As a writer and artist, for the past 10 years I’ve been wrestling with various forms of this question:
How can I do what I love and still afford the life of my dreams?
I’ve spent thousands of dollars on books, courses and coaches, and feel I’m beginning to get a grip on what it really takes to turn your passion into profit. I have some pretty complex ideas on what it means to be a creative, professional writer or artist, and I use this blog to sound out theories, and to solve common problems facing artists and authors.
Through research, testing, experimentation and hustle, I’m building up a philosophy and strategy of a creative lifestyle that doesn’t end up in the gutter: becoming a creative genius, without suffering the fate of a starving artist. I’m not rich and famous (yet), but I’ve figured out enough to be on the right track.
The CreativIndie Manifesto
The main idea behind “Creative+Indie” is that you can use your creativity to make things people want to buy, generate your own income, quit your job, control your life, make more money than you ever have before, and lead a lifestyle of luxury and bliss. Creativindie is about freedom and control.
But Creativindie isn’t only about making money – it’s also a process. An evolution.
I’m determined to build an actionable plan (Paid to Create) which will guide you through these specific steps:
- Generating profitable ideas that will succeed (creativity);
- Finding time to do what you love and make things of value (productivity);
- Positioning yourself and your work so that people will notice you (publicity);
- Creating a tribe of loyal fans and exceptional peers (community);
- Seizing control of your life, defining your own career, living wherever and however you want (liberty);
- Filling yourself with passion and joy so that you can give back to the world more than you take from it (luminosity).
The end result, which I view as a required step, is to use your new found wealth and freedom for positive social change, by helping others. Real value lies in the good that you’ll be able to do when you have more power – when you can actually improve the lives of others in a way most people are never able to, because when you’re not just stressing the small problems, you can use your creative genius to change the world.
I hope to inspire a small army of Creative Independents, who can multiply the good works I’m investing in and make change happen more quickly. Altogether, Creativindie offers much more than a call to action or a lifestyle philosophy; it’s my aim to help you become a fully functioning, blissfully happy, self-aware, creatively independent global nomad – capable of radically transforming everyone and every thing around you.
So if you’re looking for creative genius and insight, and extremely practical guides on how to…
make and sell art or
write and sell books or
start a freelance or online business,
…then you might want to take a moment and look at the small library of free resources I’ve made for you.
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll get an actionable email series as well as the original manifesto “YOU ARE AWESOME – Do Something That Matters.
I wanted to thank you for your wonderful books and great advice on self-publishing. Your words make much more sense to me than anything else I have read on the subject. I am feeling substantially more confident now, and I am most grateful for that. Just wanted to make sure that my voice joins the many voices of your admirers. Your work is very important and wonderful in so many ways."
I just wanted to reach out and thank you for all the content that you've put out. I'm right in the middle of finishing up my first two books and will be self-publishing hopefully soon. The amount of mistakes you've saved me from making... thank you is all I can say. People like you are the reason that this is becoming possible to jump into this market and compete!"
I’ve been a writer for a long time. Researching how to sell books online, I have read a lot of material as you can probably imagine. Most of it is pure trash. But, your publishing resources had some meat. These tips are going to come in handy for me and I have no problem giving you a shoutout. Keep that up. I like people like you who actually have something to offer."
I mapped out the six stages nearly a decade ago, when I started this blog, and I feel like I’m finally in the last few steps. So I’m making a video course as well, and will eventually redo the short manifesto into something much deeper. Here’s the first video: if you want you can enroll for free in the course until it’s finished.
It’ll be much more practical and in-depth than the email series/free guide, so if you’re looking for some advanced tricks to scale your platform and creative income, check it out (after all, it won’t cost you anything, and might change your life.)
The CreativIndie Creed
I believe the purpose of our lives is to create something unique that entertains, instructs, challenges or helps others. I believe when we dedicate ourselves to what we enjoy, and refuse to compromise our time by doing things we loathe, we’ll become exceptional, and have something truly valuable to offer others.
I believe artists and authors are confusedly focused on marketing and making money rather than asking what they can contribute; reversing the creative process by first asking how they can be useful and helpful, will radically transform their lives, leading to fame and influence, financial freedom and true wealth.
I believe all of us are capable (and thus responsible) of utilizing our creative abilities to become masters of our own lives, generating more money than we need, and reinvesting our new-found time and resources to make a meaningful and powerful impact.
In other words, creative work is only “ART” if it matters – if it makes an impact.
The Six Stages
let your imagination run wild
What is creativity, really, and what is it good for? I don’t think “being creative” is a value to aspire towards: everybody can “be creative” and learn to increase their lateral thinking. But only a certain type of focused creativity can solve problems and help others. For some people, creativity might be a self-help therapy – and it can be. I’m just not that interested in improving myself and making myself happier: I want to leave a legacy that helps others.
produce quality work, faster
If you’ve had your Big Idea you need to actually do the work. This is where 90% of projects fail. But at least you won’t be spending years making something nobody wants. Focus on developing and shipping a “minimal viable product” to make sure there’s a market/demand. Then create; persist; perspire. Figure out the best use of your time; maybe outsource the inconsequential stuff. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the knowledge/skill-development stage. If you don’t know how to do something, hire or partner.
add value to your work that results in creativity-sustaining income
Publicity means getting in front of the people who should be interested in supporting you (either potential clients, supporters, fans or sharers). This usually consists of some solid useful content along with some zany fun content that people will love. The people who share your content may not be buyers, but they will be necessary to build a platform that gets traffic. Although you will be networking and partnering at this stage, I think it’s important not to ask for help (whenever you’re networking, make sure you are offering something of value to others, not asking them to support you).
dream big, leap before you look, and expose yourself to new challenges
If you’ve done the first three stages well, at this point you should have something that earns more money than the time and money you’re spending on it. At first, that won’t be the case: When you’re starting out, expect to spend a lot of time and money. The difference is, you should be building assets – and once you set them up, they should be able to run efficiently and make you a very good income for your time. The more you tweak your website or funnel; or marketing efforts we’ve discussed under publicity; the easier it will be to make money. That makes your time much more valuable. I consider my time-value to be worth at least $100; so no matter what I’m doing, I can stop and say “I could be earning $100, right now.” Which translates as a more impactful question: “Would I pay $100 to be doing this right now?” If no – then why are you wasting your time? Liberty doesn’t mean you can take it easy and coast; it means you can free up your time to work on much more valuable projects. Projects that nobody is paying your for; that may not make ‘business sense’ but need to happen anyway.
creating a tribe of exceptional people
Community is critical for successful, big-vision, world-changing projects. You don’t really need a community if you’re just trying to start a location independent business, but that’s thinking small. So what if you can make money online and live wherever you want? So what if you can make money from your laptop while sipping daiquiris on a tropical beach? What’s next? To develop a community, you need to have a positive vision that people can get behind. You need content that resonates with people, and a goal that’s so exciting people will want to get behind it.
fill yourself with passion and joy so that you can give back to the world
Luminosity is where a lot of people want to start: it’s the visionary, world-changing, passionate pet project. The problem is this: if you can’t make money online, if you can’t get traffic, if you can’t build a community and free your time from having to make a living, most projects are going to fail.
You need to learn how to make people care. You need to free to devote time and resources. When I was young I wanted to do great big things. Sometimes, passion alone is enough – if you have an enormously amazing mission. But more often, people are using “passion” as an excuse to launch a one-person small business. Using passion as the foundation of an online business is a bad idea. Learn about business and entrepreneurship first.
Focus on providing something of value to people who want it. Save the passion for the really big, amazing stuff that you’ll be able to do once you’ve seen some success. I realize this probably seems like backwards-thinking: but that’s also why I think my system is different, and better.
I don’t want to see creative people asking for handouts or grants or scholarships to fuel their brilliant ideas: I want them to do it right, by building up their own profitable platform that they can leverage without begging for help.
I’m building a creative community…
And I’m looking for allies who want to step up and play a bigger game.
Does this sound like you?
You know you’ve got the skills, and that you should be doing your own thing rather than working for a job you don’t love to pay the bills. You’d rather be spending all your time writing or painting or developing your own amazing creations. You think you deserve the kind of life successful writers and artists have – total freedom, do what they want when they want, but also in high demand and making lots of money, so they get to travel widely, buy a beautiful house and support their family.
But you’re not sure exactly what you should focus on, how to turn your skills and passion into a profitable business, how to create stuff that people want to buy (not to mention the nuts and bolts stuff like building an online portfolio or publishing a book). Plus with a job and responsibilities, it’s tough just to get through the day, and you’re usually too tired to find the motivation to do anything other than relax. You need help, guidance, motivation, and a friend who can kick your ass and tell you to get back to work.
Maybe that’s me.
If so, make sure to sign up to my email list for some creative insight into building a freelance business that runs itself.
I’ve been working on a manifesto or guide to CreativIndie since I started this blog, over
three six 9 years ago. It was meant to be a short introduction, but it keeps growing. It’s become something of a history and philosophy of art and the creative process; with a focus on helping you build a profitable creative business so you have the time and resources to do great things. I’m excited to put my PhD in Literature to good use, and write a meaty book of research and trivia.
It’s basically a manifesto of my creative philosophy, with all the fascinating research and history and a focus on creating a profitable business. I’ll probably call it “Paid to Create: How to be a Creative Genius Without Becoming a Starving Artist.”
It may or may not look something like this, and will be structured around the six stages that are the core of Creativindie: the important steps that will take you from nobody to treasured icon of creative output.
But I got distracted writing fantasy novels so who knows when I’ll finish.
In the meantime, sign up for the short manifesto and the free video course, which will most be a sounding-board of ideas until it finally all comes together.
And if you’re an author, make sure you browse the treasure trove of resources and free books on writing, publishing and book marketing.