Six years ago, I got tired of taking grainy selfies. So, I emptied my savings on a brand new DSLR camera.
Looking back, it was a costly solution to a fairly trivial problem. I could’ve simply bought another phone with a slightly better camera. I also didn’t know how I’d make back that money.
I wasn’t considering a career in photography or journalism, nor did I expect to rent it out at any point.
But I closed my eyes and swiped my card.
The day it landed, on June 24, 2016, I carefully unwrapped it, held it in my hands, and beamed the widest smile I’ve ever captured on camera.
I was over the moon. I immediately went outside and shot the dog in our yard and a random beer bottle:
Of course, my first few shots sucked. But I didn’t care — it was fun for me. I picked up my camera every day and practiced.
I captured trees, cars, people, and landscapes, and posted them on Facebook.
A week later, a friend of mine asked me for a shoot.
I was taken aback — I never expected anyone to pay me for my shots. But she insisted, and I accepted. We went to a train station to do the shoot.
Then, her friend saw the shots and asked me to shoot her, too. More clients kept coming, fueled strictly by word of mouth and my social media posts.
Over the years, I went from shooting unimpressed dogs to weddings, babies, corporates, and graduates. Just like that, Mo Shé Media was born.
What started out as a hobby turned into a photography, design, and social media management agency.
We moved locations, took on bigger clients, and bought more equipment. The business bought me my first car, financed my relocation to SA, and built my brand.
All because I bought a toy to play with.
Imagine if I had started that business with the intention of making money. Most likely, I wouldn’t have enjoyed picking up my camera to practice daily.
I’d have been too stressed out about finding clients, turning a profit, and paying bills to ever find time to play.
Play led to pay — not the other way around.
Play brings pay
Most entrepreneurs believe their new copywriting or fitness business will start making money from day one.
In reality, your startup won’t make any real money in the first six months or longer.
This is because nobody knows you yet, and you aren’t experienced enough to command a higher price or get constant referrals.
To build brand awareness and swell your bookings, you need to get better at your craft. But to do that, you need to enjoy the process.
You need a reason to pick up that camera, barbell, or tape measure every day, even when you should be resting.
You need a reason to drive to the site, write that newsletter, or pick up that ball even when you’re not making money.
The best way to accomplish that is through play. Play brings pay.
Find the joy in your job
Many of us have lost the element of play in our professions. It’s no wonder we hate our jobs.
We do the bare minimum, await the weekend, and apply for new jobs during working hours.
This is because we’re all looking for the same thing: work that feels like play. Easy, fulfilling work that doesn’t drain our days.
But you don’t need to leave your job for a more enjoyable one. You can find the joy in your job — or create it if needed.
You don’t hate writing; you’re just tired of the same dull outlines and templates you use. Switch up the storylines, narrative structures, or formats and beat writer’s block.
You don’t hate teaching; you’re merely tired of the boring curriculum you’re forced to adhere to. Spice up the lessons or create interesting assignments for your students.
You don’t hate finance; you’re simply bored of the same asset classes and reports. Find a way to apply your knowledge to new fields or audiences.
Find the joy in your job or create it yourself. The power is in your hands.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.