Jan. 1, 2024

Community or Audience? How to Focus Your Creative Energy The Right Way in 2024

Community or Audience? How to Focus Your Creative Energy The Right Way in 2024

It's a new year - but are you dreading hearing the same old song when it comes to your creative life? 

The constant hustle without seeing tangible results can be disheartening and draining, leaving you feeling stuck and unfulfilled. But what if there's a different approach that could lead to both spiritual and creative growth, allowing you to thrive as a respected and financially independent creative professional?

In this opening episode of 2024, you'll discover a radically different approach to establishing yourself as a confident, thriving creative - one that calls you from the status quo into a truly exciting and God-inspired path for your career. 

In this episode, you will learn what these re-frames do for your next creative season:

  • Relevance over rankings
  • Community over audience
  • Independence over income 

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You've made it 2024. Now the question is, what? Now what as a creative, as a faith focused, God honoring creator, should you be focusing on? Is it ranking? Is it building an audience?

Is it making more income? Or maybe, maybe these all are short sighted and going the wrong direction. I'm going to challenge you in this creative checkup, the first one of 2024, as I'm recording in this episode of the guidance gig show. So stay tuned as I welcome those of you who are just now joining us and learning about our platform. And then we'll get right into this extremely important conversation.

Hello and welcome to our show. Thank you so much for making this podcast a part of your creative day. My name is Allen C. Paul. I am the host and founder of God and gigs.

I'm an author, musician, creative coach. I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a musician. And I'm forgiven.

I'm so glad that you have decided to join us here at God and gigs, whether you are a freelancer, an entrepreneur, an artist, a musician, any kind of performing artist, anyone in the intersection of the arts and entertainment space, but you also have a faith focused christian foundation, and you want to figure out how to maximize your career, how to thrive as an artist, how to thrive as a creator without sacrificing your faith. Well, that's what we do here. We help you to connect the dots between your spiritual life and your creative life so you can be the creative that God created you to be. And as I said, as I'm recording, this is the first episode of 2024, literally dropping on New Year's Day. And I got to tell you, 2023 was a roller coaster for many of us.

For me personally, I'll go ahead and share a little bit. I don't want to make this about my life and about my endeavors and my private life, but I do want to lead by example. And I want to tell you that my life definitely took a lot of twists and turns this year, all of them pretty much positive. There were some bumps in the road when it came to creative life, some things that didn't happen the way I wanted to happen. Income goals I didn't meet, certain albums that I didn't necessarily get a chance to release that I wanted to release.

But then there were some great things, some music that I was a part of, some amazing milestones in the podcasting space that I was able to achieve both with this show and the show I produce and personally, kind of big deal. This last week or so, I was able to see my daughter, my youngest daughter get married. And it's been a whirlwind, as I said. So I just want you to see that you're not alone. If your life has been up and down and creative life is not this fairy tale romance, stepping into everything that you ever dreamed.

When it comes to creating and making art and making stuff and having all the income that you need, that's not the way the world works. And that's okay, because God is still in the midst of it. He's still guiding and leading you toward your destiny, toward what he wants for your creative life. And he's going to birth dreams in you that you're going to want to achieve in this coming year, in 2024. Now, that's why I think it's really important that I step back from all the resolutions, from all the talk of more in 2024 and get real with you.

What I want you to understand, and this is not me trying to downplay your goals and your dreams. But I do want to make it clear that in my experience, that the new year does not guarantee a new you. It doesn't matter what date the calendar says. What matters is the commitments you've made that have nothing to do with the calendar. And you can simply use the calendar as a good reason and a good point to actually honor the commitments that you always should be making to yourself.

And some of those commitments I'm going to share right now are those that actually impact your creative life in a real way. Now, I'm talking about some of the things that we all deal with. First, I want to deal with what's obviously the biggest priority is your spiritual life. If you have not prioritized your spiritual life, if you are still kind of just thinking about, oh, I should read my Bible more, or maybe I should go to church more, or maybe, yes, I call myself a Christian, but I don't really need to have a connection with other believers. Well, that's a commitment you need to absolutely make right now to actually follow through with your faith.

You see what my word is, if people are all picking words, I feel like I have to have my own little word. And it wasn't that because I wanted to follow the trends, but I did want to have something that actually resonated with you as people that I want to help to become the creatives that God created you to be. So the word that really stuck in my spirit is established. Now I have to thank my friend Allen Sanfilippo, who's over at Podmatch, who's an incredible leader of creatives and podcasting. And when he put in his new, I guess you could call it a way of helping podcasters to understand what it really takes to be a professional and to stick with it, he calls them actively established podcasters.

And that word established stuck out. When I read Allen's promos and him promoting this report on how to be an established podcaster, and I realized what I really want for all of us is to be established creatives, I saw another post of a very famous actress who was in tears, explaining why it was so hard for her to make an income. Because even though she was making a lot of money from being an actress, a top tier actress, she was still struggling to pay her team, and then she had to pay the taxes, and then there was little left for her to supply her family and take care of her family. And she said she was really close to giving up. And this is, again, a top level actress.

And I thought to myself, why is that still a thing in 2024? That we still have people who are saying Spotify doesn't pay us and YouTube doesn't pay us, and it's too hard to be monetized and it's too hard to get out there and there's so much competition. Meanwhile, the Internet really has made this level playing field where everybody can have an entrance into the space. And I guess what that created is too many voices and everybody feeling like I can't compete. Well, my goal for 2024 for you is to be established.

And the word established in the Bible really means to set in motion to establish a foundation, to not be moved. And so I believe if you want to be an established creative in 2024, you're going to have to make some decisions. You're going to have to decide not to follow the crowd and not to be swayed by all of these other industry buzzwords and other things that really have nothing to do with what you are called to create. Here's what I believe you've got to ignore if you want to actually follow through with the things that will make you successful in the real sense in 2024, the first thing you need to ignore is this idea of ranking. I am so tired of seeing people say, oh, I need to be number one in Spotify.

I need to be number one in this. I need to be top 25%. If you are reaching who you are supposed to reach, if you are making the art you're supposed to make. Now, I understand these things, these metrics help you measure where you're at and to grow. But in terms of actual significance, does it really matter where you rank in terms of other creatives, or does it matter who you're reaching?

So I would like to propose to you that you stop thinking about ranking and start thinking about relevance. Are you relevant to your audience? Are you relevant to your community? Are you relevant to what actually is supposed to be shared through your creative gift, through your art, through your music? Are you relevant to the people that you are supposed to reach?

If so, forget about where you rank. The only person that should care about where you rank in terms of all of that stuff are the people who make these rankings because they know people will look for the ranking and that gets eyeballs on their content. So give up looking for ranking in terms of whether or not you're relevant, you're relevant. If your community says you're relevant. If they say you're relevant, you're relevant.

Stop worrying about the ranking. The second thing I want to tell you to stop thinking about in 2024, and this sounds strange, I don't want you to think so much about income in the regard, and let me make this clear, I never want you to trade the desire for income for your independence. I know that many people will say, you got to earn income, you got to earn a living. You got to make money in order to make the mission possible. However, what I see a lot of creatives doing right now is that they are trading their independence to these huge corporations.

You're watching me on one of them, but most likely they are the ones that decided whether or not you would see this very video right now. And so what I am committed to doing is creating more spaces where I do not have to trade my independence for income. And so if you have found yourself wishing that certain platforms would put you up and monetize you and make you an income, but you have to surrender your independence and not own your community and not have that control. You probably have to look very closely at what could happen if that same platform then took your independence and took your income away from you. Would you have anything to stand on?

Would you have an email list? Would you have a connection with your community that you are called to create for the art and the music? Or are they going to be left in the dark if this platform takes you out of the equation? So I am personally committing to no longer sacrifice my independence for income. I believe if I have a strong following, if I have my thousand true fans, and if I have a strong connection with that community, they will help me produce the income that will help my independence remain outside of any other influence that will keep me from keeping that income.

And that is a decision that again, you have to make. Now, I am not saying, as I'm being very clear, maybe you are watching me on a platform that is requiring me to give up some of my independence, but this is a means to an end. The only reason I will appear on any platform that tries to take my independence is so that I can eventually take that independence back and I will remove myself from anything that will steal my independence and my ability to control my own income. So I want to make sure that's clear to you. So I am not saying not to be on other platforms.

I'm saying always keep in mind that you are on rented land and that you need to be an owner and not a borrower when it comes to your creative platform. Finally, the last thing I'm going to say, and I know it sounds like a rant, but I'm very excited about and very passionate about these things, is that I want you to stop focusing on building an audience. And that sounds crazy. I know in a place where once again, we keep hearing that building an audience is the way that you are going to be able to survive and thrive as a creative. But let me tell you what audiences can do that you don't want them to do.

Audiences, like we just said, can be canceled. Audiences can cancel. Audiences is a one way street. Audience is you speaking to them, but you not being able to speak back to them or them speaking to each other. What I want you to focus on this year is not building an audience, but building a community.

Communities rally. Communities connect to each other and talk to each other. An audience is just this way. But communities move both laterally and vertically and connect everyone within the community. And you see, the reason why this is so powerful, even for your creative life and in your spiritual life, is because that's the way God designed us.

We are not designed as an audience, even to God. God wants a two way conversation with his people. He created a church, which is supposed to be an eclissia. It is a gathering of people that are supposed to connect. And as artists, we are designed not to simply give out, but we are also designed to receive.

And if you do not connect the dots between those two things, you're not going to have a sustainable creative career because you're always going to be feeling like you're giving out. And that is what turns into burnout. It's because you are not receiving and seeing that energy from the people in your community, you're simply trying to pacify an audience. So do not build an audience in 2024. Build a community.

See the people and find ways that you can facilitate them caring more about the art and each other than they care about. You necessarily individually find a purpose and a calling around what you all rally around. Be the leader in one way, but just be the Sherpa and the guide towards something bigger than just your art, your music. You can be a catalyst, but do not ever become the person that they are actually trying to be like. You want to help people be better versions of themselves through connection with your art.

Now, I've shared a lot in this little beginning episode of the creative, our creative checkup episodes, our guiding gig Show. I share a lot more about this in our 360 membership, which is where we get a lot deeper into these issues and these things and we help collaborate and we connect and we hold each other accountable for these principles and actually implement them. But I absolutely believe this for everyone in our community. Whether or not you're part of one of our investing in yourselves programs, you can definitely check out one of those in the description and find out how you can join us. That would be an amazing way to start 2024 to make sure you do have a community to connect with.

But whatever you do, please make sure that you do these three things because they will actually lead to real creative fulfillment in your life. Don't go out trying to build an audience. Build a community. Don't look for ranking. Look for relevance, and never sacrifice your independence simply because you want more income.

If you do these things, you will become an established creative. Someone that will stand when everybody else is falling apart, when the economy changes and art changes and AI changes. If you have these components in your creative life, you won't have anything to worry about. Because just like the Bible says, he orders our steps and he keeps us established in his word. I believe that's what is for you, for me, for every other creative in the God and gigs community.

So I thank you for watching and listening. I bless you. I hope you have an amazing 2024 and until next time, continue to become the creative that you are created to be. God bless and I'll see you next episode. Thanks for joining us here at the God and gigs show.

Please leave us a review on iTunes, like our Facebook page, or visit godandgigs.com and tell us what you thought of this show. We'll be back soon. In the meantime, go create something amazing.