Don’t Quit Your Day Job Just Yet
Why you shouldn't make content creation your only source of income.
Many content creators who are just starting dream about leaving their day jobs to create content. I know, I was there too. The truth is, if you make art your only source of income, you’ll probably be disappointed.
First, there are many (easier) ways to make money online rather than create content. The easiest of all is freelance work. You can go on UpWork, build a profile, and soon find a client paying $1,000 per month. I am not saying it’s easy, but it’s possible. And definitely faster than taking your blog to a level where you can make $1,000 from ads, sponsorships, or even the Medium Partner Program. (It took me 6 months of daily writing to get my first $1,000 check from Medium, whereas you can make that much in a week with a handful of freelance gigs.)
Most creators look at successful writers and bloggers, people like Joe Rogan, or J.K. Rowling or even Kim Kardashian. But getting to that level is like winning a lottery. It’s much cheaper to let go of such high expectations and simply focus on what you love doing most. The truth is, most people don’t make enough money from books. Most bloggers have to support themselves through extra work, especially in the beginning.
So if money is what drives you, listen to the oldest advice in the book and don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
Second, when you start making money from your art (let’s call it that), everything changes. Your attitude changes. Your brain will automatically start looking for ways to increase income. You’ll feel like a total failure during the bad months, which will, inevitably, come. And you’ll probably force yourself to write something that ‘sells’ instead of communicating your best – albeit niche – ideas out there. You’ll write what they want, not what you think. And that will make all the difference.
Some of the best posts I wrote were the ones I thought would fail spectacularly. (Ironically, they often made the most money too.)
But once you make content your full-time job, there’s no turning back.
Maybe you don’t want to write the bloody listicle for the third time this week. But you’ll feel obligated to because now it pays the bills. And just like that, your art and hobby became yet another job. You might even find yourself bored with writing and feel that you’re not a writer anymore, but merely a copywriter. That’s why most successful writers on Medium give advice: ‘Don’t rush to make money from your writing.’
Third, because content success is so random, you don’t want to tie up your whole life to it. Readers can wait until your blog gets to a certain level, but mortgage payments won’t.
Driving your content to the level where you can lay back and make $100,000 per year will probably take years. Just look at all successful bloggers you know – you think they’ve got it easy, but they put in the work (often, without getting paid) for many years before they could exhale. By the way, most successful writers you know – Dickens, Kafka, even Fitzgerald and Hemingway at some point – all had ‘normal jobs’ while being extremely prolific.
But don’t allow the reasons above discourage you from creating content. You still should create content. Money is just not the right reason for it.
Yes, the content might make money. The starving artist myth is just that – a myth. If it pays well, it’s great. By all means, enjoy it. But that shouldn’t be the goal. There are many more things you can get out of creating content (which I talk about at length in my last book).
Any type of media exposure is a platform. Like any other platform (e.g., education, investments, savings, passive income, fame, connections, rich dad) it gives you opportunities. And those opportunities go way beyond just paying the bills. An insightful blog can turn you into a thought-leader on the subject, and help you build a career or a new business. And writing a book is an incredibly thought-provoking, and intellectually stimulating exercise to structure your thoughts and get all of your best ideas out there. Everyone should write one.
Or maybe, you’re simply enjoying creating content because you love sharing ideas with others. You love to learn and you learn better by sharing. That works too. Whatever personal reasons you have for creating content, just make sure money is not the main one.
No matter what they tell you, there is simply no way to know which piece will succeed or not – it’s like predicting the weather to the minute. The best thing you can do for yourself as a creator is to let go of the external – money, followers, recognition, etc. – and focus on the only thing you can control: making your next piece great.
‘Great’ by which standards? Yours, of course. Create for yourself, love what you do, and you’ll increase your chances of doing something remarkable. If you love what you do – somebody else will too.
Go make something meaningful.
Advice for authors – Seth Godin’s blog
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In case you didn’t know, I also have a book out – Blog Is a Platform: What Blogging Can Do For You and Your Career. A lot of my readers found it valuable.
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