of time reading. If you’re a creative, you should too. An informed creative is a more creative creative–pretty much always. Fiction and non-fiction, work-related or not, it all goes into the little grey cells and comes out in your work. It can help you talk to your subjects better, understand an assignment better, and give you new ideas on how to represent whatever art it is you’re trying to get out there. All good stuff.
If you’re like many visual creatives and find that you are either too busy to sit down with a book or you read too slowly for your taste, there are so many audio books now that you really have no excuse not to “read.�? Audible.com, iTunes, books on CD, etc., make it so that you can listen to books everywhere and any time. Use these tools.
I’m currently in a couple of work-related books (which I read the traditional way, btw): Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim & Mauborgne and Brand Sense by Lindstrom. Both of these books speak to sides of the same idea–that is, to be successful in today’s marketplace, you need to connect with your buyers’ and you need to figure out some way to differentiate yourself from the pack.
Sound familiar? Similar ideas have been spouted by me and also appear in Purple Cow and All Marketers are Liars (both by Godin). They’re good, solid ideas. And, the more I read, the more I hear them reinforced. In fact, the only places I ever read/hear the “cheaper, faster, give-the client what they want” theories (for service-based businesses) are from some of the photographers on the pro forums (who, almost universally, have mediocre work, at least on their sites), incredibly low-end “sales” training websites, and from smarmy business “gurus” in their spam emails.
If I read/hear one more person say “it’s simply a question of supply and demand” in reference to why creatives need to lower their prices, I’m going to go postal. What they need to do is differentiate themselves–change the market, make a new one. Blue Ocean Strategy puts it clearly in its very subtitle: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. That’s the way to be successful today. Reading will help you get there.
Summer often has a work lull for creative businesses. All the vacations by clients make for odd pauses in their marketing schedules and so you may find yourself with some “free” time. Why not take it to improve your business? Read a book, get some ideas.