I’m a big believer that there is one truly simple strategy that, properly employed, will always help a person get rich, at least in the creative world.
The easiest way to get rich is to help someone else get rich.
Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a matter of full-on altruism. Rather, I believe that most of the people in media and creative fields who do really well for themselves base their strategies on helping others to earn an income.
I read a lot of biographies, especially of publishers. I’ve read up on folks like Henry Luce and I’ve been continually struck by the idea that being a fabulous writer isn’t enough to get truly rich. Rather, it’s enough to start a business, but in the long run, the folks that really make it big create opportunities that help other people move their careers forward. Sometimes that looks like Luce’s efforts to create new magazines (like Life and Sports Illustrated) after founding his own pet project, Time.
There’s just no way to make an endeavor like a magazine successful without finding people who are already at least somewhat successful, and making them even more so. Creative entrepreneurship relies very heavily on building a following, whether you’re publishing a magazine or just writing for one. Getting the ball rolling for that sort of following is hard, which encourages a little loyalty or reciprocity from anyone you help along the way. But once someone starts engaging with their own community, they have the ability to bring more attention to you and your projects.
It worked for Luce: he became a leading publisher because he was willing to work with all sorts of people — even politicians — and push them forward. He wasn’t the friendliest of people, but Luce saw the value of others and how helping them would benefit his own projects.