I can’t believe this is something I have to say in 2016, but I had a conversation yesterday that leads me to believe it STILL needs to be said. Follow Your Passion, NOT a Paycheck!
Listen, here’s the deal.
I launched my first paid course this week. It bombed spectacularly. Not a single sign up. I’m a bit surprised because I also ran a free challenge leading into it and the feedback on that was fantastic.
I’ve been looking for paid clients for about 3 weeks now. I still have some long-term clients who are friends I work for when they need something, but I want to work with new people on a steady basis. This is the first time I’ve pitched services for a sustained period of time, and….crickets. No, actually, not crickets. I like the sound of crickets. This sound is mosquitoes. Annoying, incessant, and a big pain in the rear.
Last night, a well-meaning friend asked how my business was going. When I told him I was still looking for clients, said he thought I should switch my client base away from creatives and work with coaches or more traditional business owners. Those people have more money than the average creative entrepreneur and would be more likely to pay.
I told him three times that I didn’t want to do that, but he couldn’t get his brain around the fact that I’d pursue a path away from what appears to be a giant, glittering cash cow, especially when I’m fully aware of how hard it is to get artists to part with any money.
Here’s the thing.
My skills would be useful regardless of what kind of business my client was running. We all need to use the internet, we all need to know how to set up technological services, and we all need to have functional websites. There’s a lot of overlap. So, technically there’s no reason I can’t pitch to coaches.
Heck, maybe I’ll put together a package for creative coaches if I feel like it. That’s not where I’m drawn. (Unless there happens to be a coach writing a book, like some previous clients have done.) I have much more knowledge and experience to offer directly to creators, and I want to work with people who share my passion for storytelling and creative expression. I know who my ideal client is, and I know why I want to serve her. I can’t just abandon that to chase after what looks like an easier paycheck.
I’m the type of person to give 100% no matter who are working with or what I’m doing. So I know that I could work effectively with coaches, or really any service based entrepreneur. But I also know I wouldn’t be fulfilled if the person wasn’t also a creative and working toward creative goals. So I wouldn’t be fully showing up, and it wouldn’t be any easier than what I’m doing now. Plus, I’d have to change the direction of this blog and I, know that following a paycheck isn’t going to get me where I want to be in life.
As a writer and artist, I hear the same types of things all the time.
“You can’t just write what interests you or draw your emotions. You have to follow the market and pay attention to trends.”
That’s why we have about 100,000 crappy vampire novels, and why mainstream sci-fi is so boring nowadays. Everyone is doing what they think is going to sell instead of doing something that interests them.
My friend gave me a long speech about how he “made peace” with having to do things he didn’t like or having to work in environments he wasn’t happy with Sony could “get” to do things he wanted.
That’s all well and good when you’re working a 9 to 5 job and you need to pay the bills. I’m sure there are plenty of people who start businesses they don’t like, make some money, and then retire or move on to the nextt thing.
That’s not who I am or what I want for myself. There are lots of things I compromise on in order to get what I want:
- I don’t like getting up early in the morning.
- I don’t like Skype.
- I don’t like spending HOURS on promotion, even if I’m good at it.
- I don’t like being polite to the dickheads who show up to argue on my author blog or anywhere else I post about social issues.
THAT kind of compromise, I’m fine with. I do those things because the benefits outweigh the costs.
The one thing I won’t compromise about is following my passions and working with who I feel drawn to work with.
My friend thinks I’m being short sighted. His argument is that if I made more money, I’d have the ability to help more people (presumably in my spare time, which is like the two hours a week that I watch NCIS on television, because all the other hours are accounted for by my books, my blogs, and this business. Oh, and sleep. A few hours are accounted for with sleep.)
The whole point of starting a service based business, for me, is getting to choose the clients I want to work with. I have seen the long-term consequences of grinding at a job you don’t like, forcing yourself to justify an employer’s policies even if you don’t agree with them, or chasing after money as an entrepreneur. Eventually, the slow erosion of your values eats away at you, steals your love for what you do, and forces you into a position of having to make up a long string of justifications just to keep showing up at your job.
I still LIKE my job. I not only like what I do, I like the people I work with, and I like how I feel when I get up to go to work every day. (In my pajamas, under a blanket, nuff said.)
If you’re going to set a goal, you might as well do something that you really love and live the life you want.
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