Creative Pursuits and Financial Goals are Not Mutually Exclusive

I’ve just hit my four month anniversary with freelancing! So far, my income has not hit that level of magic that some bloggers pull in $10,000 grand a month, $70,000 a month. Far from it! I continue, as ever, to be your low-income blogger.

Coming off FinCon and wrapping up my road trip has me thinking about the direction my writing and business are going. I feel excited for the challenge that lays ahead of me, but a challenge it truly is. Sometimes it seems like creative pursuits and financial goals are mutually exclusive. Am I doomed to cater forever because I want to be a writer?

If there is one thing that FinCon hammered home for me, it’s that you can make money online. Good money. Crazy money, for some people. I consider myself lucky in that crazy money isn’t even my goal. (Not that I’m going to turn down Sense of Cents money!) I just want to hit something like $50,000 a year.

There are some changes coming to this blog, designed to help me reach that next level of income. Get ready to see that interview project I’ve been working on, and a lot more tools designed to help my fellow low-income people reach for their dreams. I’m done letting my income hold me back.

The truth is that my creative goals are not a road block to my financial ones. These things are not mutually exclusive. People have made their livings off of creative pursuits since the beginning of time. I’m just one of the latest.

In order to pursue writing as a living, I’ve had to be good with my money. That’s what makes these things two sides of the same coin. Just as I wouldn’t blindly run a marathon without training, I didn’t blindly jump into freelancing without a financial safety net.

For me, that looked like this:
-$2,400 in my Fuck it Fund

-$5,000 in my E-Fund

-Max out my IRA before switching

-Keeping my catering side gig, so I could count on some monthly income

-Already having some freelance clients 

Through planning are all things possible. I really believe that. I planned for this career switch, and it’s given me the breathing room to be able to figure out the direction I want to grow in. Now it’s time to focus on growing the financial gains of this switch.

It is a delicate balance. I do a lot of writing for free at this point in my career. I do it consciously, trying to build partnerships and get my name into places that I think will help me out farther down the line. Still, every time I write a free article it means that I have to sign up for another catering event to make sure that my rent gets paid and my retirement savings get a boost.

But I am getting paid to write. A year ago I wasn’t even sure that was possible at all. Now I’m making enough each month that I could, technically, live off my writing money. It would be very tight, and I wouldn’t save at all, but I could do it. I am using my creative talents and dreams to pay my bills. And that feels amazing!

Monetizing your dreams is not a bad thing. I’m thrilled to be a low-income voice in our personal finance world. I’m proud of what I’ve done on my $32,000 a year income. What I want to do now, is help the millions of other people out there who have dreams and a tight budget. I hate the fact that money holds people back. It’s what stops people from adding their voices to the collective conversation in the world.

What is the cure for cancer is in someone’s brain, but they’re working two jobs for $12 an hour and are too tired to sit down and work it out? What if the next great poet can’t write because she’s a single mom who spends all her disposable money on childcare and food? These thoughts kill me y’all! I want to access those people. I want to help them bring forth their genius. 

I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could recognize that my finances were a mess, and I worked by ass off to fix that. Now I’m a creative who wants to make some actual money, and help others do the same thing.

To that end, I’d love it if all you beautiful readers would help me with a short survey. I want to know what the biggest road blocks are for other creatives. What can I give you that will help you start your business? It’ll take less than 3 minutes, and you would be doing me a huge service. BONUS: I’ll send one survey taker a $5 Starbucks gift card! 

So take the survey, and leave any thoughts in the comments. Any other creatives out there trying to make the dream a reality?



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12 Replies to “Creative Pursuits and Financial Goals are Not Mutually Exclusive”

  1. Love it. I don’t even need to make $50k from creative pursuits! When I worked with a financial planner and kicked around the idea of taking a year off, I assumed an annual income of $30k after this current phase of my life is over…..because much to my chagrin, that’s what a lot of entry level jobs seem to pay these days. If I do better than that (which I certainly expect i would eventually do), then it’s gravy and speeds up FIRE timeline again. We’ll have to see what happens!

    1. Well, my creative pursuit is my job (death to catering!) so 50K would be nice. But even that is 20K more than I’ve ever made, so it feels like total luxury! Ultimately FIRE is the goal, but it can be a twisty path to get there.

  2. It’s good you still have your catering gig to fall back on. Hopefully soon you won’t be working for free anymore! You deserve better than that!

    1. Thanks Tonya! I’m hoping just 6 more months there, and then cutting ties forever. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

  3. Hi Kara, I read this post with interest because, like you, I’m keen to develop a modest income from freelance writing as well. At this time, I have my doubts about whether anyone would want to read what I write or who would be prepared to actually pay me to write so I’m sticking by you like glue to learn what I can. If you’re available for some one-on-one discussion, I’d be very grateful for your time. Otherwise I guess I’ll be finding out with everyone else.

    1. Hey Martin- I’m flattered, but I am just figuring out as I go along! Feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions and I can try and answer them!

  4. I can’t wait to see what you have cooked up for the blog! I left FinCon super inspired, too, though I can’t unveil much of what we’ll be doing for a while. Oh well! And let me know if I can help with anything — happy to support your awesome mission! We tend to assume that the people worth listening to are the ones with the money and free time, but that’s not the least bit true — love that you’re so focused on helping lower earners live to their full potential.

    P.S. If I win the gift card, please treat yourself to a nice Starbucks trip! 😉

    1. You are, as usual, the sweetest! And the most secretive 🙂 I’m not really sure what I’m doing, but it feels good. I’d actually love to talk to you about time management tricks or skills- I’ll email you!

  5. I think the biggest roadblock when it comes to making money from your passion is patience. There are too many “gurus” out there who sell the “leaving work behind” dream as something achieveable in the short term, when the reality is it takes time and patience. My advice would be to keep plugging away but to remain realistic – that way you won’t get disheartened when you don’t get results overnight.

    1. Agreed! It does take time. Nothing works unless you do. It’s easy to focus on someone at the peak of their success and forget the years of work that got them there.

  6. You’ll get there! I just matched my nonprofit salary when I quit. But was able to double it within a year after making a lot of tough decisions/working my ass off. I’m here if you need any tips, darling 🙂

    1. Thanks Melanie! You are such a source of inspiration and have been so kind to me! I hope you’re getting a break and are 100% recovered from your bout of sickness!

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