Mediocre at a Few Skills? Combine Them to Create Your Own Job

Scott Adams, the creator of the famous Dilbert comics, attributes his career success to the creative combination of several ordinary skills: 

“If you look at my current career it’s a combination of fairly mediocre talents,” he says. “I’m not a good artist, compared to real artists. I’ve never taken a writing class, except for a two-day business writing class. I’ve got fairly average business talents. I’m not even the funniest person in the room, but I’m one of the few people who does all of those things.” — Scott Adams 

After reading this, I realized that this is exactly what I did to succeed so quickly in B2B freelance writing. 

How I Used This Method to Start a Freelance Writing Business

My four skills at the time of starting a freelance B2B writing business: 

  • Writing
  • Sales
  • Tech
  • SEO

I was a pretty good writer. 

But I wasn’t formally trained or even well-practiced, and the blogging form was still new to me when I got my first client.  

I was an okay salesperson who had been working as a BDR for two years, but definitely not destined to be great. 

I was experienced with technology, having worked in SaaS sales, though I wouldn’t say I was more proficient with software in general than the average person. 

As for SEO, I took a basic MOZ intro course online. I learned the basics in probably five hours. 

I was in no way an expert in any of these skills. Not even close.

But, when I combined them, I became uniquely positioned to help a certain type of client do a certain type of thing: write blog posts about sales for sales tech companies. 

I landed freelance gigs easily on job boards. I was the perfect fit for a specific type of business. 

At first the pay was as low as $30 per hour. 

But over the course of a year, as I improved my writing skills and sales knowledge, I was able to demand more money from each new client, until I was making around $100 per hour.  

This skill combination helped me get started. Now that I have a portfolio and more skills I can go into other niches aside from sales and follow my interests. 

Another Example of Creative Skill Combination 

Imagine a former high school dancer with a hobby-level aptitude for videography and some decent marketing skills they picked up on their day job. 

Combine these skills and they could start a business where they film dance studios’ classes and then create marketing videos out of them. 

Tack on basic teaching skills, and voila, the dancer can also teach dance on YouTube and through online courses, thus adding to their revenue streams. 

The lesson here is that you don’t need to be great at one skill to start succeeding. 

Just get decent at a couple and combine them in a unique way that creates a job or business idea that is in demand and, above all else, interesting to you. 

Want to gain proficiency in some skills on your own? Check out my article on how to become a successful autodidact


After graduating college with an econ degree I realized I was still anything but well-educated. Over the last 4 years, I've been trying to fix that, autodidact-mode — by reading books and engaging in self-directed study across multiple subjects. On this blog, my goal is to share my learnings and help others get a well-rounded education outside of school. Education, after all, is a lifelong process, one well worth the investment.

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