There Is No Such Thing As A Non-Marketable Skill

Punch Me In The Face

Having majored in theatre in college, I know a thing or two about “useless degrees” and “unmarketable skills,” and I will tell you two things right now that everybody needs to hear:

1. Every single kind of degree is useless.

2. There is no such thing as a non-marketable skill.

The first thing, I know because I’ve met lawyers and doctors and PhDs of all sorts, and some of them – some who make zillions of dollars a year – have absolutely no common sense, let alone any decent skill at running their own business. They have teams of people who help them make money, and without these people, they’d be lost. They’d be working part-time at coffee shops hoping for a big break. Your JD or MD or BS or whatever degree you hold means absolutely nothing. You make your way. Your degree doesn’t make your way for you.

The second thing, I know because I have been working for so many years in various aspects of marketing. Every skill set is valuable, and the more you refine it, the more valuable it becomes.

Here’s the catch: it’s on you to make money from it. If you’re really good at painting, then sell your paintings for money. Don’t give your paintings away for free. If you’re really good at acting, then don’t act for free.

I know it sounds like a catch-22 (“How will they know I’m good at acting if they don’t see me starring in a play?”), but trust me: there’s always a way to make money. So many of us are so unwilling to become our own advocates, so unwilling to sell our services for what they are worth like Capitalist sales-pigs, that we stick our heads in the sand and pretend that if we just work for free long enough, then some generous billionaire will fall in love and sponsor us and we can quit our day jobs and live happily ever after.


I’m sorry to get all harsh-truth on you, but that’s the way it is.

I actually hate those bumper stickers that say, “Pay artists!” I resent them. Artists, make them pay you. Agree in advance to get paid, and then demand payment when it is due. It’s not greed, it’s self-worth. It’s not rampant corporatization of your passions, it’s ensuring that you don’t have to waste your time at a temp job when you could be using your time to make more art.

Get some business sense. It’ll make you a better artist, I swear. Take a business class if you have to. Contact me if you want. Just find a way to make money, because I guarantee this much: if you have a degree in something, then you have a marketable skill set. Use it right.

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