I have a litmus test that reliably tells whether a profession or niche can generate a 6-figure income for you…or whether you’ll scrabble just to keep the lights on.
It’s this: Is the activity you want to make money doing something that vast hordes of people would happily do for free?
If so, your chances of making a good living doing that thing are not none, but they are slim indeed.
Reason: it’s very difficult to get paid a living wage doing something thousands of other people will do just for the satisfaction, recognition, pleasure, or personal fulfillment.
Say you love writing essays, as I do. And you’d like to see if you can become a professional essay writer.
The problem is that there are so many people who would love to see their essays published, they don’t care about the money.
They just want their essays to appear in a magazine or newspaper. And if they will happily do for free what you want to get paid for, that makes it difficult to get paid a decent wage or anything at all for your product.
So writing essays fails the litmus test of being a good business opportunity, because the amateurs are killing the field for the professionals. Same situation with short stories.
Copywriting, on the other hand, passes the litmus test for being a good business because there are not crowds begging to do it for free.
There are plenty of people who want to write and will happily do it for nothing, but virtually none who want to write copy for free.
Copywriting is a profession in which participants not only expect to be paid but expect to be paid well, well enough to have an annual income in the six figures.
Amateurs have no interest in writing copy. It’s too commercial. It doesn’t allow them the self-expression they crave. It’s selling, not art.
Photography used to be a lucrative profession. But now it fails the litmus test: ever since manufacturers started building cameras into cell phones, everyone can take decent pictures.
This has diminished the value of photography as a skill. Now amateurs with mobile phones happily post their photos wherever they can with no thought of remuneration.
For instance, I was at an organization where beautiful photos were displayed all over the building. A note at the beginning of the display noted these were all taken by employees of the organization. In the good old days, when I was a marketing manager, we would have hired professional photographers to take these shots.
As a result, it’s very difficult to make a good living in photography today. Exceptions? Of course.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.