Thursday, 14 February 2013

How much do you value yourself?

A friend who is self employed, called me up excited that she had been offered a role with a publishing company—only hitch, they did not have money to pay her then, but if she were to come on board and help out then perhaps they would pay her in a few weeks or in a month’s time. Listening to her I realised that I myself have been in this position in the past—and when you are in it you never know how to react. The temptation is to reach out and take what is in sight, just so you can keep the illusion of being busy, of having a purpose. The mind is a nervous monkey and so if you keep your hands busy, it does not have time to think. Perhaps this is where she was coming from.
From the outside it was easier to see that she needed to step back and reconsider her options. If they did not have the money, shouldn’t she just wait till they had money before she joined them? Or tell them what her time was worth and negotiate with them to be paid in retrospect? Easier said than done, and when you are in it, its really tough to sit back and turn down something that has come your way, so what if it did not pay just now.
I have been guilty of the same on many occasions—giving before getting, seems to come naturally to me. As I was mulling over what to tell her I chanced upon this piece by Seth Godin, entrepreneur & blogger who I hugely respect: “The new economy often involves trading in things that don’t cost money. There’s no incremental cost in writing an essay, composing a song or making an introduction. Since it doesn’t cost money to play, we have the ability to give before we get.”  And this I truly believe in. 

So in my life as an author I have seen the work I create as something to be shared towards building my platform. I price my books at 99cents, to encourage new readers to try me, I spend time on social networks, connecting with those around the world, sharing thoughts, opinions and meeting some incredible people in the process.
Seth goes on to say “Tribes of talented individuals who are connected, mutually trustful and supported by one another are in a position to create a movement, to deliver items of value, to move ideas forward faster than.” Isn’t this what we within the Indie writing community practice?
Yet when I talk to many of my self-employed friends they emphasise that I need to value my time, my effort, my connections first. If I don’t value myself how will the others value me? And if they did not value their own time and charge for it, how would they survive?
So how does one find the balance? How does one form one’s own tribe by trading in that which is not just money, yet not be out of pocket? One way of course is to hold down a job, while you use your own time to find those connections that matter. Pretty solid approach, except that over a period of time, as you find your individuality you realise that you need a more independent platform(s) of self expression, and of course this needs to pay.
The other way is what John Purkiss and David Royston-Lee call the portfolio career in their best-selling Brand You, where you follow your different interests at the same time. An interesting option isn’t it? So you don’t have to stick to just one linear approach. You can define yourself in a more multi-stranded-fashion. Taking a leaf out of our own genetic programming, perhaps we can be more like our own DNA, weave in different strands of interest so that together they make a strong bundle? 

I can be a marketer and an author. All I have to do is first believe in myself, in my worth, in what only I can uniquely offer. And then put this into tangible words so that it is clear to the outside world too. A tall order but surely possible?
What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. It is indeed frustrating to be obliged to toil in one direction for a livelihood and then find the energy left to give so much in one's art, with little financial reward and the added need to develop a skin as thick as a rhinoceros to rise in the market against intense competition.

    Yes, no doubt one needs to multi-task, run the toil alongside the art.

    The History of art, from Toulouse Lautrec to Dickens, shows us that the rough and the smooth are too often inseparable but... may I venture to say, Laxmi, your work is not only your art but you have something of equal value - many years before you.

    Raymond Nickford