Perfection Not Required

by Lindy on January 16, 2012

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Kid Art

I once had a client who couldn’t spell for beans.

At the time I was an assistant interior desiger, and this client was building a million-dollar custom home. He hired us to help him pick faucets for his bathrooms.

My co-worker and I used to laugh and shake our heads whenever his emails came over riddled with errors. We were always baffled that someone who had such poor written communication skills could be so successful in business, as he was.

But contrary to our grammatical ideals, you don’t need to be a good speller to make a lot of money.


On a similar note, you don’t have to be a critically acclaimed writer to make money selling books.

Just look at Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series (who happens to be married to my cousin*). Other authors have insinuated she’s not the greatest writer.** But there are millions of females across the world who could give a flying – Edward Cullen.


Sometimes, you don’t even have to know what you’re doing to make money.

Have you seen the documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop? It’s about a hobbyist with a video camera who managed to befriend some of the biggest names in street art, including Banksy. In the end he puts on an art show (though he’s not an artist) and makes millions of dollars from it.

Though there’s speculation this movie may have been a hoax, the message is clear regardless: you don’t have to be a great artist to make money selling art.


You can go to Craigslist and Fiverr and find all sorts of people selling their services for things they may not be experts at doing. But that’s not stopping them.

It’s easy to listen to those voices inside our heads telling us we’re not good enough. Telling us we can’t do it, because we aren’t masters. But non-masters do great things every day…and get paid for it.

The key is knowing you don’t have to be perfect to make money.


What do you need?

Something that people want to buy, for one. And some skill in selling it.

Drive, focus, passion, charisma, confidence – those all help too.


If your ambition is to be the best fill-in-the-blank around, I’m all for that. Just know, you don’t have to be the best at it to sell it. 

(photo by Abby Lane)


*Meyers is married to my dad’s first cousin’s son, whom I don’t recall ever meeting in my life (maybe we made an appearance at the same family get-together when we were five). Either way, her husband’s grandma is my great aunt, so I’m counting it.

**I have not read the Twilight books, so I can’t comment to that. And even if I did, I don’t think I would comment, since Stephenie and I are family and all. ;)

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  • I love this. Another example are many of the popular singers. You don’t even have to know how to sing in tune anymore to have a hit song. (Autotune takes care of that, don’t you know…)

    • Lindy

      Oh yes. How could I forget our favorite pop stars who have no actual singing ability. Thanks for the reminder ;)

  • An excellent reminder to just keep swimming.

    I frequently remind myself that I am blogging not writing. Writing requires more skill (in my mind) and is something I would want to be better at for all the world to see. Blogging though, I’ve convinced myself is somehow different, and can be dispensed minus the perfection stigma.

    • Lindy

      We all have our things we want to put our best foot forward at, and there’s nothing wrong with that in my book. I’m the same way with design. But I have to remind myself that I’m likely the only one who would notice my perfectionism – at least with my clients. I try not to let it stop me from doing anything.

      Glad you’ve been able to find a way to combine the best of being non-perfect, and still doing what you love (writing).

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post! I agree that you have to be passionate about anything you undertake in life in order to be successful. On a seperate note: I hate when people do not know how to compose emails or check their spelling. That is such a pet peeve of mine. I would have been laughing and shaking my head right along with you!

    • Lindy

      Yeah, and with everyone sending emails from their phones these days, I don’t think written communication has much of a chance.

  • PNWGramma

    This is an area I can comment on! If you see a niche and you have a tiny iota of skill with which to fill that niche, I say give it a go! I work in a State Park nature store. It’s cold up there this time of year. I noticed teens and 20s wearing those Fargo (earflap) hats every where I went. I learned to crochet from internet sources, then found a pattern for those hats and the rest is history. I’m not gonna die a millionaire from this. In fact, I’m already getting weary of making them over and over….but since November I’ve taken home a nice little pocket of change for my minimal efforts.

    • Lindy

      Love this story! There’s nothing like diving right in.

  • This is a great post. Very encouraging!
    I read the Twilight books when I lived in Mormon country. I was trying to fit in :p To my amazement, I couldn’t put them down, although I was frustrated with some repetitive vocabulary.

    • Lindy

      A good friend of mine describes them as “literary crack.”

  • Nice post!
    Great reminder that sometimes life just flows. You don’t always have to be the best at something or wait until all the lights are green before attempting something.

    • Lindy

      You’re so right about the green light. I think that’s where a lot of us get tripped up.

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  • And chutzpah…lots of chutzpah! I bet that fellow who couldn’t spell had awesome verbal skills. I’m just the opposite – I can spell anything but don’t put me on the spot with a question…my brain shuts down!

    • Lindy

      Jane, he had chutzpah out the wazoo.

      I’m the same way with verbal skills too. It’s amazing how quickly I blank when I’m put on the spot. But hey, we all have our strengths, and they say there’s a place for all of us in this world.

  • I love the first example! It totally reminds me of my old mentality (hater!) and how I was always so concerned with the flaws of other people’s work. Well they can do whatever they want, because now I’m focused on what I can do. I don’t know what I’m selling yet, but I am writing and that’s more than I’ve ever shared with the world before. Thanks for this post!

  • I totally agree with this.
    I find that coming up with an idea is such a small piece of the pie. You can have a great idea but if you don’t know how to go about executing it and following through on all the boring parts it’s dies!

  • One of my recent favorite non-artists is the woman who photographed her baby daughter while she slept. She arranged clothing and stuff around her baby girl to make her look like a bookworm or like she was hanging on the line to dry. Too cute!

  • Great points lindy! You dont even need to be skilled at making the art, just skilled at getting people to buy it! Such is the way the world works, and because of that, I’m sure a lot more art has changed hands than would have if artists tried to sell their own stuff – they’d create less stuff for one thing, and who would want to meet all the artists they admire?

  • I just want to say, even as a non-Twilight-reader, it’s pretty cool about your connection to S. Meyers. :)

    • Lindy

      Thanks, it’s a fun stake to claim. Stake? Vampires? Did I just say that?

  • Kim

    I went for years afraid to open my own studio, because I listened to others tell me I wasn’t a professional in the field. I knew I was a top teacher, I had the top enrollment but I did not have a degree in dance. I have a BS and a BA but in academic subjects. Professional dancers that had come to get their masters would watch my kids and ask themselves “How dos she get them to perform like that.” I realized I had a passion and a gift. I was so afraid, I can’t even describe to you the anxiety I felt for the first two years after I left a University program that I had run for 11 years. I felt like a fraud, I went terribly in debt. But I was always able to pull a small profit. The studio always made money whether I was taking any home or not. Then I started to concentrate on climbing out of debt. It has been so hard, but I am successful and happy. This year at the end of May I should be debt free in my business. The skies,the limit now. I have learned so much. I am at maximum enrollment can you believe that?

  • LOVE Exit Through the Gift Shop (feelings about Twilight aren’t so impassioned). I’d add that the ability to spot an opportunity is pretty key too. Stephanie Meyers (and I’d also add J.K. Rowling who wrote the Harry Potter books) spotted a gap in the market and stumbled across a winning formula. If the appetite for vampire teenage-lit or magic spells wasn’t there, they’d never have got their work off the ground.

  • This is one of the best posts I’ve read all week Lindy, thank you. Great message, and I couldn’t agree more.

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  • I love love love that documentary. Great message.

  • I guess the first step to success is to just do something. Put in the hard work, and if it’s meant to be, it’ll start falling into place. Great post.

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  • The word ‘Expert’ has become overrated. We learn by constantly doing something we’re passionate about and that’s when the perfection process happens. We don’t have to be great to start but we have to start so we can be great, I think :)

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