One of the key ideas behind building a reputation online is consistently generating proof of work. But how do you do this while building an identity and making something useful, all while retaining your sanity? By 'selling the sawdust'. The beauty of this idea is that most people are already doing it, but just not realizing it.
Everything you do is valuable to two audiences:
- The audience that wants the output of your work
- The audience that wants to understand the process of your work
If you make widgets, your audience will either want to buy your widget, or they will be widget-makers and want to learn from you. As a scientist, my audience is a community that wants to know my discoveries, as well as understand how I make them. This simple idea can be extended to any audience.
At its simplest layer, ‘sell the sawdust’ is the idea that you can share your work as you make it, because there's an audience that wants to understand it. Like the carpenter skillfully making their craft, they can find value in the shavings, in the sawdust of their work.
But 'selling the sawdust' has a deeper layer. As any creator knows — creator being used in the most general sense as anyone who makes things — developing a system around creating is necessary to play the long game. In this context, selling the sawdust also means building a system around creating: selling the wood (the output of your work), and selling the sawdust (the process of your work).
As any regular reader of this site knows, I've been exploring new technologies and new platforms, steadily marching towards new tools enabled by Web3 (more on this in future posts). As my first exploration into this space, and as a celebration of content creators from fields far and wide that have influenced my thinking about building and about systems, I created two NFT collections based on 'selling the sawdust' and am sharing them with you here.
The first is a collection of 'just the sawdust', which celebrates the content creator selling the process. I created 100 unique 1-of-1 images, where image 1 has one shaving, image 2 has two shavings...image 100 has one hundred shavings. Only 100 will ever be minted. The offering price of each image is set based on the number of shavings, with more sawdust representing more work.
The second collection has two complementary pieces. The first is a wood panel with the message “sell the sawdust” in the style of CNC-milling. The second is sawdust arranged in a message of “sell the sawdust”. Each is listed at the same price, reminding us that we can find value in the unexpected.
One of the cool things about NFTs is that they are tokens, and what better of a way to share my tokens of appreciation with the content creators who inspired them and contributed to changing how I think about creating.
A few more offers are pending. Seems fitting to share the sawdust with the makers.
"Sell the sawdust" has become a battle cry for a new generation of content creators. What started as a joke about being able to "sell sawdust to a sawmill" has developed into a strategic business plan of the entrepreneur. The ability to capture value and interest from the things that the creator is already doing via their act of creating is truly selling the sawdust.