No, this post isn´t about early birds and not about adoption, sorry.
Early adopters are the new crazy trendsetter that shape today´s market like a Knife.
Marketing models and game rules change in a pace that is a nightmare for big corporations that are used to rule the market, artists, however, are the best inventors.
Regardless of cutting edge designers like Wendy Tsau who started Childsown.com to make stuffed animals out of children’s drawings or companies like Apple and Motorola that change the way we communicate and interact with inventions like the iPhone.
Whenever something makes the round in newspapers, someone heard it before from someone who has read it on the internet from someone who is known to be someone posting fresh stuff about news you never heard of in mainstream media. The best example for that is the “I like turtles“-meme from a few years back, as it went from regional recording to youtube, back to news channels back to the internet.
You can make an experiment yourself, observe all status-updates of your friends on facebook or twitter, who is the first that comes up with a meme, for example, follow that one closer and get to the source, from there try to access the people who are even closer, and so on…you´ll probably can save the hassle and go directly to 4chan, but that isn´t the intention, the idea is to find people who value information and share it to their following before anyone else.
You can also be the first to be informed about the newest inventions, but don´t expect to be the first when you rely on newspaper alone.
Why being the first to know at all, you might ask? Well, being ahead of your competition is important in any business, as freelancer, you probably have no IT-lab and market research department that keeps you up on trends and significant market-development, so you have to find a way to embed that into your daily practice to be well informed about things you are interested in (or have to be interested in, in case you´re forced to) and no, its unpaid, extra work and it involves reading:)
But how exactly can a meme be useful for my career, doh?
Simple as that, be an early adopter yourself and observe closely if you are the one that has an opinion about a specific niche. Are you able to be on par with the top tier distributors, if not, find a field that you are top-notch at.
In the end it is something like a second-sight, a gut felling that helps you decide for trends in the future, because no one knows what is popular in five years, but being 5 seconds ahead of your time now, makes you probably 5 minutes-ahead in 5 years nad maybe even 10-minutes ahead in 10 years from now.
If you still don´t get it, forget what I wrote and subscribe to the easy way of life; the one that involves reading the handbook and asking your boss if you don´t know what to do.
If you read until that line and have to smile throughout and understand the meaning of it, you´re well informed and I have no doubt that you´re ahead of your competition right now, time for a sprint …:)