Originally published on Medium.
Cultivating your creative passion full-time is a dream of many creators. You’ve worked hard to build a side-hustle that can barely fulfill your creative itch. You see others jumping into the waters and now it’s time to turn your passion into a creative career.
It’s a scary leap to take — the doubts, the loss of a steady income, the hard work… but you can do this. It takes courage to jump into a creative career but here you are, ready to take on the challenge. Here are tips for thriving in a creative career.
Start creating now
Many creators want to start but carry their insecurities into their new creative career. Other people keep spewing their unsolicited doubts and opinions at you… and some of them stick. You carry them around and start to believe them.
I still have that feeling. I want things to be perfectly in place before I start something new. I want a plan on each day for the first three months on what I’ll do and how I’ll progress on the creative plan.
But sometimes it takes a leap to help you fight through all those doubts. That’s why I’ve adopted the 1–50 rule.
When I first came across that article, I felt like I had the answer to all of my problems. Think of something you can do in one day and still deliver 50% of the results. That’s it. That’s the rule.
When you can throw perfectionism out the window (or any other obstacles/doubts/fears), you revolutionize your thinking process. Instead of worry, you turn toward a “figure it out” mentality. You start with what you can provide and figure the rest of it out as you go.
For example, I launched my Patreon using this format. I can deliver (over) 50% of the rewards and benefits, but getting the page out into the world was more important to get noticed than making sure I have the perfect video editing software to do what I want to do down the road.
Since launching, I’ve been able to see different possibilities where others saw issues. I’ve gotten feedback and useful help on moving forward and creating content. I’ve built more confidence in my abilities (writing, podcasting, video editing) because I’ve focused first on getting the work out there and learning out loud.
Failure is inevitable; embrace the experience
Learning out loud and taking leaps will inevitably lead to some failures. Whether you plan for it or not, there are things about your creative career that will knock you back a bit.
But each time you fail, it’s a chance to learn. As a writer, you are continually learning out loud. You publish articles that have grammatical issues, you find flaws in scene structures that are already permanently printed, you see characters lose physical features that they started the story with…
Failure comes in many different forms, but it’s during that failure that a creator can really thrive. These are experiences that teach you, help you practice change and uncertainty. They help you prepare for the future, find gaps in your skills and knowledge, and give you great substance to develop into something successful.
When you see failure as a chance to learn rather than a place to give up, you can turn it into a thriving moment. There will be many more of these moments but how you respond will determine how your creative career proceeds.
And consider this: we are a culmination of all our past experiences. Think of failed projects, passions that faded out, things you tried and didn’t enjoy… all of these things make you who you are today. These experiences contribute to the now.
In the moment, these failures or losses of interest may not seem like much, but they all help shape how you react in the future. My experience as a college and professional athlete doesn’t really have a connection to writing but the further I look, the more I can see how that experience changed my creative process. There are connections all around us.
Be willing to “drudge through the drudgery”
Passion. Not everyone understands the difference between excitement and passion. But if you’re starting a creative career, I bet you have an idea.
To see your creative career thrive, you have to be willing to go through the unpleasant parts of your passion. That might be the writing process when you don’t feel motivated. It might be getting in front of a camera when you’re sick and barely functioning. It might be handling a concert when the speakers blow out, your guitar player decides to do a solo act, and the concert venue doesn’t have the right equipment for you to use.
Turning what was probably a side-hustle into a full-time career is not for the faint of heart. What used to be your creative escape from the 9–5 has now become your 24/7. You eat, sleep, and breathe your creativity as you try to make a living as a creator.
In these times, you have to be willing to surround yourself with the ups and downs that come from a creative career. Things will not always go your way. There will be failures.
That’s why you need to think back to your ‘why’; the reason you started this side-hustle in the first place. You wanted to create. You wanted to be unique. You wanted to share your passion with the world.
Creators who thrive and succeed in creative careers are the ones who drudge through the drudgery. When things are tough, they still create because they love to do it.
To get value, you must give value
If you are pursuing your creative career for the money, you should have probably stopped reading this article.
Yes, money is needed to survive, but money doesn’t come from hoping people come to you because your work is good. Money follows value. To get value (money), you must give value.
Value is derived from your purpose; the ‘why’ we discussed earlier. When you aim to give value first— be that in the form of entertainment, lessons, advice, experience — you get value back. Your creations should first focus on the client/fan/follower before you can make money.
It’s a slow process. You have to build trust, deliver consistently, focus on the right people and their needs, and connect with them. But just because it’s slow doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. The people who support your creative career are the people that truly deserve your thanks.
Think back to all the doubters and critics who told you not to cultivate this creative career. Then look to your supporters who are building you up and joining you on the journey. These are the people you want to focus on, not your critics. Continue creating value for them and they will continue following.
A creative career is rewarding. Being able to pursue and cultivate our passions and share them with the world is a wonderful thing. Thriving in our creative careers is not an easy feat, but remember these tips for success.
- Just start creating
- Learn from your failures
- Drudge through the drudgery
- Give value, first and foremost
If you want to see what I’m doing with my creative career and help me continue writing things like this, head over to my Patreon and join me! You can cancel at any time but your support gets you fun things like podcasts, bonus content, inside looks at my creative career, and free books. I aim to provide value!