Updated: Jan 20
In this post I'll show you why modern artisans and skilled storytellers will earn more than traditional employees in years to come.
What's an Internet Artisan?
Traditionally we think of artisans as skilled workers that create a unique product that isn't mass produced and can't be easily replicated.
These are tradesmen, and they're incredibly valuable to our society (and earn a lot more than you might think).
I'm a big supporter of trade schools and apprenticeships.
These are a much better investment than four year institutions for a lot of people.
But what I'm talking about in this post is a new type of artisan, one that uses the internet to scale their reach.
The most obvious examples are:
These are Internet Artisans whose product is content.
And content is a future-proof wealth vehicle.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these people will be rich forever — a lot of them are still kids that don't know what to do with their millions.
They could easily burn through their money in a hurry and blame it on their advisors like Nicolas Cage.
(The IRS was after him, which is why he created his alter ego, Marilyn Manson.)
But I'm talking about having products/services that can't be taught to computers.
The world is speeding towards automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics.
Yes, AI is catching up quickly.
But Internet Artisans have one element computers can't emulate: a personal touch.
Which is why content creation is a model that can continue to work even after robots take over the workforce.
But content creators aren't the only ones creating future-proof wealth.
Anyone who's using the internet to scale their business is an Internet Artisan.
It Starts With Accepting Technology
Tech is taking over the workforce, you need to adapt to it in order to grow wealth in the future.
I'm not talking about grinding away 40+ hours/week to make a bigger salary than your peers.
That mindset in my opinion is backwards, and a recipe for exhaustion and depression.
(Take this with a grain of salt.)
I wouldn't quit your day job until you've created other revenue channels, but you should be skeptical of the traditional workweek.
Creativity doesn't happen from 9am to 5pm Monday-Friday, and neither does productivity.
With technology, the 40-hour work week has expired, which I'll explain more in next week's post.
But right now I'm talking about creating sustainable, virtually passive income.
(Money you earn that requires little to no daily effort to maintain.)
You're not making real money until you're making it in your sleep.
Real estate is probably the best example of truly passive income.
But the idea here is to create income that requires as little effort as possible.
There's a difference between the income traditional artisans make, and the minimal-effort income Internet Artisans are able to make.
Internet Artisans Scale Quickly & Easily
Traditional artisans aren't able to scale their businesses without man power.
For a baker to scale, they would need to open new storefronts in new locations and hire more employees to run them.
Which means their day to day no longer consists of baking, but managing people.
As the business grows, so does their payroll.
Not to mention other fixed costs like rent, distribution, equipment, etc.
I'm not saying this model doesn't work... but that's a lot of money, effort & especially time.
Today, that's not necessary.
Times have changed.
Internet Artisans are able to get their product in front of millions of people in minutes, and then let the internet sell on a large scale for them.
But despite the large scale, they're still artisans — they own a craft or skill that has a personal touch that can't be outsourced or automated.
Think about video gamers.
They're still pouring hours into their consoles, perfecting their craft and creating content (product) with it.
But unlike the baker, they don't have to assume huge overhead costs and years of steady growth to distribute their product.
The distribution channels already exist for them, and the user/consumer base does too.
YouTube, streaming platforms, social media... these are the new distributors and salesmen.
YouTube has 2 billion users. (The world population sits at 7.5 billion right now.)
79% of internet users have a YouTube account.
These platforms are giving people and their products insane exposure, and they're free to use.
And this doesn't just apply to content creators. It can be any product.
With e-commerce platforms and dropshipping, anyone can sell while they sleep.
It might not be as passive as real estate, because you're still developing a product that takes time and effort to create.
But once you upload that product, most of your work is done.
I know a few people from high school that are great with calligraphy and have started their own businesses making custom signs and plaques.
They're not creating YouTube videos, but I guarantee they're using an internet distribution platform like Etsy. (Or at least I hope they are.)
In 2019 alone, Etsy helped independent sellers generate a total of $818.8 Million in revenue.
Using these platforms, people are creating leverage, scaling their businesses, and making it easier on themselves to earn.
Anyone with a product can implement these distribution channels into their business.
But if I were you, I'd ask yourself if there's some sort of content you can create.
I've always said this — content is king.
And the reason content creators are positioned so well for the future is deeper than their ability to upload to YouTube and social media.
They're positioned well because their brand is their image — which can't be replicated or mass produced by a machine.
Instagram models are the obvious example here — they're hot, and everyone knows it.
Computers aren't hot.
Sorry not sorry.
IG models are attractive, which makes them desirable.
But not every attractive person is making money with the internet.
The best way to do that is to be a storyteller.
The Best Internet Artisans Are Skilled Storytellers
And it's not just models.
The best SEO & marketing experts that make YouTube videos are implementing their face, voice, and personality into their videos.
There's thousands of SEO geniuses, but only a handful of them are getting millions of views.
It’s because people enjoy interacting with their personality and image.
They might think their value is their knowledge of SEO, but it's their personality that makes them enjoyable.
Computers understand algorithms faster and more completely than humans.
SEO algorithms can easily be taught to a computer.
What a computer can't be taught is how to create content about SEO with a human element.
If you're thinking about Sophia the AI robot, Ex Machina, & Westworld — I was too when I wrote this.
But the stark contrast between AI and humans is that AI cannot invent, or create the way humans do.
AI can be taught to emulate people, but it cannot develop its own personality.
Content creators are skilled storytellers that know how to implement their personality into their work.
Even the people behind the camera, photographers and video creators, are telling a story.
Take the story of Cole Bennett and his Lyrical Lemonade brand for example.
He took the creation of music videos to a whole new level, because he started drawing cartoon effects over the videos he shot.
Not an overly complicated addition, but it made him unique.
He added a personal touch, one that made him one of the most influential video directors in the music industry.
Since then he's continued to add new effects that make his videos completely different.
He's incredibly talented, and most importantly incredibly creative.
A computer can't think creatively.
Which makes people like Cole Bennett and their content future-proof.
But ask yourself about your job, your role, and your responsibilities.
Are you future-proof?
Check Your Expiration Date
Now more than ever, the biggest threat to the workforce as we know it is automation.
According to usnews.com, robots and automation will lead to the displacement of 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030.
You may be thinking "I'm not in manufacturing, I graduated from college in a specialized field, so this doesn't apply to me."
But you might be surprised.
"70% of what finance does today can be automated. Some jobs are just going to go away." Lee Coulter, CFO.com
The reality is, no industry is robot-proof.
Don't take it from me, take it from the robot that wrote this article in The Guardian.
Even for writers like me, automation and artificial intelligence is here, and it's not going away.
But it doesn't have to be so scary if you understand leverage.
Your field, industry, and position are not going to give you future-proof wealth.
What gives you leverage is specific knowledge.
"Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated... When specific knowledge is taught, it's through apprenticeships, not schools" - Naval Ravikant
What can you do that a computer can't?
What human element do you possess that can't be outsourced or automated?
Meditate on that for awhile. Write down whatever you come to.
You'll find that whatever that is, it's always somehow attached to your personality.
Use your knowledge to sell your personality.
"If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts." - Naval
Recognize what you're good at.
You're good at juggling a soccer ball? Post that.
You know a lot about cars? Post that.
You're not athletic, but love to watch sports? Post about that.
Guarantee Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd suck at sports, yet they're making millions creating sports-related content.
Tell your story, whatever it is.
Create content, then use the internet to aid you with distribution.
It doesn't have to be Man vs Machine. It can be Man and Machine.
Technology Didn't Break Sales
It expanded it.
Despite what people thought was going to happen, tech hasn't completely eliminated sales.
It actually bred more salesmen.
More people are using the internet to start and scale businesses, even if it's just a side gig.
With more artisans and micro entrepreneurs, big bureaucracies are on the downfall.
Small teams of people who assume multiple roles and leverage with tech are competing with industry titans that have thousands of employees.
With automation taking over the responsibilities of a large portion of the workforce, employers are starting to look for elasticity.
Elasticity is your ability to shift roles, take on new responsibilities, and adapt.
You do this by identifying your specific knowledge, your human ability, and using tech to position yourself for the future.
Here's How I Found My Elasticity
I was a student copywriter getting paid a low hourly wage to edit small bits of text for typos, out of place commas, and syntax errors.
Otherwise known as a less-efficient version of Microsoft Word's "spelling & grammar" feature.
Quite possibly one of the most replaceable positions that still exists in the world.
I realized I needed to develop some other sort of value, so I turned to YouTube and LinkedIn Learning.
I knew I was a good writer, and a natural storyteller.
But I needed to find a way to leverage it — so I turned to the internet.
I realized that digital marketing was probably my best bet, because marketing departments always need copywriters.
I took a few online trainings, learned phrases like SEO, UX Design, Information Architecture, Click Through Rate, etc.
So I took an SEO course, then a UX Design course, an IA course...
I kept digging.
And I couldn't believe how much I was able to learn for free, and fast.
Pretty soon I started bringing up some of these concepts in meetings with my boss, and her bosses too.
I was literally slipping words I had just learned into conversations with the tech professionals in my circle.
And they could've easily called me out and exposed me for being a novice.
But I kept learning, and kept participating in those conversations.
I didn't know the majority of the stuff that was being talked about.
But pretty soon, I was able to follow along and participate in convo's I never would've been able to before.
A few weeks later I got added to the Digital Strategies team which was tasked with creating a completely new website, which consisted of 40-some microsites.
From there I didn’t look back.
In one year I went from Student Writer to Senior Writer to UX Writer & Content Strategist to Digital Strategies Specialist.
I literally asked for these titles, and my boss was completely cool with me assuming them.
I didn't follow the normal promotion schedule...
I just asked flatout if I could update my title while I picked up new projects and responsibilities.]
Meanwhile I majored in Public Health and skipped class to hangout in ski towns or play beer die in the backyard...
I'm not saying I'm some genius and incredibly hard worker who climbed the ranks...
Quite the opposite actually.
I wasn't a natural student, and I struggled with formal education.
But I realized I needed to provide value in a world where my grammatical skills no longer mattered.
From there I found the easiest, quickest way to reinvent myself and leverage my skills with technology.
Which I'm still in the process of... with this blog... and this post.
I'm leveraging my knowledge, implementing my personality, and telling my story.
Are you telling yours?
Tell me about your passion in the comments! Or, just let me know what you think about this post! I respond to every last comment.
See you next week,