6 Figure Creative Icon

The 6 Levels of Freelancing – Part 1

Episode art
Most freelancers have no idea what they are doing and end up stuck in a low-paying, dead-end job because their business never gets enough clients to pay the bills.
In this episode, we discuss the levels of your freelance career, and how to move from one level to the next so you can earn more money and work with better clients.
If you want to learn how to become an expert in your field, get paid well for your work, and want to work from home on your own schedule, this episode is for you!
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • Everyone starts on the same level
  • Why you're not special if you take every job that comes your way
  • How to learn what you want to do with your life
  • Listening to the market: your clients will help you pick an offering
  • Why you're shooting yourself in the foot if you offer two drastically different services
  • Automation: is it helping you or harming you?
  • What common business advice is actually bad for your business
  • Imposter syndrome: what to do when it rears its ugly head
  • Why the generalist never wins

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Click the play button below in order to listen to this episode:


“The reason that you should not focus on passion as much is that you don't know all the things that you might be passionate about in the future.” – Chris Graham
“I don't want a foot massage with my barbecue. I'm not gonna get a foot massage where I'm going to smell barbecue all day. And I don't want to get barbecue where people are getting their feet rubbed. It's gross.” – Brian Hood

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[00:00:00] welcome back to another episode of the six figure creative podcast. I am your host Brian Hood. I'm here with my bald beautiful,

sexy cohost. Christopher J. Graham. How you doing today,


better with these new adjectives.


If I were a better, co-host, I would come up with brand new adjectives, every single episode, but I'm not, I don't think I'm creative enough for that with a show

called the six-figure creative.

I should be more creative than that,

how are you, man? What's new in your


man. I'm doing so good. I'm repping the uh, the file past hoodie. I haven't worn this thing in a while, made this for Nam 2020. it says death to Dropbox on the back of it, even though I love Dropbox. I just think it's a funny little slogan to put on the back of it. It stopped

heads at the, at the Nam show.

It was I miss,

did Facebook show you like a two years

ago? Memory of us at, out in California two years ago? I think it's like today

Two years ago today. Yeah, yeah,


Good times for those who aren't there, it's just like a national association of music merchandising, I think, is what it stands for. And it was like it's where like probably a hundred thousand [00:01:00] music nerds get together


150,000 music nerds.

And It's one of the most fun. things you can do if you are in the music world in any way, shape or form,

It's literally next door to


All right. Let's get to the episode today. I think we got a, we got a doozy. This could end up being a two-parter depending on how

long this takes.

It's one of the, as long as outline we've ever done,

It's so funny to me, when you, when you hear like, on so many different shows or YouTube and podcasts, we got a great episode for you guys today and they just say it every episode. This is actually, I think the best outline for an episode that we've had in quite some time, maybe ever.

I have an I'll let our audience be that all this is for anyone that doesn't buy into Chris Graham's hype. All this is a rehash of an older episode on episode 17, the five stages of a successful recording career. This episode is going to be the sixth. As of right now, the six levels of a successful freelancing career.

But this is going to be

a lot different than the last episode because Chris and I recorded that episode almost four years ago,

we was dumber back then.

We were, yeah, we, I mean, we were just different people back [00:02:00] then in four years, you change a lot. Especially as an entrepreneur, we were forced to adapt and change and grow, especially with the we went through in 20 20, 20, 21.

So we are different people. Now we have different perspectives. We purposely did not look at our outline for that episode. And we purposely did not go back and listen to that episode. So any similarities or dissimilarities or anything that we say against that, doesn't go. it goes against what we said before.

That's fine. Today's

episode is correct. That old episode is wrong, outdated and dead to us. Now,

Well, and what you said earlier

about that we didn't go back and listen to

it on purpose. I would like to preface this episode by saying I'm really good at not going back and listening to our old episodes on purpose

of our 185 episodes? Now, how many episodes do you think you've actually listened to start to fail?

Hm. Let's not count ones that like I had to make what you were on your honeymoon.

Which was like two episodes. Okay. So there's


a bull though, like seven episodes. You were like, I'll be back at some point. And I was like, oh my God, this is harder than it looks. I listened to the full episode that you had with. It was just a solo episode about some of [00:03:00] the faces, the problems that we've been facing.

And it was actually an amazing way. See, I'm, I'm, I'm dodging and weaving here. It was actually an amazing way to communicate with you to be like, you know, this is an issue we've talked about, you hashed out additional parts of it. I understood your position better. As I cleaned my apartment while listening to you on the podcast.

And I was like, this is great. I really feel like I understand him. And like, he really, he, you know, he had a really well formed thesis. It was well thought out. So one I've listened to one of our episodes.

Got it. Got it. Got it.

All right. So you did four episodes while I was gone. I just looked it up just to give an actual number on

it. And

on top of that,

Yeah. So I've heard and I've listened through every single episode we've ever put out, start to finish. cause I review every episode, I finalize every episode to this day and I also just like hearing what we talked about.

Cause sometimes when we're in the heat of the episode, I'm like paying attention to the outline or the notes that I have and not necessarily the episode. So I just like sometimes when we have guests or when Chris and I talk about things, I just like [00:04:00] going back and hearing everything again,

keeps me fresh.

keeps me

keeps me


here's, my confession. I would like you guys to all believe that I don't listen to this podcast because I'm lazy. The real reason is as much worse than that. It's because I would like it too much.

Wow. So yeah, if Chris, if Chris Graham doesn't have a big enough ego


wait until he hears

his own voice for an hour.

and a

half every week.

I don't need to listen to myself, talk for an hour.

I can hear the voice in my head all day long. I would love to, and I'm sure someday I will and I'd really enjoy it, but for my own health and safety,

I don't listen to our


Okay, well, let's get, let's get an episode. We got a lot to cover on this. Again. This is going to be, as of right now, unless we add our extra level, which is completely

possible. We do Chris and I just do these things. Sometimes we like to expand what we talk

on and we're like, you know what?


an extra level here.

we're inventing level seven. It's never been done before

Oh my God. Yes, marketing talk. we spent a lot of time playing this episode out because every one of you are at a different stage right now, or a different level. [00:05:00] And first being able to spot that helps you understand kind of a category you fit in. And then what we're going to talk about, likely what you can do to get to the next level what's holding you back and why you may be stuck at that level.

I think that's the most important part of these sorts of episodes is like putting yourself on a spectrum and just saying, okay, I'm on this part of the journey. What is it going to take for me to get to that next part of the journey to the next level? And I hear this so many times when I'm like talking to people, they're like, I want to get to the next level of my career.

I'm like, do you know of all you're on now? The answer is usually no, they haven't really

thought about it. They just want to be on the next level, whatever that means.

That's really funny.

I think one of the things, one of the levels, I think in any creative career is there, there has to be a level where, when you hear someone talking about the different levels of a creative career, the spectrum that it exists on that their immediate response is I'm not a level. What would an apply to me?

I'm unique. I'm special. I'm a little more, I'm a, I'm a stuff like I'm a little butterfly. I

don't fit on the,

that's the Enneagram for is listening to us right now. If that's you right now, you are a likely Enneagram for us. [00:06:00] My wife it's perfectly fine, but you have to understand that you are not as special of a snowflake as you think, when it comes to being a

freelancer. The reality is there are templates of humans, there's


Like, you know, that there's like that guy you see, you're like every, every group of people has that one person in it. That just looks this way. Like

physically, we have templates as

humans as business

owners, we have templates,

everyone's got a Steve

common name,

not what your mint.

Five foot 10. It's got black hair thinning a little


uh, Skins.


shortish, tallish,

Let's talk about level one right now. This is where we're going to start. This is where pretty much everyone starts at. So when we say this is level one, if you were in this level, don't feel bad about that. We're not, necessarily, even though we may say bad things about the level it's because we want you to get to the next level, but just keep in mind.

Every one of us started at level one, every single one of us started level one. Some of us are stuck there longer than others,

but just worry about getting to the next level. Don't get, don't get self-conscious about this episode. We're

not trying to demoralize


I started a level [00:07:00] two. I'm

a unique, special,

No, you didn't.

I went right to level two

I started at level one in January. of 2009 is when I started and it was level one, 100% level one level one is what we call yes. Mode. I think this might be the only similarity to the old episode. The five stages of a successful recording career. I think next level, I think stage one was a yes mode. so.

this hasn't changed. But that's the only thing I remember from that

episode. So level one is yes. Mode. If you're in this, in this level, if you're in yes mode right now, this means you have a lot of passion.

You're passionate about what you do, which is pretty much how we all got started.

You likely say the word passion too much.

people that are level one are

definitely, they love to talk about their passion. as if that's like an excuse to shit on everyone, they know

When it comes to like the, the passion conversation, like we are all passionate led. That is, that is a hundred percent true.

But when, when, when I say you, you talk about passion too much. I just mean that like, that's the only thing you think about and you don't think about anyone else. [00:08:00] It's a selfish motivation when you think about passion. So when you're in yes mode, you were just essentially trying to get whatever you can get.

You say yes to any project, any type of client, any sort of work, anything you can get. And that's okay because in this level. You lack skills, you lack vision for where you're going. and because of that, like you have to say yes to whatever.

Cause you don't know what you. Until you've worked on like a number of different things, enough in different services. You've tried certain things. You've worked with different types of clients. It's hard to really put a pin on, like, what's the niche you're going to go after, how are you going to reach them?

Like all the hard questions. What's my vision. What's so like, if you are a level one freelancer right now trying to set like a three to five-year vision is utterly stupid. That's where that's one of the few times, I'll say an absolute it's really stupid because like you just don't have any clue where it could


Like you could set a six month vision and it would likely change by the time you got


Yeah, the problem. Isn't a lack of plan. It's a lack of like knowledge. You have to get out there and you have to learn, Hey, I like this. Hey, I don't like that. Hey, I'm actually pretty good at that. I [00:09:00] never thought I would be that good when I was in yes. Mode. I an opportunity to work on a feature length film to do, to master it, to do the audio.

And I thought it'd be fun. And it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. And so I don't do that anymore. I didn't go down that path, but I was willing to try new things just to figure out like, Hey, is there something else that I, you know, maybe it'd be really into. when you're afraid as a creative, I think it comes down to validation most of the time.

You want to be validated by those around you. But I think ultimately that fear leads us to pick one thing and say, this is what my future is going to look like. I know it, this is my future going to look like, just because that feels safer to know like, well, I know I'm going to nominate professional black and white film stocker for the next 75 years.

Like you don't have to worry about it anymore. And the unknown is scary. Right? So I think that focus on passion a lot of times. the reason that you should not focus on passion as much is that you don't [00:10:00] know all the things that you might be passionate about in the future

Yes, that is the, that's a great point. So we're not saying anything wrong is wrong with passion, but putting blinders on what you're currently passionate about. Excludes you from so many other opportunities in your life. If you'd have told me back in 2009, that I'm doing what I'm doing today, just like 13 years later, just 13.

It was a long time ago, like 12, 13 years ago. But if you told me that, like that, that in 10, 12 years, I'll be doing something completely different in a complete different city and a completely different skillset. I would have probably looked at you funny at the very least. And I, and I might not have been happy about it either.

I'd be like, well, I, I can't, if I put a YouTube video of that, that year of me like doing like a, if you just search like Brian Hood heel-toe technique on YouTube. It is like my first YouTube video. And it is the most hilarious. I leave it. up for a purpose.

on purpose. It's the most hilarious cringy you will ever see.

It's like I'm Brian Hood from forfeits who's recordings. Today, I'm going to show you my heel toe technique. That's like literate, how I sound. I had no personality. So if you told me I'm doing what [00:11:00] I'm doing today, I would have just said no. And here's, and here's the, here's the short and skinny of this whole like level level one situation is if . You are focused on passion alone, you will likely fail because you're being selfish, you're being selfish and you're not being open to other opportunities.

So to get out of level one, to get out of yes, mode, it takes a couple of things. First is building your skills. You have to constantly being investing in yourself to learn the skills you need. Usually it's the skills around the service you're trying to provide. So if you're an audio learning audio skills, if you're in video learning video skills, if you're in design learning design skills, but you also have to be open to listening to the market.

And what I mean is when you start saying yes to projects and they don't go well, that's the market saying, you're probably not cut out for this at least not yet. So you need to either keep investing in. Or you need to start trying other things. And when you're trying other things, if the thing goes really well, that's a good sign of the market saying, this might be the thing you go with.

And I'll give you an example is I've had a few calls with people recently where they were doing audio only in their studio and things were [00:12:00] going decently, but they had one service. They weren't even advertising. This is multiple studios were doing this, this isn't just one person. They were doing a service where they were making video, like live recordings with video and making great looking video live in the studio so that the bands had stuff for social media.

And every like artist, because the tech talk and Instagram and everyone being video focused and short form video focused, it makes sense that that would be a thing that they need. So by servicing that they were making a significant amount of money, not even advertising that. So that's the market saying, Hey, it's likely time.

Level one entrepreneur level one, freelancer is likely time for you to say this is the market Speaking to me. I do enjoy doing this. it's time to double down and get out of yes mode and start narrowing my focus down a little


Yeah, when that starts to happen, when the market starts to speak to you, I think that is one of the most exciting parts of any entrepreneur's journey and it happens at multiple stages. It happens again and again, but when people start to point out and say, man, you are [00:13:00] really good at X, Y, and Z, or they come to you and are like, Hey, I know you don't do this ABC service, but I think you'd be really good at it.

Could you do it for me when the market starts to speak and you get started, get to start to get asked to do certain types of projects or you get that sort of a. Praise about certain tiny pieces of a thing that you do. it really behooves you to pay attention to that.

Yeah. Sometimes the market screams at you and says, this is what you should do. And sometimes it just whispers at you and says, I'm pretty good at this. And people don't want to hear the whispers. They it's the imposter syndrome. They're like, well, I'm not a videographer. I can't do video services in my studio.

I'm an audio engineer. They, they can't, they're too tied up into their identity. And this really I'm going to go out and move to level two, because this is really just bleeding over to the level two conversation more than level one, because level one, you're just trying to get what you want, whatever you can get.

You're trying to get whatever you can get. And, and you're saying yes to anything and level one, you likely can't even get people to work with you for free. That's the, that's the sign that your skills are bad on [00:14:00] the fulfillment. And that you'd like me to just invest in the skills, but moving on to level two, because I think this is an important time to talk about this is the generalist level two is the generalist.

And that's where you've likely had some success. Maybe people, maybe the work, the market's whispering to you, you're getting more and more of those projects, but you're also getting these other projects that you like doing, even though they're not going well, there's just, you like doing them, it's you, it's your passion.

You're making some money, but you, your pricing is just awful. You're probably making like 10 bucks an hour. If you were really to look down at like your numbers. and this is where we're kind of talking about where the market starts to speak to you. This starts to whisper to you and the imposter syndrome takes hold, and doesn't let go.

And doesn't allow you to go down the path of exploring these other areas either because you're just not passionate about

it or that you just don't believe that you Have the ability to do.

Have you seen there's a YouTube

series and I gathered that it's fake, but it's this big heavyset African-American dude. And it's a fake commercial for a business called something like, JCS, barbecue [00:15:00] and foot massage. And

he comes out singing and he's like, Jaycee's barbecue and foot massage.

Jaycee's barbecue and foot massage. And the premise is that he runs a business where they sell like barbecue pulled pork and stuff, but where you can also get a foot massage Like bruh,


That's that made me gag. Just thinking about those two things. Yeah.

Meats and feats. That's the

two things that Chris Graham wants in his inbox right now. Send him

photos of meats and feats.

feeds. So, but that's a good example of like a generalist to like, I could make some money massage on people's feet and then I could make some money making barbecue. I'll do them both. Yikes, bro.

Yeah. And I've talked about this on my YouTube videos lately, which Chris Graham definitely doesn't watch. where I talk about like, Hey, you, you're making some money over here. And so your, your thought process is if I'm making three K a year over here and I do 10 other services, maybe I'll make another 20 K this year.

I'll just [00:16:00] make $2,000 from every service I offer. That's the mindset. So many people have when they start offering. It's just like, it's, it's kind of like a blend between level one, level two, where you're like you're in yes. Mode, just because you're in desperate desperation mode. But this is a dangerous place to be because you can get stuck in this world.

You can make enough money to be scared to make any changes. And I'm not going to put a hard amount on what that money might be, cause it's gonna be different for everyone, but it's enough to be stuck and let fear

paralyze you

I was reading a blog post earlier today about overwhelm for creatives and just this idea of. A creative block writer's block, something like that. That's something you literally have. No ideas. Overwhelm is often the exact opposite of that.

You have so many ideas and so many things that you want to do that you start to freeze up. And when that starts to happen, I think there's this, this little voice in your head that basically says you have all these things that you have to do. And if you don't do all of them, you're worthless. And I think that overwhelm and this sort of generalist [00:17:00] trap starts to come back to this idea that like you have to do all of your things, all, all of the different projects you've bitten off and you have to do them all at a level that mom would be proud of.

And that really starts to create a lot of problems. I think psychologically for a lot of creatives, they have to, at some point make the decision of like, I would rather be awesome at this and not do these things. Then do all of these things and be mediocre and overwhelmed. Swarmed by chaos all of the time.

that's a really good point, Chris. I think that resonates with a lot of our listeners right now. So if you're in level two right now as a generalist, I think there's a couple, a couple of issues with this one is this is an issue I see.

So many times in some people doing is they start over automating things. If you are a general, a generalist right now, and you start automating things in your business, like, I dunno what it is lately.

I've been on an anti automation kick on recent episodes and YouTube videos.

Automation is not bad.

I have, I've been on a

super-duper automation kick, but I agree with what you're saying [00:18:00] about over automating. I think where I see people making automation mistakes here and, you know, to be fair here. I would say on the automation guy on the podcast, I like gear. I like automation.

I like, I don't know


when it,


when it works. And I think this is the point,

When you were over automating too early in your business, usually what people start trying to do is they try to use automation to avoid relationship. They try to automate the human aspect of their business so that they don't have to interact with the clients anymore, because guess what?

You know why they don't like their clients because they're overwhelmed constantly. And they're doing too many damn types of projects.

Yeah, that's another thing that's really worth pointing out. If you don't like your clients, you're never going to succeed. It is so hard to sell and fulfill on work. If you don't like the client, um, that could go for an individual or that could Go for for a group of people. So like, if you hate working with metal bands, or if you hate working with [00:19:00] newlyweds, or if you like as a wedding photographer, or if you hate working with any, any group of people, for whatever reason, it's going to be really hard to build a business around that.

So you've got to like your clients. And I think if you're automating to avoid people, that's a tough thing. But another area that I see people automate in that are generalists, like this is on fulfillment or anything around a process in their business. They try to automate it because they hear Chris Graham talking about automation. And I'm going to, I'm going to poke at you a little bit, Chris.

It's like w when we talk about reading the wrong, the right book at the wrong time, how detrimental that can be. I think the right business practice at the wrong level can be just as Def detrimental, if not worse, because an automated and automated process in your business, anything you automate is likely not going to be improved. so you are essentially automating what is likely an inferior task, a poorly done task, or even the wrong task. And I think the worst thing you can do in automation is to build out automation for something that should have never been done in the first place. And it goes back to a quote. I think we recently said on one of our, one of our somewhat viral Tech-Talk [00:20:00] posts, which was I'm going to butcher the quote, but there's nothing

worse than um, doing efficiently.

What should have never been done in

the first place?

Yeah, man. Well, this is absolutely true. And so let me talk about this as an automation, efficient auto here. I love it, but you're right. People do it at the wrong time all of the time. And you know, we've talked in the past about how there were books that I read earlier on in my career that were mistakes.

Uh, One of those was good to great great book, but I applied it to my business, which had one person at the time. I think I was making 80 K. And this book was written for CEOs of fortune 500 companies. And so not everything applied to me and it ended up poisoning some of my mindset around this.

yeah, Business, business books, or business advice. That's built . For fortune 500 companies where the average, like the average executive earns more than you not including the business itself. One employee at the business earns more than you, the person trying to take advantage of that information.

It's likely not going to work

out for you in good to great.

Say [00:21:00] a good example of that.

well, and I think this comes back to the purpose of the automation. Automation is a lot like martial arts to do it really, really well. You have to know all the individual moves the punch, a kick it's straight left you know, a chop or whatever. And then you have to put these in combos in the right order.

And what a lot of people do is they don't know how to think about automation in a way where it's serving them and their business. All they're thinking about is. These people, I don't want to talk to him that much. I want to email a hundred people and I'm lazy. So I'm not going to include any personal outreach at all.

It's going to be ice cold. Hello, band name. My name is Chris. And I would like to master your record. Don't do that. I think when people get, get into automation too soon, they get, it's not necessarily getting the automation too soon as they get the wrong types of automation too soon.

But I just, that, like, when we talked about lacking skills,

That's a skill like systems automation processes is a skill marketing cells. [00:22:00] Those are skills. your freelancing skill is a skill or a series of skills. There's a lot of skills to know in order to, to be good at any of these things. And to even think that like a level two generalist freelancer has any, anything close to an understanding of what to automate, how to automate it properly.

It's just, it's, it's almost laughable, but I see it often enough to not laugh at it because it is a serious thing. And it's likely what's holding you in this generalist world, not even counting for the fact that the word itself in this level should tell you why you're not working out well, It's generalist.

generalists don't work anymore. I'm sorry. Like it didn't work in 2018. The first time we did this sort of episode and it doesn't work today in 20 22, 4 years later, it's the same exact situation where

being a generalist is the worst way to freelance.

well, and so generalists that begin to over

automate their business too early and use the wrong sort of techniques and automate for the wrong reasons. One of the things Brian that we talked about when we were planning this episode is that your history is as a mix engineer. You mix songs and you're really [00:23:00] good at it.

And I asked you when you first began mixing, did you overmix, did you do way, way, way too much stupid stuff to the mix and over-processed and over ETQ and over compressed, or did you under mix when you first start.

Oh, . Yeah. Any, any mixing engineer knows you over, over mix and you see this in, like in photography too, you over-processed the image or in videography, you overdo the color correction. Like you always overdo it when you're, when you're new at something you don't

understand what taste

Exactly. You don't understand yet what taste is

and you over-complicate it.

you just don't have an, I you don't have an understanding of it. That's pretty

much, that's pretty much it.

So automation, I think is like any other creative activity. You are building things with your mind that have a purpose and if you do it well, they're really beautiful. But I think what tends to happen with people that are generalists is that like every other beginner, they over-complicate what they're doing. They try to make it too fancy and it's it gets messy. It gets broken. [00:24:00] It gets all jacked up. And when you start to get to this next level, these sort of next levels, the systems, the automation in their businesses starts to get more elegant.

It starts to get more simple and they start to, to do things that work every time, instead of really, really complicated things that only work every other time. And to close this up, I would say Bruce Lee is famous for saying, I do not fear the man who knows 1000 moves. I fear the man who know who has practiced one move 1000 times.


I love that quote, dude. That is like one of my favorite recent quotes I've been hearing on a podcast I've been listening to the, the conversation between it's the argument between a generalist and a specialist.

That's, that's pretty

much it. And, and th and the reason, like, I agree with you a hundred percent, like the reason automation, processes, systems marketing game, and not the reason that doesn't work is because as a generalist, there are too many permutations of what. As a generalist, you are spread so thin because you are one inch deep in a giant pond[00:25:00] versus a mile deep and a small little area.

And that's really hard to systemize. You are so shallow in what you can honestly do for someone when you're working with five to 10 different types of people in five to 10 different types of services. And I believe, I can't remember what I've said. We talked about a recently, but the, the amount of context switching you have to do is I think it was the episode I did with John.

McLucas actually, There's just no way to be good at that. And there's no way to stay sane with that. And there's no way to systemize that there's no way to

market for that. There's just no way to run a business for that. You can't price for it.


no time to build systems for something like that.

here's the worst part about this as being a generalist?

Is that.

the only way out of level two being a generalist is To start working on your business. And the only way to work on your business is to get your time back. And that's a, it's a uh, this is why this is a, this is what I call zombie land.


catch 22.

it's a catch 22.


It's a zombie land. You're making just enough to say you're an, you're a, whatever, you're a designer, you're a [00:26:00] photographer.

You're an audio engineer just enough to say, that's what you do so that your identity can be tied up into it, but not anywhere close enough to make a living much less a life. So zombie land is where you are just the land of the living dead. You're not progressing, you're stuck, it's depressing. And it should feel that way because it is, and there's ways out of it.

But it's, it's a catch 22 and you've got to be able to make the first step. And to me, the first step is learning to say, no, It's learning to say no to people who don't match what your goals are, what You're good at. It's learning to say yes to what the market is telling you or whispering at you. and one thing by the way, that never stops is investing in your skills.

I was actually before the episode aired, I was, berating Chris for not spending as much as I do on courses and coaching

and, and going through like how much I've invested in my lifetime on courses and coaching. I've spent well above the average college degree on courses and coaching for myself uh, hundreds of thousands in my lifetime on

that. And I'm just giving you a tough time. Cause you, you obviously self you

[00:27:00] obviously educate yourself. Totally. But th

this, this, it never ends. You never get there. You never arrive. And So.

when I see generalists that are still saying yes to everything that are stuck in that like downward spiral that I talked about on YouTube recently, this was kind of depressing for people.

When I talk about this stuff, those people that are struggling with it are investing next to nothing in any of their skills, except the things they're passionate about. And that's why I've said so many times, I'll just go, I'm gonna go. It's gonna be a broken record. You, it takes more than passion.

It takes the skills that you don't necessarily necessarily want to do, but you have to be good at if you want

to get to the next level, whatever that next level is, which is level three in this case,

Man, Brian, let me say some nice

things to you. Okay. So this is how I feel. You didn't go to college. I did. I was really lucky and I didn't have debt, right. Basically, no debt. When I graduated college, it's $700 in college debt when I graduated and I think you've chosen a better. Rather than going to college and batching your education.

Batching is a, it's a systems term that means doing [00:28:00] all of one type of thing at once. The problem with batching when it comes to automation is that batching is terrible at feedback loops. You're not getting feedback about, is this a good thing to be investing my time in? Is this a good thing to be focusing on?

Should I get a degree in cursive writing like techniques?

It's also when I was, when I was 18, if I would've gotten a college degree, it would have

been something completely irrelevant to what I'm doing.

right. And so what you've done is you learned enough to go out and get feedback, and then you went out, learned a little bit more, took another course, got more feedback, made some more decisions and better decisions, and then you have spaced your education out. And I think you have gotten a significantly better.

I know Brian that you've gotten a significantly better education. The 99% of college students out there.

You're appreciating the choir at this point. I, I wholeheartedly agree with you on that. It's called just-in-time learning. It's a better method than batching. And it's [00:29:00] like, when there's a skill that I lack, I'm going to go buy a course or a book or a coaching program, or get a coach for one-on-one for consultations, for that skill that I need at the time that I need it.

Not a skill that I might need one day Honestly, I think that's more of a way to get out of level three, then level two, but it definitely helps all along the way. Every single level can absolutely benefit from just-in-time information. And so I think

I've talked about this somewhere.

I can't remember where it was, but 20, 22. And honestly, last year I started this I'm reading way less books I'm taking way less time reading and more time implementing. and so like, just an example is when we talked about implementing click up for our top tools of 20, 22 episode, I went and joined a full membership site.

I spent like almost a thousand bucks on it. And even though my click up account for two people for a year was like $115 or something because at a discount code, I spent almost a thousand dollars learning how to use the tool and implement the tool. And I'm still not fully through that that course and membership site and what all they have available in there.

But I am so much further along than if I would've just done it myself without any sort of help there. So that's just an example of just in time [00:30:00] information, which is. I need to do cleanup. I need to get my life together. I need to get my systems and processes in order so that I can, I'm not beating my

head against the wall in certain areas.

And so that's what I did.

well, this idea of just-in-time learning I think is, is so valuable. And I think often, often one of the problems is that you get people that, you know, they go out and get a traditional education and that traditional education has sold them.

The idea that they are competent now in the marketplace on day, one of entering the marketplace, that ain't how the marketplace or anywhere else on earth works. It's experience it's feedback loops. It's, it's figuring out where you fit in to this big puzzle. We call humanity where you can provide the most value, how you can help the most people that you possibly can.

And as you figure that out, the people that make the most value are going to receive the most value. That's the, that's the hypothesis of free market capitalism. And, It's strange cause capitalism, it's a little, it's a little bit of a bad, a bad rap when [00:31:00] ultimately it's great, But I think when, you know, when it comes to what most

people think of in the free market system is not feedback loops. It's not like, Hmm, how can I provide more value and therefore make more money? What they think about is that there's all these people out there.

They're like, Hmm. How can I bribe a government official in order to get a small monopoly on a product service or, you know, license of some kind, like making obstacles to the marketplace and creating monopolies that are enforced by the law. That's not free market capitalism. That's not what we're talking about.

We're talking about the beautiful thing. That is a feedback loop that you do something. People decide to give you value in exchange for the value that you've created. And pretty soon you're creating value that nobody else does. So they're giving you lots of value and you are figuring out what your niche is.

You're starting to get traction, you're starting to be level three, and you're starting to recognize that, huh? I'm pretty good at this seem to be a lot better than everybody else at this [00:32:00] particular thing, maybe I'll focus on this particular service

Yeah. So just to go back to, to kind of wrap up level two, finally, this is where for this part of the episode, we're only in level two, the generalist, if you're in this spot, if you're in zombie land, what I call it and you're looking to get out time to start. Like I said earlier, working on your skills, which is never ending thing that never stops, period.

You always should work on developing whatever skills you're lacking right now. But number two, it's this is the time you have to start working on your business. You don't work on your business in level one and yes, mode. It doesn't make sense yet because in level one if you're working on your business, trying to like build out systems and processes,

do marketing at your

website up copywriting,


purpose of level one is to answer is to, to validate the hypothesis.

People will pay me money for this

sort of thing.

That's all,

that's the goal

level two is like, what else will people pay me? Money for

level three is wow. They'll pay me a lot of money for this thing.

I'll focus on.

Yup. Yup. But by [00:33:00] level two is generally like the transition from level one. Yes. Mode to level two is not like overnight. I am now level two. It's a slow gradual thing. But to get to level three, it sometimes takes. A very, very drastic measure. And so I'll just say a lot of people that I work with they're in level two and they're stuck there because they're unwilling to say, this is the one thing that I'm going to offer my clients.

I'm not going to necessarily turn down work. That comes my way, but I'm absolutely not going to try to build a website around all these different services. They're going to take one service or one outcome offer to one type of person. And then they're going to build a really clear laser-focused message to that person so that they are absolutely the person that they want to hire.

So if, and I've said this a million times, I feel like this is nothing but repeating myself on this podcast, but you know what, not everyone listens to every episode when someone lands on your website, the know one thing they have in their head that they're thinking is, is this person right for me? Is this the right person for my, for my money to go to for what I need as a, as a client.

And in a generalist [00:34:00] website, the answer is almost always, no, I don't want a foot massage with my barbecue I'm not gonna get a foot massage where I'm going to smell barbecue all day. And I don't want to get barbecue where people are getting their feet rubbed. It's gross. So if I'm looking for barbecue, I'm not going to hire you because you have weird feet stuff everywhere.

And if I'm looking for a full massage, I am definitely not going to hire you because you got, you got a bunch of people buying barbecue, actually barbecue is delicious. I'm not going to poop on it, but that's, that's the, that's the, that's the real, like that's the conversation people are having, like, I need full production for my country. My debut country album. And I go to Mr. Generalist website or Mrs. General's website. And I see that you offer 30 other services to rock and country and CCM and hip hop. And I'm all of a sudden thinking like, this is not the person I'm going to go to for my debut album as a country musician. So you just lost the gig.

And so to get from level two, generalist to level three, traction takes overcoming the fear of missing out. And planting a flag in the ground and saying, this is the area that I'm going to focus on. If that takes us a rebrand. So be it, if it takes like launching a new brick, [00:35:00] like a new, a new business that focuses on this one central thing, while maintaining Mr.

Generalist website, that's fine. But the new central thing that you're going to focus on. So be it, but it's, it's much easier to sell one thing to one person than it is to sell all things to all people. It's much easier to systemize and, and build processes and automations around one type of service to one part it's kind of product productized service.

This is no new thing in the world, but it's new to a lot of

people, especially the generalist.

Yeah, funny story. One day I was

driving home and I saw like a white, like handyman truck in front of me, like a pickup truck, you know, with like tools and stuff in the back. And he was a cabinet maker. And as I was looking at his, his van, it was right in front of your driving on the same road on the same direction.

And I noticed he had a bumper sticker and the bumper sticker said I also make pet coffins. So. This guy's niche was, he was a cabinet maker, but he also wanted to make sure that he let people know [00:36:00] that he also makes pet coffins in the hopes that some of the people that saw that he was a cabinet maker would hire him to make their pets coffin.

The problem with that is that a lot of people that saw that he also makes pet coffins assumed one that he's creepy AAF. That's a strange passion friend, weird flex, but two that this was something he was doing instead of making cabinets because people weren't super into it that he wasn't that good. So yes, more people heard that he did these two things, but less people hired him for either one of


Yeah, that's that's, that's the area where I would in that

situation, I would just launch a separate brand for that person,

Mr. Captain man, and say,

let's let's launch a



Announcing Brian I's brand new business pet coffins complete with windows humidifiers, et cetera.

Give your dog a treat in the afterlife.

just to keep us, I think this is probably a good place to end this episode and make

a [00:37:00] part two later on. Cause we it's the end of day for both of

us on a Friday. we

gotta get the hell out of here.

Now, James, let me make a recommendation on this edit instead of using the traditional music at the end of this episode, please go on YouTube and look up barbecue and foot massage. And there's going to be a song that you're going to find. I think that should be the outro.

Go for it, probably against the law, but I

don't really care either.

I think it's totally

worth it, It's worth the risk it's for a joke. So

fair use

I think to wrap this episode up, this is a good time to do that. Next week, we'll get back at you with part two of this episode, We've got a couple of amazing interviews coming up as well, Chris. Anything, any last words on a level one level two

Yes. Motor generalist freelancers, right?

Yeah. I would give some advice to these level one and level two people. if you're a level one and level

two I think you're probably constantly inundated with feelings that you're not good enough. You're not smart enough and doggone it. Nobody likes you. This is a really fun time in your life. Focus on having fun on learning and on finding [00:38:00] new things that are your passion.

And I think for most people, what typically ends up happening is your true calling is an intersection of your passions. So you're going to need to go out and figure out, oh, I really like business and, oh, I also really like audio and, oh, I also really like, um, microphones. I know I'll be a podcast or in the audio industry, little about business.

Oops. Like you need to go on, you need to try enough things. You need to try enough. If you don't have a good camera, go get a good camera. If you don't have a decent microphone that makes it easy to make good audio content, go get a decent microphone, nothing crazy, but just experiment with enough tools and enough processes and enough services and enough other creatives that you start to figure out, wow, I really have a flare for this.

I like this. You should be working on your breadth of knowledge as a creative so that you can figure out what are the things that you're just awesome at so that you can create a brand new niche that you can be. when I'm talking about niches, I, I often [00:39:00] always use the example of, you know, if you could, you could start an Etsy store and say, oh, I really liked dinosaurs and I really liked chess. So I'm going to make chess sets out of dinosaur bones pool that might actually take off. That might actually be like a successful thing. But you also have to ask yourself, is there a marketplace for that?

If you're going to build a successful business, you need a Venn diagram with three circles on it. And we've talked about this before. Ironically, this is from Jim Collins. I think it's in good to great. The book that I said hurt me is now helping me. But each of these circles is what can you be the best at?

What do you love doing? And what can you make money at? You have to exist in all of those circles at the same time to be a successful creative. And I think for a lot of people, yes, mode, you're just doing the, what I'll make money for doesn't necessarily involve your passion

I say both it's you're either doing yes. Mode for just what makes money or yes.

Mode for just what you're passionate


Oh, yes. Yes, [00:40:00] totally. Right. Yeah. You're, you're, you're, you're only sticking out in one circle. If you're a generalist, you're probably starting to live in two circles. You've probably got money and passion figured out or money, and I'm good at this sort of thing or whatever it happens to be. I think it's when we start to talk next episode, about level three, level four, level five, level six.

That's when you start to figure out where the middle of those three circles are. And in some cases you're able to bring in a fourth circle or you're able to sub out one of those, one of those passions for a different one. And it's such a fun creative journey. And it's not, it's not as scary as I thought it would be.

Agreed. Yeah. I love the journey that I'm on and I I've enjoyed the entire journey up to this point. And it's because I have, I have constantly developed new skills. I have always been willing to test new things. I've always listened to what the market is telling me, and I'm not made afraid to make massive change.

And because of those things, I've made it all the way

up to level six. And maybe beyond if there's a seven yet, I don't know

Seven just sounds way [00:41:00] better, but level seven

entrepreneur level seven freelancer. We'll talk about that next week. Thanks for joining us. Bye.

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