The creative success pyramid (updated!)

After months of work, I’m excited to share with you the latest version of my Creative Success Pyramid. This is the exact system I use to help writers and creators get clarity in their work, develop an audience, and launch their work in a meaningful way.

As with all previous iterations of the pyramid, this version has been stress tested in my daily work with writers and creators. The goal of the pyramid is to give you a clear plan, to help you get from “I’m overwhelmed” to “I got this.”

I’ve used this pyramid for years, and have slowly honed it over that time. In my day to day work, each step of the pyramid has worksheets and highly evolved processes, which I then use to provide hands-on feedback and work at each step. I have a very detailed curriculum that this pyramid is based from, which I will be sharing more about soon.

You can download a free PDF of The Creative Success Pyramid here:

Creative Success Pyramid

Let me take you through it…

How to Use the Pyramid

While everyone has their own unique path, the way to use the pyramid is to move from the bottom to the top. Each step of the pyramid are important strategies and tactics to consider. This is the pyramid from bottom to top:

Define Your Creative Identity:

  • Clarity Cards
  • Key Messages
  • Craft Your Identity
  • Content Strategy
  • Editorial Management
  • Models for Success
  • Voice & Visual Style

Find Your Audience:

  • Audience Personas
  • Channel Selection
  • Marketplace Research
  • Social Confidence
  • Audience Engagement
  • Audience Growth

Develop Your Channels:

  • Website
  • Email Newsletter & Blogging
  • Images & Videos
  • Audio & Podcasts
  • Social Media

Audience Outreach:

  • Audience Outreach
  • Community & Collabs
  • Circle of Support
  • Pitches & Publicity

Launch and Market Your Work:

  • Marketing Plan
  • Marketing Campaigns
  • Launch Timeline

Systems and Productivity:

  • More Creative Time and Focus
  • Confidence in Your Creative Identity

Ultimate Goal:

  • Fulfillment and Growth in Your Creative Work

This methodology is meant to tie together the many disparate aspects of what it means to share your work and engage an audience. But what’s more, it should feel authentic and meaningful to you as well.

Does every person need every step? Nope. Do you need to go through them all in a specific order? Nope. What I like about the pyramid is that you get to determine how you want to through it. For some clients I work with, we move through it in a linear progression. For others, we start where they are and move in a progression customized for them.

Here is a video of me walking you through this:

The Creative Success Pyramid video

Clarity is Critical to Your Success

When considering the process you should take, I encourage you to challenge every assumption you have about what it means to share your work. That is what I did as I looked at the pyramid with fresh eyes. Even though I have used this model for years, I started from scratch a few months back.

While a lot is the same, a lot has changed. It took me months of analysis — and loads of work in spreadsheets — to ask myself difficult questions about every single step:

  • Why is this here?
  • What is the value to a writer or creator?
  • Is it in the right place?
  • Is it essential or a “nice to have.”
  • What if I removed it?
  • What am I missing?

This has me going back to the well of my inspiration, and considering my mission in helping writers and creators. It also has me immersed in considering the true goals that each of you have. My days are spent in conversation with writers, so that has informed every aspect of this.

The foundation is important, but never so important that it shouldn’t be questioned.

Here is a photo of this re-evaluation of the old version of the pyramid while I was working on it. The red dots are steps of the pyramid that I’m questioning and working on during that moment, along with new ideas:

That screenshot was taken probably 8 weeks into the process already when I had finalized so much else.

Along the way I rediscovered some great resources I have for writers that I forgot I created. This is typical for me since I have been doing this work full-time for 13 years, but it really helped me add a lot of amazing new resources to my work with writers. For example, years ago I used to teach a Mastermind group, which I loved. Turns out, that entire curriculum was just left in a drawer. Now I’m updating it and infusing it into the work I do with clients. And honestly, I’m sooooo excited about this.

The Changes I Made to the Pyramid

So what changed? Quite a bit.The old version is on the left, and the new on the right:

Now, does that mean the things that have X’s on them are suddenly not important? That isn’t the case. For some, they are simply revised and honed, with the goal of laser-focusing on what will help writers and creators the most.

I added a new layer for Systems and Productivity, which I help writers with all the time.

Also, I honed the colors I use in the pyramid, which was just for fun, but it made me enjoy the entire process even more. These colors are also aligned to the new logo I’ve created for my newsletter. The point is: when you can, try to make your work fun. It definitely helped motivate me to get this done.

In the end, I’m proud of how the revised Creative Success Pyramid reflects the actual work I do with writers and creators every day. What I’ve been working on since finishing this is ensuring that I provide my clients even better resources for each step in this process.