Thursday, October 19, 2017

What else are you good at besides your work?

© Prashant C. Trikannad
The other day I casually said to my wife, "We will have to tighten our belts this month. Cut unnecessary expenses."

"Why?" She asked.

"I just got my credit card statement and it doesn't look good. We aren't going to be left with much by the end of the month," I said.

"But we don't spend all that much," she protested. "Barring the odd dine-out or occasional shopping, most of our monthly expenditure is on essentials, groceries, local commute and that sort of thing. We can't avoid routine expenses."

Then she said something that stumped me. "The key to having more money is not cutting down on your daily expenses but making more money instead."

Good point. Like many fellow Indians, I try and put away some money every month or year to save for the future. No, that's not entirely correct. While I do make a voluntary effort at savings, I'm mostly forced to save money to avoid paying higher taxes to the government. It will pay off in the long run. As a good friend once advised me, “The money you don’t see is the money you save.”

So with the 80C-induced nest egg out of reach for now, what’s my next best option?

“Earn more, if not in your job, then outside of it,” my wife said simply and went about her work.

That easy, uh.

“So how can I earn more?” I wondered.

She countered that with a question of her own: “What else are you good at besides what you do at work?”

I thought for a moment and said somewhat sheepishly, “Writing, maybe.”’

“But you already do that. On second thought, maybe you’re right, you could freelance. Never mind the money. It’ll come eventually. First, get a start. Write in your areas of expertise, take it to the editors and see if it doesn’t lead somewhere, open a new door for you.”

She was right. The internet has opened up new writing opportunities in every field. News websites and webzines, third-party content providers, digital media and startups
are constantly looking for content strategists and specialists to meet their competitive requirements. As long as there was no conflict of interest with my full-time writing job, I’d nothing to lose and everything to gain. Everyone seemed to be moonlighting these days.

Nevertheless, we sat with pen and paper and drew up a list of all the things that I could do. We came up with a few options, which, besides writing for portals and publications, included mentoring a creative writing class, writing content for corporate websites, copywriting for brands, producing content for social networks, e-commerce sites, blogs and news aggregators, and offering writing expertise to academic and other publishers. Turns out there was plenty I could do.

The money from freelance work, writing or any other option, may not amount to much at first but with patience and perseverance, and a little imagination, you can create a parallel career; and along the way discover a skill or two you never knew you had.

Virtually, the sky is the limit provided you have the inclination and you pursue it with all you have.
If you can step out of your comfort zone and do something radically different, so much the better for you and for your personal growth. And if things don’t work out, you’ll have the satisfaction of having tried. 

As American writer and Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner said, Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.You'll never know till you try.

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