Are you afraid of money?
It probably sounds like a really silly question. Afraid of money? Heck no! We love money, we love spending money, we love having money. Still, I find that many creative professionals – graphic designers, artists, photographers, writers and similar careers and jobs involving creativity – are really afraid of money!
There’s that old idea of artists “starving” and eating nothing but ramen noodles because they can’t possibly make as much as an accountant or lawyer. If that was really the case then artists – like dinosaurs, dodo birds and fanny packs – simply wouldn’t exist today. There’s something about being a creative professional that’s enabled artists and those involved in creative lines of work to endure the times. Simply put – the old “starving artist” no longer exists. Even in the digital age a creative professional can make a decent living, if not make more, than a doctor, lawyer or accountant.
What, though, sets a successful creative professional apart from a “starving artist”? Easy – money. A successful creative artist, writer, photographer or graphic designer is bold. They are willing to take what some may view as a hobby and flip it into a profitable career. They know how to self promote, how to market their services and skills to others and they know how manage their money. There used to be a stigma attached to being a creative profession because many work for themselves – and that’s still true today. Freelancers are hardly any different than someone working in a corporate office.
Creative professionals, however, are terribly afraid of money. For some it’s the logistics. Some are afraid of making too much money and having the IRS or government come after them. Taxes shouldn’t scare you away from doing your job – even if that job is what others would consider fun and “creative”. Simply keep track of the money you’re making and save a portion of what you make for taxes.
Money also scares creatives because money often equates responsibility. The joy of working for someone or a business is that you can simply sit back, relax and do your job and there’s someone else in the office who’s concerned with the money. If you want to make money, you have to work for that money. Creative professionals have to switch gears and focus – no longer are you doing something for fun such as writing or painting for the heck of it – you’re doing it to make a living, for your livelihood, to support yourself. That comes with a ton of responsibilities, expectations and can be daunting.
I could go on and list all of the ways money intimidates a creative professional but instead, I’d rather focus on why you shouldn’t be afraid of money.
1. Be your own boss. Money puts you in charge of your life, business and career. In this day in age, I see the need for creative professionals to have the capability of being their own boss. Face it – not everyone “gets” or understands a creative type. To some, no matter how talented you are, you’ll be viewed as expendable . If you’re making money on your own, finding your own clients, capable of running your own show – you’ll be powerful. You’ll have a backup source of income for the occasion when a full-time job suddenly disappears.
2. Become responsible for your career. You can’t afford to sit back and let someone else worry about the money. Creative professionals – whether you’re working full-time, on contract, as a freelancer or temporary – you should have a good understanding or grasp on your income. How much of it is going toward retirement? Do you really have the best health care plan (sometimes it’s cheaper to get one on your own than to go with whatever is handed to you)? Is your income or compensation truly fair and competitive? Don’t be afraid of these questions and others concerning your money.
3. You need to make more money. Never have I heard of anyone ever saying they make too much money. I always hear people complaining that they aren’t making enough. Things happen – medical expenses, car maintenance, impromptu trips – shouldn’t you make enough where these things aren’t going to put you back or cause you debt? Even if you have a full-time job, my advice is that creative professionals should freelance. You should have a client or two that you’re working for on your down time, that gives you a little more money to work with each month. Again, track your money, save some out for taxes, but don’t be afraid to make more money!
4. Money is power. I don’t mean that in the greed way but more so in the confidence it provides you. If you’re afraid of money, you’re bound to carry that fear into other aspects of your life. People really underestimate the influence money has on your life in general. It’s not just materialized. If you’re afraid of money and it leads you to make poor and unwise decisions with your life and finances, you’ll forever be stuck in insecurity and fear mode. If you’re always worrying about your debts, your lack of money, where your next paycheck is coming from then that fear will become your new job. You’ll work non-stop at trying to work yourself around this fear and unhealthy relationship you have with money and that will in turn leave you very little time, room or resources on being creative. If you want to be a better creative professional and at the top of your game, make sure that money isn’t a concern you have.
Believe it or not, being a successful creative professional also means being great with money. The joy of being a graphic designer, artist, photographer, writer, editor, web designer, web programmer or anything else requiring you to be creative or a bit artsy is that you really have a recession-proof job! You don’t necessarily have to work in an office to do your work. Believe it or not, as some companies begin to cut out their creative employees they’re in turn looking to hire someone like you to step in and do the work without having to employ you full-time. What does that mean? Well, it means you could easily have more opportunities to work than you can imagine. It also means you may have to take on more jobs than one to supplement your financial needs. Watch Suze Orman’s show; read up on freelancing and taxes; talk to successful creative professionals out there and ask them how they manage themselves. It’s really not the time to be afraid of money – it’s a time to wisen up and be brave.