I was brought up to believe that if you had a talent you would have a greater chance of being successful in life, because the talent would speak for itself. Back in the 1970’s and 80’s with the overall global population being much less than it is now and the prospect of communicating with some-one on the other side of the world in the blink of an eye was still the stuff of Star-Trekian fiction, that may well have been true. If you were good at something, really good at something, you tended to stick out like a sore thumb because guaranteed you’d be the only person with that skill for miles.
The explosion of social media through the incredible developments in technology since my days of excitement and wonder playing with a ZX81 for the first time means that any-one with or ‘without’ talent can put themselves ‘out there’, and that talent, exceptional though it may or may not be, counts for very little these days.
“Disgruntled writer/artist” you might utter at this point. And you’d be correct in your judgement. But I hasten a guess that you too secretly know this to be true as a fellow blogger and would-be entrepreneur. After all we rely on the generosity of others in order to build our success.
Maintaining three blogs in what is for me an already very busy and stressful day is a task and a half I can tell you. However, I know that keeping my ‘talents’ alive is very important for my own development and, let’s be honest, my sanity. Not to mention that I am expecting at least one of those skills to make me money. So I find it immensely frustrating that I have to spend so much of my precious spare time working hard to market myself, when the cyber-world is full to bursting with billions of other people trying the same thing. And when I’d rather be writing just for the fun of it. Let it be known at this point that I abhor statistics. As those of you who took the time to read my post ‘Whatever happened to Elmer Kidd’ will be well aware.
After studying the Social Sciences and the generation of statistical data as part of my degree program, when I already had a dim view of numbers prior to that, and then to learn that in the academic world statistics are treated with a high level of conjecture anyway (though not in politics, or down the pub, or on a social forum where statistics equal facts), numbers thusly, mean very little to me. Equally, if you quote statistics at me in order to prove a point I will suddenly become deaf and fall asleep. So my references to statistics at all tend to be broad and sweeping, capturing the essence of what I am aiming to convey, in line with my cultural linguistic heritage. Just so you know.
My frustration reaches a pinnacle in the evolution of the monkey inside my head (you remember, the one with the little red fez and the cymbals?), when I refer specifically to my jewellery business, that in all honesty has been about as successful as a parachuting donkey heading toward a snowy forested outcrop in the middle of the Pyrenees! No-one is going to hear you calling out in your timid french accent (no offense to the french here, I have french blood too. And of course not all donkeys are necessarily french. Nor do I advocate cruelty to donkeys!). I have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to tick all the right boxes in marketing myself as designer and maker of couture jewellery, but it would seem that there are just not enough hours in the day to do what’s required to get noticed enough for people to want to part with their money.
Again I find myself bashing my head against a very thick wall of over-saturation on the cyber-net. There are simply too many people with equal or better talent trying to do the same thing as me. Not to mention all those people that are under-cutting me, or worse, stupid enough to undercut even themselves! I can only assume that many if not most of them are equally unsuccessful in that case. Being that I like to advocate the notion of taking a hint, I think I may do just that and stick to the writing which earns me nothing other than pleasure. I’m good at that at least.
And if you do find yourself wondering what kind of highly unsuccessful jewellery a person such as myself might make here is the link to my other, other blog: MagiRose Designs.
(Imagine my surprise when I actually found a picture of a parachuting donkey on the internet!)
4 thoughts on “How much is your talent really worth?”
Success has a different measure these days… a measure that’s hard to get excited about.
Unfortunately you happen to be right about that.
Talent is still as relevant as ever… the question is, what percentage of success has ever hinged on talent? There are so many other ingredients (including luck), that it’s mind boggling. I am going through the same thing with my Etsy store. I’m using a skill that I’ve spent 12 years honing to create things that I love and that I know there’s a market for… but – I have no chance of breaking even on my investment any time soon.
As far as people undercutting your (and their own) prices. I completely get it. It is so hard trying to value your talent and time in money. If I spend $50 on supplies and 23 hours creating something, I’m not selling it for $55. I’ve thought about using my other blog to show my step by step process, so customers can see the work that goes into the product… but that would slow me down even more. Catch 22… and hemorrhaging money.
I have to say that I’m finding it difficult to sell anything at all on my Etsy store or any of my other online stores for that matter. Unfortunately mass production has raised people’s expectations of getting a bargain, so to make a living as an artisan has become incredibly tough. Also certain online auction sites have long since set the tone of what people should expect from an online seller. The artisan has a hard enough time getting recognised, let alone then trying to make sales. It is difficult to quantify and qualify the amount of hard work and high level of skill that it takes to produce a good piece of work. Like you, I thought perhaps if I had a blog whereby I could show processes and such that it might encourage sales, but so far I’ve no luck with that either. Maybe it’ll change, there’s the hope anyway. The funny thing is the amount I charge for my jewellery, as much as some people may balk at the prices, barely covers my overheads and the money that I have invested in the business over the past five years. As I said, I should perhaps just stick to writing for pleasure, you never know some-one may decide they would like to pay me for what I love doing! 🙂