Come for the creativity, stay for the expertise

One of the gripes I’ve heard about people wanting a career as a creator is, it’s pretty much just foolishness. Dancing, attention seeking, and comedy. I can’t say it’s untrue, but it’s also an incredibly surface impression.

What’s less obvious is creators that don’t develop their careers come and go; sure, some people experience immense success and make millions from dancing, but most struggle and do not. 

A much more reliable, and scarce (and valuable!) career involves what Tyler Cowen describes in Average is Over as, “Intellectual property, or good ideas about what should be produced.” The latter half is the most interesting: what entails a good idea about what should be produced?

Why would a hotel pay a DJ money to provide an opinion on what music they play? Why would a company pay tens (hundreds?) of thousands for a linguist to name their products?

It’s because the person approaching the creator for their work trusts them. The creator has earned that trust through their content and creativity. Byrne Hobart writes, specifically about writing, “Writing is a form of marketing because it’s a way to show off what you know and how you think, and that’s a good way to meet good people.” 

If you’re going to create, you’d be really well off framing your work as some version of this: a creator as an expert. Come for the creativity, stay for the expertise. Learn to make people’s AWS bills smaller, then make people laugh, and you’ve got Corey Quinn. Learn to dance, then teach them how to use spreadsheets, and you’ve got Kat Norton.

There are a lot of people who are good at either one of them. But when you get good at both, that’s when you start unlocking your career’s full potential.

If you’re already an expert, and want to get more creative, check out Creative Doing.

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