"Racist Redskins fans don't want you to see this Daily Show clip."
"Uber driver charged for bashing a passenger in the head with a hammer."
These are all actual headlines tweeted last weekend by the popular blog Gawker. Blogs like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post churn out hundreds of articles a day, all of which have headlines that are specifically designed to grab your attention.
In a world where everyone can have both a voice and a platform from which to make that voice heard, attention is quite possibly the most valuable non-monetary currency on the market. Attention will get you page views. Attention will get you shares. Attention will get you followers.
If our goal is to simply make money and a name for ourselves, then attention is all we need. If we want to make an impact with a loyal audience though, attention is not enough.
Catchy, provocative headlines garner attention, but only vulnerable, generous, vitally creative work garners affection. And affection is a key ingredient in making an impact. Any bum can deliberately incite controversy to boost web traffic and rake in page views, but a true artist does the hard work of connecting with a niche audience and providing them value.
The beautiful thing is, we don't have to fight so hard for attention once we've earned the affection of our audience. Apple didn't need to fight too hard for the iPhone 6 to get attention. Apple has spent years earning our affection by making quality and innovative products that have built our trust in them. Now, the attention takes care of itself.
No one has to convince me to buy a Seth Godin or Malcolm Gladwell book. I’m sure the same is true for many of their fans. They’ve spent years doing quality work, and generously providing value for their niche audience, that they don’t need to beat down our doors with a provoking title in order to get us to buy their new book. They have our trust. They have our affection, so the attention takes care of itself.
This can be true of your work as well.