Today our regular guestblogger Dave Baldwin shares two books with us: Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog and Seth Godin’s The Dip which are about making money while pursuing your passion. Artists shouldn’t starve while they live their dreams and transform others’ lives. They deserve prosperity and abundance. Enjoy this post!


Lately, I’ve been chewing on a critical question: what does it take to make serious money doing what brings joy and fulfillment? Why is it that some people seem to do it naturally, while others struggle at it for their whole lives? Why is it that thousands (if not millions) of highly educated, skilled, and talented people fail to make the kind of money they’re really worth?

Have you ever wondered why some painters are able to sell their work for tens of thousands of dollars, while some artists create breathtaking works that sell for less than $100? Economic value is based on perception, and perception is subjective. I used to believe that if I simply felt enough passion for what I was doing, others would also feel my passion and would compensate me accordingly. This turned out not to be such a sound business model as I’d expected. Creating the perception of high worth is a more complex science than I realized, but I do believe it can be broken down into small pieces. It really boils down to doing more of the things that generate revenue and less of the things that don’t. This is easier said than done, especially for creative people.

The first place I looked for insights into this challenge: Eat That Frog by personal effectiveness expert Brian Tracy. The system that Tracy lays out seems to have been designed especially for people like me. The first principle, which Tracy dubs “Setting the Table,” is essentially a methodology for setting priorities. Tracy outlines 21 principles for accomplishing just about anything. However, I’ve personally found that this type of system requires a high level of discipline to implement. Quite frankly, I don’t have that kind of discipline, and I know I’m not alone in that regard. However, for those of us who have a hard time sticking to a system, there is hope.

Many of us have come to learn that creativity is an asset and a liability at the same time. Our tendency to constantly innovate new approaches and solutions, while highly useful for tackling difficult problems, also distracts us from getting simple things done. We are easily bored with the mundane aspects of managing life and making money, and by nature, we tend to procrastinate these things as long as we can. Sound familiar? Creativity also creates a second problem: the tendency to “chase shiny objects.” For some insight into how to deal with this, I consulted a second resource: The Dip by Seth Godin.

Every time I’ve read The Dip, it’s helped me to better understand what things I should quit, and which activities I should continue. I’ve found that when my plate is too full and I have too much going on, my ability to think clearly is compromised. When overwhelm exceeds a certain threshold, chaos takes over. At this point, the greatest system in the world will make no difference, because even the sincerest of efforts to follow it will be assaulted on all sides by interruptions at unpredictable intervals that demand immediate attention. During times like this, cutting out activity is the surest way to regain control of the situation. However, it’s critical—as Godin puts it—to “quit the wrong things, stick with the right things, and have the guts to do one or the other.”

Becoming the best of the best in any given field, says Godin, is about finding that one thing you can do best, and quitting everything else. This process requires some experimentation, of course, and the path to excellence invariably involves starting some of the wrong things. (If you’re creative, it involves starting a lot of the wrong things!) Even when you start doing the right things, you’re likely to find yourself needing to quit portions of them. In my example, I have been blogging regularly—and I’m not going to quit. However, I realized that I could ask myself a useful question: what topics could I quit blogging about? At that moment, I realized I was on to something.

Adding new habits into your schedule doesn’t always help, especially if your schedule is already overloaded. However, the habit of quitting is an easy habit to adopt. What do you think would happen if you quit doing one tiny unproductive thing, freeing up just a little slice of time, each day? What do you think would happen if you quit creating all art, except for the kinds of art that generate income and that fully express who you are?

If you love to create art in any form and would like to increase the income you earn from it, you may simply need to create a personal system that moves you toward your financial goals, one day at a time. If you are the kind of person who can take a pre-designed system and implement it consistently every day, Eat That Frog may provide everything you need to make more money from your art. If you’re like me and have a tendency to procrastinate, you will probably need to start by weeding your activity garden, in which case I would recommend starting with The Dip. Taken together, these books create a powerful framework for reorienting your creative passions onto a more lucrative trajectory.

Remember that while passion does not always lead to revenue, revenue frees up time—and extra time allows you to pursue your passion.


About Dave:

Dave Baldwin is a writer who lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina. He facilitates a networking group in Wake Forest, North Carolina.


Your Turn:

What activity can you quit so that you can earn more revenue? Make your decision to pare down your tasks and then I’d like to see where you are in two months or less!