How To Make Something People Actually Give A Shit About

Joan Westenberg
4 min readSep 11, 2023

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You could make something right now. If you wanted to stop reading, grab a sheet of butcher’s paper, and brainstorm ideas, you could probably come up with half a dozen ideas for apps, books, or products.

Ideas aren’t the hard part, after all — ask Tom Haverford.

You could build a WordPress site and start harassing your friends to test the concept. You could start writing op-ed pieces on Medium and put “Founder” or “Author” in your Twitter bio within 48 hours. You could throw up a landing page, post the first chapter of a book, and start pushing it on Product Hunt.

Things get tough when you’re trying to make something that people genuinely give a shit about. You don’t want your dream to die in the chamber because nobody read, watched, used, or listened to it. The deafening silence surrounding your work can crush your soul. You want people to care? Here’s how.

1: Only Make What You Care About

If you want to make something that people care about, that they give a hot shit about, you have to care about it yourself.

Because if you don’t, then try as you might, it’ll come out in the final product. The reason for this? Making something is hard. Making something you don’t care about is even harder.

The only way you’ll be able to work when you don’t want to work consistently and consistently try when you don’t want to try is by deeply and honestly caring about your work.

You want people to care? You have to care about it yourself - genuinely.

2: Make Things For Real People

The best writing advice I have ever heard was to write specifically for someone I know. It’s a genius idea.

Whenever I go to create or build something, I think about who I know would benefit from what I’m doing. If you have something you care enough about making, you have to ask the next question — who are you making it for?

What information do they need? What turn of phrase would stop them in their tracks? What is their single pain point that the product could solve, or their secret story that your novel would be able to touch and cultivate into a real emotional response?

Stop thinking about your audience as a vague concept, a collection of faceless people. Believe that your audience is a real person with feelings, experiences, and a story. It will change your perspective.

You want people to care? You have to know what will make them care.

3: Ask Yourself If You Fit The Project

You need to ask yourself whether you have the courage, the strength, the motivation, and the passion to make what you want. And I mean, really ask yourself because when you first come up with an idea, you can get so caught up in it that you can’t see anything else.

It’s easy to mistake excitement for passion, motivation, and ability. When that feeling starts to die down, or you get used to it, you can realize that you don’t have the real raw power to finish and follow through. That’s not bad; there is nothing wrong with recognizing that a project isn’t right for you.

Maybe there’s another project, that is. It’s not enough to care about what you’re making — it has to feel right.

You want people to care? Only work on projects that feel right.

4: Don’t Do Anything To Be Someone

Have you ever watched one of those reality TV singing competitions? You’ve probably seen a hundred young people, eyes shining, clutching microphones, and talking about their dreams.

They’ll explain that they have wanted to be singers since they were kids.

They hardly ever say they wanted to sing. When it comes down to it, half the time, it’s because singing isn’t the end goal. They want the trappings and lifestyle and the breaks of being a singer. If the act of singing was really their end goal, they wouldn’t be on a reality TV show.

They’d be out there every night singing anywhere they could, writing songs, starting bands, recording music. The same is true for anything you could make.

Do you want to make X, or do you want to be the person who made X?

Because if you don’t care about the act of making something, and if you don’t want to get out there every day and try to make something, you might as well quit.

You want people to care? They should care about your work. Not you.

5: Work. Work Hard.

Work hard if you want to write a book that can break someone’s heart. Work hard if you want to start a business that changes the world. If you want to draw a comic book that expresses everything you are and dream about — work hard. You want people to care? Work hard.

I’m Joan. Transgender. Solopreneur. Tech writer. Founded studio self, a marketing agency, community, & product lab.

https://linktr.ee/joanwestenberg

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