Ep 20 - Ricky Richards
Ricky Richards Represents:
I Want To Be Rich.
I want to be rich.
The word rich can be interpreted in multiple ways. There’s the kind of rich that involves making money, and there’s a kid of rich, which suggests you live a happy and fulfilled life. Needless to say, I, like many of you, want to be rich in every which way.
On the podcast today I wanted to give you something that is highly strategic, incredibly practical in its application.
Before I tell you my secret however. I think it’s important to define what “I” consider rich to be. Because it’s going to differ for everyone.
My interpretation of being rich, is creative freedom. To not have to worry about money, to not have to work for someone else, to work on what I find interesting and to hopefully inspire others to do the same. That’s been my goal since the day I left uni and it still is to this day.
Over time I’ve discovered that beauty of youth, is we tend to have high levels of enthusiasm and self belief, we’re unaware of what once was, and hence, we tend to look at life with boundless optimism, we know nothing of a better time, we are relatively content in the circumstances that are before us, and avoid the advice of our elders with unashamed defiance.
I was no exception to this, upon leaving uni, I went to London with no money, only a desire to be at the very top of my industry. In my quest however, I kept receiving a reoccurring piece of advice from those I consider to be my mentors, and the more experience I get, the more their advice to remain “patient” has made sense to me.
When I first arrived in London, I acted instinctually; I had no plan beyond a month, but as I studied my craft, and those of adjacent industries such as tech and marketing, I began to poses a way of thinking that had a more long term perspective, and I uncovered a strategy that I believe is a simple blueprint when in comes to accumulating money and living a rich life.
The template consists of three distinct categories which I call the three P’s the first is Prospects, the second Product, and the third is Passive.
So, let me start with prospects,
Prospects, refer to the level of credibility that you’re able to accumulate for a given skill. In my case, the skill that I was pursuing was a combination of design and advertising.
I won my first logo competition at the age of 14, by 18 I had regular clients, when graduating I had as much freelance work in my portfolio as most professionals. A year and half into my time in London, I’d worked for three of the most notable advertising agencies, I’d won an award, and I’d worked for some of the biggest and most well known brands. In short, Unknowingly at the time, I’d amassed quite high prospects for myself.
Enough of me blowing my own trumpet though. What you don’t know, is that in order to achieve this, I’d had to work to past midnight several days a week for years. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been out on a night out in London despite living there for 5 years. I have never once watched TV in that time. And I couldn’t tell you a single new music artist. All I’ve done is graft.
For most people, this is where the journey ends. Once they have high-level prospects, they tend to become quite content, the money you earn is enough to sustain a better than average life, and so the cycle starts, as money increases, lifestyles inflate and so do expenses. This is where many people end up living pay check to pay check in a perpetual cycle, never questioning if there may be a better way.
The way people often try to fight against this by starting their own business, however, one of the first realisations I had after attempting to start my own agency, was that service based businesses are as much a treadmill as employment.
First, in running a service business you’ll find you do arguably more work for often far less money than those you employ. It becomes your responsibility to find clients, and upon finishing a project, you spend a good portion of the profit you just accrued in finding new clients. And that’s without considering the motivation of employees, hiring new staff, the list of responsibilities goes through the roof, but the compensation, in most cases doesn’t. According to John Howkins book – The creative economy, more than 90% of Creative industry businesses have less than 4 employees. That equates to a whole lot of additional stress, with most likely, very little reward.
Despite all my negative criticism of the career ladder and the pitfalls of starting your own business. It is still nevertheless, extremely admirable and desirable to accrue high levels of credibility and prospects, firstly because along the way, you will learn what the highs and lows of the industry you work in are, you will learn invaluable life skills that you can apply for the rest of your life, and you’ll acquire a skill, that can be used to be sure that you’ll never live a life of poverty.
To sum up, The prospect portion, is your life safety net, and even if you master all three tiers, it will always make sense to continue to bolster the foundations in the prospect faze of this plan.
The second tier is “product” or productisation, and it refers to how you’re going to turn your expertise into something you can sell for considerably more than your day rate in your industry. By producing your offering, you turn it into something you can sell multiple times, and hence, you introduce the beautiful effect of extrapolation by numbers.
As even a small example, for many years I have been paid to come up with ideas for clients. My day rate is £400. If however, I productise my expertise by offering workshops to help other people come up with ideas, I can charge attendees £150 per day, and even if I only get 10 people, I can make up to £1500 minus – expenses.
As you can see, with this method, it’s possible to make what a lot of people earn in a month in just a few days.
However, to achieve this, it first requires that you’ve got a good track record and a large enough following that people are prepared to attend in the first place. Basically, this second tier, only becomes viable, once you have clearly demonstrated your ability in the “prospects phase’ by accumulating high levels of career capital.
The example I have given is a workshop because that relates to what I do. However it could be anything. A famous musician for example, may put on an intimate gig and charge £30 a ticket, and get 1000 people turn up, which equates to £30,000 a night – expenses. Again, this only works because they’ve put in the hard work in the “prospect” faze, how many musicians can get 1000 people to attend a gig, the answer, is only the best.
So how does this make you rich? Well, the financial benefits speak for themselves. But it’s only once you feel the benefits of helping others, in seeing others flourish because of your contributions, the network of close bonds you create, and the pride that comes with being the leader of people, that you’ll come to appreciate the other enriching qualities of this second phase.
Also worth mentioning are the benefits that being able to earn money quickly opens up to you. The best creative in the world don’t have to worry about going to work, and that frees them up to work on crafting their next piece of great work. How much easier would it be to create things of genuine self expression and value if you didn’t need to sacrifice 40 hours a week to employment?
Though it will take time, getting to a stage where you can accrue a yearly salary capable of living off in a quarter of the time is a genuinely achievable goal. One that will open you up to work on passion projects to your hearts content, which I believe is a goal worthy of aspiring for.
Despite how great this second phase is, there is one downside to the second faze of this structure, which is it still requires your active involvement. Your success is dependant on your presence, and not everyone feels comfortable playing the leadership role, which is where the third tier comes into play.
The passive tier refers to projects that you can create that once complete, are capable of earning you money without your active participation. There’s no better feeling, than waking up slightly richer, no matter how little you make. These kinds of projects are extremely difficult to come by. But over the course of a lifetime, opportunities will arise that make sense.
The first passive project I ever created was by accident. After putting up a free vector file online of a font I had made while at university, I was sent an email by a friend who had noticed that it had been used for Paris Hilton’s new single called “good times”. On that small 15cm squared CD cover, she’d managed to get her face on it 6 times, the ultimate showcase in vanity, accompanied by my font. Clearly not the highlight of my creative career.
Nevertheless, I decided that I should turn it into a usable font for sale. I outsourced the making of the vector file into a real font for £100, and because of the popularity of the font, in just less than two years I had accrued nearly £2000 in online sales, without doing anything other than creating the font.
This was what opened my eyes to this way of creating income, but it has since been a determining factor as to what projects I decided to work on In my spare time. Again, the insights I accrued while working in the “prospects’ phase have become my greatest source of inspiration for projects I could create that fit the criteria for a passive projects.
Passive projects, bottom line, solve problems. Done right, they should create more value for people than it costs them to buy it.
Another example of this, is a project I’m releasing in January, called the Creative Catalogue and it aims to aid creatives in justifying ideas, finding source material, and writing pitch decks, all things that I found to be the relative headaches I faced while working in as a creative in advertising, my background will give me enough credibility to show others that I’m well versed in the struggles they too face, and it will undoubtedly act in my favour when it comes to encouraging people to sign up to the resource I’ve created.
Be warned however, Passive projects often require inordinate amounts of upfront work, with little to no guarantee of success. But when it works out, it can provide a steady stream of income, with little to no upkeep, which then allows you to focus on what’s most important to you, be that freedom for creative expression as in my case, or 10 hours of Xbox, whatever you consider a rich life to consist of for you.
I would never normally go into this much detail as to my strategy. I’ve no doubt that there are other approaches the may be more lucrative and right for you. But the reason I did this is because I believe most creative people, are in a fortunate position to have the skills to put these thoughts into action.
Obviously, I can tell you this, and I fully expect many of you to be too impatient to follow it as I was when I left university. But the trick is having a long-term perspective, to be patient for the right opportunities, and the perseverance in making them happen when they do arise.
I hope this podcast goes some way to guide your plans into the future. And do let me know if you do implement this into your own life, I’d love to hear your results.
Until next time.
Keep creating and bye for now.