Make Your Readers Love You: 5 Lessons from Pixar

Make Your Readers Love You:  5 Lessons from Pixar

Reader Comments (80)

  1. Hi,

    Excellent insight into the Pixar world and a great motivation for all of us.

    I really like the fourth point:

    “Know yourself, your product, and your team”

    And the example of the animation team gathering each morning is superb. That is exactly what teamwork is all about!


    • “Sure, Pixar movies pop visually right off the screen (even before 3D versions). But it’s story and character that keep the audience coming back again and again.’

      To me this is just about the entire key for Pixar. They could of tried to let the technology carry the day, but they didn’t. It’s still all about the stories.

  2. Take the time to do things right is the hardest one for me.

    I get so excited and eager when I have something new to show off, that I often jump the gun.

    That’s why I’m finding that working with others is excellent for me because when you have the right team, you get the perfect balance of having folks to reign you in when you should wait and urging you to go, go, go when it’s time to blast off.

  3. For me, the biggest point of all of these is about knowing yourself. Once you truly have a grasp on who you really are, you’re able to convey that in everything you do.

    Once you know yourself, people will see how genuine you are and be attracted to you naturally. And, you’ll attract the kind of people that you want, not just someone random.

  4. Now, that’s a great headline. Benefit, list post, piggybacking on a famous brand.

    Oh, and some good points too. 🙂

    Glad to have you back Sean.

  5. Hello,

    This is a fantastic post. I am currently working with a fantastic team with the wrong focus. We have been so busy selling that we haven’t taken our time to ensure a spot-on product. This article is so prescient because we finished a series of meetings just this morning shifting company focus to content.

    Thank you for confirming our beliefs!


  6. Tracy: It’s probably harder to take the time to do things right when someone is throwing a bajillion things at you all at once, all day long. So, um… sorry about that. 🙂

  7. Sean, I really love how you tied in pixar movies with creating a successful business. Maybe we should start making mini online animation videos on YouTube to build a stronger relationship with our viewers 😉

    JKs, I loved the post, great creative writing, would love to learn how you come up with content like that. Thanks

  8. Sean this really had some great nuggets of insight:

    “Take the time to do things right”
    Does the blog posting schedule slip a day to make sure that the post really hits home with the reader? I hope the answer is hell yea! I think the 5x a week posting mantra is leading folks into mediocrity oblivion.

    “For imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.”
    Wow. We are in the “social business” we connect at profound level with our tribes. Money, while important, can taint the purpose. This seems to be an important lesson for everyone to consider (especially coming from Steve Jobs)

    Haven’t seen you post in a little while. Glad to see you are still “bringing it”.

  9. Pixar is a kick-ass example – you can really feel the love they put into their work: From the characters to the story, everything is beautifully crafted.

    It comes down to having insane standards and abiding by them. If you deliver amazing value that you’d buy yourself, the audience will feel that, probably on a subconscious level.

    Great values for Digital Crusader, I can feel the love and magic you put into this post 😉

  10. Asim: it’s all about keeping your eyes open to the stuff that inspires you, and not necessarily in the same sphere. As soon as your wheels start turning, it’s easy to find common intersections.

  11. Stanford: Thanks! It feels great to be back. Been a long few months filled with some amazing learning. Writing for Copyblogger feels a lot like coming home, though.

  12. This article tugs at my heart since I just watched Toy Story again with my kids. We have watched it countless times before but it still makes me smile. Can’t say the same for Pocahontas!

    My kids are preteens now but still picked Woody and Jessie and this sweet movie to watch on family night last week (just don’t tell their friends!)

    I love this post, since my blog is about faith and family. Being transparent and self-revealing is hard work.

    My most heartfelt posts, dealing with chronic pain, have touched a chord with many people so, even though it’s difficult, it is what I continue to do.

    Thanks for a great article. Keep them coming!

  13. Mars: Thanks! I’ve been wanting to write about Pixar for a while, as they really are the epitome of a quality company delivering a quality product, time and time again. The love was easy. Big thanks to Copyblogger for running it.

  14. Love this, especially the part about being yourself. I left my full-time job so that I could truly create a business that expressed myself. Now why would I leave one grind just to start on my own self-created grind?

    “Telling a good story” is important too, being able to put my clients’ needs first and foremost in my mind, and understanding their particular stories is the goal at the end of the day.

    My business needs to be about YOU, and not so much about me.

  15. Thanks Sean,

    I find it interesting that the standards are set high and met no matter what. It goes to show that quallity counts.

    The goal is bigger that the money. It is big enough to support a whole team of people.

  16. There’s simply no arguing with a consistent standard of quality along. They’re created every brand’s dream: a legion of advocates who will keep coming back and keep talking about the awesome.

    And seriously – how can anyone hate on Pixar’s awesome?

  17. Sean – If you’re going to copy someone, why not copy what works? Your post makes so much sense. I love how you related Pixar to what bloggers should do with their branding efforts.

    I want to emphasize one thing:

    “Ability to connect = Memorable + lovable characters + genuine, lasting impression”

    This is something I am learning to apply with my fiction and nonfiction writing. It all starts with the character, not the plot. The character has to connect with the reader.

    From what I’ve read, bloggers can do this by asking open-ended questions to encourage readers to comment.

  18. I believe that the second point really makes the most sense. Anything that takes time and effort most of the time is worth more than something that doesn’t.

    What a great example…Pixar is such a great company, funny that Steve Jobs has been part of this company. Watch out when his next company, if there ever is another one he builds, buys, or leads becomes an extreme success.

  19. Hi Sean:

    Love the article. Lots of meat here to help me in my own business.

    I clicked the link to check out your ‘ghostwriting’ and received a message that your site is an ‘attack site’, possibly without your knowledge. You might want to check into that.

  20. Man! I wanna work at Pixar. Gimme some Cap’n Crunch!
    It also makes me feel pretty guilty about screaming at my computer to render a 30 second clip faster when the guys at Pixar are spending 7 hours on frame! GEESH!

  21. @Ruby – Thanks… We removed Sean’s ghostwriting link from the author box and we’ll make sure he checks it out.

  22. I’ll pick a fight with you, even though ~

    This if my Favorite post so far!

    There is no one else like me! I am more ONE than ANYONE!
    Nobody else even wants to be me!

    Excellent post though, very fun, and thanks!


  23. I love Pixar. When I was taking an animation course as part of my master’s degree, we used to analyze their old animation movies — ones few people ever saw (I highly recommend watching Tin Toy, it will definitely make you smile!). From these lessons, we learned that there’s ALWAYS room for competition, and that you can’t just enjoy your craft – you have to love it and keep learning.

  24. Sherice: I LOVE their shorts. They have a remarkable way of communicating deep emotion without using language. I watch in awe.

  25. John: Sipping on my coffee, for me, is a part of every day. It’s a ritual that gives me comfort. There are some people who find things to hate as ritual, because it gives them comfort to do so.

  26. Sean,

    That’s a really good analogy, actually. I know a few people in that 10% who revel in finding the worst part of everything–even Toy Story! I used to cringe every time I though of the naysayers’ response to my post, but I’m realizing that they can’t be on my mind when I’m writing or I’ll never get anything done.

    Anyway, this was a great post! 🙂 I’ve always wondered how Pixar has been hitting the nail on the head with every movie they make!


  27. It’s easy to forget that a really good blog has an awful lot in common with a well-run media company. Some would be tempted to say they’re the same thing. 🙂

  28. This is a great piece because it applies to more than just bloggers. The lessons here are applicable to almost anyone working in a creative field.

    I work with radio hosts and each of these lessons absolutely applies to what they do.

  29. Well said and yes, Pixar gets tons of love. Can’t blame you for making them your case in point.

    Like many I’d love to work for Pixar for the reasons stated above. There’s a company that does things right. If I had to name some other company with such a commitment to quality, my first thought would be Blizzard. They polish their games years and years until they compete with the sun. Can’t say anything about the team or spirit within, don’t know. If I had the opportunity to work with them, knowing about the warmth in the team, or lack thereof, would be the more important point for me.

  30. Excellent points everyone. Especially number 4 of knowing yourself, your product and your team.

    In my next life, I want a job working with creative people like the ones at Pixar. I could probably make a 20 min. feature film on that one.

  31. I totally agree. I love the way you use the Pixar brand to tell your story.
    “Take the time to do things right”
    ” Know yourself, your product, and your team”
    ” Now, make it your own”
    Once again another great article, very inspirational.

  32. “In a culture where we have timers at the drive-thru, guaranteeing the opportunity to deliver high blood pressure and heart disease in under 60 seconds, that type of care is rare.” That’s gold! And I love Pixar. Connecting with readers requires patience and complete transparency. Everyone has story to tell and sell, but it has to be delivered with integrity.

  33. @Niko, some years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time with Max & Erich Schaefer (they’re childhood friends of my ex), they had key roles in developing the original Diablo and founded the company that became Blizzard North. In addition to being two very smart and nice guys, they also had that great air of people who were living their passion. They had great energy to be around.

    They seemed to be making very nice amounts of money, but what struck me was that they weren’t driven by that at all. They were driven by the desire to make something deeply, wonderfully engaging.

  34. Hi Sean – This is an awesome article with great advice. I had no idea exactly how much work went into a Pixar movie. No wonder there was such a huge gap between Toy Story 2 and 3.

    I am working on a new project and this is a great reminder to keep the focus on quality.

  35. The fourth point about knowing yourself, your product and team really appealed to me. The idea of having a staff of in-house creative people brings out their best leaving behind all insecurities. Great post! Thanks, Sean.

  36. Well written, to the point, and insightful.

    There’s something magic about telling a story that connects. Some people are natural wizards of wonder and others become masterful storytellers through practice and skill. In any case, I think it’s ultimately our ability to paint ideas and share castles of the mind that move people and inspire action … or at the very least, connect and share a drink from this amazing fountain we call life.

  37. Is it weird that this is the first time that I have heard of this company? I had to go and Google them to find out what they wre about. 😀

  38. Awesome. There’s always a reason why someone is successful. Other success stories will probably teach you these same lessons.

  39. What a great article! I like the Pixar analogy.
    “Do what Pixar did. Be consistent, take your time, put out a superb product, build an excellent team, and know exactly who you are.”

    I am always the student, learning as I go.
    Thank you!


  40. @sonia – re: media company… a friend of mine hammered me last hard: “Dave,” she says, “you ARE the product.”

    My (“speak only when you’re spoken to”) father is rolling in his grave I am sure.

  41. @Sonia, thank you for sharing the personal story & info. Very friendly of you. Max & Erich sound like wonderful people to work with. What struck you as special really resonates with me as well. Inspiring!

    Now on to build a team of the same quality, love and commitment as Pixar and Blizzard have. Huzzah! Well, it is a long time goal with, um, just a fraction smaller projects in mind 😉

  42. I find that after years of eating Cap’n Crunch, it still tears up the roof of my mouth! But I digress…loved the post Sean and definitely love Pixar movies. I will always take the time to do things right. I just need to keep the work true to myself.

  43. Great article! My own least favorite Pixar flick is Wall-E. He’s a cute character, but the movie put me to sleep. That was an added benefit at the sleepover movie night the local elementary school had.

    I agree, the imagination and care that goes into creating the characters and the final product is what makes them products that we love. (Just like my Mac.)

  44. @Dave Doolin, yeah, I think my mom just deals with my whole thing by politely ignoring it. 🙂 “My product is me” doesn’t sit well with my stoic German ancestors. 🙂

  45. I can’t believe you left out John Lasseter. He’s the heart and soul of Pixar, basically saved Toy Story 2 and has a hand in everything they make. If Jobs is the heart of the operation, Lasseter is the soul.

  46. Wow..its amazing!..the third point thats is try conneting a story that is the best way i feel to express in our own way…

  47. Marcy: You are right, I totally agree. I did a Snoopy Dance when Disney bought Pixar and made Lasseter head of animation. Homeboy straight up through their garbage away, got rid of the direct to DVD sequel crap and brought back hand drawn animation. The dude is a rockstar and deserves his own post. 🙂

  48. Interesting to hear that Pixar uses a team of full time staff rather than independent contractors. Good to hear they are treating their employees right and spreading around some of that wealth. Your staff can make you or break you.

  49. I am someone who definitely wants everything done “yesterday”. So taking the time to do things and make sure it is my best work being put out there is hard for me. I can see now after reading this that it is just as important piece of the puzzle as everything else I am doing to build my brand and business!

  50. I totally with Mars on this one — “Pixar is a kick-ass example – you can really feel the love they put into their work: From the characters to the story, everything is beautifully crafted.”

    Bloggers and internet marketers can learn so much from Pixar and this excellent post just drives home the point! There are so many life lessons here (and in every Pixar movie) and it’s just great how you used the company as an example! Wonderful read, as always.

  51. Sean, excellent post! Being true to yourself is an excellent way to differentiate and build trust. Focusing on what we do well will surely help us to hone our craft.

  52. As we described in Innovate the Pixar Way, the power of the collaborative spirit at Pixar cannot be overstated. As Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith told us, “Ed and John are a technical and artistic collaboration of the first order…it’s because they both have great respect for one another. They both know that they couldn’t do what the other does, and couldn’t do without what the other does.”

This article's comments are closed.