Last week, I taught a live workshop on what I’m calling “The Paid Creator Path,” which is a new teaching I’m rolling out about the ten steps it takes to make a living doing creative work.
I’m still word-smithing these, so I’d love your feedback, but those attended the live workshop said these concepts were really helpful, so I thought I’d share them here in written form.
Of course, you’re welcome to watch the video replay on Facebook (click here to check it out). And if you don’t have Facebook, I’ll be rolling out the video on other platforms later this week, so stay tuned.
10 steps to getting paid to create
- Identify the problem. All creation is problem-solving, and problems are always based on people’s feelings. They are not rational; they are not needs—they are unmet desires. To completely understand a problem, you have to first understand the person with the problem. You need to hear them communicate the problem in their own words.
- Know what has come before. Research what other people are doing to solve this problem. Study your competitors as well as the greats from previous generations so that you know what you’re up against and how you can build on what others have done. Don’t just reinvent the wheel; make it better.
- Decide how you will be different. Now that you know what others have done, what do you disagree with? How can you be different? Remember that when you are playing the “infinite game” of creativity, it’s better to be different than it is to be better.
- Teach your process. Teaching makes the best marketing. It also helps you prove your authority. When you teach what you know, this is practicing in public and proving your expertise. It’ll help you build your audience and earn their trust over time.
- Capture attention. What this means is you need a list—whether that’s a list of email addresses, phone numbers, or some other way of getting in touch with the people who want to hear from you. This is the essence of modern marketing: You have to ask permission to communicate with people and share with them how you are going to help them solve their problem. Maybe their problem is they’re bored and you’re going to entertain them; maybe it’s deeper than that. But before you ask them to buy or make any serious commitment, you first must ask for the conversation.
- Ask for a commitment. What we often call “sales” or “selling”—two terms that many creatives tend to wince at—is really just finding out what people want and helping them discover the right path to get it. This is often a verbal agreement along with some sort of value exchange; in other words, you say, “I’ll give you a copy of my book when you buy me.” There’s nothing to be afraid of here; you can’t sell to someone who doesn’t want to buy. If you remain curious, listen to people’s problems, and genuinely want to help them, then sales cease to be scary. Ask good questions, listen, and offer the best solution—even if that means they go somewhere else and give someone else money. Do this and when it’s time for them to pay you, they’ll trust that you’re leading them in the right direction. At this point, you'll ask for the commitment, the money, or the signature on the contract so it’s official.
- Communicate what to expect. It’s not enough to “sell” something; you have to tell people very clearly what they are going to get, as well as when and how. Help people understand exactly what they’re going to get from you so they don’t have any incorrect assumptions. Unmet expectations is the fastest way to lose the trust you just worked so hard to earn. Spell it out, preferably in writing so there’s a record, exactly what people will get from you.
- Exceed expectations. Find small ways to “wow” your customer. This is marketing, too, as it turns out. Once you’ve set expectations, find little ways to go above and beyond them, so that people are delighted. Delighted customers and clients are eager to share what they’re learning and receiving. And as you probably already know, word-of-mouth marketing just might be the most powerful form of promotion. It may cost a little more to go the extra mile, but in the end, it’ll pay off for you.
- Encourage sharing. This is pretty simple, but many individuals and companies neglect doing it. Ask for the testimonial. Encourage referrals. Reward those who talk about you: thank them, give them gifts, maybe even share some of the revenue they helped you generate (if appropriate). This is how you find other people like those whom you’re already helping. You can call this customer service or whatever, but really it’s just good business, and it’s the best way to grow.
- Repeat the process. What other problems can you solve? What does solving this one make possible? Once you’ve established one solution to a product—be it a physical product, an online offering, or a service—you can now follow this process to create other solutions.
Let me know which of these was most helpful to you. And don’t forget to watch the video!
I’m going to be opening an elite, small-group coaching group to walk individuals through this process. If you’re curious, fill out the application this week.