There’s an abundance—a flash flood, really—of advice about how to make money as a creative. But virtually all of it leads to more, more, and more. More products, more income streams, more marketing.

But most people I work with are already maxed out.

They need more time and space (for their creative work, for their families…for their own tired bodies…) not less.

This is why selling enough of a low-cost offer using mass-marketing tactics to make a living won't work for most creatives.

But what’s the alternative?

On the previous page, I left you with a bit of a hand-grenade: A detailed picture of what it looks like to try to make Enough money with a low-cost offer.

I also promised you more options. I know you’re eager to hear about them, so let’s dive in.

I don’t think my next statement is going to surprise you…

I’ve been telegraphing this for a while now. But let’s get ultra-clear:

Your second option is to raise your prices. A LOT.

Think about this: If you make or do something that you can charge a lot more for, you don’t have to find as many customers.

If you are charging $1,000 for your thing, you need 6 sales a month to reach that $6,000 Enough number I used as an example on the last page.

If you’re charging $6,000, you need one.


I know that kind of pricing might sound pie-in-the-sky, but there’s very likely a lot more room in your price structure and what you could offer than you realize. I’ll show you exactly what I mean a bit later on.

The secret to making your Enough number

(without killing yourself in the process):

Make more money in less time

I mean, duh. When you think about it, it all comes down to this.

And there are certain steps you can take NOW to move in that direction.

For example, how can you raise your prices within the next few weeks?

  1. Just…raise your prices. You’re probably undercharging anyway. You don’t have to explain or justify this.
  2. Standardize how you do what you do so that you can lower the time you put into creating and delivering your work.
  3. Streamline your operations so you’re spending less time on admin and other stuff.
  4. Sunset offers that are too low-profit or high-stress so you can put your energy into what’s working better.
  5. Renegotiate your agreements with clients
  6. Fire bad clients
  7. Find better clients

If what you’re doing now just won’t work with a price point high enough to hit your numbers, all is definitely not lost! You can still design a creative business to meet your needs. I’ll walk you through exactly how in just a minute.

Before we move on: let’s address the elephant in the room

Most people have very understandable fears around charging a lot of money for something. Especially when they already feel like they’re failing at selling something lower-cost that seems like it should be so much easier. (It’s not!)

“What do I even know how to do that’s valuable?”

“How do I get my work in front of the people willing to pay that kind of money?”

”Who would pay me that much?”

“How do I make anything good enough to be worth that amount of money?”

These are real fears. If you’re not careful, they can stop you. Don’t worry: I have a very actionable way of addressing them. I’ll come back to that in a little while.

Is your brain spinning off into fight or flight mode?

I’m challenging you…a lot. If you feel your gut tensing and you’re having a hard time focusing right now because your brain is spinning out, that’s OK and normal.

Take 30 seconds to close your eyes and breathe.

It’s gonna be OK. You’re gonna be OK. You can do this.

Here’s what I want for you right now, when facing this massive hurdle for your self-conception.

Get MAD.

Use the power of your anger to get you to the next step.

Here’s a little sidebar to help stoke your fire.

Are you a sellout?

I know all about that fear. The edges of “cartoonist” are well-patrolled by other people in that world who need to tell themselves it’s their superior “toughness” that keeps them in the game. Anyone who opts for a different path will be reprimanded, told to stay in their lane. AKA “don’t be a sellout.”

I’m not making it up, either: I can think of two or three people I know of who’ve snarked about my professional choices behind my back (social media searches are a bitch), which means who-knows-how-many I don’t know about have done so.

I’m pretty comfortable at this point saying I don’t care what they think. But it doesn’t really matter what judgments people are sharing online when that border guard also lives in my own head.

Here’s what “don’t be a sellout” really means

A foundational cultural mythos we live with is that this is a meritocracy. The best rise to the top, as if by magic.

Before you choke on your coffee, please understand, I'm not suggesting this actually is a meritocracy. But the underlying belief that all you need to get ahead is greatness is pervasive, and we all buy it to some extent, especially subconsciously.

Here's one way it plays out: In a meritocracy, there can be only one pinnacle in a field of endeavor. If not, how do we judge worthiness?

People who fully buy into the meritocracy and are living by those rules, virtuously suffering in order to follow the Right Path to success…

Those people are deeply invested in policing the boundaries of the one approved path to "greatness," because taking any other route looks like cheating. And cheating means you might steal their spot at the top of the heap.

Unfair! Sellout!

If we reject the idea that there is ONE TRUE WAY to find creative success, then all of this is utter nonsense.

The thing is, those guardians of the meritocracy? You’re probably one of them.

I know I was. Probably still am at some deep level. I patrolled myself for signs of sellout-ness far more rigorously than anyone else could.

And that’s the genius of the meritocracy myth:
It turns us into our own jailers.

And I say:

Fuck. That. Noise.

I don’t care about meritocracy’s rules. I know what I do is awesome. I know I deserve to make a good living with what I can offer to the world.


You’ve been held back, manipulated, and lied to for far too long.

It’s time to get pissed off.

Let’s start a ruckus. Overturn the status quo. Demand a new way.

Feed on the cold fury of the creative pros we met earlier. Let it fuel your fire.

Jesus, now or never. Come on. It's harvest time, you know? We’ve paid our dues.

I'm bored with living on my nerves so much. I'm fed up with the self-loathing that comes with it, always feeling like “I could handle life better if I wasn't such a disaster.” Maybe I'm finally growing up!

I'm tired of learning. I just want to make money now.

I have had enough of the starving artist bullshit. I'm 51, and I am (occasionally reluctantly) accepting that I live in a capitalist society, and I want more choices in life and less financial stress.

I used to think I could work my way out of being a starving artist. I felt like I was 'in training.’ I'm not training anymore. I'm an expert, and I need to stop acting like I'm lucky to be allowed to do this so I must suffer for it.

Heed the call to arms from author Alexander Chee to stop being too grateful:

The off-ramp: DON’T make money with your creative work.

If you’ve gotten this far and you’re thinking. Whoah. No. This is not what I signed up for when I became an artist.

I want to reassure you that you absolutely DO NOT have to either 1. become a mass-marketing machine or 2. cultivate a small number of clients for a high-ticket offer.

You can make or do whatever you want, and I encourage you to do so. There are lots of ways to create a safe and sustainable living for yourself outside the two paths I outlined previously.

This is your alternative path: Decide, consciously, to take the weight off your creative work to pay for your life.

Find some other way to make a living that makes enough room for your personal work, and then keep that work personal. This is an absolutely legitimate and honorable option. It means absolutely nothing about your seriousness as a writer, artist, or other creative. You make your work because you need to and want to, that’s all.

It also doesn’t mean that you can’t be a professional, grow your audience, and make some money with your work!

What’s important is that you neither expect nor depend on any money to comes from your work. It’s just a nice bonus.

You don’t alter your creative direction because of it, and you don’t harbor a secret hope that somehow, someday, that income will let you quit your day job.

That’s because most people are actually ON this “off-ramp,” but they don’t know it. They think they’re pursuing a full-time creative career, and whatever’s happening now is just a temporary rest stop, not a dead-end detour.

And so they live in a state of suspension, feeling like they’re failing, anxious and perpetually under-resourced, postponing essential decisions on what’s actually happening in their lives because it’s all just “temporary.”

The key to taking the off-ramp and being happy that you did is making a conscious decision. Take responsibility for your decision, don't let yourself feel forced into it. Redefine success! This is how you take action within your Circle of Control, and start to feel in charge of your life.

How do you make a sustainable life as a creative on this alternate path?

  • Keep your day job (and work towards making better money and having more time autonomy).
  • Get a (much) better day job. Your criteria: more money, less time.
  • Start a (non-creative) small business where you can work minimal hours for high pay.
  • Explicitly agree with a partner or parent who is happy to help you that you will rely on their financial support, and get clear on your role in the relationship.
  • Keep the nut small: Move to a cheaper town, or into a camper. Sell your car and ride a bike. Buy bulk and grow your own food. Find ways to lower your costs so that your Enough number shrinks and you can meet your needs with part-time work.

Now, it’s time to make a decision:

Which of the three paths is for you?

Will you...

Path 1: Become a marketing ninja

Choose a volume-based business model, commit to mastering mass marketing, and devote at least 50% of your work time to it.

Path 2: Take the off-ramp

Decide that you’re not going to try to make a living with your creative work, and give it a new role in your life, consciously.

Path 3: Design (or redesign) your creative business so you can make more money in less time

Decide to shake things up at the foundation: Set your business up to meet your needs for time as well as money. Choose a high-ticket business model and some form of relationship marketing.

All are totally honorable choices! It’s all about what you want out of your life. One way or another, though, it’s time for something new.

I want every person reading this article to feel empowered to make this choice. The clarity and exercising the power of choice alone can transform your relationship with your creative life.

It’s time to be brave, and allow yourself to be uncomfortable, knowing that’s how you’ll arrive at a solution you’re happy with.

If you’re on Path 1 or Path 2:

I wish you all the luck, and I’d love to help you on your way as much as I can.

I have many resources for you in my blog, and I highly recommend you check out the Creative Focus Workshop (to get more of your important self-generated creative work finished) and Authentic Visibility (to develop ethical and powerful marketing foundations).

If you want to join me on Path 3, let’s investigate what that can look like for you, in detail!

Regardless of what you choose, to achieve sustainable success as a creative, you must start with your needs.

You have to fundamentally change the structure of what you're doing in order to break out of Cyclical Burnout.

If you absolutely want to do that but you’re kinda freaking out…

Don’t panic.

I’m about to show you how.

I know all of this is hard to hear!

I have gone through this same process.

I remember the thrill of finally gaining some insight into why all my hard work wasn’t turning into the kind of financial security I needed.

I remember being pissed off.

I remember wanting to make a big change, but it felt impossible.

Despite two decades in my field, hugely varied, extensive experience, I felt like there was literally nothing I knew how to do that could make me any real money. I was 45 years old!

I wrote this note to myself…

Oct 15, 2015

“I don’t know what I have to offer that’s worth any money.”


But the fact is, seven years later, I have a company that supports my family of four with three part-time team members. We hit 200k in revenue last year and continue to grow.

I DO have what it takes. And so do you.

Taking in everything I’m throwing at you, after a lifetime of having information and strategy hidden from you, is hard. It’s challenging.

But it’s also FREEING. Now, you have options! You have a direction!

Don’t doubt yourself. You have what it takes.

My own professional history and creative expertise were where I found my next steps in 2015.

And your own history offers answers for your big scary questions about what you can do to earn more, too.

Give yourself credit where credit is due: You’re awesome. So let’s take a look at how to turn that awesome into a sustainable living, shall we?

How to design a profitable creative business you love

Creative people often find themselves in a kind of double-bind. On the one hand, they are sick of doing boring, repetitive, underpaid, lowest-common-denominator versions of what they’re actually excellent at.

On the other, when I start talking about raising prices or creating a new, high-end offer, their fear flares up and shuts down any possibility of shaking up the status quo.

On the previous page, I talked about “the elephant in the room.” Fears like,

“What do I even know how to do that’s valuable?”

“How do I make anything good enough to be worth that amount of money?”

”Who would pay me that much?”

Here's how:

Don’t be “cheese pizza for the whole class”

When I interviewed Spike Trotman, cartoonist and founder of Iron Circus Comics, for the Autonomous Creative Podcast, I asked her how she’d managed to build such a successful publishing company through massive Kickstarter campaigns. She told me her secret was to avoid publishing books that were just…fine. Not bad. Palatable for basically anyone. “Cheese pizza for the whole class.”

Instead, “Kickstarter rolls up...and you're just like, oh my god. Yes. Finally, someone is selling me cheese pizza with pineapple on it.”

Spike’s point is that people who want pineapple pizza will be way happier about getting what they actually want than everyone would be to get what they kinda-sorta want.

They’ll feel seen, and they’ll pay attention to who provided them with what they’re really excited about.

As marketing expert Sally Hogshead put it,

“Different is better than better.”

This is where your creative-person super-powers come into play. Your curiosity and openness, the years you’ve put into learning your craft, your projects and even the weird, scrappy side-jobs you’ve done to make ends meet.

You are not cheese pizza. You are garlic-anchovy-sriracha pizza. You’re proscuitto-arugula-burrata pizza. You’re Nutella-pear pizza. And there are people out there who are salivating for you to show up with your special flavor.

This idea is called differentiation.

📌 Jargon translation: Differentiation

Differentiation is highlighting the characteristics that make your offer distinct from others in the same category. This is how you stand out in a crowd, and how you can build interest and loyalty, no matter how small your business is right now.

Differentiation is crucial for sustainable businesses, because when your offer is generic and widely palatable, the only way you can compete is on price. And as we’ve seen, as a small business with limited bandwidth, when you compete by lowering prices, it’s very difficult to make up the difference in what you’re losing on profit with sales volume.

We talked about time, we talked about money.

The secret to charging more money or gaining more attention is NOT getting more generic so you’re more generally palatable.

Instead, you need to go the opposite direction and embrace the ways in which you’re an “acquired taste.”

How do you figure that out?

“You’ve had the power all along, my dear.”

The elements you need to design an offer that can become the foundation of a sustainable creative business are already inside you.

They’re your creative track record. Your checkered past of (very) odd jobs. Your wide-ranging collection of relationships. And most of all, your creative mind and determination to make this work.

Your creative history is your toolkit for designing a business that stands out.

You are awesome. Your super power is doing weird things, having weird interests and talents, and your unique history. That's what sets you apart.

What that means is…

The things that burned you out are the same things that give you power 🤯

That’s why, even if you are facing a big career pivot, all the creative work you've done in the past still matters. It’s still part of the value you bring to the table.

That's what makes it easier for you to design a sustainable creative business than somebody else who's straight out of college. They don’t have your history.

(And if you’re reading this and you ARE straight out of college? You still have a long history of creative work! You may need to start with slightly more general offers than someone in midcareer, but you should adjust course quickly, as soon as you have a little bit of a track record, and you figure out what you like and don’t like about how you work with clients.)

The two primary filters you need to design an offer—and a business—that brings you joy and pays your bills

Taking inventory of your needs, your strengths, and your resources is the next step in designing a business you love that can support you—and it’ll help you start to trust in your own superpowers as well.

And if this makes you nervous about being seen as a braggart, channel your righteous fury that I stoked a few minutes ago into pride and a sense of ownership over how amazing you really are, and how lucky your clients will be to work with you.

1. Start with your needs

Your business needs to bend around who you are, and be built to meet your physical, emotional, neurological, and creative needs.

You’ve already done work on your Enough number. That is right at the top of this list, but it’s far from the only need you want to address.

Make a list of personal factors that truly make a difference in how satisfied with your life, and happy, you are.

Things like:

  • How many hours are you willing to put in on this creative business in a given week?
  • Do you have mental or physical limitations or differences that you need to take into consideration? What does “taking that into consideration” look like in action?
  • Are there people who depend on your care, and what impact does that have on your time and energy? Is that flexible?
  • Do you have a chronotype you need to work around (night owl or early bird)?
  • What elements of your work (medium, content, process) must be included in what you do professionally? (The distinction is that there may be many creative elements that you may want to include in your life—but you don’t need to be paid for them.)
  • How do you like to interact with people?
  • How do you like best to share your work?
  • What are your personal values as far as working with and for people?
  • What change do you want to make in the world?

2. Add your creative toolkit

Your “creative toolkit” is the catch-all phrase I use to group all the different ways you create value in the world, and all the different resources you have access to.

  • Make a list for yourself of your resources, credentials, experience, and expertise.
  • What skills do you have? Think broadly: your creative skills, but also your life skills.
  • What are your credentials? (Schooling, awards, reviews, certifications)
  • What have you done in your life? (Jobs, projects, hobbies)
  • Who do you know? Friends, family, colleagues, people you went to school with, people you met at a conference, social media connections…
  • What do any past clients say about your work? What did they appreciate about working with you?
  • What do other people turn to you for help with?

Think back through all of the gigs you've taken and projects you’ve done in your creative life and consider: When did it feel easy? When was it fun? What did I like about that? What worked well? What did other people get excited about?

How can I tap into that history and experience and build something new?

How it looks in real life to use your creative toolkit to develop a sustainable business

Four common offer types creatives choose from when developing a profitable high-ticket business

There are many more! These are not exhaustive. But think of each of these categories as containing a bucket of options.


Use your experience and expertise to help people learn to do something, or navigate some difficulties in their lives. When you’re a coach, you’re teaching, supporting, and helping others do something themselves.

Examples: Book coaching, art coaching, ADHD coaching, career coaching.


Use your expertise to do something for a client that they’re not able to do for any reason, or can’t do as well as you.

Examples: Copywriting, podcast production, web design, app design, decorative painting.

Consulting or strategy

Use your expertise to analyze something about how a client/client business is working or living, and develop a set of recommendations for them to implement.

Examples: Content strategy, storytelling, branding, production optimization.

High-end commissions

Use your skillset to make something that fills a need for a client.

Examples: Portraits, metal fabrication, mural painting.

Let’s look at real-life examples of how people are solving the conundrum of how to create a business that checks all the boxes.

The awesome creative business owners I’m going to introduce you to are all clients in the Autonomous Creative Incubator, my business coaching program. It’s a pretty new program, launched in March 2022, so these are early-stage businesses.

I’ll be excited to share long-term results in the future, but the early stage is the most valuable to look at, since that’s how you’ll see what’s possible in quite a short period of time.


Coaching is a great place to start with 1:1 services when you have deep expertise in something other people want to do or learn from. If you’ve been a teacher or professor, coaching is a way of having the best parts of that job, and shedding some of the worst.

The Quiet Coach: Samantha Clark

Samantha Clark is an award-winning contemporary artist and writer.


Her toolkit includes:

  • A career as an award-winning contemporary artist
  • PhD in Creative Writing
  • University-level educator for 25+ years
  • A published memoir
  • A lifetime of connections to people who write and make art (potential leads)

Samantha is devoted to her creative practice, and it’s going really well. but it doesn’t produce enough income to stand alone.

Like a lot of artists, she followed the teaching path, but although she loved her students, her job as a professor was getting harder and harder, and the environment more toxic. She was burned out and looking for an escape hatch.

To try to solve this problem, when we met, she’d started offering some coaching, but was running herself ragged with a newsletter, social media, and blogging to try to find clients, and her offer pricing and logistics weren’t working for her.

Samantha’s needs:

  • Limit client work, ideally to one day a week
  • Stay off video meetings as much as possible
  • Exit academic job
  • Reduce the amount of content marketing required to find clients
  • Bring in enough income to pay for current needs and save for retirement

Samantha has crafted a unique coaching program for artists and writers to help them develop their projects. She stands out from other coaches by providing guidance through written communication, creating a quiet space for reflection amidst a chaotic world. And it's paying off.

Samantha has a full coaching roster, hit 10k of revenue within 6 months, and has raised her prices twice within the first year.

She keeps her coaching to one day a week, with a few hours for admin and marketing on other days, and is currently rethinking how her offer is designed, again, so that she can hit new, higher revenue goals without taking on too many clients.

Find out more about Samantha’s journey here.

Art & Play with
Deirdre Colgan Jones

Deirdre Colgan Jones is an artist and mother who also has a lot of experience, but a less “official” resume than Sam’s.

Deirdre Colgan Jones

Deirdre’s toolkit:

  • Advanced degrees in visual art and architecture
  • Lifelong artistic practice
  • Taught in universities and art centers for 20+ years
  • Directed a non-profit architecture organization
  • A circle of acquaintance that includes ideal clients
  • Deep empathy for people struggling to connect with their creative work

Deirdre is a practicing, exhibiting artist, but she’s never sold her work. Partly because much of it is temporary and installation-based, but also because she just never felt comfortable with selling.

Deirdre had been teaching adjunct classes and workshops for years, alongside creating installations and public art work. None of it paid much of anything, and it wasn’t steady, reliable work. And then her career was sidelined when she became mother to a child with pressing medical needs.

All of that left her stuck relying on her partner’s income to support her creative work. He didn’t mind, but Deirdre did. In fact, she’d been trying to figure out a way to self-fund her work and contribute to her family for years when she finally found the Autonomous Creative Incubator and decided to become a creative coach.

Initially, Deirdre found the program extremely challenging and considered dropping out. She had been diagnosed in her late 40s with ADHD, which explained why processing new information had been so hard.

In addition, when she started, her mother was ill, and her family wasn’t making things easy. She was still mothering a son with medical challenges. As crazy as things felt right then, they weren’t going to get easier. It was up to her to make the decision to move ahead regardless.

“I just kept thinking, if the time’s not right now, it’s never gonna change for me. This is just my life.”

Deirdre’s needs:

  • Contribute to family financially
  • Reclaim her creative practice after years of primary caregiving
  • Freedom to make the artwork she wants to without feeling like a drain on family’s financial resources
  • Neurodivergent (ADHD)—needs to work with her brain and not against it

Deirdre has developed a beautiful coaching offering for people who work in high-achieving fields and feel burnt out to use creative work for playful experiments that encourage expansive, open-ended, at times meditative creativity.

She’s bringing in a significant supplementary income that more than funds her art practice, giving workshops for groups of just a few to hundreds of people.

Read more about how Deirdre did it here.


“Services” is a very big category, and it’s a perfect place to start both for established midcareer creatives like Avantika, who you’ll meet in a sec, as well as people with a lot less professional experience. As you gain experience, you’ll also be able to differentiate your service more clearly, and charge more.

If you know how to do something that other people need done, you’ve got the seed of a service-based business.

Filmy Brands with
Avantika Hari-Agrawal

Avantika Hari-Agrawal is an award-winning filmmaker with a feature under her belt and a show in development with Netflix.


Avantika’s toolkit:

  • Experience telling stories visually and verbally
  • Experience in corporate contexts with marketing
  • Relationships with other service providers who can collaborate with her
  • A large professional network of people with projects and businesses that need to win an audience

Avantika’s show was (is) stuck in “development hell,” and the constant rewrites and second-guessing were undermining her confidence. She needed to feel good about her work, regain confidence in her skills, and bring in enough revenue that her husband can afford to take a break from supporting the family and pursue his own creative dreams.

Avantika’s needs:

  • Efficacy and autonomy in her work to rebuild her self-confidence
  • To start contributing to her family financially again
  • To use her storytelling skills and know she’s doing good work

Almost immediately (like, within 4 weeks of deciding to start a business), Avantika figured out that her skill set as a storyteller and filmmaker was in fact very valuable and in-demand, when she landed a 6-month contract with a client.

She leaned on her experience working in corporate to design a full-service video-first brand story marketing offer, and was able to use her production experience to ramp up with a great team in a matter of weeks.

She had her second client within a few months…and then stopped taking more on, despite strong interest, in order to build out her processes.

Read more of Avantika’s story here.

High-end commissions

Portrait commissions:
Sarah Marie Lacy

Sarah Marie Lacy is an award-winning fine artist with a focus on portraits.

Sarah Marie Lacy

Sarah’s toolkit:

  • Highly developed painting skills, training, and experience
  • Awards and press for her work
  • Base knowledge of some business and marketing tactics
  • Comfort level with tech
  • List of previous clients and fans to follow up with for referrals and new commissions

Sarah had supported herself by running a painting school. It was going well, but it was exhausting, working nights and weekends. And then…Covid.

She filled the gaps with virtual assistant and web design jobs, but she knew she wanted to become a full-time portrait painter. She also has a chronic condition that means she needs to be mindful of how many hours she works and to have the flexibility to take time off when she needs it.

Sarah’s needs:

  • Pivot to make the vast majority of her income with portraits.
  • Bigger, longer, more interesting commissions
  • Fulfill a vision for expanding portraiture of non-traditional clients
  • Design around chronic illness

Sarah did a lot of research on her ideal clients (by talking to them!) and it changed everything for her. She raised her prices—a lot—and limited her client load.

Instead of focusing on “screaming into the void” with social media, we developed a relationship marketing strategy to help Sarah start building her business via reaching out to former clients and asking for referrals, and gradually building connections with groups of her ideal clients to develop new business.

At this point, she’s literally become a member of the most exclusive club in town, and regularly hangs out with top people in the government and women CEOs. She’s had to get comfortable with the feel of the phrase, “my prices start at $10,000” on her tongue.

And it has worked: by the end of 2022, Sarah had seen a 250% increase in revenue from portraits, had her first $10k commission and a six month waitlist.

Find out more about Sarah’s journey here.

Your toolkit is unique!

I know the people you just met are impressive. But just because you don’t have the exact history they do does not mean you have no hope.

Quite the contrary.

I’m also working with a sewist who’s consulting with small sewing businesses on their production process, a landscape designer interested in “rewilding” our yards who’s heading into private practice, an illustrator working her way up to larger cover commissions, a graphic designer who wants to create unique print artifacts for businesses, a writer who is supporting diverse writers to share their authentic story and voice, a copywriter serving climate startups and on and on.

Every single creative business is as unique as a fingerprint.

There are no cookie-cutter answers to how to design your business model.

There’s no hack or template.

And there’s no set of boxes to check off that will give you permission to start.

You get to decide. This is inside your circle of control.

Your toolkit is unique:

  • Your skills (things you know how to do and are great at)
  • Your history (projects you’ve done)
  • Your credentials (degrees you’ve earned, awards you’ve received, press you’ve gotten)
  • Your network (people you know, people you’ve worked with, people you’ll meet)

Solving this puzzle is a challenge, but no one is better suited to the kind of open-ended, generative thinking needed than creatives!

Your needs are also unique:

  • How much money do you need to earn? How fast?
  • How much money do you want to earn?
  • How much time do you want to devote to this?
  • What physical, emotional, neurological needs do you need to address?
  • What activities do you want to make sure are baked into the DNA of your business?

You can create a business that you can handle solo. You can design it so you’re doing work that feels great to you. You can achieve a sense of balance, like you're not constantly pushing a boulder up a mountain.

It’s figureoutable

If you’ve been stuck in cyclical burnout, you started out reading this article knowing things were messed up, but without any idea what was going awry amid the Mysterious Mechanisms that were supposed to be producing results for you.

But now you’ve know the steps to design an offer that can pay your bills without killing you in the process.

  • Figure out your enough number and sales goals
  • Pin down the time you have available
  • Decide on your path to solving your income gap
  • Use your creative toolkit to design an offer that can meet your needs

You don’t know what you’re going to do yet, but you know it’s figureoutable. There’s a legit strategy.

Those mechanisms are no longer quite so mysterious.

What’s essential: To get there, you have to start with your needs.

That’s the “sustainable” part. That’s the part no one is talking about, that makes all the difference.

You can develop the ability to assess the viability of a project. Or to create a viable project from the outset.

You can’t know for sure that any one idea will succeed before you start, but you can determine if you have a realistic chance of success.

Left brain or right brain, you are capable of figuring this out. Don’t disqualify yourself: this is not rocket science. This is doable—by you, and by anyone smart enough to survive as long as you have as a creative person.

If you’ve gotten this far, and the idea of building a business that sustains you really isn’t for you, that’s totally fine. I’ll be thrilled just to have helped you get clarity on that decision.

But if you’re down for the adventure…‏

Join me for a free Strategy Session!

I know reading this article has got you thinking madly about how you could uplevel your creative business to pay you more while taking less out of you.

You can break out of Cyclical Burnout and design a profitable, manageable—even loveable—creative business.

And I can help you pinpoint your next steps and sanity-check your ideas when we get together for a Strategy Session.

The Strategy Session gameplan:

In our 30-minute call, we’ll discuss your goals, get clear what’s keeping you from gaining traction on your work, and identify next actions. We’ll also discuss options for working together.

Click the button below, fill out the application, and I'll get back to you within two business days with a response.

If it looks like I could be a good fit to help you, I’ll send you a link to schedule your free 30-minute Strategy Session.

Why an application?

I help career creatives and business owners identify, plan, finish, and launch their businesses and next big projects. But I’m not an expert in everything! This application helps me identify whether I may be the right person to help you with what you’re facing. If not, I want to be very upfront about that, so you can find what you need!

I'll be in touch with you soon!