You may have skills you find hard to promote or monetize. Not that it's a bad thing... you are more than free to have a creative hobby. But if you dream of doing what you love one day and making money from it, that's a whole different story.
Maybe it's writing fiction or painting portraits. Whatever it may be, I know for a fact that there are people out there who have monetized your skill already.
And before you start saying things like "but they were lucky" or "they had connections", consider the fact that you don't know HOW they did it, and most of the time when I listen to my favorite creative rebels' origin stories, the ONLY THINGS they all have in common is that they worked hard and came up with different kinds of ideas & connections.
If you think the key to modern success is hidden in the past, think again. Nowadays the traditional is being thwarted by the modern. Every industry is changing at the speed of light to adapt to new practices, demands, and opportunities. It's not the case that you have to adapt to the world anymore because it's starting to adapt to us instead.
The future belongs to the creative rebels, who know who they are and how to use that to live the life of their dreams; who make no excuses or compromises, but fight about their right to be unique & make a difference.
If you want to be a creative rebel who can monetize any skill, follow these steps:
1. Choose yourself.
I recently wrote about not waiting for permission to be an entrepreneur. This is roughly the same sentiment of James Altucher's book Choose Yourself, which has become a bestseller because it echoes the modern mindset of the go-getters & hustlers.
Imagine a world where you know where you'll go to school, what career you'll have, and none of these choices is yours. This was pretty much the case for our grandparents and parents. Now imagine you can be ANYTHING you want. This is the world we live in.
Those who wait to be "chosen" are living in the past. Even traditional careers like acting and publishing are reinventing themselves to become flexible enough to meet the needs of modern artists and actors. You can self-publish nowadays and upload your own movies online. You no longer need a resume, but something you have made public.
All you need to choose yourself is to use the powers of the Internet and the people. All of the tools are at your disposal. There's no excuse not to use them.
2. Create the demand.
Again, your life is in your hands, and if you're telling me there's no demand for what you do, I'll tell you you haven't looked hard enough. Do you think there was demand for blackout poetry before Austin Kleon came along? Of course not, that was a buried art form.
Do you think there was demand for crazy cool outfits before Sophia Amoruso started Nasty Gal? Maybe. But it wasn't obvious and she took a chance on something that seemed crazy and risky at the time. And she won big time! Somebody said that great innovators don't fill demand but anticipate it. There are always new trends coming up, but the underlying currents always stay the same. If you learn how to notice the currents and take calculated (or not) risks, you can win even bigger than Austin & Sophia.
So if you're burning to create something different and you see no demand for it, think of creative ways to test it out before you give up. Have faith in your ideas and remember, all the research in the world won't help you if you don't DO things and test your boundaries. The creative rebel knows there's more than meets the eye.
3. Put the pieces together.
If you haven't tried a TON of stuff already and haven't failed a lot as well, you might not have enough material to start the business of your dreams.
After a decade of learning about business, video, and wine, Gary Vaynerchuk finally found his niche and built his giant media company. After years of dancing, rapping, writing, coaching, marketing, Marie Forleo found her unique place and became one of the most famous life coaches and TV personalities in the world. After years of photography, fashion, crazy life experiences, and selling on Etsy, Sophia Amoruso built her fashion empire.
What's the common element in these stories? It's the fact that they tried many things and failed many times before they found their purpose. If they hadn't amassed these skills and tried different things, they would not have had enough to mix together to create the unique businesses they run today. (This is what's great about being a multipassionate!)
I'm not saying this is everybody's destiny, but it is how success goes for many people, especially the creative rebels who love reinventing themselves.
4. Think outside the box.
Don't just go along with the status quo, challenge it. (tweet this)
People who have found ways to challenge the status quo and create their own version of success have become authorities and thought leaders. Sean Ellis's "growth hacking" and Seth Godin's "permission marketing" were pivotal in their modern success stories.
They didn't just follow everything that was happening and doing things the way everyone else was doing them, but they made their own rule books.
Being a creative rebel in this day and age is almost easy - you just need to take something you really hate or disagree with and turn it on its head. The world is much more open to this kind of thing today than it was decades ago. Why do you think I came up with my own marketing blueprint? I hated marketing for years, now I couldn't be happier!
All you have to do is pick your thing and start playing - look from different angles, turn it around, make unusual connections, and HAVE FUN.
P.S. Challenging the way others think is also a great gift. If you possess it - like some of my favorite bloggers like Sian Richardson, Jen Carrington, and Ash Ambirge - use it to transform your life and change the world.
5. Be true to YOU.
The only competitive advantage you'll ever have is YOU. (tweet this)
I call it the 3 YOU's: Who you are, who you want to be, and who you are capable of being. All of these parts of you are inside, screaming to be heard. And in order to hear them, you need to invest in two things: personality tests and self-awareness.
Personality tests are a great way to gain a better understanding of yourself. Not the magazine quizzes, but the science-approved ones like Myers Briggs or the modern version of it - 16personalities.com. (According to the test, I'm an ENFP-T, which is also called "The Campaigner". Basically, my strengths are creativity, empathy, and communication. Routine and details suffocate me, so there's a danger of stopping. All very true.)
Other systems and tests I have found helpful are: The Fascinate Matrix by Sally Hogshead, The Archetype Alignment Grid by Beth Grant (specifically for marketing), and The StrengthsFinder by Donald Clifton (in Now Discover Your Strengths).
Don't waste time worrying about your weaknesses; go all in on your strengths!
As for who you want to be and who you can be, those are your best kept secret, your privilege, and choice. You're the only person who knows about these parts of yourself, and the only ally you have in discovering them is self-awareness. The good news is, self-awareness increases the more you exercise it. It's like going to the gym - the more you flex those muscles, the stronger they become. Try these exercises.
I've spent my whole life doing crap jobs and trying to make some extra cash from my hobbies, to no avail. I know how frustrating and dispiriting it can be.
Nothing really made sense until I did all of the things I listed above - I tried different things and failed a lot, I got to know myself better and started thinking outside the box, and finally, I just decided I would wait for nobody's permission to become my own boss.
It's not easy, but it is possible. Be a creative rebel with me.