Over the last few months, I’ve been quietly asking students at We Create: “What is the one thing that would make a huge difference in your creative life?”
There were two answers: time and money.
I get it. I really struggled my first year as a writer and blogger. In the beginning, I focused on getting traffic – then the traffic came. I was getting 50,000 visits per month but not making any money. So I dabbled. I tried offering advertising. I tried affiliate programs. I researched and read everything I could find on how to “monetize your blog”. I tried building up my mailing list, but then I couldn’t think of what to do with it. Do I send a newsletter to people who signed up to read about my life? What would I say?
It took me a long time, but slowly I started to build systems. The good news for people starting out today is that a lot of the technology that I use to make this happen has been automated over the years. I remember hand-coding e-junkie links and trying to hack paypal to get it to send a thank you email. But even more importantly, I have a workflow and methodology that I’ve been able to recreate over and over again over the years.
I’ve used it to:
-Crowdfund $10,000 on my website.
-Raise $37,000 on Kickstarter
-Sell over 10,000 copies of my ebook
-Create five-figure launches, over and over again
So why do some bloggers figure this stuff out and others don’t? I think it comes down to the prickly nature of this problem. You have to make money to survive. It takes about six months to put in all the systems necessary to really build your business. You get freaked out it takes so long. You lose momentum. You give up. You never get to the other side.
I happened to be successful because I came from a job with a big company and a year before I quit my job to focus full-time on writing, I saved every cent of my income. We lived just on my husband’s salary for our last year in Boston. That financial cushion made a huge difference because in the Time and Money equation I suddenly had Money. Which, guess what, gave me Time.
I was able to use up a ton of this Time doing it all wrong, and I eventually figured it out. Most people don’t have that luxury, and I know I was incredibly lucky.
This year I’ve been quietly designing a program behind the scenes that would help creatives become financially soluble using all the same systems I’ve been using for years. When I was designing this program, the main thing I thought about is this: how do I give time-and-money-strapped creatives the help they need to get to the other side? How do you climb that mountain when you don’t have a big buffer?
I think it comes down to:
1. Clear instruction from someone who is very practical. (That’s me). You don’t have time for high level notions about your audience and connection and building trust. You need to know to install this plugin, so you can giveaway this list builder, so you can launch on this date.
2. Support. It’s hard to be lost in the in wilderness. It takes a while for things to click. So that’s why I’ve structured this as a hybrid model with a course component for that practical knowledge plus the mastermind group of like-minded peers to brainstorm with. These will be your best friends this year. They will going through something brand new, just like you, and when you’re even more successful in the years to come, you’ll have this network of creatives to reach out to over the years. It’s so critical. It was a big piece of my success as well. I had those peers who have gone on to be best selling authors, award winning journalists, National Geographic photographers – all starting at ground zero like me.
3. A fixed timeline with structured deliverables. It’s so easy to get way out there on research and planning. This program has the project management built in. It is designed to launch you at the best time of the year too. Get through this six months then in 2017 when you have several months of living expenses paid for, planning your next big move is just going to feel different. It takes the stress off. You can dream bigger. It’s a righteous cycle of work and reward.
I’ve been doing this for what feels like forever. Over last seven years I’ve earned over six figures per year.
Even writing that out, it’s hard for me to believe because I’m not really focused on the money side. I rely on these systems to generate income so I can do what I really want to do, which is:
-Make films and videos
-Hone my photography
-Write articles and research my heart out about obscure topics like pre-hispanic Mexican cuisine.
-Have babies (I’m on #3)-Have a stay-at-home husband (he’s been “retired” from his day job since 2010)
-Travel (we’ve at over 40 countries now, living long-term-ish in Thailand, Lebanon, Spain, Romania and Mexico)
So the key for me is to make sure I’m only teaching a system that is like a faucet. You turn it on when you need to, then you turn it off. We aren’t building an empire here, we’re not working ourselves into a forever job, we’re just trying to leverage our blog or business to make a living so we can focus on other things – which often bring us money in the long term – and we break the creative time-money gap.
We’re creative entrepreneurs but the mix of creative and entrepreneur will be related more to your personal goals – you can spend a season being a full-time creative, then do your big Christmas launch to fund you until June. It’s about flexibility, not just earning a living but finding a way to do that lets you enjoy the rest of your life too.
Want to learn more?
Webinar: How I made my first $100,000 online
Wednesday, July 6th
1 PM EST / 10 AM PST