Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what's waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It's yours! [Troy]

Creators have a dilemma.

We want the freedom to create whatever, whenever we want...

But the market will only compensate us for what IT wants.

This leaves your average creator (whether entrepreneur, writer, or artist) in a particularly uncomfortable position, with only two real options.

Option 1: Create what you want, ignore the market…

Many creators do just that.  They build for themselves and completely ignore the rest of the world.

There’s only one problem with this: it rarely pays off.

Yes, there are outliers.  But that’s exactly the point: they’re outliers.

If the market doesn’t like what you create, you bear the burden.

‘Do what you love’ sounds fun and sexy, until you realize you’ve been living on your mom’s couch for 3 years.

Option 2: Create for the market, ignore what you want…

Many other creators (probably the vast majority) choose this route.

They ignore their curiosities, inspirations, and passions, and build widgets instead.

There’s only one problem with this: it comes at a cost.

How long can we supply the demand for something we don’t care about?  How long can we commit to creating something personally valueless?  How long until the money’s not worth being a robot in the robot factory?

A False Dichotomy

Of course, this is a false dichotomy.

It doesn’t take a human geographer to realize there are other options besides ‘starving artist’ and ‘miserable cog’ when it comes to the life we choose for ourselves.

Just look at how many starving cogs and miserable artists there are in the world…

I kid (sort of…).

So why do we do it?

Simple:

We create this dichotomy, first and foremost, because it’s easier to process the world this way.  The brain can only process so many things at one time, so simplifying things makes the brain happy (we avoid sensory overload).

Second – and much more insidiously – we create this dichotomy to create an out

The Enemy wants to keep us stagnate.  An ‘either / or’ dichotomy with seemingly brutal consequences is the perfect weapon to make this happen.

If the world is a zero sum game, if it’s either win or lose, if it’s either me or him…well, better reason to just stay put, keep our heads down, and blend into the rest of the tribe

Now that we have a good, rational reason to sit still, we are off the hook for not taking action.  We have our out.

The Real Creator's Dilemma

But of course this out isn’t really an out.

It’s submitting for comfort and safety (or so we think…).

The real dilemma isn’t: do I do what I love, or do I do what makes me money?

This dichotomy doesn’t exist – it never did.

The real dilemma is: do we acquiesce to a life and lifestyle undesired because it’s comfortable and safe?

Or…

Or do we take the uncomfortable, uncertain, and difficult path…the one we know won’t be easy, clear, or guranteed…the one fraught with hardship, setbacks and failure…

Because we know it will be worth it?

Take it. It’s yours.

You can do important work and make money from it.

It’s possible, I promise you this.

I meet new people doing it every day.

More importantly, they’re doing it their way:  they’re picking the route, choosing their packing list, and drawing the map as they go along.  No, it’s not easy - but it was never supposed to be.

The same reality can be yours.

It’s waiting for you, just beyond that beach…

The question is: will you take it?

p.s. interested in taking the beach, but rather do it with an army?  I'm writing a new book that will teach you how to assemble and lead a team to take the beach (and own your market). Sign up here.

 

Start, finished, and shipped in Cape Town, S. Africa (after hanging out with penguins!)

Total writing time: 5:30 hrs

Finally.

After 6+ months of testing, tracking and recording...

3 months of intensive research, study, and compiling...

And 1 month of all-consuming writing, editing, scrapping...and writing some more...

I've finished my new book:

The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing

The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing: How You Can Share Your Work and Still Make a Profit

Author Tom Morkes delivers. Some readers might think anyone advocating sharing and generosity advocate wearing "KICK ME" signs on our backs as people steal our creations. Not Tom. Instead of some BS-ing cheerleader long on promises and short on specifics, this guy creates a detailed game plan anyone could win with.

- Tom Owens, author | 101 PO'ed Poems: Frustrations in Free Verse

If you've been following me for a while, you already know what this book is about.

For new readers, here are some links to get you up to speed on the topic of Pay What You Want, and why it's important:

1. Pay What You Want: The Ultimate Sales Strategy (external link)

This was a post I did for Medium.com.  It's kind of gone viral. People are tweeting Justin Bieber about it.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

2. Pay What You Want Pricing with Tom Morkes on the Content Warfare Podcast (external link)

I sit down with marketing expert Ryan Hanley to discuss why Pay What You Want is one of the most powerful marketing techniques available.

3. 3 Ways Pay What You Want Leads to More Profit than Fixed Pricing

I show you 3 case studies of people crushing it using PWYW pricing.

4. Get Unstuck and Start Making Money Now (external link)

I sit down with marketer Tema Frank to discuss my origins in the online world and how I got started using Pay What You Want pricing.

5. Why I Give it All Away

This is my reason WHY for what I do / create / write.

6. How Letting People Choose Their Price Can Make You a Millionaire

A case study of my first Pay What You Want product: 2 Days With Seth Godin.

***

The free resources above should get you started.

If you're at all interested in the subject and would prefer a more in-depth, yet practical look at the pricing technique (and how to apply it to your own business, writing or art), definitely check out the book.

I put my blood, sweat and tears into this one - I promise you that.

If this book isn't your style, but you'd like to support my creative work, any and all contributions are welcome.

So is sharing (I even made it easy):

If you're an entrepreneur, check out @tmorkes new guide The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing: https://gum.co/pwywguide [click to tweet]

Check out this killer new book by @tmorkes: The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing: https://gum.co/pwywguide [click to tweet]

Want to sell your art? Try giving it away to make a profit instead The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing https://gum.co/pwywguide [tweet]

The best sales and marketing book since Cialdini's Influence. Get it: https://gum.co/pwywguide @tmorkes [click to tweet]

Okay, that last one is a little self-aggrandizing...but if you do tweet it, you are awesome and will have a place in my heart forever.

***

So if you're this far down on the page and still haven't bought a copy, seriously grab one:

The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing

buy now

Thanks so much for reading, and thanks so much for your support - it really does mean the world to me.

***

Started, finished and shipped on 25 November 2013 in Dunedin, New Zealand.  

Total writing time: 1.5 hours

Total time spent waiting for the massive upload that is 'The Complete Package' to finish: 5 hours (I'm not kidding)

A Train to the Arctic Circle

In 2006, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Russia.

At one point, toward the end of the semester, my friend and I had a brilliant idea – to visit the Arctic Circle.

In a spur of the moment decision, we hopped on a вокзал (train) to one of the most northern cities in western Russia: Мурманск (Murmansk).

We were on that train for close to 3 days (we made stops in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well).  On the last segment (the 1 day and 3 hour trip from St. Petersburg to Murmansk), I decided to pick up a book from the bookstore.  I was a little burned out from reading and studying Russian, so I picked up an English language book:

The Catcher in the Rye.

It’s been at least 7 years now since I’ve read the book, but one thing’s stuck with me since I read it...

Toward the end of the book, the protagonist hits his breaking point and makes this statement:

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be.”

Leading up to this monologue, the protagonist has been through a 3 day spiral of self-destruction: he gets kicked out of school, travels to New York City by himself, gets drunk, laughed at by women, punched in the stomach by a pimp…pretty much anything humiliating you think could happen to a person, it happens to this kid.

But at the end of the story, after all the terrible things he’s been through, the only thing he could see himself doing in life – the only thing he truly feels compelled to do - is to keep others from throwing themselves off a cliff.

Saving Others

Of course, the underlying meaning here isn’t hard to see.

What the protagonist is really saying is he wishes there was somebody that would stop him from going over the edge. 

But there’s not…or at least seemingly there’s not.

After everything the protagonist’s been through and moments before he runs away from home (until he goes off the proverbial cliff for good), the protagonist sees his little sister and decides to stay.

Why?

Because he wants to protect her.

The thing that inevitably keeps him from going over the edge isn’t somebody catching him, but making the personal choice to be the catcher - the protector – for someone else.

He’s finally made a deliberate choice to stop focusing on himself and instead recognize how he can truly live for someone else.

Encountering Providence

Here’s the interesting part: his little sister doesn’t need protecting.

She’s happy and safe; there’s nothing really wrong with her life.  She’s not running toward the cliff at all.

In reality, his little sister is the one protecting him.

By inspiring him to stick around town, to double down on his studies at a new school, and get his life straightened up, she’s saved him.

She’s his catcher in the rye.

And sometimes that’s how life works.  Those who we least expect to help us will be our motivation, our inspiration and our saviors.  Those who we seek to protect are actually our protectors.

Of course, in life we can’t plan for this to happen – it’s called providence.  It happens when we least expect it.

But it’s there – all that’s required from us to tap into providence is to keep our focus outward and to keep hope even when things get tough.

Who Are You Catching?

So when it comes to writing, business or just life in general, who are you focusing on?

Who are you writing for?  Who are you building your product for?  Who are you living for?

It’s an easy thing to live for yourself...at least at the start.

The only problem is this inevitably leads to bitterness, loneliness and anger.  When we fixate on ourselves, we get caught up in the rye, losing track of where we are in relation to the world.  We lose our perspective and running off the cliff can sometimes feel like the only solution.

But there’s another solution available to all of us - if we choose it.

It’s simple: live for others.

A couple things worth thinking about:

  1. When we finally get outside our own heads, we can begin to focus on those around us, those who need our help.  And whether they truly need our help or not, just that recognition – that others need help more than we do – can give sense and purpose to our lives.
  2. Every person, whether they recognize it or not, can inspire someone else.  The little sister in the story didn’t know she was inspiring her older brother – she just did.  You don’t have to actively seek to save others.  Sometimes, just by living a good life and setting an example, you inspire others to save themselves.

So if you're frustrated with your life, if your business is stuck, or if your art is uninspiring, ask yourself:

In your life, business and art, who are you catching?


Photo credit: Robb from morguefile.com

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