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If you are very good at something, never do it for free!

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pencil artist, Eli Waduba

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” — Steve Martin

If you are good at something and can afford to make a living from it, why do it for free? You have a talent or a skill; there are people willing to pay you for that skill, so why let go of the opportunity of making money from it. I am not saying that we should be money freak; I am simply saying that you deserve to get paid as long as you are adding value to others. When you are so good at something, it becomes impossible for the world to ignore you.

In the superhero film, ‘The Dark Knight’, there is a line that is worth mentioning that I will like to refer to: “If you are good at something, never do it for free.”

I have always told people that your desire to do something for free should be out of conviction and not borne out of ignorance. Many people are doing things for free because they don’t really know the value of the service they are rendering. Some people are getting paid for services that they are not rendering well – I call this fraud! Many are being paid handsomely for services that are far inferior to yours. If you can offer this service well and get legitimately paid, why not?

On February 20, 2019, a Kaduna-based young hyperrealism pencil artist, Eli Waduba, took to Twitter to share his latest art piece, a hyper-realistic painting of his favourite comedian, Kevin Hart. The young Nigerian artist who has gone unnoticed till then took it a step further to mention Kevin Hart in a tweet on February 22 hoping that it might be his breakthrough one way or the other. It did not take long for the popular comedian, actor, and producer to take notice of the several mentions his name was getting for the amazing talent of the Nigerian man.

With genuine interest and excitement, Kevin Hart took time to reply to several tweets including that of Eli Waduba praising him for his great work. However, it did not end in praise, the impressed comedian took it a step further. He offered to purchase the piece and make a payment for three similar works of his friends. The tweet from Kevin Hart goes thus: “I see it and I want to purchase it…I also want to support you and your amazing talent by giving you a fee to do a pencil drawing of three of my celebrity friends that I can gift it to. DM your info and let’s get to work!”

The pertinent question I want to ask youths out there is this: Do you have anything that you are so good at what you can do for a fee? If you have, then that is your goldmine! Just like Eli Waduba, you must have something that you are so good at to open doors for you. Prepare for your breakthrough because when an opportunity comes, it might be too late to prepare. Most of us have a hobby, a passion, or something that we love to do outside of our regular job. Very few of us ever thought we could turn this passion into a source of income. You may not want to give up your job, but the idea of sharing your passion can make for an extremely rewarding spare time activity, as well as give you some extra money on the side.

Your ability to exchange and leverage what you love doing for money is the core essence of entrepreneurship. When you are constantly adding value to others without financial returns, then you are defrauding yourself! Many are simply poor because they are ignorant of how most of the things they do for free are linked to their wealth and financial freedom.

Many people are living in a manner that is unsustainable. When you give too much of yourself away for free, you deplete your ability to earn a sustainable income. The principle of wealth is simply exchanging ‘values’ for money. We are being paid simply because of the values we are adding to others. You deserve to be paid as long as you are adding values to others. Stop offering yourself for free, and except you are doing volunteer work or humanitarian service, make sure you get paid whenever you add value to others! Stop letting your emotions or ‘excessive’ generosity gets in the way of living a sustainable and decent living.

The truth is that when too much of what you offer is for free, you make your service unsustainable! Transiting from the “Free Zone” to the “Fee Zone” is one of the cores of sustainable entrepreneurship. Don’t stay in the “Free Zone” forever; monetize your service. It is not selfishness.

Your hobby is your ‘natural’ business. Hobbies are those activities we’re so passionate about that, not only do we do them without getting paid, we often pay to do them. I am here to tell you that you can flip that around. You can actually get paid to do the same activities you already love to do in your spare time. One of the major reasons why people are so poor is simply because they give too much of themselves away for free! There is tremendous joy in earning income from doing something that you might happily do for free. Blogging was a hobby for Linda Ikeji, but today, she earns a fortune from it. Hobbies like photography, writing, cooking, baking, home or office organizing, interior decoration and event planning, graphic and web design, drawing, and painting can be metamorphosed into money-spinning ventures. Walt Disney’s love for sketching and drawing created one of the vastest entertainment company now known as The Walt Disney Company. KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was born out of someone’s hobby of cooking!

Whether as a full-fledged passion or a retirement plan, monetizing your hobby is the most sustainable way of living. Look inward and repackage what you love doing to make money. Making money from your hobby is not just only sustainable, it brings you deep satisfaction and excitation. Stop giving too much of yourself away for free; monetize the services you are very good at offering to others!


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