Art and Compensation.

I had been out there in the streets.

Every week I drank coffee and met with entrepreneurs and creatives talking about our tech community and how to support it better.

For 6+ months I had worked on building Columbusstartups.com, holding Twitter Q&As and promoting local companies and services. We aimed to act as a community springboard to nurture and grow the startup scene here in Columbus.

Right as the buzz was getting loud, an investor from out of town reached out and wanted to meet. He wanted to get to know who’s-who in town. 

I said, “Perfect, do you know john and jane at company x or that they’re hiring due to growth at place y…”

I provided him with intros and insider knowledge, like many before who had reached out through the site.

At the end of the meeting, he said to me “I like what you are doing, next time I see you, I’ll give you a $1,000 check to advertise on your site.”

I was really excited at the prospect of this, finally, the work I had put in would pay off. $1,000 seemed like a lot of money to do what I already was doing for free.

I spent hours detailing a lean budget with the most necessary spend to grow our site and audience.

After three or so emails with no return, reality set in that he hadn’t been serious. Upset, I felt unvalidated (is that a word?). 

Should I still continue to do work on something if I can’t get paid?

Sometimes the right choice is passing on making money, in exchange for connections and opportunity, which often money can’t buy.

The benefit of generous creation can be leverage, education, and access to future opportunities. Cashing in early can deny access to these.

If I had tried to sell advertising to everyone I had met with, I wouldn’t have built connections or trust.

By delaying gratification, I gained leverage. This leverage can be used to exercise options outside of money. 

I captured inbound emails full of new ideas being launched, met freelancers who were quality to work with, found resources, got in free at events. I knew the newest job openings, event spaces, coffee hangouts and startups with traction. 

Not all art can make money, but it can be used to maneuver opportunity through an audience.

This is compensation for continuing to make art. Trust if the fulcrum of opportunity.