Not so long ago, I met with a long time friend whom I hadn’t seen the whole of the year 2016.
We happily crammed a lot of things into our conversation. We reminisced about times gone past. High school. Our hectic drinking sessions and resulting stories. Girls, and the even more hilarious stories that came of those romantic times. We caught up about how the previous year went for both us and it turned out, not so good. Although there were highlights on both ends. But nothing worth writing home about.
And what’s funny is, we are both talented beyond measure but have not been able to make decent money from our abilities. It is actually something we are grappling to get right. To be respected professionals in what we do. I’ll get into that in a moment.
In a moment of pure happiness, we decided to go visit another high school friend. The three of us then hadn’t been in the same room in about two years – we just had to meet. On our way, we had fun using the routes we used to walk when we went to and back from school. We met a lot of people who exclaimed their pleasant surprise at the fact that we are still friends. It had been, what, twelve years since we met the first year of high school.
A lot has happened since then.
We then saw a double storey house while walking, and we started speaking about my favourite topic – the convergence between talent and money. I love talking about this because it is such a problem for many a young person. You find absurdly talented young people without platforms to launch and showcase their work and make money from it. Or, you find people who are gifted but they struggle putting financial value to their work.
So, they get exploited.
My friend has since become an expert at painting, tiling, ceilings and a lot of other stuff to do with house-fitting. He’s so sharp that he started estimating the amount of time and material he would need to paint the entire house that we saw. As we walked further, with a quick glance at a random house he’d say whether they did a good job or not in the way of painting. He’s an expert!
However, he’s in a predicament of sort.
I remember that the last time we met I told him the work he’s doing is lucrative. He can become a widely respected freelancer with that stuff. Especially because he’s done numerous houses in a few estates through the company he works for – he’s built some relationships in those places. My conversation with him about this indicated to me that he’s afraid of taking the first step toward doing freelance work outside of his employment (on weekends, perhaps). He says his biggest challenge is getting a start – a project with which to launch himself.
And to some extent, I can relate with him. I also faced that predicament with my writing and public speaking work. I had always known I am good at it and that there’s a lot of money in that work. But then, I initially didn’t know how to start. It was challenging. It still is. But I am determined to get it right and make a comfortable living from my work.
Here’s an interesting thing: there are words written everywhere you look. On products, on the internet, on magazines, newspapers, brochures – everywhere! And in many instances, they are abysmally written. On the other hand, new houses are being built and older ones are being renovated all the time, so there’s always work for my friend. He just needs to get his slice of the cake and take it from there.
Above all else, I’ve come to realise that confidence in yourself and your work plays a crucial role in making sure you get paid what you’re worth and are treated the way you deserve. Because without it, it’s easy to be meek and act like people are doing you a favour – without confidence in yourself as a professional, you just won’t be disagreeable enough.
The second most important thing, of course, is the constant looking for platforms and opportunities to thrust your work further. It could be networking and building relationships, building and publishing content, using social media platforms to make noise about what you do, it could be approaching corporate companies and offering them your services. There are multiple ways to go about it.
Taking just one step – introducing yourself to the world – is all that matters. The rest will fall into place as you prove and improve your craft.