It’s no doubt that this global pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world. Families are being torn apart and the world is becoming a very different place. It’s been well documented that this latest crisis has been particularly challenging for the self-employed and small business owners, many of whom have seen their cashflow drop to zero literally overnight.
As you may already know, music was my first love! Since the age of 16, I had the privilege of working in the music industry and over the years had many different roles. From background vocalist, right the way through to tour and artist management, I’ve dabbled in it all. In speaking with with my friends who rely on the music industry for their primary source(s) of income, I’m acutely aware of the dire situation that many of these PHENOMENALLY talented individuals find themselves in.
I’m a firm believer, however, that in every crisis, there is also opportunity! The reality is, some of us will emerge on the other side of this as winners, while others will be devastated.
However, there is hope! By the end of this post, you’ll realise that you have hidden talents, neglected and underdeveloped skills that you can monetise to help you through this difficult season. My question to you is, “What’s in your hand?”
I’ve put together a few tips designed to help creatives who are now forced to find new ways or working or go hungry! The aim of this post is to inspire and empower you so that you are able to come to your own rescue, in case the support you desperately need, never comes!
Although right now I’m speaking directly to those in the creative industries, these principles are universal and can be applied to ALL of us, regardless of what we did for a living prior to COVID-19.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Let me teach you how to fish!
Conduct a Personal & Professional Skills Audit
A skills audit is a written document created by yourself to both list and assess the skills you possess. It’s a working document that needs to be updated at regular intervals. Some may choose to do this annually, while others (like me), do it more frequently.
Many people find it a little challenging to assess their own abilities. It’s also important to note that we often fail to see ourselves the way others view us. Remember, you’ve been living with yourself your entire life. As a result, it’s easy to take yourself for granted. There will be skills you possess that won’t seem like much of a big deal to you but to someone who doesn’t have that ability, it is something they’d be willing to pay you for.
This task requires you to be honest with yourself. Underselling yourself completely defeats the object.
So how do you actually do it? I recommend taking the following steps: –
- At this point, the objective is simply to create a list. Focus on what you CAN do. For now, what you cannot do, or what needs improvement, is irrelevant.
- Make a list of your accomplishments and abilities. Start with your education and/or qualifications.
- Think about the jobs you’ve had in the past or projects you’ve been involved in or the last gig you were on. What was your role? What responsibilities did you have?
- Remember that EVERYTHING counts. Did your role as a Musical Director develop your interpersonal skills? As a singer having to learn twenty songs for your last tour, did you have to use your time management skills? Are you good with Logic? Do you really know your way around Microsoft Office, Pages or Keynote? Are you an amazing communicator? Are you highly organised? No matter how minor you think a skill may be, write it down!
- Once you have exhausted your list, I’d recommend reaching out to those in your circle whose opinion you trust. Ask them what skills they believe you have. They are likely to be able to add to your growing list. If you don’t have good people in your circle, it could be worth speaking to someone like me, a coach! Someone who knows how to ask you the right questions to help you discover and uncover what’s inside you.
- Now, it’s time to critically assess each skill you’ve got on your list. Perhaps you can use a scale of 1 – 10. 1 = requires improvement, 10 = mastered. Honesty is key!
- Create a shortlist of all the skills you’ve rated 7 and above.
Congratulations! 🥳 Your skills audit is now complete. Remember to revisit this document at regular intervals. Monthly? Quarterly? Annually? The choice is yours.
Study and Upskill
One of the most amazing things about the human mind has got to be our capacity to learn. The fact that you can learn ANYTHING you don’t currently know should excite you! I believe that education is a lifelong journey. Formal education definitely has its place but don’t underestimate the power of logging on to YouTube and watching videos on how to do just about anything. Plus, its free! Make a commitment to dedicating a specific number of hours each week on learning and personal development. Life is about growth! We all have room for improvement but we must be intentional about refining our skills and moving forward. Remaining still is a myth. If you are standing still while the world is moving forward, you’re really moving backwards. Learning new skills can only be of benefit to you. Improving your existing skills can only help you to become better.
Brainstorm & Create a Mind Map
Now it’s time to really get those creative juices going! Again, this is not the time to decide to qualify your ideas. It’s about capturing your thoughts and getting them on to paper.
Time to analyse the market and ask yourself some questions: –
- What challenges or problems are people facing right now?
- What do people want or need?
- Going back to the skills you possess, rated 7 and above, which of your top skills could provide solutions to the problems you identified?
- How can you position yourself to become their ideal solution?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What would people be willing to pay for?
- How quickly could you meet people’s needs?
- Which skills could I bundle together to create a package?
- Which skills could be marketed independently as a stand-alone service?
Market Your New Products & Services
Maybe you’ve been killing the live music scene for the past 5 – 10 years, maybe you’re new to the industry but most people know you as an up-and-coming musician/singer. In many cases, people are completely unaware as to what other professional services or products you are able to provide. It is essential that you get over the fear or what other people MIGHT think and let people know what else you have on offer.
Have you ever experienced a dead season in the industry? You know when your phone just isn’t ringing and no one is really trying to book you? “Ah man, I didn’t even know you were about. I thought you were still on the road with…”. Sound familiar? People often make assumptions about your availability for work based on how busy they think you are.
The same is true when you are on the journey to diversifying your income and creating new income streams. Aside from being a dope sound engineer, you may also be an amazing graphic designer. While you’ve spent most of your time playing keys, you may also a computer whiz! You won’t even come up on people’s radar when they need a service you offer unless you tell them!
Spread the word! Having social media at your disposal can be so effective. If you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend creating a LinkedIn profile – a professional social network. I have recruiters and headhunters contacting me via LinkedIn because I’ve been intentional about creating a profile that showcases my skills and experience. Give it a try!
Pay the Price
Life has taught me that we seldom get something for nothing. There’s almost always a price to be paid – and I’m not just talking about money. In many cases, there may not be a huge monetary cost to diversifying your income, however, there will inevitably a requirement for an investment of other resources, such as your time, effort and energy.
You may have to ‘show up’ consistently and persistently even during the times you don’t really feel like it. You may have to change your circle, you may have to sacrifice some of your comforts to create the time and space required to invest in yourself.
The steps you must take to diversify your income and generate new revenue streams are simple but not always easy. How tenacious will you be? Are you able to endure the giggles or snide remarks from people who don’t understand your vision or what you’re trying to achieve?
Here’s the harsh reality, both excellence and success & mediocrity and failure have a price tag. Since you’re going to be paying a price either way, it’s time you asked yourself which you can really afford.
Creating the life you desire may not be the easiest of tasks but it certainly is achievable. If the potential reward outweighs the temporary pain you may have to endure, I’d recommend that you pay the price.
Have you completed a skills audit? Discovered new skills that you didn’t realise you had? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it. I’d love to hear from you!