FOR CREATIVES WHO WANT TO BUILD A PROFITABLE SERVICE BUSINESS ROOTED IN THEIR EXPERTISE
Most creative professionals have spent years making the equivalent of sub-minimum wage,
putting on a brave face despite being snubbed and mistreated by agents, galleries, publishers,
and facing repeated health (and sanity) scares before they're forced to answer that question.
But it will come, sooner or later.
And the more awesome you are at what you do…
The more that question will haunt you.
Because, before we go any further, just take an honest, quick accounting of your professional history. You know you have incredible skills. You’ve got powerful depth of experience. Years of commitment to your work.
I know you've got that commitment, because nobody would put up with the intense demands of training and the ongoing struggle for mastery of your form in the face of demoralizing lack of appreciation or even understanding from the world (not to mention the insultingly paltry financial rewards)…
…without a deep well of grit and passion and love for their work.
You're strong and inspiring, and amazing at what you do.
That should be enough.
You didn’t get into your field because you wanted to have your own business.
Yet here you are, 10, 20-plus years in, trying to force
"I believe in this work, and I know I have something to offer…"
to somehow match up with
"I need to take care of myself and my family. I need to be safe and maybe have the space to think every once in a while…"
Which leaves you feeling like a HOT mess.
Like that time when a client first asked for an invoice, and you were like, Sure, I’ll get that to you.
And then you panicked because you had no idea what an invoice was supposed to look like?
Or when you had an incredible call with a potential client, who would have been an absolutely perfect match for what you do, but then they ghosted you?
How about when you said yes to creating social media content for that arts festival for free, but then you found out they paid the other content creators…And then they forgot to credit you?
Or that time when you did the math and realized you could have made more money slinging frappuccinos than creating a stunning commission that took every ounce of your years of training and expertise to produce?
Two simple facts seem to repel each other like magnets with matching polarities:
You make or do something awesome.
You want to get paid.
You've tried to force those two facts to combine. You've done everything expected of you.
You've put up a website, posted on social media. Gone to events and chatted up potential clients. You've designed invoices and sent them as often as you can manage. You've tried to keep track of payments, and despaired when they're late. You've taken on crappy clients you knew would be a nightmare and then barely survived.
You've said no to parties and trips and weddings because you can't afford it.
You've worked through family gatherings and vacations.
You've lain awake churning through your options for bringing in some quick cash because rent is due next week.
You've bought the cheap brand of shampoo at the drugstore because you can't justify four extra bucks for the one you actually like.
If this makes you angry, if it makes you feel somehow not fully adult, like you missed out on something other people got...
...I hear you.
Sure, while you've heard all your life that artists are destined to starve, you also learned that GOOD artists don't starve. They get, um…found.
Something (??) happens to lift them out of this state of perpetual anxiety.
And if that “something” hasn't happened magically to you?
That must have some meaning, right?
Yeah. It does.
It means you've been lied to all your life.
This is not your fault. This isn't something that you brought on yourself.
You have not been equipped with the right tools.
School, the media, your industry all keep telling you that if you follow their rules your career is going to work.
And their rules don’t work. As much as you might wish this harsh reality weren’t true, your own trajectory proves that the rules you’ve absorbed will lead you astray.
There's no world in which creative success magically blesses those who work the hardest the way the myths suggest.
And you have been working so hard:
You’ve tried side projects and social media accounts and tactics that you heard about from somewhere…
You’ve taken on endless unrealistic commitments that accrete like barnacles and weigh you down.
But underneath it all lies the truth:
You've set up a system to make something and receive money for it.
No one taught you how.
No one helped you design your system for success.
You did the best you could with what you had available! You cobbled your system together bit by bit to cover your ass each time there was some new emergency, feeling like you’re faking your way through it.
(You're not faking it, by the way. You're still here and still doing it. That's real, and you should be proud of it.)
You've set up a system to make something and receive money for it. And it's broken.
What won't help?
Dancing around the brokenness, trying some sleight of hand and magical-thinking hacks to fix things.
Frantic activity trying to line up what it feels like on the inside of your business with what is looks like from the outside (before someone finds out that you don’t know what you’re doing).
Instead, you need to stare right into the Eye of Sauron, and face that painful question I posed up top:
"Am I going to continue to tolerate teetering on the verge of poverty and burnout, or am I willing to make major changes?"
It's painful, because even asking that question means admitting that you need and want financial and worldly success, and yet have been failing to achieve it for a long time.
Once you ask yourself that question, you've got only two possible answers:
Option 1: You can give in to the temptation to stay safe and keep playing small. Don’t even try to change your broken system.
So at least you won't feel humiliated when you fail to hit your goals. Instead, you can pretend you didn't really care about success anyway.
Option 1 can feel emotionally "safer" — to not want, so that you're not disappointed.
But that emotional "safety" is an illusion, and you know it. Living with the pain of an ongoing disconnect between your ambition and reality is grinding you down.
You have ambition. And that’s a good thing.
→ It's OK to want to make money with your work! It's even OK to make more money than you technically need to stay out of the poorhouse.
→ It's more than OK to want to feel safe, to be able to afford the ordinary luxuries "civilians" enjoy (a massage! brunch with friends!), and to be rewarded generously for your hard and excellent work.
You want that. It’s a good thing to want. I want that for you, too.
Option 2: You can decide that this is the moment you draw a line in the sand. Become as proud of your business as you are of your creative work.
Imagine what it could mean for you to have a business you’re proud of — One that is not only creative, ethical, and joyful, but also PROFITABLE.
Bringing in a healthy income is life-changing, not because the number in your bank account hits some arbitrary level, but because you'll be able to...
- Take care of your health. Make the appointment for that dental work you’ve been putting off. Upgrade to the organic veggies. Find a specialist who can help with your neck pain.
- Take care of your people. Buy those hideous sneakers your daughter is pining away for and make her week. Pay for a geriatric care manager for your mom to make sure she can stay in her home for as long as possible.
- Create the freedom to spend hours every week on your self-generated creative work without guilt or anxiety.
- Feel confident taking your seat at the table with the clients and institutions and companies you deal with day to day.
- Hold your head up in your creative community, and support and represent your peers.
- Trust yourself to know what's best for you and your business and that you’re equipped to make it happen.
- Model a healthy relationship with your work to younger creatives.
- Relax into a sense of safety that things are not going to fly apart at the seams if you stop pedaling for a few minutes.
Not to mention...
- Quit the soul-sucking jobby-job and design your work schedule around when and how you work best.
- Fire your toxic, abusive clients and instead work with amazing people who inspire you to do your best work—and have no problem at all paying for the privilege of working with you.
- Hire help that's actually helpful, that moves your business forward and takes the pressure off you to do everything.
- Take a freaking VACATION.
Stop being an accidental business owner. Design your business on purpose.
Stop cobbling together half-broken tactics and build a business on purpose, with personalized strategy designed to meet—and exceed—your needs.
You are no longer an apprentice at your craft.
You’re ready to build a business that's as functional and strong as your creative practice deserves.
A business that's worthy of you.
Now, you can have a profitable creative business you're proud of.
Launch a business you’re proud of in six months with
The Autonomous Creative Incubator
The Incubator is the artist-centered program where self-employed creatives design a
sustainable, profitable business rooted in their creative expertise.
"Learning" isn't going to fix this mess. DOING is the only true way forward.
So we've turned the usual online learning model around. The Incubator is designed to short-circuit perfectionism and procrastination, and deliver results with no fluff.
You don’t have to wade through hours and hours of videos to find what you need.
There's no physics textbook of arcane charts and formulas to memorize.
The Incubator is embodied learning.
We are walking the walk.
Your needs and your questions form the foundation of what we implement, so that this program is perfectly suited to get your business off the ground in a matter of weeks.
This is a streamlined, agile program designed to give you everything you need to produce results fast and no more.
"The permission to design a business around what I would like my reality to be: That's been huge."
"Designing the business around my reality and the permission to design a business around what I would like my reality to be: That's been huge....There's a structure. These are the moving parts, this is how they work together, and they've gotta work around me. That has been pretty mega."
Silversmith, artist in metal
"I can consistently show up for this business…and do work that I actually feel super passionate about."
“I can see five years into the future now. I can see how I can consistently show up for this business and grow it, and do work that I actually feel super passionate about and excited about, and I haven't had that for a long time.”
Artist and creativity coach
"I do now feel like I have the idea of how to run a business."
“I've learned so much from this course. It's been amazing. I knew that I was doing things wrong before, but I didn't know what I was doing wrong, quite. And the networking, marketing side of things, I really didn't know anything about…I do now feel like I have the idea of how to run a business.”
Start getting paid like the expert you are in under six months
The Autonomous Creative Incubator is an accelerated, six-month program to get you to the next level fast! You'll have weekly calls and hands-on support from Jessica Abel and the Autonomous Creative team.
Live online onboarding with the coaching team will smooth out any tech hurdles. You’ll get a personal introduction to exactly how to access all the features of the program. We’ll make sure nothing stands in the way when you join your first coaching session.
Prepare to hit the ground running with your new pilot offer
Two days of live, online group sessions with Jessica Abel (replays available for everything, of course!) where you'll get your hands dirty immediately.
Design a pilot offer that is built to scale up fast and reach your financial goals. Form strong bonds with your cohort that will support you through the months to come.
Get your pilot offer out the door and start bringing in revenue within 30 days
The first 30 days of the Incubator includes two live coaching sessions a week, and a full day of voice-texting support — as well as a streamlined, action-first curriculum.
Our coaching sessions include strategic and informational support as well as hands-on critique and feedback on your work. You can even get tips on wrangling your tech.
Get the simplest possible version of everything you need to build out the operational, sales, and marketing structure of a business, and nothing more, so that you can build and launch a complete pilot offer…and start making sales to clients!
Milestone: Make Your Pilot Offer: Individual coaching call
Milestone: First Sale: Individual coaching call
Level up your business: 5 months to assess and improve
Strengthen your business by testing your offer in the real world
Once your pilot offer is out in the world bringing in cash, it’s time to take a breath and start building out the first mature phase of your business.
The five month build-out period includes
- monthly action-first curriculum
- a weekly coaching call
- asynchronous support in our lively discussion group
Now’s your time to dial in your sales and marketing with direct feedback on all of your work.
Use the data from your first client engagements to discover how well the way you designed your first offer works for you, and to redesign it as needed to more fully support your goals—and those of your clients! (You may well discover it’s time to raise your prices!)
Milestone: Your first 5k: Individual coaching call
Milestone: Aligned Marketing Plan: Individual coaching call
Milestone: Your first 10k: Individual coaching call
Congratulations: in 6 short months, your business can be bringing in revenue and poised to grow!
By the time you complete the six month Incubator program, you can have a fully functional business designed to meet your self-defined benchmarks of success.
And when your first six months are up? You’ll be invited to enroll in the Incubator Hatchlings program to retain access to all the program materials and coaching calls as you continue building your business success into the future!
The Incubator is for mid-career creative professionals (full- or part-time) who have deep expertise, but who need MORE from their work
The Incubator is exactly what you’re looking for if:
- You have a full or part-time creative practice.
- You have worked with clients and made sales in the past in your creative business.
- You want to bring in more or all of your income from your creative business.
- You’re interested in working with clients and providing a service, and you’re curious and flexible about how that will work.
- You’re willing to overcome any negative feelings you might have about “business” and unpack your relationship with money.
- You're willing to put in the time and work (an estimated 6-10 hours a week).
- You want to create high-priced offers and are ready to believe you can sell them.
This program might NOT be for you if:
- You’re stuck on the belief that there's a magic gatekeeper who needs to grant you access to the next level, or that success will just happen to you.
- You’re determined to try to make your business work with low-cost offers.
- You’re not willing to challenge your beliefs about money and business.
- You are not flexible about how your business is designed, but instead want to make what you’re doing already work.
- You believe that there’s no way this can work for you, and you’re not open to change.
- You’re not willing to prioritize building your business over other life commitments for the next few months.
Robust support built for busy people
Here’s how the Incubator is built to address your need for flexibility, personalization, and learning style
Agile, laser-focused live coaching
In group calls and in individual 1:1 milestone calls, Jessica and the coaching team can address any questions, issues, and roadblocks you encounter on your journey so that you never stay stuck for long.
Plus: all calls are in a private podcast feed, so you can review them or catch up on the go, in the kitchen, or in your studio, on your schedule.
Every time you coached me, I would have an aha moment.…you would say something and I would be like, oh my god, I didn't realize that was even a solution.
Avantika Hari Agrawal
Critique feedback on all of your work
You know how in online courses you do all this homework but then never get anyone’s eyes on it, so you’re not sure how to improve it or what to do next? Well, that won’t happen in the Incubator, where you can submit all of your coursework for live feedback.
It was really valuable getting feedback on specific pieces of work, like a rough draft of a sales page or a first stab at a value proposition. It's really valuable to get some eyes on that work and some feedback on it, especially when you're really uncertain and trying these things out for the first time.
Membership in a safe, supportive, small-group setting
Form durable, powerful relationships with other incredible, engaged creative business owners who are struggling just like you are to make a great living, with support for developing accountability groups and partnerships.
Not a “groups person”? This group is unlike any you’ve experienced. The power of the cohort takes even non-joiner skeptic members by surprise. These relationships are literally the number-one most-loved feature of this program.
One of the biggest things that happened for me was the community that emerged almost organically with the [peer-led] co-working group that I became a part of. Just having those people show up for each other was so vital and important. Even if I wasn't able to get to anything outside of those co-working hours, I knew I would be able to address the things that I needed to do. I got so many things done, so many difficult things that I could never have done by myself simply by stating that I was going to try it, and then actually try it. That was huge for me.
Deirdre Colgan Jones
A 24-7 online support and feedback forum
Engage in asynchronous conversation and ask questions whenever it makes most sense for you so you can work on your schedule and at your pace.
A kind of indescribable interactive, action-encouraging workbook/textbook/course dashboard (PLUS your own company HQ)
…built for you in the online platform Notion. Really, until you see how engaging and flexible our format is, you won't believe it. No more taking notes that never turn into action!
This is the promise of the Incubator:
I won't let you get stuck in procrastination and dithering
In TWO DAYS you can design an offer that's designed to bring in cash...
...and you can actually sell your new offer to clients—get paid!—within 30 days.
Sound impossible? It's not. Here's why:
If you can devote about 8-10 hours a week to your business, you can change your life in a month. The elements of the changes you will need to make are so manageable.
I will be there, with my team, at every step, to make sure you have what you need to build a product or service offer that’s designed to be profitable and easy… and to sell it without sleaze, in full confidence that you’re providing something that will be of genuine value to others.
You could experience the deep sense of relief that comes with a growing bank account and an increasingly empty calendar by mid-November.
You could have a functional, profitable, honest-to-god real business by September! Or even a lot earlier, depending on how simple you’re willing to keep things! (Believe me, that can be the hardest part...)
“Doing the work has been so much easier than I thought it would be.”
“The real application of this offer has been just so much easier than I thought it would be. That was shocking to me. […] Just doing the work that I had offered was surprisingly satisfying, and just so enriching and really enjoyable.”
Deirdre Colgan Jones
Artist, mother, and coach
"The financial boost has given me peace of mind."
"I signed three clients in my first six months of comics coaching. Best of all, the financial boost has given me the peace of mind to concentrate on my own work."
Cartoonist and coach
The Autonomous Creative Incubator
If you join us by March 24, you can have a rock-solid business built by September.
Let’s explore whether we are a good fit to work together to develop your profitable and sustainable creative service business.
Filling in an application implies absolutely no obligation on your part to join the Autonomous Creative Incubator.
It's super-quick, and includes only the necessary information to see whether I can truly be of help on your journey.
If you think the Incubator might be for you, let's find out! Click below to fill in an application.
MARCH 24, 2023
“By the end of the year, I should be able to pull in enough to run the house on just my money.”
“I was feeling very guilty about not being able to bring in what I felt was really just my market rate. I'm not even asking for a lot. I just wanted to be paid for the skills that I had. And even that was not happening.
Now I'm at a place where I can very easily see that by the end of the year, I should be able to pull in enough to run the house on just my money.”
Filmmaker and marketing strategist
From $10,400 in 2021 to $24,000 in 2022. And the year isn't over yet.
“In 2021 I booked somewhere around $10,400 in portraits. This year I'm in the $24,000 range. And it's only the end of August, so who knows what the end of the year will bring.
I have a plan for my business now and that sense of... control isn't the right word, because control feels really tight, but a command of this information that I can use to make better choices, use to make better decisions, use to create strategies.”
Sarah Marie Lacy
Artist and portrait painter
From needing help with studio rent to fully funded through the end of the year
“My studio rent will be paid right through the end of this year, which is just mind blowing for me. I have gone from this slightly humiliating position of having to ask my husband, can you put money in my business account because I have to pay my studio rent? To that business account actually having funds coming directly from my clients. That's never been the case for me before, so it feels really good. I'm finally growing up, making a living.”
Deirdre Colgan Jones
Artist, mother, and coach
Artists, writers, and creatives face unique challenges
You need time, space, margin, to think and make your work.
You need freedom and control over your time and attention.
You might even need unusual materials and have an off-beat workspace.
Yours is not a standard-issue business.
You’ve got the same skill set and expertise that has produced some of the most valuable (as measured by money!) assets of the human race: Literature! Art! Music!
And yet, you’re told repeatedly that, not only is it basically impossible to get paid for these valuable skills, there’s also something morally suspect about trying.
Dentists do not have this problem.
Microchip manufacturers do not have this problem.
Bankers definitely do not have this problem.
It’s taken for granted that those jobs are all reasonable things to do with your life, and so people pursuing those paths are routinely equipped with the tools and knowledge to make a good living and grow their business over time.
Whereas you’ve been systematically deprived of the basic education and tools you’ve needed to build your own business in a misguided attempt to “protect” your delicate artistic sensibilities from crass commerce. (Yeah, thanks for that.)
Here’s what you need to know:
There is a powerful invisible architecture that underlies the way businesses create and exchange value.
In the Autonomous Creative Incubator, you’ll use leverage and decision-making that become possible when you have a strategic command of your business to accelerate your journey to financial solvency. Without all the painful mistakes that other creatives fall into.
Stop coddling crappy clients and start working with people who truly appreciate you.
Stop piling on hours to somehow feel OK that you’re charging an almost-reasonable amount of money and start designing offers that intentionally enforce your boundaries.
Stop launching project after income stream after promo and start focusing on work that has a real shot of hitting your goals
Stop getting frozen in place by fear and indecision and start tapping into an inner well of self-trust that you know what you’re doing.
You got this.
The Incubator pulls back the curtain to reveal all the strategic underpinnings that allow you to design a simple business for success
You’ll master the complete framework of a strong, flexible, functional business that's built around the concerns of creative professionals, and we will help you build it out to your specifications, every step of the way.
You’ll start DOING, instead of just thinking, planning, and dreaming.
You're not an apprentice anymore. You've read enough, studied enough.
It's time for an experience that's not informational, it's transformational.
Other business coaching programs:
- Are made for people who grow up dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur.
- Offer cookie-cutter “step-by-step” frameworks that do not take individual circumstances into account.
- Start with the assumption that you’re in business to make “SIX FIGURES” and not because your work is your mission. (Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with financial goals! They just aren’t enough.)
- Teach tactics, but leave out the strategy that would make it possible to determine which tactics are the right ones for you.
- Hit you with information overload, and you’re still left wondering: “Okay, but how??”
The Autonomous Creative Incubator:
- Puts your creative focus at the heart of your business.
- Offers personalized instruction and individual feedback
- Includes you in a powerful and supportive small group cohort to accompany you on your journey.
- Starts with your own definition of success (including financial success, but also including your health, relationships, and anything else you value).
- Incentivizes you to take action with simple, achievable steps that build upon one another and a clear, motivational timeline.
Benefit from the collective power of a coach and a cohort of extraordinary creatives who understand what it means to bridge the art world and the business world
“Your background made me feel like, this is someone who understands both the art world and the business world. And I can come with my specific set of problems and not have to explain all of the backstory of what the art world is like and why your thing, your nice tidy solution, won't work.”
Sarah Marie Lacy
Artist and portrait painter
“I had tried to join other groups that ended up being a lot of hobbyists, and then you're kind of like an accidental mentor. So I didn’t really get anything out of it. …Being able to have conversations with other people who are your peers, in terms of their level of expertise and craft—even if they're not in the exact same field—is really important and also hard to find.”
“As creatives, we don't get to have the conversations that we would like to as frequently as we would like to. People outside the creative world do not have the same problems that we do. They just don't. It's a fact, and it's just nice to be part of a community that relates and understands and is totally going through the same things that you are.”
Filmmaker and marketing strategist
“This is the most extraordinary class I have ever been part of. I'm not a joiner. I'm a great teacher. I make other people join. I suck at it when it's me. To be this involved, to have connected with so many people, has just never happened before. Ever. Not college. Not anything after. I was like, why are people always going on about a cohort? Who the f— cares? I get it now.”
Visual artist, educator, and author
You deserve to be proud of your business
And you need a new approach to getting there. You need a strategic plan, you need processes that reinforce your commitment, and you need support and accountability.
In the Incubator:
We know you’re a creator first and foremost.
We know you want a values-driven business designed just for you and that action is the only way to get you there.
And we will help you take those scary, long-delayed steps toward financial security and autonomy in a supportive, nurturing environment, where learning and implementation go hand-in-hand.
I’m Jessica Abel
I’M A CARTOONIST/ AUTHOR/ TEACHER/ EDITOR/ ILLUSTRATOR TURNED CREATIVE BUSINESS OWNER.
I know what it’s like to be doing everything “right,” working insane hours and still not making ends meet.
My own story is why I’m totally committed to my mission to help as many artists, writers, and other creatives take control of their careers as I possibly can.
My comics career—from the outside—looked pretty good. And every time I would create a new book, I’d think, This one's got legs. This project could totally blow up.
And then when the book was published, quite the opposite happened. In some cases, the results were shockingly bad. And I’d just go, how is that possible?
I came (late) to the realization that there are mechanisms that I was buying into, accepted ways of having a career as an author, that, while the typical expectations for how authors should work can help you produce books, following those rules does not help you make a living as an author.
The rules just don't work.
Success for those who follow those unwritten rules depends on magically getting attention from… somewhere.
I like to think of myself as competent. Yet the total lack of connection between the massive effort I was investing and the minimal return was driving me crazy.
I needed control over my life and my future.
I needed to support my family.
So I pivoted, hard, to creative business ownership.
This pivot point for me and my career is exactly the pivot point I am driven to create for others.
I want you to have an independent, creative, sustainable business.
I want you to have control of your future.
I want you to stop feeling victimized by your creative life (and stop feeling guilty for feeling that way when so many others would love to do what you do).
I believe that every professional creative needs to equip themself with powerful, effective strategy so that they can build businesses that meet their needs.
Strategy is the key that unlocks powerful decisions that will allow artists to live and work as they choose.
We (the big We—the world) need you to be successful because we need you to have the freedom and support to bring your work to the world for the rest of us to experience!
Our Coaching Team:
I’ve been an active fiction writer (both literary and for the screen) for twenty years. I’ve launched my business as a writing coach and writer midwife twelve years ago. I share my time between the trenches of writing and the headquarters of writers, where I help them design strategies to run sustainable careers. According to my teammates, I’m also awesome at Notion and automations, and I’m excited to help you cross the gap between amazing creative to amazing creative entrepreneur.
I'm Lou! I'm an illustrator, graphic designer, and printmaker, and I've been working with Jessica since the early days of The Creative Focus Workshop. I head Operations at Autonomous Creative, meaning I handle integrations, automations, and tech.
I can't wait to help you connect all the dots and launch a business that works for you.
“It's never going to be perfect. It's always going to evolve. But it's still so much better than I would do on my own.”
[When getting critique feedback on work like a sales page…] “It's been invaluable. People catch things, which is helpful. But we all go, oh my God, it looks wonderful. Because it does!"
“But then you're able to put on all these other pairs of glasses and go, ‘this is all right, but this needs to go up here.’ Even when I watch you change your mind on things—like the next pass, you say, ‘oh no, that needs to go down here.’ There's a logic to it, a solution for it, and my awareness grows that it's okay, that it's never going to be perfect. It's always going to evolve. But it's still so much better than I would do on my own."
Visual artist, educator, and author
Step-by-step support for building a business from creative work
“Jessica has provided me with invaluable support on my journey, drawing on her wealth of real-world experience. She showed me how I can build a business from my creative work, one step at a time, every step of the way.”
Game designer and publisher
There is no better time than now to build a real business that can make more money for you so you can stop courting burnout
I know: you’re busy and overwhelmed and don’t have a spare neuron to think about “strategy” or launch something new.
That’s literally the definition of the perfect person to join this program: The creative at the end of their rope, frustrated, sick and tired, conflicted.
That creeping worry that you’re becoming bitter…
Yeah. I made this for YOU.
As I talked to other amazing creatives like you to develop the concept for the Incubator, what came up over and over was a sense of...shame.
Shame that the money wasn’t flowing the way they had been taught to expect.
Shame that they spend so much time on the work for so little.
Shame that the inside of their business feels like such a hot mess, and seriously? Don’t most people get this sorted by like, 25??
I have felt that too!
And I HATE that we’re made to feel shame over trying so hard to implement the system for making a living that we’re told is the One True Way, but is in fact BUILT TO FAIL.
There is NOTHING to be ashamed of! You are f***ing INCREDIBLE. You have gotten this far by dint of sheer effort, grit, and scrappy determination!
Every system is perfectly engineered to produce the results it’s currently getting.
(So the inconsistent and insufficient revenue your creative work brings in? Yeah, as long as you continue doing the same things, your business is perfectly engineered to continue producing those same results.)
No matter what you hope will happen...
Nothing will change until you revolutionize your system for making money with your creative work
...so that it works for YOU
Six months from now, you could have a business that makes you beam with pride, that’s simple and profitable.
Or you could have what you have now.
If you want to launch a new, profitable business by the end of April next year, join the Autonomous Creative Incubator today
From mental block around selling to seeing selling an offer as a service
“I had this huge mental block about selling and sales in general. I've never sold the artwork that I've made because I feel so uncomfortable with that idea. The idea that I could develop my offer as a service that was an activity, that was an action, that was a relationship, that was communication based, was really great for me.”
Deirdre Colgan Jones
Artist, mother, and coach
“I really hoped I was going to be able to earn back the money that I'd spent and I'm glad to say I have.”
“I really hoped I was going to be able to earn back the money that I'd spent and I'm glad to say I have. It is really satisfying to be able to help people find a creative path forward. I'm really enjoying the work that I'm doing. I get some really interesting clients. They're just amazing. It's like having all the good bits of teaching and none of the bad bits.”
Visual artist, author, and coach
From embarrassed to call prospective clients to “I will ask anyone.”
“I would avoid calling people I knew who worked at magazines, because I was embarrassed to. I'd rather call a stranger than someone I knew. Doing this course has completely destroyed that illusion.
And now I'm just like, I will ask anyone. I don't care. Even if they think my, “God, she's a complete idiot, as if I'd give her work.” Who cares? It doesn't matter. That's been amazing, one of the many internal changes that have come from the course.”
Yes, you can make more money. Here are more answers.
I'd hazard a guess that when you've made attempts before, you were probably throwing spaghetti at the wall.
What I mean is that trying random tactics like “post more on Instagram” or “start an email list” will make little impact on your bottom line if the underlying structure of the business isn’t set up to be profitable.
The Incubator focuses on strategy first. You will start by designing a business model that’s set up from its foundations to make you the money you need in the time you have available. And only then will you choose reasonable, aligned tactics according to what works for you, so that you can see results.
Of course, there are no guarantees!
But if you’re not making enough money with your creative work now, and you've been at this for a while...doesn’t it make sense to try something completely different? Isn't it time to test a brand-new strategy that is designed for success?
I get it. Our students are legit awesome!
And they would also laugh their heads off at the idea that they now look so amazing that other people think they must have some special sauce that made their transformation possible.
Quite the contrary:
There were many conversations in coaching about impostor syndrome, fears of not being good enough or trained enough, desire to retreat into a certification program.
I (gently, firmly) encourage each of them to acknowledge what they already have and know and do, and use that. Our mantra is “imperfect action,” and every Incubator student has had to lean on that mantra, hard, to get where they are today.
What you need to succeed in this program is:
Experience doing the thing you want to help people with.
Not learning about that thing in a grad degree program. Experience in real life.
You will use the raw material of your expertise, your experience, and what engages and excites you to design a business where you’re the expert, doing what you do best.
I hear you. I have felt the same way. Know this:
Making money is how we are able to take care of ourselves and our people.
There is nothing wrong with being paid for the value you provide.
We don’t expect a lawyer to write up a contract without being paid.
We don’t think it’s weird for a house painter to expect money.
Why do we think it’s wrong to be paid for creative work? Just because we like doing it? Or is it because we don’t really believe it’s worth anything…?
Feeling that making money with our work is somehow wrong is a form of internalized oppression. It’s OK to have these feelings. We all do.
If you’re willing to work on these feelings and take back your power, the Incubator will help you get there.
The Incubator is a time commitment, it’s true…
But consider all the extra time you spend side-hustling and grinding out more work for extra cash.
The Incubator will help break the hustle-and-grind cycle, so that after six months you have more time for the stuff you actually want to be doing.
You can think of it this way:
If you’re exhausted and burnt out from what you’re doing now…how different will things be in 6 months if you take no steps to change your life?
It’s always hard to make time for a big project. But THIS big project will make time for YOU, in exchange.
Social media is absolutely not required, and in many cases isn’t even recommended.
Email, in some form, is likely to be necessary, but it doesn’t have to be at the core of your marketing.
There are lots of choices about how to promote your business, and when you build your own strategy on a solid framework, you get to be in charge of where you spend your time.
That said, In the Incubator, we will assume that you are transacting business using online tools (like sales pages and payment engines, invoicing and tracking sales) and that you will have a website or other online location where you offer your work. Even if you create a physical deliverable, the structure of your business will be built with online tools.
For the six months of the program, you'll have full access to all of the course materials and the incredible Autonomous Creative Collective.
When the six-month Incubator ends, you’ll be invited to re-enroll inside the Incubator as a next-level alum (a Hatchling!), with access to all the materials, every special event, and weekly coaching calls.
If you choose not to re-enroll in the Incubator, you’ll be eligible to join the Autonomous Creative Collective as an ongoing, alumni member at the end of your six month enrollment, with access to all the community support and the monthly content published in the ACC, for a small monthly fee.
Concierge onboarding will occur with live walkthroughs in the week of March 27.
We start on April 1-2, 2023 with the Jumpstart Weekend. We will be live 10 am - 4 pm ET. All calls will be recorded and available for replay.
The Bootcamp Month (with 3x weekly coaching supports) runs from April 1, 2023 through April 29.
The cohort runs through September 30, 2023. You’ll launch your offer to the Autonomous Creative Collective during the month of September!
The Incubator is a live, high-touch coaching program, and our investment in you starts from Day One.
As such, a full refund is only available before the program begins (through 4 pm ET March 31).
Once the program begins, if for any reason you’re unhappy with the program, a partial refund of $3000 will be available for 14 days from the program launch (through April 14).
Still not sure? Here are 9 ways to know if you’re ready to join the Autonomous Creative Incubator:
You’ve recently started selling your work and don’t want to waste any time getting it right. You could spend years trying to learn business on your own, but you’re ready for immediate action.
You’ve been selling your creative work for a while now, but it’s just not bringing in enough money to make a meaningful difference in your life.
You already have an amazing offer, but when it comes to handling the business aspect of what you do, you’re flying by the seat of your pants.
You’re someone who is willing to experiment with different strategies and change whatever you’re currently doing that isn’t working.
You want to channel your energy toward building your own business instead of working a job or getting gigs to make money.
You are inspired by how different your life could look in six months, as the proud owner of a new/renewed, successful business. Even if you feel nervous right now.
You care about taking an ethical, values-centered approach to business and want to be part of a community that shares your values.
You’re feeling a sense of possibility. Even if coaching programs have disappointed you in the past, reading about our hands-on, artistic-centered approach is breathing new life into you.
You’re excited at the thought of launching your pilot offer in just thirty days, after joining the incredible cohort and completing the intensive Bootcamp Month.
If you said “yes” to at least 6 of the above, you’re a perfect fit for the Autonomous Creative Incubator.
You have a choice:
You can keep doing what you’ve been doing.
Keep selling low-cost offers that aren’t worth the effort it takes to make them.
Keep waiting for a magical gatekeeper to lift you and your work out of obscurity.
Keep trying to do more, make more, work more, only to remain overworked and underpaid.
Keep turning down vacations, trips with friends, or panicking whenever an unexpected bill lands on your kitchen table.
Keep doing nothing, despair that you’re destined to be a starving artist.
Or you can choose to act, to be intentional with your life and business.