For creatives, to make money, you must forget about the money.
Here’s a lesson I learned the hard way: if you want to make money doing something you’re good at, you can’t go into it with the expectation of earning money.
This sounds ridiculous — it’s unfair, first of all, to expect that people blissfully dedicate their whole lives to something without expecting to make a cent in return. And at the same time, it’s advice that’s been repeated since forever.
Plus, it’s circular logic. In order to make money at something, you have to go into it without the aim of earning money? Nonsense.
And yet it’s true. When people focus on the money rather than the original aim, performance suffers. This is for two reasons: money doesn’t motivate us as much as we think compared to the original reason we begin doing something; and people can tell when we’re doing something to earn rather than to share, and they like what we produce less as a result.
In December 2017, I started an Instagram account for my cats. I know, I’m one of thousands. One year later, I had 200 posts and a couple thousand followers. If you’d told me back in 2017 how many I’d have, I would have been over the moon. Now? It’s not enough.
See, to earn money on Instagram it’s a fairly well-established rule of thumb that you need about 10,000 followers. I’m a long way off.
And you know what? For a time, I was gaining almost no new followers. This was because all my content was hollow, all my captions were forced, all my likes and comments were clearly aimed at getting people’s attention, and I was never satisfied.
All of that was aimed at ultimately making money, not my original wish of documenting my cats’ lives and sharing with friends and family. I let my new goal overcome my old one and I suffered. So did my Insta game.
Take another example: on Medium, some articles get curated by the Medium staff for distribution in certain topics. Others don’t. For a time, I used to try to post specifically on topics which had done well in the past, or topics which were popular now in order to get posts curated and earn more money. And you know what happened?
People could tell it wasn’t coming from the heart, and subsequently nobody cared about my writing. The posts that have done well are the ones which I care about, the ones which have passion and energy bleeding through them.
And guess what? Doing well on either of these creation media will result in more money, both long- and short-term.
Emotion resonates with people. Money-seeking doesn’t.
Psychology tells us that when we pursue something we care about, not for its own sake but for the sake of something else (whether that’s money, popularity, or anything else), we can’t sustain it.
In order to be a successful creative, it’s a two-ingredient recipe of consistency and passion. Without one, the other fails.
If you have passion but no follow-through, the well dries up and you’ll stop creating.
If you are consistent but don’t care, your works will be uninspired, bland and won’t resonate with your audience.
And so, ironically, if you pursue your passion with a fire and determination, you will find your audience.
And they will reward you, both metaphorically and literally.
If you chase money, you’re automatically doomed to fail.
We consistently overestimate the effect that we think money motivation will have on us, when in reality, we’re driven by internal passion rather than external financial gain.
To make money with your passion, you absolutely cannot chase your passion solely in order to make money. You will quickly run out of determination when you fail to earn enough, and you’ll feel unfulfilled throughout.
Instead, choose carefully what you want to do, focusing on why you want to do it. Whether it’s writing, drawing, painting or posting, the dream of making money is never enough to make money.
All Rights Reserved for Zulie Rane