The problem? It's an extremely unpredictable way to make a living. For every successful creator, there are thousands who make nothing or almost nothing.
So, how do you make the unpredictable, predictable? Here's what I learned:
See, there are two very distinct worlds of how to make a living in our universe.
The first world is the one we're mostly familiar with, where you follow a predictable career path.
Say you want to make a living as a programmer, a doctor, a plumber, an English teacher, etc. If you do certain things (learn to code, get a specific degree, etc.) you can increase the odds of getting what you want to very close to 100%.
1. Unlike Twitter, I almost never open the Clubhouse app. Occasionally I get a notification that someone I follow is speaking, and I get the option to drop in. The push system adds random pleasant surprises to my life.
2. I hate parties. The crowds, the small talk, the dressing up, the inability to avoid certain people... ugh.
But I like the idea of parties: An almost free opportunity for chance encounters that could lead to many things.
Clubhouse is my party substitute without the downsides.
Which's the most important skill you should learn if you want to work for yourself? ...
I don't think you learn this by reading about it, but by becoming determined to figure out what motivates people to take out their wallet and pay for things.
I started by observing my own behavior when I came to make purchasing decisions. Whenever I found myself choosing to pay for something (or choosing not to), I would try to reflect on why I was making that decision.
1/ "What's the best career advice you've ever received?"
The best advice I received was paradoxically the worst advice! But it made me realize something important.
It was my 4th year at Amazon, when a career mentor told me that everyone wants just two things from their job:
2/ Making a lot of money, and making a big impact in the world.
3/ My mentor assured me that if I kept it up, I will almost certainly achieve both, and if I worked really hard I will likely contribute to something that might even be remembered forever — maybe even have my own Wikipedia page!
The idea that you can only tweet about one topic is a myth.
I don't just imagine some topic I want to cover, and then tweet about it.
No, I tweet about the things that I happen to be dealing with at the moment. Examples: 👇
Feb-Apr 2019: I had just left full-time employment to work for myself, so I tweeted about how I prepared myself for the plunge, how I managed my personal finances while living off my savings, how I set myself up for business, and so on.
May-Sep 2019: I settled on the idea to build Userbase, so I tweeted about how I came up with the idea, development costs, trademark issues, trying to buy the .com domain (and eventually succeeding), and also a lot about AWS because I was using it for Userbase.
I've been in the info product business for 4 months now, and I averaged $27K/mo in profit so far.
I still can't pretend I'm an expert in this profession, but here are a few things I learned so far.
A thread. 👇
If you make yourself part of the product, you create an uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant.
Amazon lists 2000+ books on AWS, but none are about my perspective. Think about what people might want to learn from you specifically.
When you're part of the product, promoting yourself will also promote your product. And you can promote yourself by teaching what you already know. Make others interested in learning from you, and you'd be promoting your products before you even create them!
If you feel you’re about to lose your job soon (involuntarily or voluntarily), here are some things I did just before I left mine.
(US examples, but likely applicable everywhere.)
1. Disability insurance
The best type is one that pays in case you can’t do your job anymore, for any health reason. For them to verify what “your job is”, it’s easier if you’re employed full-time. Also, lack of steady income is more risk for insurance abuse, so premiums go up.
Highly recommended you get disability insurance while you still have a full-time job.
My disability insurance pays $10K/mo until 65 if I can’t program anymore, and there’s a 1 year period from disability to first payment. Premium is fixed at $2K/yr, and I started it at 35.
Before you start thinking about building an audience, you need to build some credibility. People will only listen if you've demonstrated some credibility on the topic.
A few examples that worked for me: 👇
When I had 0 followers, I wrote about why I abandoned a cushy career in big tech. I had automatic authority on this story, since I was the subject.
Documenting why I left all that behind earned me some credibility on how to reason about lifestyle design. medium.com/@dvassallo/onl…
A few days later, I described how I organized my finances as I was preparing to transition to self-employment. I received 200 questions over email/DMs from people thinking about doing the same thing, and that earned me some credibility in personal finance. medium.com/@dvassallo/fro…
Gaining followers is a funnel. Almost everyone who chooses to follow you will do so after visiting your profile. In your bio and/or pinned tweet, tell me something interesting about you, and what I'd get by following you.
Following someone is free (and unfollowing is easy), so you don't need a superpower in persuasion skills. But at least ask yourself if you'd follow yourself from just reading your bio and pinned tweet. If not, work on it until you do.
15 minutes of work (the sheet already existed) got me hundreds of new followers here.
2. When I was researching product ideas for my business, I had one idea that required precise understanding of EC2's network performance. I open sourced my testing tool along with all the data I collected: github.com/dvassallo/s3-b…
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All the source code for this is on GitHub. This is a prod-ready template for setting up a new AWS environment from scratch, and the book explains what every line does, and why it’s done like that. github.com/good-parts/aws…