Social media influencers often talk about how they quit their job to pursue their dream. And then they try to sell that dream to you. It is great if you hate your job, and you are passionate about something. But ask yourself — do you really hate your job? Or have you been gaslighted in believing that? I am not saying that content creation or freelancing as a career option isn’t lucrative.
But it isn’t for everyone.
However harsh it may sound, the reality is it isn’t all roses and sunshine. The struggle is real, and it takes a lot of work — a lot more mental stress to create content every single day. Not all of them talk about it. And certainly not as much as required.
No one tells you that all the hard work doesn’t guarantee success, so you have to accept the uncertainty that comes with it. Some of them, in fact, want you to believe so they can keep their shop running and fuel your dreams with all the optimism.
And I am not against any of that, but it bothers me they don’t always show you the full picture, and that misleads you in choosing a path you didn’t want to.
We have a survivorship bias
A large majority of the creators struggle to make a paltry income through their content alone. On a platform like Medium, around 7% to 9% of all writers on the platform make $100 or more in a month. We pay more weight to those who have achieved success overlooking those that did not.
But the theory of probability tells us that there is a much greater chance of us being in the pool with the other 90% than in the top 10% — it’s just maths. We don’t want to accept this reality.
I am not being a pessimist, but I want you to make a more realistic choice when deciding to give up on your full-time job that pays your bills and puts a roof on your head. That job can be anything, but a creator’s job is tougher than an office job. It’s not easy or rosy. Being a digital entrepreneur may pay nothing in the initial days.
Know what you want
Ask yourself — are you in it for money, flexibility, fame, or freedom of expression? It would help you in making the right decision. Content creation is a long-term game, and it rewards those who are in it for a long haul. Successful creators often talk about the freedom you will have and the money you can make. But they don’t tell you much about the effort they put in to get there. Your day job ends once you shut your laptop or wrap up from your work, but for a creator, there are no fixed hours.
Ask anyone who is successful, and they’d tell you the long hours they spend to create a small 5-minute video or write a short 500-word article. And it’s a cycle — so you ideate, create, post and repeat. You keep doing that, hoping to get a small pie of the attention economy.
You are never on a holiday. Even when you are not creating, you are constantly thinking about it. The lines between your personal and professional self are quite blurry. While it is fulfilling and rewarding, it is challenging, especially when you are beginning.
Know what it takes
In an office job, you are part of a team — there’s less accountability on any one individual. And the pay is certain. You know exactly how much money you would get at the end of the month. But as a digipreneur you are on your own and the pay is uncertain. When you are starting your journey, you are a one-man army — you need to figure out everything on your own. You may have an advantage in one skill set, but you may not know it all. You need to learn as you advance through the course.
You need to be a generalist rather than a specialist. You should know how to write, video-shoot, edit and promote all by yourself. This is not a discouragement post. I don’t want to demotivate you from choosing your passion over a shitty day job that you hate. Rather, I want you to make an informed decision about your career — whichever field you may choose. There is no easier alternative.
Struggle, time-pressure, and uncertainty are a part and parcel of anything that pays. You don’t have to choose between career and passion. You can always pursue your passion with no income expectations. That will give you the confidence that you are not putting all eggs in one basket. In fact, most creators have multiple streams of income. You should have at least one steady source of income until you figure out the other ways you can make money.
Who said you have to have one passion?
You don’t have to hate your current job because some 20-year-old creator who has never worked in a corporate before says so. You may pursue your passion in your role itself. You may be a graphic designer who loves creating logos for your company.
Or you may be a trainer who loves talking and presenting to an audience. In my current job, I advise teams on risk management and it gives me immense satisfaction to do that. I also love to be in a writer’s community. These are two separate things and they are both my passions.
Choose to do a few things for pleasure and not money
If you like to write, write a masterpiece that you are proud of. If you love to play guitar, play for the love of it. Don’t make everything your job. I once tried to emulate the travel influencers.
My husband and I went for a weekend trip and I decided to vlog about it — the sights, the activities, the food, the people. It was a task for me — I wasn’t enjoying the trip as I was constantly recording and re-recording. It was stressful and countered our idea of relaxation. This is not to say video bloggers don’t have fun.
I admire the content they create and how passionate they are. It is just not for me. I don’t want to make travel work for myself. I want to keep the two separate for now. Maybe I might change my mind when I am not working full time. Make your own decision. Don’t follow me or any other blogger because they say so. What worked for them may or may not work for you. You decide based on the risk appetite you have not what your eyes and ears make you believe.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown out your own inner voice — Steve Jobs