To make it simple and clear I have broken the path to success into 4 different stages.
1. Training : Learn the fundamental Skills
2. Develop Your Product : Create Your Assets
3. Marketing : Get Connected to your Audience
4. Management : Be Prepared to Make it Big.
The order is important because you must fulfill the first stage before you can move onto the next stage and so on. But in reality you never really finish or stop either of these stages. What happens is you work on improving in the first stage, and then when you are performing well enough in the first stage to move on you start doing the first stage as well as the one after it. For example, even when you begin to market yourself as an artist you still have to keep training and growing as an artist. At first you’ll only be training. Then you’ll be training and developing your product. Then after significant progress you’ll be training, developing you’re assets, and marketing them. And in the end you’ll be repeating this process and modifying it until you reach the tipping point – the point at which large groups of people begin paying attention to you as an artist. When your audience get’s big enough you’ll be able to quit your day job. When you finally achieve freedom as an independent artist you’ll be free to train, develop, market, and manage your art. Try not to think of this as something you have to do in order to get what you want. Instead, this process of growth must become what you want. This is the process of learning to do what you love, and learning to love what you do.
Think of the donkey rider who keeps a carrot on a rope dangling in front of his animal to motivate him to move forward. As long as happiness is something just beyond what you need to do right now, it will always be one step ahead of you. Make your work fun and choose to be happy despite any difficult circumstances. If you don’t take joy in the process then the goal will seem too far away. Even if it is painful, be thankful for the chance to grow and take up a positive attitude. Many people decide it is too difficult and give up along the way. They even become resentful of the process. Don’t be a jackass. Learn to be happy and thankful as you make progress towards your goals.
1.Training: Learn the Fundamental Skills
In the last chapter I told you how easy it is to sell your artwork online. But if your design isn’t even worth buying, then all the sales offers in the world won’t do you any good. Your art should express something that others can relate to.
There are also some very basic computer skills you need to know in order to upload your artwork to the internet. It is absolutely fundamental that you know Adobe Photoshop or some imaging program and the basics of file management.
Perhaps you have some great ideas and the basic skills to upload your artwork, but you need to polish your design skills so you can make your ideas presentable. In this case you need to learn the fundamentals of design. Your art has to have some appeal to the audience.
Even if you have the fundamental skills there is not one artist in the world who would not benefit from making their fundamentals stronger. Fundamentals are the foundation for your work. Sometimes it takes a huge investment of time to make your fundamentals a little stronger. But in the end it Is good to work on your fundamentals, because even if you only make your fundamentals 10% stronger, all of your work will then become 10% stronger. If an artist learns to draw a little better, then their paintings, their sculptures, their design skills, and perhaps even their ability to analyze artwork will improve. For the professional painter, if he is only drawing at 80% then the 20% he is lacking will show up in all the other work he adds on top of the drawing. The basic design will be 20% off, the spatial relationships won’t be accurate, and there could end up being more of one color and less of another than there should be which also affects the balance, and he won’t be able to add in the right amount of detail. Even if he paints and repaints the painting he won’t be able to make up for that 20% that is lacking. The difference is exponential, so even making your fundamentals 5% better can have a profound effect on the quality of your overall work. For this reason even professionals are always maintaining and improving their fundamentals.
Every artist wants his work to look good. Even business men spend a lot of money to make sure their products look the best. Sometimes products aren’t even that good, but because they look like they are good they sell better or are more expensive. Illustrations are the ultimate extreme of this because their only real purpose is in their appearance and expression.
Successful art conveys a message to the audience. You need at least enough fundamental skill to convey that message. And it should look good enough that the audience wants to see more of it.
2. Develop Your Product : Creating Your Assets.
This is the point at which you need to start thinking from a business point of view. You have to consider your audience and their tastes. Who is your audience? How old are they? Are they mostly male or female? What colors do they like? Where do they shop? What websites do they visit? What are they interested in? What are they looking for? What do you have to offer them? You are your most important audience, but in order to make a living off of your artwork someone has to like it too. As a matter of fact, a lot of people have to like your work. Or someone with a lot of money has to think that a lot of people will like it. If you are selling you’re artwork directly to you’re audience then the more you sell the more money you will make. Even if you are not in it for the money, more money means more resources, and more resources means less time on the job and more time to develop your artwork. If you are making money off of commissions then more sales will make you more money . If you are making money off of advertising than you will make more money if more people view your work. The only case where you don’t need a big audience to make big money is if you are selling the rights to your work so that the buyer can make money from the royalties. But even then you need to convince the buyer that your work will bring them a big audience. So pleasing your audience is very important. And as the one who will be doing the work you need to please yourself as well or else you miss the whole point of doing art in the first place.
What Is Priority? Are you producing art for Love or for Money?
I want to also mention here that it is important to try and relay a, “Good” message. If you are going to do the work to produce something, you might as well produce something that will benefit the world and not lessen the quality of life. Ultimately we should do something that pleases our conscience so that we can truly be happy. If you achieve financial freedom, become famous, and even if you revolutionize your industry, if in the end you’re work discourages others or promotes a negative message, then at the end of your life you will realize that it was all for nothing if it does not make lives better.
An example of this in my opinion would be McDonalds. From a business perspective McDonalds is extremely successful. It’s a business model that endlessly generates wealth for it’s owners. But it has become common knowledge that McDonalds is lowering the standard of health and has some serious negative consenquences on the world. By lowering the health standard it is causing the quality of life and length of life to shorten. The purpose of food is to fuel a healthy life but the food of McDonalds is not healthy. Even though McDonalds is successful in all the other ways, because it fails to serve this fundamental purpose in a positive way it is in my opinion not a good model for us to follow.
The purpose of art is to appreciate life and to express our ideas. Providing an income is actually an alternative benefit for the professional artist, but unfortunately many artists have made this alternative benefit their main priority at the cost of our its original purpose. Even money itself is a means to an end, a tool for helping us to get something else. It is just a symbol of exchange. Even the exchange of resources should ultimately serve the purpose of raising the quality of life. The meaning of life should not be sacrificed for the tools we use to fulfill that meaning.
So ultimately you have to please your conscience, you’re artistic self, you’re audience, and perhaps even your producer/employer. Sometimes by pleasing one you naturally please the others, so I would focus on pleasing your conscience and the tastes of your audience.
So now that we have our priorities in line let’s learn the science of selling our work. This is a brief business lesson for artists. In order to begin this step in the process you must first understand these basics.
The Entrepreneuring Artist
In business terms there is a difference between your product, your commodity, a liability, and an asset. The product is the idea you are conveying to people. The commodity is the actual item that your customers purchase. A liability is any property that takes money out of your pocket and an asset is any property that puts money in your pocket. Liablity = bad, Asset = good. You’re artwork is your property. It is not your product because the product is the idea behind your artwork, and your artowrk could either be a liability or an asset depending on whether it’s costing you money or bring in money. If at some point it stops costing you money and starts bringing in money then it changes from being a liability into being an asset.
For example let’s take a look at Coca-Cola’s recent ad campaign. Their slogan is, “Welcome to the Coke-side of life.” The common saying is, “Welcome to the BRIGHT side of life. So in this example the message is Coke = Bright. In this campaign the product they are selling is the brightness of the better side of life. The commodity is the drink that supposedly brings you to this brighter side of life. The costs to air a marketing campaign is extremely expensive making it a liability, but the costs of manufacturing the drink compared to the profits its sales brings in are enormous making this particular commodity a huge asset. If the marketing campaign can be proven to bring in new customers then it could be considered an asset as well. Any property that you have control of but you aren’t using to bring in money would be considered a liability. Even if it doesn’t cost you anything it probably cost you your time to create, and the art materials you used also have costs.
As a working artist you also need to think not only in terms of money, but in terms of time and resources. Time is your most valuable resource. It is limited and you absolutely need a certain amount of it to produce anything. Money can buy you many things including time. If you quit your job and spend your time developing artwork then you have to consider the costs of time and money. Let’s say for instance that you make $15 an hour like I did but then you quit your job. Then you spend $30 on art supplies and spend 12 hours developing some artwork. If you want to calculate your costs in dollars then it costs you $210 to produce that piece. You have to consider that if you had spent that time at your job you would have made $180 and then it cost you an additional $30 for art supplies. If you want to calculate your costs in terms of time, then it cost you 14 hours to develop that piece. If you need that money then you would have to work for 14 hours in order to earn $210. At this point you’re artwork is a liability because it is taking away from your resources instead of adding to them. If you were to turn around and sell that artwork for $300 then it would become an asset at the time of the sale.
Let’s consider what would happen if you were to sell that artwork to one of the above websites. Let’s say that you uploaded that artwork to http://www.cafépress.com and sold it as a poster. If it costs $2.00 for each poster and you sell each one for $15 then that puts $7 in your pocket on each sale. Then your property or artwork would turn from a liability into an asset after you sell 30 posters. By then the poster would have paid you what it cost you to make it and from there on each sale would be profit. If you own enough of these assets and they keep selling, then it could lead to financial freedom. Financial freedom is the point at which your assets bring in enough income to pay for all of your assets including the costs of your food, housing, bills, living expenses, and production expenses.
Financial Freedom vs. Financial Slavery
Having options give us freedom of choice. Sometimes our options are limited by resources. This is a very basic form of freedom. But there is freedom that goes far beyond our physical circumstances.
Most people are slaves to their work simply because they feel they, “Have to work.” We all have a need for resources and we can gain those in any way that we choose. Everybody has a choice. Once people fall into a routine of working to pay their expenses they begin to feel that they have no choice but to work. Another person with the same job considers his options and chooses to do his work because he feels it is his best option. He controls his life by actively engaging his choice. If people forget the true purpose of what they are doing, their lives lose all sense of meaningfulness. They feel they have no control over their life. The two people are doing the same thing but with different attitudes. And by having the more positive attitude that person opens up his mind by considering other options. He takes responsibility for his decisions and takes control of his fate. We often refer to the difference as people who are actively living and people who are just existing. If a person is creative enough he will use the same resources everyone else has to accomplish something no one else realized was possible. This is the philosophy of using. You must use your resources to overcome the mentality of those around you.
This freedom of the mind goes beyond circumstances. There are even rich people who feel they have to do what they have been doing and they then become a slave to their choices. There are people with very limited resources who feel they have the freedom to choose what they will do with their life. In this case the person with limited resources is closer to freedom than the person with a wealth of resources.
I do not like to consider the value of time to be equal to how much we get paid for hour. When calculating resources it is effective but in reality I believe my time is worth much more than what they pay me. Consider this. If someone offered to buy up 20 years of your life by paying you $15 for each of those hours, would you accept it? There are 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year, and this times 20 years is equal to 175,200 hours. That times $15 an hour is $2,628,000. Would you accept 2.6 million dollars in exchange for 20 years of your youth? I wouldn’t even exchange money for 20 years of old age. Your time is your life. And your life is much more valuable than money. Therefore your time is much more valuable than money. I hope you are spending your time wisely.
When considering the real financial costs of life most Americans are in the negative. Those who put themselves into debt going to school are the ones furthest in the negative. Most Americans have already spent the time of their youth, money they don’t even have, and the years in the future that it will cost them to pay back that money. They have sold their present time, they have already sold their future time, and they pushed back their freedom to learn skills which may or may not be an asset to them. America is a nation of debt, and therefore a nation of financial slavery. America as a nation is in debt and the majority of it’s citizens are also in debt. Schools are big business. Their product is education, and their greatest asset is the student loans. Their commodity is the classroom. Don’t buy into the assumption that by paying for tuition you will somehow get you what you need to live a good life. It’s not any more realistic than drinking coke to find the bright side of life. To find freedom you must look past the illusions. True education comes to those who ask the right questions and truly seek out the true answers.
*The biggest form of enslavement is ignorance. People do not consider their options because they are ignorant of what it is possible for them. Ignorance is also the number one cause of premature death. People die unintentionally all the time because of what they don’t know. Some people grow up never realizing the truth because they have been educated wrongly. For this reason freedom comes only to those who know.
It’s difficult to explain everything I’m trying to say here, so if at this point you are confused then think of it like this. When we studied history growing up we read about slavery and indentured servitude. I read that black people were forced into hard labor and poor foreigners from Europe agreed to work for the majority of their adult life just for a chance to come to America. They didn’t have any hope in Europe, so they sold their future for a chance to work in the states. It seems crazy to us yet college art students across the nation are selling themselves into indentured servitude for up to ten to thirty years. We are buying into the idea that education will bring us a successful career. But school doesn’t promise that we will begin a career. It only assures us that we’ll need one to pay for what we’ve agreed to. Before taking on loans students start at $0. Then they borrow money for school putting them anywhere from $30,000 to more than $100,000 into the negative. Then after ten to thirty years after paying back that debt they are back at $0 again. In terms of business we aren’t making any profit but they are. The school has just earned $30,000 and the banks have just earned a little more than or a little less than 10% interest off of our loans which is about $3,000 if we borrowed $30,000. But that is if you don’t have compounded interest. In my case I borrowed $90,000 for tuition and housing. By the time I pay it off it will have accumulated $30,000 in interest. So I will have to pay that off over the next 30 years. By then I will have paid $120,000 with 30 years of hard work, but the school will have earned $90,000 and the banks $30,000! I learned a big lesson. What I’m teaching you may be free for you but it wasn’t free for me to learn this lesson. What I’m teaching you cost me $120,000! I hope you value what you are learning right now.
So what other option is there? For many there is no other option but to go to school or work a low wage job. But for artists with the ability to teach themselves there is another option. If you can develop your artwork into income generating assets, then you can in a sense become an independent business man. Every freelance worker ( many professional artists in America work as freelance workers ) signs a contract and offers his services to his employer. Just like any other business man their taxes are not deducted automatically and they have to have to pay their taxes at the end of the year. So according to the IRS, almost every working artist in America is a self employed business man even if they have an employer they have to answer to. Professional artists may not think about business, but whether they do or not they are business men.
If you will end up becoming a business man one way or the other you might as well begin managing like one. It’s so easy to create a website and sell products through many of the free web services I mentioned in chapter 4 that you really have no reason not to get started. You have not really even started this stage of the process until you have something selling online. Build your online store and invite everyone you have contact with to browse or purchase an item.
If you create a book at http://www.lulu.com then you can proclaim to everyone you know that you are now a, “published,” artist, and then let them know that you can get them a discount on your first art book. With your family alone you should sell at least a few copies. Then you are officially in business.
In business terms, financial freedom is the point at which you make enough money from your assets to pay for all of your liabilities. You also have to be free of debt. For any person with student debt financial freedom is a long term goal. But for someone who manages to stay out of debt and develop enough assets to pay for all their living expenses it is a realistic goal. That is the single most significant reason I suggest every artist try to make it on their own if possible. An example of a person who might be financially free would be an artist who develops a website (asset) that sells t-shirts, posters, comics, and his art books (commodities). Let’s say he spends about $80,000 a year in living expenses and he has $30,000 in loans. If he continues to bring in a good income from his website then it is possible that over time he could pay off his debt with the extra profit. Then if as long as his website is bringing in more than $80,000 a year, and he continues to live on less than $80,000 a year, then he is financially free.
3. Marketing : Get Connected to your Audience
You are an artist so I’m sure you already have some artwork you’d like to do something with. If you are not already part of an online community then I would strongly suggest you go ahead and start uploading your artwork to a website or online community. It’s important to get out there and start experiencing the joy of exchange taking place between 1,000s of artists everyday. Artists are sharing their artwork and feedback on forums, blogs, myspace, web zines, and all kinds of different art communities. Seeing their work will inspire you and give you the drive to exceed your own limitations as an artist. Upload your work and see what others think. It’s very rewarding and encouraging. Without some form of counterpart to exchange ideas with it’s impossible to grow.
Interacting with other artists online will help you to push your art skills, but in reality that is only helping you with step one. Most artists do not consider themselves business men and choose not to think about the reality of their financial situation. With this in mind I think it’s important for you to do research outside of the art community as well. As a professional artist you are a business man. And if you do not learn the business then you will get swindled. Most artists are getting swindled. If you spend all of your time with artists who have no idea what I’m talking about, then you could easily become another artist who has no idea what I’m talking about and get swindled just like them. At the very least try to find an online community that is strongly informative about the industry. But if you want to find information on how to be a successful independent artist, you may have a difficult time.
To make a living off of your artwork you need the attention of your audience. Your audience has buying power and there are people with resources who will pay you to get access to them. So for instance if you have a website like mine that young people are visiting, then there are people who will pay to advertise on your site so they can have access to your audience. You can also sell your merchandize or assets directly to your audience. Whether you are offering downloads, selling your services, offering a way for different people in your community to get connected to one another, or just looking to get a better job, you can do it online for a price or for free and sell advertising. But this is only possible if large amounts of people are visiting your website. So how do you attract attention to your website? If you have money then you can advertise your site on other websites. If you have access to print resources then you could post up poster advertisements. If you are part of an online community then you could post comments on people’s blogs, forums, and myspace pages.
The important thing is that you narrow down who you are trying to market to and get your message out to the people of that particuliar market. This is referred to as niche marketing. For example if you publish a generic cook book and pay for advertising on google you may get some hits on your website, but not likely many buyers. If you change the title of your book to, “Cooking for Balding Single Men” then you can be assured almost every balding guy that sees your title will take interest. If you create a tutorial on how to draw Naruto, then Naruto fans will take notice. In almost anything you offer you will be competing with others who offer something similar. But the more you narrow down your niche the less competition you will have and the more likely you will get people truly interested. This is why you want to narrow down your market. It’s also extremely more resourceful. Instead of taking the time to post a lot of short comments on a 1,000 different types of manga websites, it would likely be more beneficial to write 10 really good posts on 10 Naruto fan sites. And if you contribute such a good post that the author of the site recommends your tutorial then his audience could become your audience.
If you advertise then keep in mind the single most important factor in a successful advertisement is the element of self interest. It has to offer the audience something they want. If it has information they want about a subject they take interest in then they will take notice. If it is just funny then they will laugh and move on. If it is surprising then they may take interest temporarily but your ad will soon lose it’s Influence on them. It has to send a clear message of self interest. If possible you might also want to use words that have been proven to work like, “Free,” or “New,” or “How-to…” If you are writing articles on your website then you can also use these techniques there. To find out more about the power of writing visit http://www.CopyBlogger.com.
Making connections like this is the key to marketing. Send a clear message to the people who you know are interested. That’s how you get a response. Each person who visits your website is a channel to other people. If you impress a person who has his own big audience then by making one connection with them you open up a channel through which you can make many more connections.
You have to please your conscience, you’re artistic self, you’re audience, and perhaps even your producer/employer. Sometimes by pleasing one you naturally please the others. Your producer/supervisor wants to please the client. The client wants to please his audience. So by trying to please the audience you will automatically be working towards pleasing your supervisor. If your audience shares your taste then you should work to please your own tastes. If you are an independent artist and producing your own work then you don’t have a supervisor or client anyways.
Marketing takes time. It is like the faith of a mustard seed. It starts small but has the potential to grow big. There is really no other way than to just post your work and post comments on other people’s communities. The only question is where do you get started? Feel free to upload your work to our forum and wait to see what all the other artists in our forums have to say. If you have questions then post them and the entire http://www.PathoftheArtist.com community will have a chance to respond.
4. Management : Be Prepared to Make it Big.
Take a look at the websites I mentioned earlier and see just how many artists are getting connected through online interaction. Their skills are improving dramatically faster than the rest of the art world because of the constant interaction with fellow artists. Over time they will receive more attention and get more job offers. If they are smart they’ll even be able to capitalize on their online presence. These are the tools of today’s artists. If you don’t join then you’ll get left behind.
If you surf the art communities I’m sure eventually you will find a new artist that challenges what you thought possible. If you look at that artist’s links you may find a number of other artists on the same level. If you are not careful it can become overwhelming. With so much competition how can we stand a chance? This thought has occurred to me many times, but the reality is that there is room for a lot of talent out there. Our audience goes far beyond the art community. When you are selling a t-shirt with a good design, there are more than just artists who will be interested. With this in mind I would encourage you to look at other artists for inspiration, but don’t overdo it. If you get too caught up in developing your skills without developing your product then it could be difficult for you to capitalize on your designs. And if you get too caught up in the business of making money, then you’ve lost your fundamental purpose as an artist to begin with. With so much to consider it is difficult to manage your life as an artist. That’s why management is the most important part of the process.
No matter how talented you are there will always be someone else who can match or beat your skills. The more research you do the more you will find that there is a huge amount of artists who you may never be able to match in skill. But success does not come to the most talented. Success comes to those who are in the right place at the right time, to those who have the right knowledge, and who know the right people. Most artists focus only on improving their skill and neglect managing everything else in their life. This is a great mistake. Managing your time and taking the right actions with the right timing can make up for having less skill. If you have a job, then your employer wants to see the work done before the deadline. If you get the skill to get the work done consistently on time then he will gladly hire you over anyone with more skill if they can’t match your timing. Even to get hired you probably knew the right person and he recommended you at the right time. Maybe you were searching the right job sites at the right time.
Laziness is like poison to success. Lazy people typically end up doing the same amount of work but without getting the reward. By following directions and getting things done on time you will find more money, resources, and more opportunities open up to you than the lazy guy next to you who ends up working just as hard if not harder.
It’s also important that you do things according to the times. During the renaisance the most recent technology was the printing press. The Dutch artists who created print block drawings that could easily be reprinted quickly became the most popular artist of their time. Today the most significant technology of our day is the internet, and those who jump on will quickly become far more successful than everyone else. When it comes to using new technology in new ways you have to know the right people. During the renaisance there were two kinds of people who had an advantage over everyone else — those who could read and those who could make copies. These two groups of people were very valuable people to know. Today you need to be close to those who really know what’s going on. These groups of people are not the type to broadcast what they know or how valuable their service is to everyone. If everyone knows then they lose their edge. Discovering the secrets of what really takes place behind the scenes is a real treasure and only those who value knowledge will be able to appreciate it.
Unless you already knew most of what I’ve written in the previous chapters and have already been putting everything to practice, then you’ll probably need to develop yourself and your work for at least three years and a half years before you can really cause a stir in the online community. That may sound very specific but if you study enough you will be able to see that this is part of a common pattern in people’s lives. For many it may take longer. Your learning will never really end, but being able to perform professionally requires a significant amount of training.
If your audience is not necessarily other artists then your work has to have some entertainment value. You may have to develop your story telling skills, or at least be able to clearly express your message. If your audience is other artists then you have to show that you have more skill than most and inspire them. You have to push yourself to get better and better until other artists want to learn from you or are envious of your work. That takes time. It also requires self discipline. But on your own it is very difficult. It’s human nature for us to get inspired and then fizzle out and give up over time. The one thing that helps us to keep pushing ourselves is having the support of fellow artists. That’s why I believe that one of the most important factors in making it on your own is being part of a challenging art community.
Try, Try, and Try Again
If you’ve developed your art into assets that can bring in income and you’re steadily opening up connections and channels with your potential audience then the fourth step is to keep repeating the process in different ways until you find success. Success may come quickly, and it may not. If it doesn’t come right away don’t worry. As long as you are sure that you are providing something that people will take interest in and you are steadily making it possible for them to find out about it then you can be sure that success will eventually come. The key to true success is preparing yourself and getting ready to capitalize on your popularity when it suddenly hits. You must prepare before the floods of people come. If you are not ready before then it will be too late to hold your audience’s attention for a sustainable amount of time.
Many websites these days make it possible to receive feedback from your viewers. Blogs allow for visitors to leave comments, myspace allows for friends to leave comments, and it’s pretty easy to leave your email on the site for your viewers to contact you. You can also add a forum to your site. It’s important to have some feedback from your viewers so that you can find ways to make your site better.
There are many ways that you could fail if you are not fully prepared. If a website editor of a huge website suddenly posts a link to your site along with a strong recommendation for all his viewers to check out your site then you could suddenly get bombarded with viewers. At that point you need to have your merchandize ready to sell, you need to have a host server who can handle tons of traffic, and you need to give the viewers a reason to visit again later on. If you don’t have a host server that can handle a ton of traffic then your website will crash and be unavailable. If you don’t have any advertisers set up or any commodities for sale on your site, then you won’t make any money off of this sudden flood of traffic. And if you don’t give the viewers a reason to visit again or at least a reason to join your newsletter, podcast, RSS feed, or any other form of messaging system, then you will be nothing more than a one night success. Successful one day, unsuccessful once again the next day. Your day could come, but you have to be ready for it.
The Tipping Point
The tipping point is a reference to a famous monkey experiment. In this experiment they were observing monkeys who eat fruit from off the beach. They always ate the fruit covered in sand but one day a monkey found some fruit out in the water. After noticing how much better the fruit tastes with the sand washed off the monkey began to rinse his fruit out in the water from that day forward. The monkey did this day in and day out and then one day another monkey copied him. From that day forward they both washed their fruit. One monkey after another slowly found out about the fruit washing over the next couple months or so. Then one day after a certain number of monkeys were doing this suddenly all of the monkeys on the entire island suddenly began washing their fruit. What was unusual behavior suddenly became very common among the entire group. This is used to explain how in marketing it seems that even though people may be finding out about your site slowly one by one that at some point there will suddenly come a flood of people. So just keep working and pushing your product until you reach the tipping point. And as I said before, use that time to prepare for the point at which your traffic will dramatically increase.
The Ultimate Goal – True Happiness
I mentioned earlier that you need to define success for yourself so that you know what you are working towards. My hope is that all of you will find freedom, happiness, and fulfillment in your work. It is impossible to express the joy of finding satisfaction in the work of your hands, or seeing your creations bear its own fruit. In the industry I found a minimal amount of these virtues among myself and my coworkers. Our pursuit of fulfillment got lost in our narrow minded desire to get approval from supervisors.
Joy is derived from interaction with a counterpart. If you take joy in doing your work then your work is your counterpart. If you take joy in seeing others apreciate your work, then they are your counterpart. Ultimately you have to please your conscience, you’re artistic self, you’re audience, and perhaps even your producer/employer to find success. Sometimes by pleasing one you naturally please the others. Your producer/supervisor wants to please the client. The client wants to please his audience. So by trying to please the audience you will automatically be working towards pleasing your supervisor and his/her client. If your audience shares your tastes then you should work to please your own tastes. If you have to sacrifice the joy you take in doing your artwork in order to please someone else then be careful that your work does not become completely meaningless. If by pleasing one counterpart you can also please all the others, then who should we ultimately try to please?
There is a rewarding feeling you get when you please your supervisor. But it probably does not compare to the joy you take in impressing yourself with your creation. Seeing your audience’s eyes light up when they see your work is another kind of joy. For many this is a much greater joy. Some artists never see their audience’s reaction so even though that joy exists for some it is not a common experience for all. There is also joy in making money. I have impressed myself a number of times with my own artwork. I have also taken joy in seeing others react positively to my work. And I have been making money off of my artwork since I was 12 years old. But in my experience there is one joy that far exceeds them all. When I create something that truly expresses my heartfelt thankfulness and love towards God I suddenly get the inspiration or feeling that God is smiling at me. If you have not experienced this before than there is no way for you to understand until you try it. For me, pleasing God is the ultimate purpose of my art. If it pleases Him then it pleases me also. If I can make the life of others better with my artwork then I think that also pleases God. Many people are only trying to please their clients because their clients have the resources that they need. If you believe in God then consider this. Who has more resources than God? If you do your work to please God, then will God not provide the resources for you to continue your work? For me all other considerations disappear when thinking in this way.
If I have to sacrifice everything else in order to please God, then that is what I have to do. If you believe in God then how do you think He will react when you place someone else’s opinion priority over his? Even the owner of a company would be offended over such an offense. The owner of the company has the power to promote and demote any of your supervisors. So how could you follow your supervisor’s opinion over the owner’s if he should choose to get involved?
God is very involved in our lives and we would be wise to consider His opinion. For many people it is difficult to imagine that God would be very involved in our lives. As storytellers we know that a story can be told from the first person point of view, from third person point of view, from the narrator’s point of view, and from the all knowing omnipotent writer’s point of view. As the reader you can see and hear what the characters are doing and saying. An insightful reader can even tell what the characters are thinking. The characters themselves are completely clueless to the fact that you are there seeing and hearing everything. And their lives are determined by the author who they also have no idea exists. Characters are so ignorant that they may even act surprised when sudden tragedy takes place. To a character that gets into a car accident it is completely random. But for the author the car accident is a critical point in the overall scheme of the story. Character driven storytellers create characters and cause them to interact, but may not have a predetermined ending for the story. They allow the chemistry between the characters to determine the flow and plot of the story. Stephen King wrote a book about how to write and said that he often has no idea how his stories will end. In this way God is the author of our lives and His attention is entirely focused on what we will do next. As an artist or a storyteller is that so hard to believe?
I did not write this book to express my ideas. I am writing this book to relate my experiences. If I had not done it myself I would not have anything to write except theory. Until you try it for yourself to see if it produces the same results you can not really say if what I am writing is true or not. Life is not theory. Life is experience. Those who don’t try it will never experience it. To them it might as well not even exist. But for those who experience something, they have no doubt that it exists.
Chapter 5 – What do I need to Make It On My Own?