Using the 80/20 Rule in the Creative Arts

If you’ve been on Pinterest or Instagram, you may have come across the 80/20 rule.

Now, usually, I ignore these kinds of weird business-y posts, but this one made sense.

The theory comes from a principle called the Pareto Principle, where it says that 80% of the land is owned by only 20% of the population.

But in business, we can think that 80% comes from 20% of your clients.

Think about that. Most of your sales (80%) come from a small fraction of your clients (20%).

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So why does this matter? Why should you care about this rule?

Well, let’s break it down:

First Thing: Quantity Matters!!!!!!!

If you have an audience of 100 people, the 80/20 rule suggests that only 20 people will actually help your business.

20 people.

But if you had 1,000 people, you would have 200 people.

The point I’m trying to get at is that you have to focus on quantity. If you write 100 poems, chances are that only 20% will do well. If you write more, you have a higher chance of doing well.

Second Thing: Lower Your Expectations

I’m the absolute worst at this. Whenever I send an email or I’m pushing a project, I’m wondering why people aren’t responding.

But think about it this way. If you send an email to 50 people about a project and only 10 people respond, that’s not bad because that’s 20%.

The reality is 100% of the people you advertise to won’t respond. They really won’t. Only a small sliver of people will actually engage with you. It could be because they’re busy or whatever message you’re trying to share with them doesn’t specifically appeal to them.

That’s okay.

But if you aim for 20% of that number, that’s a feasible goal.

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This is my interpretation of the 80/20 rule, and for me it makes sense. Knowing that you will have a 20% engagement rate makes me less anxious when I’m not getting the results I should be, or when only a few of my creative pieces are doing well.

I remember reading in a book called ‘Originals’ that being successful creatively can only come from quantity. The more you have, the higher chance of discover.