Build and publish things incrementally.

Stock and Flow

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"Once you make sharing part of your daily routine, you’ll notice themes and trends emerging in what you share. You’ll find patterns in your flow. When you detect these patterns, you can start gathering these bits and pieces and turn them into something bigger and more substantial." — Austin Kleon

How do you create a digital product?

You create a little each day. And if you create consistently, patterns emerge in your work. These patterns are precursors to a niche. They are also little puzzle pieces you put together to create products like a book or an online course.

I recently ran across the term "stock and flow" in Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work! The concept of stock and flow variables has been around for centuries in economics but was recently repurposed for media by writer Robin Sloan.

"Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time." — Robin Sloan

Ideas -> Tweets -> Articles -> Chapters -> Book

This is the approach I'm following in my own work. It benefits from the tight feedback loop of publishing and engaging. It's more organic and far more enjoyable than writing a book from scratch under a crushing deadline.

So forget that book or digital course. Start with flow...

  • Create the little bits.
  • Publish them.
  • Engage.
  • Reinvest what you learn.
  • Repeat.

When you start seeing patterns, piece them together and publish progressively larger works. You'll find multiple ways to combine them. And the quality of this approach will be significantly higher than creating stock outright.

Food for Thought

Are you trying to do it all in one sitting?

How has that worked out for you so far?

Have you tried the stock and flow approach?

One Small Step

Are you interested in writing a book? Try tweeting ideas for the book instead. Build a content library over time, and have fun doing it. Engaging with others builds reputation and improves your work significantly. Piece that content together later into a book.

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