How much does a writer for your local advertising weekly earn? How much does J.K. Rowling earn?
What’s the reason for the difference?
In my view, there are primarily two reasons.
First, popularity. A lot more people read Rowling than the advertising rag. It’s only natural she earns more.
The second reason is a little more esoteric: uniqueness. Almost anyone who can string 50 words together can write for the advertiser. Only Rowling was able to deliver more Harry Potter.
If you think about it, this same paradigm is pretty much true of pretty much every other career path:
- Unique and popular musicians earn more than cover bands.
- Unique and popular actors earn more than extras.
- Unique and popular visual artists earn more than those who only copy the Great Masters.
- Unique and popular historians earn more than high school history teachers.
And so forth.
Let’s be clear here: I’m not telling you what to write. I’ve worked with lots of people and I’ve never told any of them what to work on next. I’m just saying that if I like a certain kind of material, and I can get similar material from a hundred or a thousand different writers, I’m going to pay relatively little for the next installment of that material.
I’m going to pay a lot more for the next installment of material I can get only from one writer.
Is this just another argument for you to find and cultivate your own voice? Absolutely. That’s one of the main reasons I encourage you to strive with all your might toward becoming the best version of your creative self that you possibly can be.
Is this another hurdle on the road to success that you have to leap? It doesn’t have to be. Many people I’ve worked with start out fearful that finding and developing their unique voice is a terrible obstacle that’s difficult to overcome. As I’ve coached and mentored and counseled them, I’ve helped them recognize that it’s really an opportunity. In fact, it’s a privilege and an opportunity.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about all this in the comments below.