Play to your strengths

Whale, by Melissa Averinos

What is it that you can do that others can’t?  What do you think is like falling off a log, it’s so damn easy?

Why aren’t you selling that?

No, really. Why not?

It seems like the simplest advice in the world:

  1. Figure out what you’re good at and enjoy
  2. Make sure it is something that others need or want
  3. Sell it to them

But you’d be surprised at how often you (yes, you) ignore this basic truth.

Here are some of the things you like to tell yourself instead:

  • It’s so easy to do, it’s not worth anything
  • Nobody really needs this
  • It’s so easy to do, people could teach themselves
  • Nobody really wants this
  • It’s wrong to make money off of something that is so easy to do

It’s this last one that I think lies at the heart of most creative people’s problems with making a living by doing what they do best: you think that “work” should be “hard.”

We have a hard time wrapping our heads around the idea that work — work that you get paid for and everything! — can be fun, can come naturally, can be truly enjoyable, day in and day out.

Or we get caught up in “filling in the gaps” — working like mad to balance our “soft” skills with “hard” ones.

(How come we always think the things we can do are “soft,” but the things that we can’t are “hard?” Let’s stop doing that.)

Sure, you’re a good painter, but you should really get better at accounting, so you can do your own bookkeeping.

Sure, you’re a great writer, but you should really learn how to code websites, so that you have a “marketable skill.”


Do what comes easy.  Do what you love. Find the people who need that thing.  Sell it to them.

It’s really, truly OK to make a living doing what comes naturally. I promise.

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