How Much is Your Time Worth?

One of the greatest bosses I’ve ever had once told me, “You need to create the position you want for yourself. Dress for the job you want, and act on the job you want.” At the time, I didn’t appreciate exactly how valuable this advice was, but I took it to heart.

Like many bloggers out there, I have a full time job that takes care of my bills. By day I produce a radio show, film live internet television, write for a large website, and handle social media. This sounds like a lot, and it would be if I wasn’t passionate about being in the position to do these things.

For ten years before I went out for this job I did customer service. How I jumped from customer service to producing a nationally syndicated radio show was by donating my time to side projects that had me doing what I loved to do, create content.

In high school, I worked in FM radio as a disk jockey following in my mother’s footsteps. When I graduated high school and moved to Austin, I was saddened to discover that three years of work experience mattered little in an environment requiring a college degree to participate. This was upsetting and caused me to have to find work in a field outside of the one I loved. I started to seek work in a variety of areas and found it doing customer service for Sears. Three years later, the opportunity presented itself for me to work for Apple which put me in the area of technology, one of my passions, but still had me doing what I didn’t enjoy. The work was less boring, but still not what I really wanted to do.

That’s when I had to make a choice between doing what I love for free, or giving up the dream and just getting the bills paid. I continued to work in call centers landing a very steady job with the City of Austin for five years. During that time, I hosted radio shows on the internet for online stations like Rant Radio, Radio Akasha, and Gamer Powered Radio. The audiences on the latter two were small, no more than 100 listeners at any given point and the pay amounted to a dollar an hour at best. I also started a gaming blog where I could post reviews of games that I had played in hopes that it would grow to a point where I could turn it in to something full time. It was through these donated projects that I was able to convince the folks at Treet.TV to give me a shot producing machinima and helping their productions. This put me in the area of live streaming video, broadcast production, and machinima. Three things that I absolutely loved to do.

Like the other projects, this one was on the side during my off hours in addition to my full time job listening to people complain about high electric bills and city taxes. I utterly hated my day job though it was balanced with the fun and enjoyment of producing live internet television. Before long, my gaming blog became an internet TV show, and I had found an audience in the thousands. This became an accomplishment worthy of putting on my resume.

After a year of volunteering at Treet, I decided to send my resume out to some producer openings I found on Craigslist hoping that one of them might turn in to something. At the very least, I expected to find out whether or not the years I spent doing free media on the web would amount to any credibility when it came down to applying for a professional position.

To my utter surprise, I was offered a job as producer / director of a nationally syndicated radio show with an audience of about 2 million. This was made possible by nearly eight years of producing free content on the web. I’ve been doing what I love professionally now for over a year and still work on various side projects in order to position myself to move into the broadcast genre that I enjoy the most: technology.

So now I pose the question to you: what is your time worth?

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Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.