To Be or Not to Be Paid (to Create)

Why do we create? To share a thought: an idea, a story, a paradigm. To help another person, perhaps, simply by saying something others are unwilling to say.

Get Paid to Create: Day 1 of a Free 5-Day Challenge

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We may even create to feel a little more understood, a little less crazy. I also like what Steven Pressfield says about the work of an artist: “The artist doesn’t create to express herself; she creates to discover herself.” That’s true for me, at least. I am always trying through my work to figure out who I am. Or as Flannery O’Connor once said: “I don’t know what I think until I read what I write.”

One thing is for sure: when you ask a creative person why they do what they do, their first response is almost never, “I do it for the money.”

That would be absurd. Why? Because that’s not how art works. It is, in the words of Lewis Hyde, a gift. Something special and generous you share with the collective meant to be passed on to others. And gifts, as we all know, aren’t given with an expectation of reciprocity.

Nonetheless, we all have to eat. And who wouldn’t like to be paid to do what they love, to share their work with the world? It would certainly make some things easier.

I’ve been doing my own creative work of writing, speaking, and creating online courses for ten years now; and for ten years, I’ve been paid to do it. And from my own experience of working with over 20,000 creators (writers, artists, musicians, and more), I can tell you two things:

First, the most successful creative people don’t do their work to get paid. As Walt Disney once said, “We don’t make films to make money. We make money so that we can make more films.” Money, I wrote in my book Real Artists Don’t Starve, makes a better means than it does a master.

Second, the most successful creative people have found a predictable way to get paid to create. For some, it’s a considerable income, even a substantial business. For others, it’s a decent living wage. But for most who have made a career of making things, they have found a consistent way to make money off their work.

I hope the same for you. Because it’s no fun to eke out a creative existence wondering when or from where your next meal is going to come. It’s not very fulfilling to constantly question if there’s any value in what you’re doing. You deserve better. Or better put, your work deserves better.

I’ll paraphrase that Disney quote to drive this home: We don’t make art to make money. We make money to make more art.

So let’s get on with it.

During this challenge, I’m going to ask you to take action. I’m going to ask you to watch videos and participate in an experience that if you take my advice and take this process (and more importantly, yourself) seriously, it could change everything.

My goal for you is to go from zero to one. To get unstuck in a significant way that will allow you to create momentum in your work so that you can finally get paid to create.
What does that look like? Well, we will be focusing on:

  • Figuring out what you want to sell
  • Who will buy it
  • How to sell it
  • What tools and resources you need to sell it
  • And what to do next

For five days, starting today, I’m going to send you a short lesson like this email. Some days, I’ll ask you to go watch a video. Other days, I’ll invite you to a live video streaming on Facebook. Every day, I’ll ask you to do something. Because that’s how change happens. Not by watching or listening or reading. But by doing.

So let’s get on with it. Today is all about getting set up. It’s about getting positioned so that you can take action. I want you to do two things today:

  1. Create a free account on Thinkific (or a comparable site that allows you to sell digital products). If you’re already set up on one of these sites, great. I recommend Thinkific, because it’s easy and versatile and the people who run it are super nice. But you just need to be ready to accept payments for your product. If you need help doing this, check out this tutorial from Thinkific.
  2. Once you’re set up, create a new product and name it whatever you want. You can always change the name later. But we want to be ready to go once it’s time to sell.
  3. Join our Facebook group and say hi. You’ll be using this group to check in every day once you’ve completed your assignment.

Ready to do this?

Get the Paid to Create challenge delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.