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The $1 Million Dollar Creative – How To Monetize Your Interests

I was lied to as a child.

I have a feeling you were, too.

I remember sitting in my dad’s old apartment after my parent’s divorce, staring at an old laptop screen with Arizona State University’s website open, wondering what I was going to study and commit to for the rest of my life.

At the age of 18, I was faced with a near-impossible decision. I was forced to know exactly what I wanted out of life when I hadn’t even had a life of my own. I was forced to choose the starting point of the career I would spend the next 40+ years of my life. I was forced to choose something that seemed to “set me up for a good future,” or else I would pay the consequences, literally, with a pile of student loans.

For most people, they choose the career that will make them the most money… but that’s a lie.

For others, they choose the career that people will respect them for… but that’s a lie.

For the rest, they choose the career they think they will enjoy the most… but again, that’s a lie.

You were sold an illusion by parents and teachers who were sold an illusion.

Their degrees, or lack thereof, had little to no impact on their income, status, or enjoyment. A degree may have opened opportunities, but ultimately, it was their personal choices that led to a higher income, status, or level of enjoyment. There are plenty of rich dropouts and broke graduates.

People are starting to wake up to the fact that the conventional path doesn’t work for sensible people.

And as Alan Watts would say, “Sensible people get paid for doing what they enjoy doing.”

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are a creative at heart.

You don’t care about making billions, you care about making more than enough money to do whatever you want.

You don’t care about the hustle and grind of the typical entrepreneur, you care about rest, free time, and meaningful work.

But you were lied to.

You went to school, got a job, and realized a few things.

  • You don’t know how to monetize your passions, interests, or skills outside of a job. In other words, you don’t understand that making money is a stack of skills like any others you’ve learned, but you banked on your employer to feed you with those skills.
  • You learned the skills that would “make you the most money” but realized that you have a hard limit on your earning potential that your employer sets for you. How much you earn depends on the vessel you choose for that skill, and a job usually isn’t the best long-term vessel.
  • You are trading time for money when technology will eventually make those tasks more efficient. What you do for work will be less valuable in the future, and you’ll either take a massive pay cut or get fired. Technology lowers the cost of replicable tasks so we can focus on solving creative and human problems.

That’s what I’m here to help you change in this letter.

I want to prove to you that it’s possible to make $1 million doing what you enjoy with simple logic and math. This is a semi-practical letter, but belief comes before action, so we will be chiseling into your mind a bit to rid your thought processes of debilitating beliefs.

I want to show you what to focus on so you don’t get trapped in a new 9 to 5 called client work.

I want to give you full control over how much you work, how much you make, and how much satisfaction you derive from both.

Leveraged Work – The Definition Of A Creative

If the work doesn’t require creativity, delegate it, automate it, or leave it. – Naval

A creative is not someone with a specific skill that a robot will outprice and outcompete.

A creative is not a designer, filmmaker, painter, writer, photographer, or any specific limiting identity.

A creative is someone who engages with the process of life reflected in their work.

A creative is someone who solves problems with whatever combination of skill, knowledge, experience, and inspiration necessary in the pursuit of a goal, usually in the form of a project.

If you work a job you hate as something like a designer, I would argue that you are not a true creative even when your job title and identity say you are (because you’re a fancy “designer”).

You don’t register the job you hate as a priority problem to be solved.

You don’t block out time to do the highest-leverage work, which will remove you from that job and give you more control over your time and income. You aren’t creative enough to solve a real problem, so you focus on doing your work and creating some pretty pixels on a screen to solve a problem that your employer assigned to you.

I am not against jobs, but I see them for what they are: a stepping stone.

A job is useful for acquiring skills and industry knowledge, but it can also harm one’s psyche and breed complacency.

In a job, it is almost guaranteed that there will come a point where you stop solving new problems. You get stuck solving the same problems over and over again. Problems that you didn’t choose to solve in the first place. You get bored and start wasting your time, but by then, you have so many responsibilities and bad habits that you always feel narrow-minded and stressed, so your ability to identify and solve problems independently is incredibly difficult.

Life is an endless string of problems.

Problems are the polar end of purpose, one does not exist without the other.

Solutions to problems are valuable.

When you stop solving new problems, your mind stops expanding.

With each problem you solve, you reach a new level of mind because you have to zoom out into the unknown, collect resources, and use the creative ability of your mind to reach the next stage. This is a key lesson in The Art Of Focus.

In other words, a job, or just your comfort zone, can be the early death of the best version of yourself. In fact, I wouldn’t say it’s an early death. It’s a slow and painful decline into the worst version of yourself. Problem-solving is how you reverse entropy in your mind. If you have no new problems to solve, you slowly drown in chaos, feeling bored, lost, and anxious until it becomes so painful that you are forced to change your situation or accept early death.

I’d prefer that you don’t wait until that point.

A creative is someone whose end goal is leveraged work.

That is, identifying the work that leads to the most results with the least effort.

For most people, the “results” you are looking for are more money, more time, and more fulfillment.

Here are the steps to reaching all of them.

The $1 Million Dollar Creative

I always believed passion was found in a specific skill.

I tried to find that passion in web design, digital art, and programming. Every time, I was left feeling empty.

It wasn’t until I decided to take control of my life, get clear on what I wanted for my future, and start pursuing that relentlessly that I figured out what a creative actually is.

Passion is found in the process of creating your vision.

You can enjoy a skill you use along the way to help, but if you become attached to or dogmatic about that skill by making an identity out of it, you will get trapped.

You aren’t passionate about being a designer, you are passionate about the problems design allows you to solve (until your life and work limit what problems you solve).

Passion is investing energy into a goal. You can be passionate about the journey of mastering a skill, but once you’ve mastered it, that passion fades. You must keep that passion alive by channeling energy into the skills, goals, and projects that will achieve your vision. Your vision is an infinite bank for energy storage.

If you want to reach $1 million as one-person by monetizing your interests, you’re going to have to be okay with learning skills you may not want to learn and doing work you may not want to do.

In the end, that will bring you more fulfillment than never creating your vision because you were too stubborn to learn the skills necessary to do so.

1) Choose A Vision, Not A Skill

If you don’t have a vision, you are lost. You can’t create outcomes, so you are doomed to mechanical living and determined outcomes.

Every decision you make in any domain of your life must be filtered through your vision. That is how you bring meaning to your actions and minimize distractions.

Write down exactly what you want out of life.

Don’t miss a detail, but realize this is an iterative process.

You won’t get it right the first time around, and you probably never will. That’s not the point. Spend 30 minutes generating a minimum viable vision.

Return to it often to add, subtract, and improve as your desires inevitably change with your failures.

Your vision is how you filter what work to do, what skills to learn, and what decisions to make.

Again, if you don’t have a vision, no matter how clear, you are lost.

2) Stack The Future Proof Skills

You’re worried about what career skills to learn that will be relevant in 20 years because you are focused on the viability of the skill, not the vision.

If you want to secure your future, you need a foundational skill stack consisting of:

  • Marketing & sales – if you don’t know how to attract and persuade, you will never get what you want, and your only option will be for an employer (or the government) to give it to you.
  • Writing & thinking – the ability to communicate the value in your unique mind. The foundation of getting in front of other people.
  • Entrepreneurship – the process of taking your future into your own hands, hunting for your survival, and building products that you want to see in the world (that others care about).

When you pair these with the various interests you learn while creating your vision, you become unstoppable. I teach the basics of these in the free One-Person Business Foundations mini-course.

3) Solve Problems With Experimentation

Self-experimentation is the only way to solve your problems for good.

Self-experimentation is the only way to create a unique solution that others can benefit from.

Your job is to:

  • Research processes that others have found success with. Thankfully, you can find these with a simple search.
  • Experiment with various techniques. Implement the processes you learn and attempt to get results.
  • Identify patterns and principles. Note the similarities between each and double down on them.
  • Create your own process. Tailor what you learn to your unique lifestyle and situation.
  • Contribute to true education by passing it down. Give people education that can’t be taught in schools with a fundamental grounding in critical thinking.

If you’ve solved a problem in your life, you’re qualified to start a business.

4) Become A Value Creator

Today’s vessel for beginning creatives is being a creator.

Not an influencer, a creator. A value creator, to be exact.

Someone who becomes a fountainhead of value based on the interests you love by making them interesting to other people.

You are to become the source for your interests to attract an audience to them.

You do this through:

  • Education – teach your interests in a way that helps people achieve a goal toward your vision.
  • Entertainment – throw in a dash of personality to attract people like you (the people you can help the most).
  • Inspiration – show people what you’ve built so they can see what’s possible.

Social media is not just an app on your phone.

It’s the town square of the new, digital society.

Yes, you probably use it to numb your mind by scrolling meaningless content, but others are using it as education that schools don’t teach so they can reach heights that normal society doesn’t offer.

Value creators are those who dedicate themselves to their interests, take it on as their life’s work to explore them, and distill the information into education.

This is the style of one-person business that I teach.

Creating social media content to build distribution under your name.

In business, distribution = freedom.

An audience = distribution.

Hammer this into your head:

You will not make money (that you control) if you don’t have people who will give you money for the value you offer in the form of a product.

If you never realize this, you have no other option but to work a job where your employer does this for you for the rest of your life.

5) Monetize Your Mind, Not Your Time

Value creators are those who:

  • Monetize their minds, not their time, so they can remain one person without limiting their income. One person’s labor can’t scale, but the creative ability of their minds can.
  • Research their obsessions and distill their learning with writing, video, and other internet content.
  • Get paid for aggregated knowledge and experience in the form of digital products (or physical products once you have the cash flow necessary to sustain that… but everyone should have a digital product that replaces their income and covers their living expenses).

This is what I teach you how to do in my new course, Mental Monetization, to monetize your creative work. It goes live on June 3rd. Preorder before the price increases.

Products are the highest form of leverage.

They sell while you sleep.

You don’t need to spend time fulfilling the value you offer like you do with service or client work.

You build it once and sell it as many times as your skill allows.

6) Turning It Into $1 Million

Your levers as a value creator are:

  • Writing – Attracting an audience of people by educating them on how your interests can help them achieve their goals. The writing can be repurposed into posts, a newsletter, a YouTube script, and literally any other kind of content. Start with writing. (2 Hour Writer teaches this).
  • Promotion – You won’t make money if you don’t promote your product. Promote your email list on social media. Promote your products on your email list.
  • Iteration – Pay attention to the writing and promotions that do better than others. Improve them as you go to increase the effectiveness of them.

This is literally the only thing you need to do to reach $1 million as one person.

You have a product that sells.

You have an audience that’s growing.

If you can continue growing the audience and selling the product… how much you earn is really up to you. It’s just simple math.

If you can make $1, you can make $1 million.

If you can gain 1 follower, you can gain 1 million.

The only trap here is forgetting that you are a creative.

If your audience stops growing, that’s a problem, solve it.

If your product stops selling, that’s a problem, solve it.

If you don’t know how to solve it… skill issue.

6) The Importance Of Rest

You can’t identify new problems with a narrow mind.

Work contracts the mind, rest expands the mind.

At rest, your brain kicks on the Default Mode Network.

We don’t need to get into technicals, but your brain is more active when you are at rest and attempts to connect and spit ideas into your conscious mind.

Heard of “shower thoughts?”

That’s what this process does.

If you want to consistently have great ideas that lead to the highest leverage work… stop working.

Schedule walks in between work blocks. Go to the gym. Block out reading time. Go to dinner with your friends. Do anything that isn’t work… especially thinking about work.

7) F*ck Being Busy

If the work doesn’t move the needle toward your vision, stop doing it.

Busy work is yet another distraction that most people love to fall for.

Your psyche is wired to hunt.

So, work like a lion, as Naval would say.

Or, in my words, use tactical stress.

  • Sit, let vision accumulate.
  • Wait, until you see the prey.
  • Sprint, get the work done.
  • Eat, enjoy life and rest.

This goes against everything that we’ve been conditioned to believe. It will take time to accept that this is how creatives work.

Being boxed in a tidy 9-5 schedule is a living hell for creatives and entrepreneurs at heart.

That’s it for this letter, thank you for reading.

– Dan

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

When You’re Ready, Here’s How I Can Help You:

The FOCI Planner

Goals are important. If you want help reverse engineering your vision into bite-size goals and tasks — order The FOCI Planner.

The Art Of Focus Book

Find meaning, reinvent yourself, and create your ideal future. Now available on Amazon.

The 2 Hour Writer

Implement Our 2 Hour Content Ecosystem To Learn High Impact Digital Writing, Boost Your Online Authority, & Systemize Content Creation For Rapid Growth

Mental Monetization

Monetize your creative work with a digital product that sells while you sleep. Turn your knowledge, skills, and interests into a meaningful income.