Authentic Creativity & Making Money

An audience member wrote the following to me, and maybe some of you can relate…

“I long for the ability to create without any thoughts of money…to create because I love it… to take real time off when I need it… to try new things and build in more hobby time into my life.

Everything I create is because I love it, but I tend to always have that background question: ‘Will it make me money?’

I want to get to a place where I feel I can try things and fail and be totally fine with it…”

There are 2 things we can create: a hobby, or a business.

Hobbies can be a fully creative and personal endeavor, with no pressure for anyone to buy or even like our work.

Business has the need to sustain itself, ideally to thrive, which requires enough people to buy into our work, so there’s pressure for meeting others’ wants and purchasing requirements.

And yet, there will come a time in your journey of building an audience when you’ll finally have enough true fans, aka people who will buy just about anything you create and sell.

Through my content and courses, this is what I yearn to help you do — create your own true fan audience — because that’s when you will have true creative freedom in your business.

It takes time and sincere effort to build that kind of audience. The actions you’ll need to take consistently include: content creation and distribution, audience research, collaborations… all the things I’ve been writing and speaking about. (See the 7 disciplines of authentic business.) I’d love to see you create your freedom by having a large enough audience who genuinely loves your authentic creativity!

It’s a journey, so let’s not expect overnight success. Maybe you have 2 or 3 clients who already buy much of what you create and sell. Maybe next year you’ll have 10 or 12 such true fan clients. (With diligent content creation/distribution, audience research, collaborations, offer rhythm, etc., you can speed up the process and perhaps get to 20–30 next year, maybe even faster.)

Also, what is “enough” true fans to sustain your business? That will depend on what kind of income you require, as well as how you structure your business model. (For more on that, read this blog post: simple business model for solopreneurs.)

While we are still on the journey toward financial sustainability, how can we relate to money-making in a way that’s not desperate?

For us to really be creative and to serve, Money needs to be an afterthought.

Having enough income has to be expected and stable, providing security that you can build on, to be able to then focus on truly serving and delighting your customers.

It’s like the sailboat metaphor by Scott Barry Kaufman — if you haven’t secured the leaking holes in your sailboat (which is endangering your life) then it’s all you can (and should!) think about. You need to plug up the holes to secure your boat (i.e. get a secure income), before you can open the sails and really explore the world freely (i.e. to build an authentic business).

This means you need to figure out your financial stability before you can really have the freedom to get creative.

Stability happens by doing one or both of these:

(1) Require less income (live more simply)

(2) Make more income (seeking family support, getting a job, getting a promotion, selling easier products in your business, etc.)

(When you’re yet financially stable, these two methods should be combined.)

I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: there’s no shame in getting a stable job.

Or in selling what you know is easier to sell to make money. So that you can have the security and stability that allows you to be creating and experimenting with things that might not make money.

If you are depending (or fantasizing) your security on a new project with unknown outcomes, that is when desperation is spawned. Any new project cannot give you stability until it proves to be stable in income.

Therefore, for any business project that is new or creative, be in the energy of curiosity and alignment.

  1. Curiosity: “I wonder if this will serve their wants enough for them to buy it?”… so that you can experiment with creatively meeting them where they’re at.
  2. Alignment: “How can I structure the pricing and marketing so that there will be enough visibility and exchange to make it a win for both the customers and me?”

This means you need to look at new business projects as experiments, not as certainties for income. It’s a chance to practice curiosity and alignment, but as is true with all practice: many so-called “mistakes” or “failures” are necessary before you get it right. If you can frame it all as learning experiences, you will benefit and grow.

What about your heart of service? You’re human, so it’s reasonable to first secure your stability before you can truly tap into your heart of service. In your stable job, or in your business, wherever you trade your energy for money, once the money question is solved you can then tap into your heart in that moment of being with a client, or in creating/delivering your product.

Another apt analogy is breathing: if you can barely breathe, you have no energy to be creative, nor to give to others. Desperation — just to be able to breathe enough — is a natural human experience. Don’t ever blame yourself. Having enough breath is like having a stable income. Get that figured out first — get an easy job or sell what’s easy — before you try to get creative with building a sustainable, authentic business.

My business partner in Markao Academy, Kim Marie, added this note:

“It’s important to emphasize ‘easy’ job and selling what’s easy, because if either are overly energy draining, there may be little energy left to do what’s needed to build the sustainable business you want.

In your effort to establish stable income, consider what is possible and realistic for you. If you have to take multiple jobs alongside parenting, dealing with health issues and creating your business, you may find that your bandwidth to build your business is quite low. In a case like this, it will take longer. You may need extra support, coaching, or accountability to make it happen.”

If you can’t stand your job, you need to either:

  1. see that job as a blessing in disguise for now — giving you stability and also an opportunity to practice bringing your heart of service and your creativity where you can…
  2. and/or spend enough time on the evenings/weekends to find another stable job that is more acceptable to you.

Whatever you choose, remember this:

Every single day, wherever you work, there is the opportunity for you to practice inner development (mindfulness, embodied virtues, etc) and at the same time, to make a positive difference in the lives of those you work with. No matter what work you do, the freedom to practice and grow is always available.

Written by

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity" https://www.GeorgeKao.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store