I get this question a lot, "how do I make a true living, without struggling, as a creative career entrepreneur." It's never easy to answer, mainly because everyone's journey is vastly different. However, what seems to be the common thread is the craving to "do what you love" for a living. I've written a little bit about what my journey to entrepreneurship here. But I wanted to touch on how I prepared to live off of my creative career. I've mentioned before that I wear a lot of creative hats, which I feel helped me hone in on what I am most passionate about--writing and plant-powered skin care. No matter what else I took on creatively, I always found myself back in the heart of written expression and mixing and making things with my hands. I knew that working a 9-5 was temporary. Leaving my job was all a matter of timing, savings, and fearlessness.
When talking about entrepreneurship, I like to lead people away from the typical notion that we must do ONE THING, and one thing only. That isn't how most creatives work. Our minds are beautifully busy, and we have the drive to have our hands in a few different things at once. Normally, I start by saying, imagine that you are a tree. The trunk is the main brand/business, and your branches are extensions of that. For example, I am Alex Elle (the trunk of my tree) and my branches are: writer, public speaker, poet, photographer, jewelry designer, author, plant-powered skin care maker, self-care enthusiast, etc. Some of these branches are longer than others, some are breaking off, some are growing back. But at the end of the day, "Alex Elle" is still the trunk of the tree. Breaking it down that way usually helps people get a better grasp on their creative career and how they can potentially find balance within their business and interests. It also removes some of the guilt that can come up when folks think they are doing too much. It's not about how much you're doing more than it is how well you are doing it.
For me, doing what I love for a living has been about balance, and honoring my many interests. I also feel like my line of work chose me. Being most known as a writer and poet it's been interesting to keep the balance between that and wanting to make things with my hands. At one point I felt like everything else has to take a backburner to my writing, especially after my second book was published. Quickly I learned how unhappy that made me! Eating off your art won't always taste great right away. Preparing a good meal and finding a recipe that not only works but also nourishes your needs takes practice. Below are the steps I took to eat off of my art, and not struggle while doing it.
1. Write down your plan - what is it that you want to do, why, and how are you going to take the steps to do it?
2. Don't quit your job until you are ready - being impulsive will put you in a bind. Be realistic, be patient, and take your time.
3. Have some money in the bank - it cost money to make money, and it cost to live. Be smart about your finances and what you are capable of doing monetarily.
4. Always do what you love, even while working a nine to five - this is the most difficult for a lot of people. It's important to that you don't fall into a rut. Make time for what it is that you ultimately want to do full time, even if you can only dedicate five mins to your creativity.
5. Stay positive, work hard and know that you can do it - this might sound corny, but it's true. You're going to have people in your ear telling you not to do what you've been planning on doing. You will get discouraged by your own devices, and the process will be difficult. Nevertheless, if you want it, you'll get it. Be smart about the process!
If you want, you can do it all. You're a tree! :)