Sunday, May 07, 2017

Which Talent to Focus On?

“The jack-of-all-trades seldom is good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” – Napoleon Hill

Almost all of us creatives face the same problem: we are creative in more than one area. We like to write songs, or perform, or paint, or pen novels, or develop web sites, or produce music or video works, or [insert your creative thing here].

The problem comes when we equally love a few or ALL of our passions. Maybe you just feel like writing today, or just playing the piano/guitar, or painting something, or creating a video. They are all fun! And isn’t that the point of our talents anyway, to have fun using them?

But then our “right mind” says, you can’t waste your time being a jack of all trades, you need to pick one and become a master of it. You even hear this from teachers, or so-called “professionals” (like me).

So how do you choose which one to work the hardest on? Which needs to take a back seat? And which one needs to be completely stricken from the creative ledger!

You’re going to like the answer!

The short answer is you can still do all of them, but we need to break them down by how people react to them, how they bring in support to keep them going, and which ones might just be complimentary to what you are doing.

The Thing That People React To

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.” – Dwight L. Moody

There’s a reason we started doing what we do. It’s the artistic thing we naturally did that people seemed to be interested in. We may stray from it, but it always comes back in the reaction we get from people when we do it.

Sometimes I forget that I started all this music stuff because I loved composing. I’ve written music for both for vocals and instrumentals for 40 years exactly this year. It’s always been the thing that has been my bedrock, the talent that no matter who heard it people were extremely positive about (well other than a handful of publishers or contest judges that is). Just a few weeks ago I had to play something for a class I’m taking, so I played a piano piece I’ve been developing the last few years. After I played the teacher asked who wrote it, both the teacher and other student in the room seemed surprised that I was the composer. The next class the student even came up and asked me if I had it recorded or had other material he could have.

It never fails to be the one talent I have that gets a positive reaction and always has been.

As you apply this to yourself, think about that creative thing that people seem to marvel that you do. It’s probably pretty easy to know what it is. That talent is likely what you should always focus on, but there is a caveat to this…

The Thing that Can Make You a Living

“To work to make the lives of others better is the most rewarding work of all.” – John Walters

After writing songs for years and making recordings of them, it became clear that an emerging talent of mine in my 20s and 30s was recording other music artists and songwriters. Then adding in other talents I had in computers, graphic design, video shooting and editing, and knowledge of Internet and programming, I could help artists with just about everything a record label could.

In short, being a full-service music consulting, studio production, and marketing company has been what has supported me for the last 20 years. Yes, composing and my other music skills as a keyboard player and programmer have been part of this, but the talent that has fed me is my ability to work for others making their creative dreams come true.

You may find this true for you as well. I’ve known music artists who support themselves as teachers or church music directors. I’ve known painters who pay their bills by graphic design work. Many would say being a music teacher, worship leader, or graphic designer is a pretty creative life, and it provides a living for you and your family.

So, there may be a creative talent you have that must be top notch to provide income for all the other things you like to do. This takes time to build, and dedication to make you someone who others will pay for this service.

Complimentary Creative Skills

“I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.” – Liam Neeson, Taken

This is where all those other things come in. A Worship Arts Director does a lot more than just worship leading. They might need to use their songwriting, singing, playing, video, web, and other skills each and every day to make services come off without a hitch. A teacher may need writing, artistic, and other creative skills to lead a class effectively. Sometimes the real trick is having the knowledge about all these things just to make sure you bring in the right people to do them.

As a producer, I need all the skills I have learned to help music artists in every phase of their careers. I’ve been designing web sites for 20 years. I sometimes do graphic design for the CD art of some projects. Many lower cost video projects I edit and even shoot sometimes. It’s here where all these skills come out and are needed.

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack

I like to tell people, I’m a jack of all trades, but master of three. I have focused most on composing/writing because it’s just who I am, and producing because it provides my living. But because I have worked as a video editor, a web developer, a graphic designer, and a consultant for hundreds of clients corporate, commercial, and independent for 20 years, I have some mastery in all these.

So, while I urge you to pick something to master in for 20 years, you should feed all those other talents that come along. Be careful to keep your focus on the thing that people react to, and maybe that thing can even be what supports you. Remember that another talent you have may actually be the one that provides income, and that’s okay. And don’t be afraid to develop the complimentary talents you have as well.

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland does many things, as you just read. He works daily as a consultant, producer, composer, and many more things and works for folks helping them realize their creative dreams. If you’d like to know more go to

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Slow “No”

Do you ever feel like your entire creative career is a long, arduous journey to nowhere? That no matter how hard you try, all the work, all the pain, and all the money spent is just wasted on deaf ears, blind eyes, and a world that just doesn’t care about your art?

It’s a creative person’s lot. We’re writing each word, painting each stroke, and singing each note hoping someone will be moved. We have been told that our art is important, because we have been moved by other art, and seen it celebrated. And so we labor to create and offer it to the world looking for acceptance and affirmation that this is what we should be doing.

But sometimes it seems like in the end the answer is just going to be a very slow “no”. A long life of hearing no at every turn in regard to our creative passion.

So how do you turn that around? How do you defeat “The Slow No”?

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Forgotten Why

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

It’s easy when you are a creative person to get all caught up in the what, the how, and when, and the where. Where’s my next gig? What’s my next song or great piece of art going to be? How do I get a bigger audience? When will I get paid?

Believe me, I know because I live as a creative very day. I understand where these thoughts and anxieties come from. But as Christians, these gifts were not given to us to be used for profit or fame. These God-given gifts were given to you so that you could take out the Word of God to the world.

(Boy he’s really getting preachy, isn’t he?)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Just the Right Touch

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

Sometimes, I find myself looking for just the right font, the right sound, the right way of saying something, or the just the right quote to drive home a point. It probably seems like I am wasting time, looking for something just right when I could settle easily. it may even look like I’m goofing off, trying font after font for the exact impact I need. Or I try synth patch after synth patch for just the musical effect I’m looking for.

If you’re an artist, it could be just the right color, or brush. For dancers it’s trying move after move, take after take to get it just right. For writers, it’s second draft, third draft, and endless revisions. Searching for just the right synonym to say exactly what you want to say…

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Don't Just Dabble

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
dabbleIt’s easy to dabble in the arts. Maybe you paint a bit. Maybe you play the guitar a little. Maybe you like to write silly stories from time to time. But you aren’t sure, or have maybe never even dreamed, that you could be a “master” of some artistic pursuit.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Getting Paid for Creativity

Yes, it would be nice if making creative things automatically brought income, but it’s just not that easy. So if the stuff we make doesn’t make us a nice income, how can we afford to do it? How do we get paid for our creativity?
The Need to Create
“The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run down the hill.” – W. Somerset Maugham
We have a need to create. We physically have to make music, or art, or write because we can’t keep it in. There is a drive to create. It is primal. And if you are reading this you likely know exactly what I mean.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Outside of the Limelight

“The limelight isn’t the only light worth seeking. Achievement is often anonymous. Some of the greatest achievements have been accomplished by people you've never heard of. Quietly dedicating their lives while improving your own.”

I have to be honest, this quote was in a TV show last week, but I thought it was great and it basically inspired this whole post.

We often think of the music or the art that we make as something to show off, or be at least known for. We think if we are that special, we must be headed for greatness, notoriety, and our time in the sun. But sometimes our creativity, our work, and our service are not meant for us at all. It’s meant for someone else, or everyone else, or perhaps just our serve to our Creator.

About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at