For a long time, the only way to get a job was through apprenticeship. To work in someone else’s shadow was a real honor. And it was the swiftest way to learn a trade, eventually getting a stamp of approval from a known master. Today, many of us vastly overlook the opportunity to be Digital Apprentices. To be an Apprentice of the Internet is the most accessible form of apprenticeship to ever exist.
What does it mean to be a Digital Apprentice?
Digital Apprenticeship is showing up every day on the Internet to learn something new from a Digital Master. Then, take that knowledge and apply it to a digital activity that may not pay immediate returns, but has the chance at great compounding returns. That’s Digital Apprenticeship.
The difference with Digital Apprenticeship, as Chris Do points out, is not to seek a mentor or master that you can call your own. Digital Masters are to be shared by everyone. Rather, you need to seek heroes.
Digital Masters are far busier today, than the Blacksmith masters from a century ago. Thus, you should learn their ways from afar. As you would your hero.
My Digital Masters were:
- Paul Jarvis of Chimp Essentials, Creative Class, etc…
- Ben Thompson of Stratechery
- Beeple of EVERYDAYS
- Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt
What I learned from them was Consistency. Showing up every day with creative ideas and giving more to the digital ecosystems than I took.
Eventually, I worked up to the point where I could reach out to those Digital Masters and actually work with them. But that wasn’t until I achieved the basics. At which point, they felt that I was worthy of collaboration.
Showing Up Daily
Digital Apprenticeship, when it comes down to it, is all about getting your daily repetitions in.
Kids who make memes every single day are great examples of Digital Apprentices. They work and rework everything that is copyright free on the Internet. They’re learning the language of the Internet. And simultaneously creating the currency of the Internet.
So I ask you, where on the Internet are you getting your apprentice reps in? Where are you giving and taking, creating and reworking what already exists on the Internet.
Ryan and I got our reps in by putting our theories (like this one) into writing for years. We came to be known for consistent quality in future thinking. We still have a long way to go. And we’re still listening to our audience. But we showed up every day and are feeling the compounding returns today.
Half the battle is determining what you’re a Digital Apprentice of and then committing to it. What captures your attention? What do you see yourself mastering, publicly on the Internet stage, for others to see and learn from?
Once you decide, once you find your Digital Masters, then determine where you’re going to document your daily work.
Personally, I wouldn’t invest my repetitions into a platform that is already well established – Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Snapchat – because there are less opportunities for organic reach. Not to say it isn’t possible to win there today. However, there are many other emerging platforms where organic reach is much easier to come by.
Look for free, organic reach on emerging platforms such as Tiktok, Octi, Cocoon, etc.
Digital Apprenticeship doesn’t have to be scary. And it doesn’t have to be high-pressure. We’re living in a unique time when it is so easy to learn from others and then share that knowledge.
This theory was seeded by one of our Inevitable/Human members, Naku Mayo. During a member call on the Future of Influence and Digital Givers, he compared the importance of giving on the Internet to Digital Apprenticeships.
Mayo has been a Digital Apprentice of photography for over 6 years. His platform of choice has been Instagram. On it, he’s constantly giving away what he’s learning as he’s learning it. So while he’s reading books on photography, he’s putting it into practice on Instagram and allowing other Digital Apprentices to learn from him.
The time to choose Digital Apprenticeship is now. What will you study?