This one's for you if you're self-employed and barely scraping by, or dying to quit a soul-sucking day job and hoping to make more money with your creative business — but can't imagine how you could make real money without mastering Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, email marketing (and the list goes on…), magically developing the ability to sell to clients, launching several more "income streams", and giving up on sleep.
Whether you are trying to generate some extra income on the side, or supporting a family as a creative is mission-critical, this series of resources is designed to help you understand your choices, and to make better ones, so you can finally move your career forward.
1) Why the key to making more money isn't just "doing more"
What’s the first thing that pops to mind when you’re paying bills, or contemplating a big household expense, or saying no to yet another fun outing with friends, and your brain goes to, wow, I need to make more money!
If you’re like most creative people, it’s something like, “I need to find another income stream.” Get a gig, or another job, or more clients, or pitch a book, or post on social media and try to sell more, or…all of the above. Sounds like a solid plan, basically. Any of those things could lead to some money.
But when all of them together don’t lead to enough money, it’s time to ask, why does all this activity lead to diminishing returns, and what can I do differently?
Here's a blog post where I break down how income plateaus happen, and how to take a totally different approach to solving the income gap between “some money” and enough money…without just doing MORE.
That is also the subject of this podcast, wherein I invite you to my kitchen table discussions, hashing out the struggles of surviving as a two-creative family with my husband, Matt Madden.
2) Why if whatever you're doing right now isn't working...it isn't going to magically start working
You already know that your creative business isn’t bringing in the kind of money you need...especially in a reasonable time frame.
Your work is amazing. You’re constantly promoting on social media.
Finding a reasonable number of people (say, 1000 True Fans?) who are willing to spend some money (say $100?) on your one-of-a-kind work should be easy. I mean, that’s a totally understandable, human-scale fanbase!
But for some reason, your creative business is barely paying the bills, let alone bringing in six figures.
Something isn’t adding up.
In this article, I go into the reason making enough money as a creative worker is so damn hard.
Let's look under the hood of the much-discussed “1000 True Fans” model. If you haven’t heard of it, short version: It’s the proposal that all you need to make a good living as a creative is 1000 fans who will pay you $100 a year.
Here's exactly what that simple math ($100 x 1000 = $100,000...*sigh* So nice!) glosses over.
In this episode of the Autonomous Creative, we unpack the false assumption that mass-marketing is the only way to build a sustainable business. It’s not. It’s an exhausting, full-time job, and chances are, you already have one of those.
We explore how social media is constructed to take advantage of your free labor, and never let you out of its claws.
Finally, we explore what does work — not a one-size-fits-all model, but strategies designed to meet and respect your needs.
Listen and explore what makes a business model work (and not work)
3) Why you need to get real about the numbers and stop undervaluing your work
If you are committed to meeting some or all of your financial needs with your creative endeavors, pin down what that would actually look like with the Income Clarity Calculator.
Do you know how much you need to be earning per hour to meet your needs?
Do you know what that would mean as far as how many of your thing you need to sell in a period of time?
Knowing your current reality is the first step to building a new one.
Run your own numbers to pinpoint the actions that will lead to a sustainable income from creative work with the Income Clarity Calculator.
Are you meeting your income goals with your creative business?
...or are you stuck wondering why your blood, sweat, and tears are leading to diminishing returns?
Check out the free Income Clarity Calculator and get clear on how you need to change your strategy so you can go from "making some money" to actually making a living as a creative worker.
Yeah, that's right. We're gonna do some math.
When you uncover your numbers and then take brave action—make fundamental changes—to make more money...
You take control.
Even if your situation is dire, knowing that you’re moving in the right direction, building to meet your needs and with your life and interests factored in, is life-changing.
Here's the short form of this list:
- Why just making more work doesn’t lead to making more money [article + audio]
- 1,000 True Fans + 1 Elephant in the Room [article + audio]
- How to go from making some money to making a living as a creative, with Matt Madden [podcast]
- What does it actually take to find 1,000 True Fans? with Matt Madden [podcast]
- Run your own numbers to pinpoint the actions that will lead to a sustainable income from creative work with the Income Clarity Calculator.
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,” and realize that people on the outside think I’ve got it all nailed, yet working insane hours and still not making ends meet.
That's 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.
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—which includes getting a handle on the numbers—is the key that unlocks powerful decisions that will allow artists to live and work as they choose.