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So you want to go for your dreams, but how… really?

white lights across store

Tonight I was asked the question, “How did you get the courage to drop the things(like a draining 9-5), and pursue your passion? How did you know you wouldnt fail? Mostly….how do you stay motivated when/if the future seems unclear??”  

My answer is creative specific but I think it can help others as well. Feel free to share with anyone you know could use the encouragement.

Here is my answer:

  1. First off, I guess I would say that I just refused to spend forever working 9-5 for someone else. I’ve had to do it at various points throughout the years but I always knew it was a “for the time being” sort of thing. There is no shame in sticking with the job or finding a part time gig to keep things afloat at home, but get really real on what you need from that job and if there are more creative ways to get the money, socializing, insurance, sense of identity, praise, security that your job may be giving you.
  2. Next off, I had to get really real that if I wanted to pursue my dream then I would be okay living as cheaply as possible so I could make that happen. It can sometimes feel like feast of famine so in the good times I try to put extra away for the slower months. I like to live as cheaply as possible but dream huge dreams and work towards those.  I don’t believe that artists can’t make money, I do believe though we need to treat our creative business like a business and often step outside of our own feelings and emotions and run it professionally. I wrote a bit about how to bridge that gap between time and money and the getting creative in the space between starting a business and having enough income to hire help here.
  3. For me, I knew I had to alleviate some of our household stresses in order to really be able to sit in a creative place of creating. One part of that was paying off a massive amount of consumer debt we had. You can read here all about how we paid off $47,000 in debt in under 2 years here.
  4. If you are focused on a ton of different business ideas, crafts, part time gigs, then here is my blunt advice. If they are related pretty closely you may be able to build them simultaneously, if not then I’d encourage you to pick one to go all in with at least to start with. The questions I would ask myself to determine which one to go all in with are:
    1. Which one can you make a profit with fast? Is there one that you could have money in your bank account with by the end of the week or month. That is one piece of the puzzle. Do you feel comfortable selling it, is it ready to go, or is it more than just an idea.
    2. Which one makes you the most excited? Is there one of those options that connects with your soul? It gets you out of bed in the morning, you could talk for hours about it… that is another great sign.  If you have a way to make money with it then this might be your next focus.
    3. Once you get clear about what single idea to start on then go in 100% on that one idea. Production and creating it, selling it, focus your website or social media pages on it and develop a marketing plan. Get really clear so that there is no question that this thing is what you’re promoting.
    4. If all options still ring in pretty even then think about if there is one that requires less to startup. Is there less inventory, space taken up at home, etc.  Is there one you can do online versus in person, or if you love to be out with people then which one allows you to do more of that?
    5. An exception to narrowing down to one idea might be similar to what I face in my own business. I offer seasonal items and then other items that are for sale year round. I still recommend starting on one, but you may be able to add in more pretty quickly (More on this further down)
  5. Shift your mindset. Here is my number one piece of advice (probably should have had this at the top… but here it is): No one is going to step in and grant you worthy of going for your dream. Stop waiting for someone to grab your hand and tell you that they’ve found a way for it all to work out. It’s on you. You have to believe in it, hire people if needed to believe in it and carry out your ideas, you have to find a way to continue to education yourself or surround yourself with others who make you believe it is not only possible… but your destiny and responsibility to live fully in alignment with your larger purpose.
    1. Join clubs, in person classes or online classes and masterminds.
    2. Follow people who inspire you, read articles and watch things on youtube about success stories.  Put so much information about people succeeding, living their dreams, or other areas attached to your goal that you literally brainwash yourself into knowing it’s possible.
    3. On the reverse side of the last tip, take a step back from those who discourage you, compete with you, make you feel small. This can sometimes be those that love us most, it can be really hurtful is someone we love doesn’t get our vision. Start to notice these things. It’s okay for awhile to unfollow them, slightly avoid them while you build up your foundation in this new venture.  Find a mentor  or someone who can cheer you on. This sounds cheesy but I swear it works, imagine the words of support as large, colorful headlines.  Then when you hear words of judgement or anything that pulls at your gut and leaves you with less energy than imagine those words as smaller, slow motion, almost comical.  Imagine yourself the star of your own movie, knowing these people will be proven wrong in the end. Allow yourself a chuckle at their expense. Oh how surprised they’ll be when you prove them wrong.
    4. There are people throughout the world right now who are not only working a business similar to what you want to do, they are thriving and succeeding. It is possible!!  Why not you? Why would other people only be given that chance? You can do it!!!
  6. Know when to listen to advice of “helpful” people and when to let it pass right through you. I have people almost daily suggest to me what I should start painting, drawing or selling. Less than 1% of the time their suggestion is something that both gets me excited and also fits in with my goals. Just know they are trying to be helpful, thank them and move on. You are under no obligation to have to take their advice.
  7. It’s okay to fire a client or turn down work that doesn’t align with your energy.  When you’re choosing how to invest your energy and drive sales there can be so many ways. In my business of being an artist alone there are: art shows, galleries, craft shows, online sales, wholesale, having my own studio or store, having a rep sell my work for me, selling from social media and more that I’m not even thinking of. It’s not that any of these are wrong but you do have to get really real at what works for you. For me I also homeschool our youngest and we made a move out to the country a few years back. This was a big deal because it meant that I had to get real about my energy, goals and if I wanted to still be selling things on a daily basis in person in the City, be a part of networking groups in the city that would then inevitable require follow up coffee meetups, even wholesaling in stores has proven tough because of the distance and me having my sidekick with me all the time. So for me at this point in my life I’ve chosen to do almost 100% of my business online. That way I can being doing it on my own schedule. (like writing this post at 11pm). I can homeschool and enjoy it without guilt and honor the commitments I’ve made to my family.
  8. Create a budget, if you are married write down your family’s current month spending and income.  Then create a wish list of possible spending if you were to eliminate any extra expenses for awhile. How far apart is that goal spending from you having one income? Are you saving on the cost of daycare also if you are home? Is there a way you could cut down to part time at work and pour extra time to pursuing your business? Analyze these different numbers so you’re clear on what you need to make in your business.  I highly recommend building up a bit of a safety net of savings. Pay off debt if you can, lower your bills and commitments. Know if you are a person that is motivated by needing to come up with a certain amount each month in your business or if that stress would be counterproductive to your success.
  9. Act with integrity. If you find a way to quit your job and start pursuing your business then work harder than you did at your old job. Spend your day as if someone is watching you. Use that motivation to act with intention and integrity. Especially at first, overwhelm can be paralyzing. Create a list of what you’re needing to do to reach your sales goals and break it down into weekly and even daily goals if needed.
    1. If possible batch work together.  For me I tend to go in spurts. I will spend days drawing, I feel in the creative zone and I go with it.  Then I’ll plan other days where they are spend photographing my products, other days can be spend writing a slew of blog posts or social media posts and scheduling them out for the weeks to come.  Get really clear about what each sale actually means in terms of hours on your end, costs, energy, etc so you can price and plan accordingly.  For example when I sell a portrait drawing it may seem like that just includes me getting the picture and then drawing it. Yet here is what that process actually includes for me to sell and create portraits:
      1. invest in supplies
      2. practice immensely
      3. take photos of my practice drawings
      4. when a portrait order comes in I edit the picture and print out a clear reference photo.
      5. I sketch out the portrait.
      6. If needed I  get approval on the layout of the artwork.
      7. I set of the artwork under my video camera so I can capture the drawing on video
      8. I spend between 4 and 14 hours on average drawing a portrait with colored pencils
      9. I take a photo of my art when I think I’m done and in photoshop I overlay it over the original photo so I can adjust the transparency. This helps make it very obvious if there are spots that vary greatly from the original picture.
      10. Once I’m pleased with the final result I take a photo of the artwork and send it to the client for approval.
      11. Once artwork is approved I package up the art to send to the client.
      12. I edit and crop my digital image of the final artwork to use in the video and any online marketing of future portraits.
      13. I spend 1-3 hours editing the portrait video, adding music, cutting out what isn’t needed.
      14. I then upload the video to youtube and schedule it to debut on an appropriate date in the future.
      15. I add the picture of the artwork to my social media to be published once the client gives me the okay that the recipient has seen the artwork.
    2. Be a self starter. No one is going to make sure you are staying on track so you need to be accountable to yourself.
  10. Once you have an idea that is selling and aligns with your soul then go bigger when you can.  For me my number one biggest seller is Christmas ornaments. I wasn’t expecting this to be honest. In all my planning and creating this one snuck up on me. So then a couple years ago I decided I’m going to put more energy into it and see where it can go. I stopped making ornaments a few at a time and I made a plan. That year I made 200 of them. I invested more time into photographing them nicely and getting better materials. Then last year I decided to see if I could ramp it up more. I got on Amazon, and also continued with etsy and ebay and refined the ornaments further. I invested in a woodburning tool that could stamp my logo on the back of each one, planned out packaging and upgrades and raised my prices from $8 an ornament to $16-$24.  I sold about 1400 I believe last year.  Now this year I’m creating 5000, I found better ways to make my ornaments so they look more professional and I’m planning on offering a few of the designs on Amazon Prime as well.  I’ve also been working on the ornaments all year.  It’s August right now and I’m beginning to package ornaments and get them ready for holiday sales.  Keep growing, don’t expect to have it all perfect from the beginning.

Here is a progression of my ornaments from the first year until now:

 

11.  Sometimes being an artist or creative is more than just creating.  Did you know there are lots of ways for a painter or creator to make money?  I have a whole blog post all about that coming next week. If you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to my blog so you’ll get the next blog sent right to your inbox.

 

12. Lastly, let’s talk about mindset. This isn’t always something that can be taught. Some of us have been mentally beaten down, made to feel less than more times than we can count. We think, “who am I to get to do this?”.  I’m here to tell you that the fact that you are asking the questions, researching, dreaming, and still reading this… you are a freaking superhero. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!  I believe in you.  The world needs each of us to honor what lights us up and allows us to bring more good into this world.  I also believe that if we can get a plan together, we don’t have to have every step figured out. Your job is to figure out how to take control and make a profit in these next months. Your job is to keep asking questions, keep paying attention. Your job is to adjust as life keeps unfolding. Babies, moves, health, kiddos, parents, weather… there are so many things changing on an hourly and yearly basis around us. There is no way to figure out a perfect business plan and work schedule that will seamlessly flow through all of those possibilities. So give yourself permission to figure out what will work now and keep that long term goal in sight and keep aligning things to that long term vision.  (For example- I dream of traveling more and spending a few months traveling each year. That goal has helped me slowly continue to make choices for my business that require less inventory or me being dependant on a specific location year round. It’s given me a guide to set goals that align with me being able to either take off a few months a year or work remotely during that time.) Here is a video all about having the courage to build a creative business.  If you’re still reading this blog then definitely make sure to watch that video. It mentions some of the same things and much more.

Trust yourself that you will figure out each next thing as it arises. Everything if figureoutable. Have faith, keep showing up, keep paying attention. If you have a product or service people want and your timing is right and you’re willing to show up and continue to evolve and grow then you can totally do this!