When I was studying to get my pilot’s license (a goal I never achieved because I eventually moved to Paris and started Great Escape Publishing), my instructor always used to say: “Now remember, these planes aren’t made to crash, they’re made to fly.”
On one day’s lesson, we climbed to 10,000 feet, he cut off the engines to simulate an engine failure, and then he tilted the nose of our small Cesna down toward the ground as if we were going to do a nose-dive. He let go of the yoke, and I watched in amazement (and somewhat horror) as the plane righted itself back up. “See, they’re meant to fly,” he said.
And it’s not just these small planes that are built to fly. All planes are built this way.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about crashes in his book, The Outliers. He says it takes, on average, seven mistakes to crash a plane.
It’s not enough that the weather is bad, the engine fails, and the pilot went out drinking the night before. It typically takes four more things to go wrong for a crash to happen.
The co-pilot must also be tired and stressed, the head engineer must have missed the check-engine briefing, air traffic control is overwhelmed, AND, on the way down, the landing gear gets stuck.
Seven mistakes total. Not just one… because planes are meant to fly.
And the same is true about you.
Just like airplanes are built to fly, human beings are built to work. When we don’t work… when we’re not building something, we lose our sense of purpose.
And this is what I love so much about photography and travel writing.
“Work” doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be an office job or cleaning houses or fixing roofs.
It can be anything that challenges us. It can be building clocks or lavish gardens with our hands. Or it can be building a new business or honing a skill we enjoy like writing and photography.
So that’s my challenge to you this week. Don’t just think about taking pictures and selling them. Or traveling the world and selling a simple story. Instead, think about building your pictures and your words into something bigger.
Don’t think about snapping a few photos, selling them, and you’re done. Think instead about building a bigger portfolio. Turning one sale into 21 sales and so on.
One of the best pieces of advice I like to give new photographers who hope to sell their images is not to envision the end goal. Don’t set hurdles like: “I want to sell three fine-art prints before June,” because you don’t know yet how many you can sell. Three might be too many or too few.
Instead, just try to build and grow every day. If you upload 3 photos to an online agency and 1 gets accepted, upload 6 tomorrow and hope for two acceptances. Then 9 the next day… and 12 the day after that.
Always build and always try to beat your most successful score. It’s the best way to advance in your sales. And it’s also the best way to find purpose in what you’re doing. You’re building an empire of sales. Not simple victories.
If you’re here to find out more about selling your images to online stock photo agencies, then stay tuned. I’ve asked Bonnie to take you through one of the best subjects to photograph today for stock.
But I hope you’re here to build something, too – get better at your craft, travel the world with purpose, see the world in a way a tourist typically can’t.
Most people I admire worked hard to get where they are. They tried and failed and tried again. They kept at something until they were great at that thing.
This should be you, too. Aim to become great at something. Build something the way your body and your soul are meant to build by putting one accomplishment on top of the next and you won’t be disappointed.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Profit From Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]