Money, Medicine & Me

By developer on November 25, 2015

I’ve received a few similar questions recently which seems to inspire a blog post from me when the questions are sincere enough.

“I want to make money doing what I believe in.  However the very thought of making money and paying taxes that pay for agendas I do NOT believe in is an obstacle.  How do you do it?

HOW I DID IT

I personally got into the filmmaking business by accident but the key to my success was this:

I started a business venture with my highest aim in life as the mission statement.  I did this while I still had other jobs.  In fact I still do.  But, if you must know, the answer is yes.  I DO pay taxes.  Why?  I’ll approach that question later in this blog.

How do I maintain my lifestyle simply on selling DVDs from films that are nearly 8 years old and free online everywhere?  The answer:  The films I put out went viral at a time when “viral” was the newest and greatest thing since sliced bread.  Also, my films were about conspiracy and consciousness.  At the time, those topics were the hippest thing since bread slices.  And the customer base for the films was an ever growing demographic of information hungry internet surfers, which happens to be the easiest, quickest and most viable option for gobbling up audio/visual and textual content since… bread… segments.

HOW TO KEEP DOING IT

So, how can this be duplicated now that internet documentaries are not so novel and cutting edge anymore?

If you can’t be amazing, be useful.  This is paraphrased from Jay Baer (Author of Youtility).  His work primarily has to do with social media and information marketing.  Something anyone can do.  A blog site, a podcast, films, images, etc.  I’ll stick with audio/visual media and information marketing because it ties in with those who follow my work and look to do the same.  To avoid calling my own work amazing or useful, I’ll just say that it was relevant at the time.  But specifically, it was relevant to a very niche group.

How can art, literature, ideas, and the like change the world.  The key really is to be useful in a specific way.  The more broad and general you get, the less capable people are of conceptualizing and thus personalizing your methods to their needs.  Create your content with a specific person or group, that you know very well, in mind.

People who surf the web are looking for specific things, which in turn, directs and informs the words and phrases they punch into search engines.  Those search engines utilize algorithms that (for lack of a better word) “assume” what you’re looking for and match your search with the most relevant hits.

TOOLS

Take Tim Ferriss’s advice from “The 4-Hour Workweek”.  To find your “thing”, your market, your niche, take a look at what most interests you.  What skills/ knowledge do you currently have that you would like to share?   What medium (books, podcasts, films) do you enjoy and which of those have the most relevance to people’s consumption habits.

Quick note:  There’s no evil in tailoring your talents into the format that most consumers go for.  It’s simple and obvious.  The place you can do the most good is the place where people’s attention lies.  Your most breakthrough book will never be read if you only corner the market in assisted living homes for the blind.

Check out Marketingsherpa.com

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There are methods through Google Adwords to test the volume of people who are searching specific key words and phrases.  Use these tools creatively.  Find what phrases are currently trending and employ your ingenuity to show them how useful YOUR “spin” or “take” on the subject truly is.

Chances are, you DO have something to offer but just haven’t seen your knowledge base from other people’s needs or wants.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

You may think there’s no real knowledge base or skill set that you, the 26 year old video game expert with a twisted sense of humor, could ever offer in the form of a viable product.  But then again, you never actually wrote that Grand Theft Auto / Reality TV spinoff script called “How I Plowed Your Mother”.  The more useful, relevant, timely, entertaining and interesting your ideas are, the more viable they are to EVERYONE.

Example:  I didn’t know I was interested in calendar keeping and project lists until someone (David Allen, author of Getting Things Done) expressed it’s importance by stating:  By increasing psychic bandwidth, or mental space, creativity naturally emerges abundantly which leads to increased clarity and therefore productivity…. SHIT YEAH!  Where do I sign?  All his old gomer predecessors said the same thing in boring lingo.  Point being… don’t reinvent the wheel, just make it easier to understand and use at home.

The overall market today is primed and perfect for self made artists and entrepreneurs due to the shear amount of private companies and online tools you can hire to take care of all the things you don’t understand or care to do.

Look into the benefits of Google Adwords Keyword.  Wordtracker is also a great tool to test out “search terms” and alternative terms.  You may find that more people are looking for what you have to offer than you think.

Word Tracker

AUTHENTICITY

You have to be passionate about what you’re offering.  If you’re just trying to make money, it’s probably because you fear being broke or love money more than serving people.  Either way, you won’t find much loyalty in customers with that attitude.  Customers are smarter than they appear.  Which leads me to the next point.

Quit viewing people who like and support what you do as “Customers”.  They’re a community.  You are privileged with being part of that community due to your mutual passion in the subject or field.  If you offer consistent useful advice, recipes, magic tricks, videos of cool shit to do in Toledo, you WILL find a demographic that wants what you have to offer.

Be loyal.  The best way to know what people want is to truly have an understanding of what will help people.  And by “help” I mean to help the human being, not their desires and programed habits.  You can only do this authentically if you, yourself have overcome, transcended or problem solved your way through an ordeal that many or at least some people are dealing with.  Be useful to your community.

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE’S JUDGMENTS

In the stellar book “The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products and Companies” by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, it is well researched and outlined that loyalty in customers, readers, viewers, audiences, whatever you call them, they’re trust and attraction to your product is YOU and your character.  Since the dawn of man, when a lurking shadowy figure crosses our path, the innate questions kick in.  What is the intention of this traveler and how competent is he/she in achieving what they aim for?

If they are “warm” we soften our guard.  If they are “cold” we prepare for the worst.  If they are incompetent, we generally don’t fear and pay little mind.  But when they are surely competent, we have to ask again, are they warm or cold?  The most insidious villains in movies are those that are cold and competent (i.e. evil intentions with the power to inflict them).  Likewise, the best superheroes are competent, yet warm.  Their intentions are noble.

These primal questions (Warm or cold?  Competent or not?) happen before we even know we’ve made a judgment.  Therefore, when considering your business ethic, remember that customers are impulsive, maybe, but not dumb.  They are driven more by emotion than logic, but again, not dumb.  Skeptical, even cynical at times, but they know how to judge character.

The best business practice I have ever known is that of a business that displays honesty, transparency, competence and warmth.  The best way to display this to the world (in business at least) is by utilizing tried and true techniques on branding.  Again, in The Human Brand, they mention that business are often looked at as people themselves by the customers through websites, ads and building appearance.  Logos act as the face and customers are all part of the tribe or society.  Treat them like your tribe, not your sugar daddy.

For all the marketing and web stuff, if it’s not your bag… Hire someone to do it.  It will be worth it.  But make no mistake, nothing will happen if you do not explore, experiment and go for what you want.

EXPECTATIONS

Don’t let shattered expectations do anything to your mojo.  Expectations are meant to be shattered repeatedly until they’re all gone and you finally see reality before you.  It’s an evolving process rather than a brilliant overnight idea.  I’ll make an assumption on human purpose here:  Life is less about luck and more about perseverance.  You’re meant to learn and grow, not hope the lottery selects your name.

NOW… ABOUT TAXES

About being involved in commerce that gets taxed and thus used in ways you do not approve by “The Man”…  Here’s my take.

At one point in my life, I was inches away from giving up all worldly possessions and chose to starve to Corportocracy by removing myself from the system.  Today, I personally have found much more usefulness in using the system when it absolutely serves my highest aim and simply avoiding it when there’s no added benefit to my cause.

I too disagree with much of what my tax dollars affords.  If I could, I would elect to have my taxes used for more sustainable food, public health, environmental, scientific and artistic practices.  But here I am… with all my intentions and the world still hurdles towards it’s fate.

An indigenous elder of the Oneida nation (upstate NY) told me that all my efforts to save the world are in vain.  He says the world has it’s own agenda and it is my ego that believes a single human can grasp the greater order of things.  Therefore the direction of the planet and its inhabitants is not my own or any individuals to dictate, but rather to discover and enrich.

As much as I have differing world perspectives in several of his points, I still found some hint of alleviation of “global responsibility” from my shoulders.  When my beliefs and worldviews  consistently restrict the joy I get out of exploring and experimenting with life due to perceived morality, I revolt.

If I come to a situation or opportunity to do something that is outside my inherent morality, my conscience is too loud and opinionated for me to even consider that option.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I govern my actions and choices.

MISSION STATEMENT

So here it is.  This is my highest aim in the feeble form of language, not only for Talismanic Idols Productions but conveniently, it’s also a lifestyle:

“I will explore those relationships and opportunities on my path that beg to be explored.  Not to be confused with those that beg me to stand still, but only the ones that moved me forward while mutually enriching all travelers and the world at large will.”

If you have a mission statement or at least have verbalized your intentions with the time you have remaining on this planet, just ask yourself honestly, again and again:

“What is the warmest and most competent way I might arrive at the end of my days with no regrets and no What ifs?”

I hope to see you all there.Word Tracker



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