It is possible to make money in a creative career. It is possible to do this when you are young and don’t have a nest egg, so you need money for day-to-day expenses. It is also possible later in life when you might have to change careers. You can make money in a creative career at any age and career stage.
That said, although being creative and making money are not mutually exclusive, they are also not interdependent. You do not need to be paid for your creativity to be serious about it or prove your expertise. You can act in community theater and still be a good actor, even if you don’t make a living from acting. In a previous post, I profiled authors who fulfilled their creative dream (and certainly a level of achievement) by getting published all while holding down unrelated day jobs.
How you are creative and how you make money are two separate choices. Yes, for some people, it ends up being the same thing. If you plan to go this route, some of my favorite career books for the working artist include:
- Artist’s Compass by Rachel Moore
- Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
- One Person/ Multiple Careers by Marci Alboher (not strictly for creative careers but one of my all-time favorites on alternative career thinking)
For other people, the creative work is going to be separate from the work they do to pay their bills, or a blended pursuit. One of my previous coaching clients is a very successful graphic designer and creative strategist as her “money job” occupation but also pursues fine art projects, some of which made money while some did not. I have a friend who acts regularly and is part of the professional actors’ union, but his most lucrative money-maker is in human resources.
Instead of worrying over what money (or lack thereof) says about your creative commitment or competence, use that stress energy to make more designs, get more roles, write more words. Make money however you do it best and however the market will actually bear. You can make money in creative careers, but you can also still be creative, regardless of what your job title actually is or where your paycheck comes from.