I have done a lot of things in my life and I have been labelled as a Jack of all Trades because of it. But the truth is, I did what I did out of necessity and instability, knowing that one thing and one industry was never enough to ensure my continued financial success.
When you are self-employed you have a certain degree of uncertainty in everything you do. If you rely on a creative art, then it’s even worse. Your games can stop selling, the publishers can stop taking notice and then what? You can be on top of the world one minute and you can have nothing the next.
This is why I have always tried to keep other irons in the fire and why I have always advised friends and colleagues to do the same.
My own situation is not a great example because while I have ventured into many different areas and used my skills in many sectors, I have achieved some degree of success in all and my career is still growing. But my friend is a perfect example of why I do this.
He was a penniless writer for most of his life but then he published a novel to much acclaim and he suddenly became the author he had always wanted to be. He wrote like crazy in the first couple years, wanting to keep the production line going and to keep those sales up. But just three years in, his books stopped selling and he was on his way out. Or rather he would have been, if he had not used his status as a bestselling author to become a leading freelancer, used that to become a respected nonfiction author, and used his skills as an SEO expert (which he developed as a freelancer) to build successful websites.
For me, I began as a developer, working on games for other. I then started my own company and grew that into something relatively successful. But I continued to build websites, to work for others, to get small shares of big projects and big shares of small ones. I wanted a piece of every pie and I wanted that because I knew that if I lost any of those, then I would have nothing.
How You Can Expand
Your skills will always be useful and there will always be a way you can use them across multiple projects. As a developer, freelancer, writer—whatever—your major commodity is you time. I always say that it’s better to work endlessly now when you can afford to do it and when you are seeing the money coming in, than when you have lost everything and you need to do it to try and get back on the ladder.
Build websites, start games, offer your services as a developer on other games in exchange for some of the profits. There is a multitude of things that you can do and it applies to everyone, regardless of the industry they are in.
As another example, I know a very accomplished poker player, someone who made a mint playing the game and, like me, was worried that it would all dry up. After all, it’s gambling and it just takes a run of bad luck to end him.
So, he branched out into other areas. He created an online poker school, he offered Skype tutorials to aspiring players and he also wrote many poker blogs. After a year of branching out like this, he was able to earn enough money from these additional activities to fund his main one, which essentially meant that every penny he won at the table was profit and that every penny lost equated to lost time and not the first step of his financial failure.
When he had established himself, he created many niche websites based around poker and gambling, from specialist payment websites like eCheckCasinos.ca, which focused on his home country and a payment method that was popular with fellow Canadian players at the time, to his own version of the Cardschat forum. He created dozens of blogs, writing a few basic articles and using his platform to get them going, and then paying someone else to keep them running while he earned a profit.
Every person who is self-employed has these opportunities and everyone of them needs to take them. It doesn’t matter if you make your money as a designer, writer, artist, developer or gambler, there are opportunities out there and taking them is the only way to ensure you keep paying the bills.