Very often, as you get into your fifties, you find that what you once thought were a number of disparate threads in your life suddenly start coming together. Have you found that? In many ways, starting Time Traders Club has drawn a lot of those threads together for me, almost without realizing that that was what was happening.
My family’s story can sort of be summed up as “frustrated artist” – an over simplification of course, but always lurking. My father was a Royal College of Art graduate and great painter. But he was also a post war child who understandably opted for the safety of a steady career. Not that he didn’t enjoy his career – this was no grinding corporate hell, but as he approached retirement he took up painting again in a big way. Only problem was he had to retire early because of Alzheimers. You could see it in his paintings as he gradually lost all his artistic abilities. Both my parents followed the “when John retires we are going to do all this” path. Of course, by the time he did retire it was too late – their lives were overtaken by Alzheimers. Jim Carrey summed it up well in a story about his own father during a commencement address (see video below).
My mother was an aspiring fiction author – she has the evidence to prove it – dozens of rejection letters from publishers. She did ghost author some biographies of prominent colleagues of my fathers, and they co-authored a book on industrial design together. But I know it didn’t make up for all the rejections of what was HER work. At that time there was no internet and only one path for authors to pursue – get an agent and get that agent to send your manuscript to select publishers, await the inevitable rejection letters. After that there was nowhere else to go other than a prohibitively expensive self publishing in print option where you had to do all your own marketing.
They say it skips a generation. My son is also an aspiring fiction author. He has the benefit of 40 years of technological advancement – most importantly the internet – a disrupted publishing industry (in large part thanks to Amazon), and a father who stumbled into internet marketing along the way.
His opportunities to pursue the thing he loves to do are vastly different to those my mother had. He still intends to pursue the publishing route. The difference is that not only can he improve his chances of getting a publishing deal through his own efforts, if he still doesn’t get one he can make a very good living publishing his own work through his own online platform, and that is something I have been able to help him do from my knowledge and experience in the online marketing world. But – like many artists, he loves doing the thing he loves to do – which is write. What he has no interest in doing is running a business – the bookkeeping, the marketing, the social media etc etc – all that saps his mental energy and takes him away from the things he is creating. Luckily for him he has a dad who happens to know the ins and outs of internet marketing and running a business. Very few have that luxury.
For my own artistic sensibilities, from the age of 15 all I wanted to do was play guitar like Richie Blackmore and Jimmy Page. I was never really that good, or dedicated enough to reach those sort of standards, but my then wife and I made a living on the pub and club circuit for 12 years. The real talent in the outfit was my wife, as both singer and songwriter. She too spent her life trying to “make it” and never quite succeeding. But again, the avenues back then were very similar to book publishing – you made a demo went to a bunch of record companies, you collected the rejection letters and started the process all over again – but this time it would be different … right?
I left music to go back to university in my mid thirties having discovered archaeology after a brief sojourn into the world of film and television. Archaeology is a tough world to make a living for someone pushing 40 and I even resorted to trying to set up an local history-based educational tourism project that was fantastic until the money ran out. In the meantime I met my current wife online and ended up moving to Phoenix, Arizona – which I quickly discovered was sitting atop the oldest pre-Colombian civilization in America. I got my green card and walked into a field archaeology job. The money wasn’t great but the job was totally Zen and the people were wonderful. I thought my archaeology career might finally be taking off. Then the housing crash hit in 2008. Archaeology was paid for by development – which was rife until the crash – but then stopped overnight. So did the archaeology work. A lot of my colleagues went to Utah to do pipeline work but I didn’t want to be away from home for months on end living in the middle of nowhere on bad pay and bad food. Instead I fell back on some web design skills I had acquired after university (another failed career path). Blogging was just starting and I got inspired by the possibilities of individuals reaching customers online via Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book “Naked conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. I could see the possibilities – especially when social media followed on shortly after. I started working with a blogging company (they gave me the job because I knew some HTML), and that has led me on to meeting and teaming up with Meredith; starting a podcast (I have always loved radio and working with sound), and following that idea that you can help individuals reach an audience online. If I can do that for creatives like my father and mother, my son, and my fellow musicians, then what better contribution could I make than that?
I gave up playing for 25 years to pursue all these other things. I hadn’t played a note in that long. I was finally led astray by the owner of the coworking space I was working out of, 5000 miles from where I last played a note. Now I play in an 80’s cover band (http://halfbrit.band), this time just for fun. However, Dave – the guitarist in the band – is a full time musician who writes and records his own albums and sells them online. The playing and writing music part he loves. The marketing stuff to get his music heard and bought drives him crazy. That is until he finds himself in a local covers band with a bass player who knows a thing or too about online marketing!
By now you can probably see where the threads are drawing together for me. In creating Time Traders Club, Meredith and I are creating a vehicle where by anyone who has a creative outlet to offer the world – like my father as a painter, or my mother and son as authors, or like Dave as a musician, pretty much anyone who has something to offer the world and wants to get it out to an audience using the internet to do so, can make that a reality. The internet has changed the game for all creatives. It has a reach of almost 7 billion people over the whole planet. And all you need to do to make a decent living doing what you love is to reach just a few hundred of them. In that vast number of people you should be able to find a few hundred that love what you have to offer. It is just a matter of knowing how. But the internet can also be a minefield for the unwary. There are no end of people who will coach you to a “7-figure business” for a hefty “investment”, or people who can sell you tools that will allow you to make money while you are asleep. 2 years and a lot of wasted time, energy and money later and your will to continue is tapped out. And all your friends and family are there to tell you it would be so much easier if you just went out and got a job.
That is where a platform like Time Traders Club can really help. The internet should enable you to do what you love and make a living doing it – but the internet minefield kills the hopes of millions through not knowing how to navigate it or which path to follow or not follow. Time Traders Club is a peer-to-peer skills trading site where you can get the help you need, and the right help, from people going through the same process as you – and where you can safely go knowing you are not going to get prayed upon by the self-styled “gurus” and short-cut-to-wealth merchants. Further, that by allowing you to spend more time in YOUR zone of brilliance and trading those skills for the stuff that saps your time energy and money, you become better and more successful faster and with less stress and hassle and a lot more joy. Through that success, you become an example and an inspiration to countless others. By becoming a member of Time Traders Club you are not only helping yourself to succeed, you are helping a whole bunch of others to avoid the internet marketing minefield and make THEIR dream a reality.