How To Sell Out Your Creative Works Without “Selling Out”

What children selling cakes on the roadside taught me about doing business with integrity

A man making Chinese crafts by table lamp for article about small business by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

What children selling cakes on the roadside taught me about doing business with integrity

As I made my way to the game last weekend, a couple of young kids, no more than five or six years of age, were selling homemade cakes, sweets and drinks to fans at the roadside. There were no adults orchestrating things on the front line as far as I could see. There were just the kids with big smiles on their faces.

It seemed to me they were delighted to be engaged in what they were doing. Not for the sake of making money, but for the thrill of interaction with other people. The kids’ motivation was to make something people might enjoy.

The entire process was natural, honest and integrated. There was no ulterior motive, no intent to sell, no need on the kids part to convince anyone of their integrity and merit.

It was apparent to everyone.

They sold their cakes and sweets and probably made a couple of quid. The fans who bought from them likely received a boost from their interaction with the kids too.

Now contrast that with our everyday experience and interaction in the world with our fellow adults.

Everywhere we turn, someone is trying to sell to our emotions. They attempt to manipulate our buying decisions with clever marketing and scripted narratives. They try to convince us that their bright shiny something will fill our void, will help us reach our ultimate goal of contentment and happiness.

And we lap it up like a Pavlov dog.

But none of it works. We never get there — this place they tell us we’ll reach.

The psychology of why we buy is well documented. However, although the information these persuasion professionals use is available to the general public in books such as YES! 50 Secrets From The Science of Persuasion, and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, most of us remain unaware.

They have been studying our behaviour for a long time and they know why we buy.

“Audiences have been successfully manipulated by those who use social evidence, even when that evidence has been openly falsified.” ― Robert B. Cialdini

So it’s not entirely their fault; it’s our fault too.

We’re too stupid to understand the difference or too careless to do anything consciously about it. We’re addicted to the short bursts of pleasure we receive from their bright shiny products.

Hit after hit we keep coming back for more.

Those kids selling cakes and sweets at the side of the road weren’t trying to manipulate anyone, how could they, they’re children. There was no promise of future gain and no fear of loss. The joy in the exchange was mutual and happened right there and then.

But our friendly neighbourhood corporate executive has a different motivation.

And it is in this night and day difference between the two modes of thought and action that success or failure exists for small business operators.

There is a belief amongst small business owners that entering the business world requires us to become something other than what we are. There is a concept of “business person”, and that usually means we need to change our personality and become ruthless and businesslike.

We must be prepared to take advantage whenever it presents itself no matter what the consequences. After all, it’s just business, right? If it’s not explicit, it’s certainly implicit in the popular cultural narrative.

“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.” ― Alan Watts

A creative person operating a business of one cannot compete in a marketplace that seems to thrive on a survival-of-the-fittest mentality. And why should they! This idea runs counter to the creative instinct!

To survive and thrive as a creative person in business, we must learn to be a child again. That’s not to suggest we must drop our professionalism and attention to detail. On the contrary, we need to focus on these things absolutely. But we must also adopt a state of mind about selling as do children selling cakes and sweets on the roadside.

If we’re in love with our work, if we give a damn about the product or service and put our heart and soul into it, then others will see that and want to be a part of it.

It doesn’t take much to do reasonably well, to make a decent living. We’ve just got to get out on the roadside and sell our cakes. Those kids wouldn’t have sold much of their wares had they stayed in the hallway of their house, would they? They needed to get it out there.

We are no different.

Those kids didn’t doubt the integrity of what they made, and they didn’t for a second believe that they were manipulating anyone. So why should you?

Are you making your stuff, delivering your service from the right place?

Are you trying too hard to make money, or are you trying to bring what you made into the world for others to enjoy and receive a benefit?

What’s your motivation?

Do you want to make money or do you want to make art?

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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