Book Review: Rework
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This month’s book, Rework, interested me because it was written by the founders of the software company that created Basecamp. I’ve heard a few whispers about coauthor David Hansson from my software developer friends, and I was curious about what this notorious “overly honest asshole” had to say about business. I listened to the audiobook over a few days, as it is only about three hours long.
Rework was published in 2010, but all of the lessons are still relevant 11 years later. The book is delivered as short pieces of advice that mostly standalone. At first, I was worried that the content would be overly specific to software or tech, yet I would say about 90 percent of the book is applicable to any business. Several of the lessons are extremely relevant for Smutlancers. I’m highlighting a few that I loved here.
Scratch your own itch
I believe Smutlancers are great at scratching their own itch, myself included. We have a need, see that no one else is addressing it quite the way we want, and decide to address it ourselves. Stories about a difficult intimacy journey, reviews for body-safe sex toys, or some other Smutlancer project is something you wanted, and now you’re creating it. Rework notes that this strategy allows you to become passionately connected with your work: “You know the problem and the value of its solution intimately. There’s no substitute for that.”
Be a curator
Closing the door makes the room. By limiting things, you can bring more value to what it is that you feature. For example, Rework discusses the job of a museum curator that makes “conscious decisions about what should stay and what should go.” This can apply to much of Smutlancing. What’s the throughline of your work? If you have a core message or takeaway that you want your audience to receive, what works to create that and what is just noise? Maybe you only review porn that features queer and trans performers. Maybe you limit the social media you use to focus on creating a few posts that matter rather than many posts that clutter. And maybe you’re literally curating other people’s content in a way that produces a larger message.
Tone is in your fingers
This lesson is similar to the idea that a poor craftsman blames their tools. I fell for this idea once as well, and I still fall back into it occasionally. To get into bicycling, you don’t need a carbon fiber road bike. Despite what bike nerds will tell you, a Walmart comfort bike will do for now. Relating this to Smutlancing, don’t spend days agonizing over what tags to use or what plugin is best. You don’t need to pay $60 for a theme when you’re just starting out. Do the minimum of what works and start now.
Marketing is not a department
In our highly connected age with most Smutlancer brands in the strange place between business and personal brand, everything we do under the public eye is marketing. To say it another way: Marketing isn’t just intentional advertising, but every single decision you make. Things like your email signature, your website error message, the butt photos you take for social media are all marketing. This is not a cause for panic, but just an encouragement to think of marketing more holistically.
I felt quite inspired by Rework. If you’re familiar with the tech scene and some of the popular ideas in that scene, you will already know most of these lessons. If you’re not, you might find these ideas paradigm-shifting. As a three-hour read, I found it well worth the time and money.
Want to read Rework? Get your copy from Bookshop and support local bookstores!
Are there any business books you’d like me to review for this column? If so, leave them in the comments below!