Have you taken a few moments lately to consider your creative output and how you share it with others? If you’re a writer, you have the unlimited Internet. Photography? Try Pinterest for starters. Crafts? Let’s hear it for Etsy. Videographer? Oh man, you have Youtube and others.
Whatever you do, whatever you create, there’s an outlet and a way to share that with large numbers of people.
It wasn’t always this way.
When I started writing (somewhere in the dark ages according to my kids) I used a typewriter to send out articles. I’d hammer away, (always making a carbon copy for myself) fold up the paper in an envelope. Stamps licked, the article wound its way to an editor’s desk. In due process, the article would appear in a magazine. A month later, a large manilla envelope with a copy of the magazine, a letter from the editor and a cheque would arrive in the mail.
If you were a craftsperson, there were shows to attend and you could spend more time and energy packing, unpacking and hauling stuff in and out of church basements or halls than you thought possible. Or, if you were lucky (and good) there may be local gift stores that would take your stuff.
I repeat, compared to those days, this time the absolutely best to get your work out in front of the public.
The First Response
The first response from many of my friends is that it’s harder to make money now than it was then.
My response to that is that it’s changed. It’s not necessarily harder, but it clearly is different.
For example, in yee olde days, we’d get twenty cents a word writing for A, and a dollar a word for writing for magazine B. Or a stratospheric three to five dollars a word for writing for magazine C. We’d all start out on A to earn writing credits. Then we’d move up the food chain slowly but surely as we met editors, sold stories and improved our writing skills. It took continued work, dedication, good skills and a whole bunch of luck to break into the higher-paying markets.
Now, you can put your work online without a moment’s hesitation. Not technically minded? No problem. Go to WordPress.com or Blogger and you’re online a half hour later with your work in front of the world. You don’t have to pay dues, don’t have to dedicate yourself to writing better with every article or query editors. You can be online within a half hour of the thought. How cool is that?
But. But. But. I can hear you starting to say. How do I make money just doing that? Or posting my pictures to Pinterest or Pixabay? Or…
And that my friends is the crux of the problem.
You’ve emerged into a world where traditional gatekeepers and their paymasters are in short supply with armies of creatives knocking on their doors. And the world of instant access to consumers is lower paying (or non-existent paying).
We live in a world of change where income models rise and fall as fast as the technology that drives them. Just as Uber does to transport and AirBnB does to hotels, technology does to creatives.
In Other Words, Stuff Changes
In 2005, when I started writing online, it was quite possible to create a website and make $10,000 a year in advertising from Google. Fast forward ten years after numerous Google search-engine changes, social media competition, and now, ad blockers. It’s quite possible to watch that $10,000 shrink to $2500.
The thing to understand is that income earning is changing as fast as the world around us. I’ve morphed from advertising to self-publishing to membership sites along with self-publishing in that ten years. Some days I look in the mirror and wonder why I just don’t get a job. Other days, I look in that same mirror and smile because I’m still able to be flexible enough to handle what the Net has tossed my way.
But things haven’t changed. You still have to be good. You have to get better with every project. And you still have to be lucky.
And to that, I’ll add you have to be nimble and be prepared to reverse course quickly. To change how you market your talents.
It’s an exciting time but also a challenging one.
But What’s The Answer?
Seriously, every day for me is a struggle to get better. I’ve spent the last three years now on a quest to become a better writer. I’ve taken three serious course, had editors whack at my output and I am getting better. I won’t say it’s all been fun but I’m a far better writer now than a few short years ago.
What have you done lately to be better at your work? What’s pushed you into new territory?
Oh man, the number of things I’ve tried would boggle your mind. But if I hadn’t done them, I wouldn’t understand how much of a dead end or how much of a help they were. I’m still looking at the new technologies and wondering if those are going to help or hinder what I do. From video to podcasting to writing blogs or how-to articles, to sharing images and seminars, it’s been a whirlwind of experiments to see what readers want and will use.
My sense is what works for me will work for me and my readership. You’ll have to experiment to discover what works for you and your supporters. It may be the same or, more likely, it will be different. Your skills will be different than mine.
Ask your fans what they want. (Surveymonkey.com) Give it to them. Charge for it.
Give up. Or not.
This is a tough call. Every project I’ve ever done comes with what Seth Godin calls “The Dip”. That’s the period where things get tough and you just don’t know if it will work. Many folks give up at the dip, and never find out. Some persevere through the dip to fail spectacularly. Or succeed amazingly.
I have the same issues. It’s never easy to make that call but I’m comfortable now killing projects when they don’t excite me anymore or lose traction with users. Whack the losers. Put them out of their misery before they die a terrible death of inattention.
Stuff changes. Get over it.
Go start something. Kill it just for the heck of walking away. Get over the sense of failure.
Here’s What Stops Most of You
Fear. It’s a simple word, but it packs a ton of information and responses. Most folks are afraid of many things but the one thing that most creatives fear the most is failure. We don’t want people to read our stuff and vote “not like”. We don’t want people to look at our paintings and giggle.
Fear. We don’t understand the new technology and we don’t want others to think we’re stupid. We tell ourselves, “I can’t learn that stuff.” So we give ourselves a pass.
We hold ourselves back. We are our own worst enemies. Stephen Pressfield writes about “resistance” and how it is our greatest enemy. I could write books about my own resistance. Sigh.
We resist because we’re afraid. I could fill reams of paper about my resistance and fiction writing (I am so creative at finding ways to avoid looking at the editor’s notes) 😉
It Is The Best Time
So yes, it’s the best time in history to get your work in front of others. It’s the easiest time in history to do this – to make a difference with your own work.
But with the ease comes the difficulty of immediate rejection and challenges to earn money from your work.
Two Baby Steps If You’re Serious About Wanting To Succeed.
#1 Get two books. Read them.
#2 Start something. Anything.