The Difference Between Selling and Sharing

There’s a difference, you know:

Between hawking a product at an disinterested group and telling your friends about a movie they can’t miss.

Between spamming everyone you know and passionately proclaiming good news you can’t keep inside.

Between manipulating people to buy something and just simply sharing something you’ve created.

But some never understand this. Some people think that if you have anything to sell, ever, then you’re instantly a fake, a charlatan, a scammer. And these people will never be satisfied. They will always criticize and find reasons to tell you what you’re doing is wrong.

And you should ignore them.

Don’t be afraid

Someone recently asked me: “Do creative people have trouble getting paid for their work?”

Indeed, they do. In fact, I believe this applies to anyone with remarkable skills they take for granted. Many gifted people don’t understand the value of their gifts. They minimize them, dismiss them, and sabotage their work.

But why?

Because, they reason, why should I get paid for something I enjoy? It’s easy. Fun. Effortless. But not for everyone. Just for you. Which only makes what you do evenmore valuable.

Here’s a challenge: Stop apologizing for your art, and embrace the fact you have something valuable to share. Something that’s — dare I say it? — worth money.

Charge for your best work

Recently, our friend Lisa delivered a kitchen table she refinished for us. This was an old, worn table riddled with stains and water marks. We didn’t have high expectations for what could be done with it.

When we saw our friend’s finished work, we didn’t even recognize the table. It was amazing. My wife just kept saying “thank you.”

After we asked her what we owed her, Lisa said, “I hate charging friends…” But then she told us the price and we gladly paid it.

Why do we do this? Why do we hate charging people to do our best work? I think it’s time we stop apologizing and start valuing the contributions we can make.

How to not sell out

This isn’t license to sell out and turn every word you write, every photo you take, and every picture you paint into a paid product. No. That’s not the point at all. The point is this:

Now, you can be your own patron.

In an age when artists don’t have to be at the bottom of the food chain, dependent on the generosity of others, the only thing holding creative people back from success is themselves.

The only thing holding creative people back from success is themselves.

Don’t mistake me here. If you don’t want to make money off your art, don’t do it. Nobody’s forcing you to do it. But don’t use lack of resources as an excuse to not create, because you no longer have that excuse.

The world values your work. The question is, do you?

A version of this article originally appeared on goinswriter.com.


Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national bestseller The Art of Work. For more tips on the writer’s life, join his free newsletter and get a free eBook.