5 Simple Ways To Enjoy Creative Freedom and Pay Off Your Debt Simultaneously
For many creative entrepreneurs the mere thought of getting a job and working full-time for someone else is like volunteering to lock yourself up in prison. Nobody wants to do it! In this article we’ll explore 5 ways that you can balance creative freedom and pay down your debt at the same time.
One of the members of an online creative forum that I’m part of posted this question to the group recently:
“I’ve been freelancing for over a year now and I’m doing pretty good, but I still have a ton of debt I need to pay down and I have recruiters who are interested in me as a full-time designer. I really don’t want a full-time job because I love my freedom but it would be nice to be able to have some stability and pay the debt. Do any of you do freelance and have a full-time job? What works, what doesn’t?”
This is a common question that I’ve come across in both creative freelancer and entrepreneur circles, and it’s one that I’ve struggled with myself in the past.
So here are 5 suggestions on how you can stay creative and pay down your debt:
1. Get a full-time, part-time or contract job.
Let’s get something out of the way before we proceed.
Myth Buster: Getting a job is not a sign of failure as a freelancer or entrepreneur.
Going full or part-time for a while to pay down debt is not a stupid idea. Nor is it a failure. With the way that the workforce is moving it’s becoming much more common for people to jump in and out of flexible work arrangements with established companies.
This is not a new concept either.
Introducing Hugh McLeod’s ‘Sex and Cash Theory’ of Creative Work…
“The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often.” (from Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh McLeod)
It’s very easy to imagine ourselves doing a part-time or casual job to make money to pay the bills (the “cash”) whilst we’re doing some creative work on the side that really gets our creative juices going (the “sex”). This is especially easy to do when we’re younger.
Here’s the thing though…
When we’re older or more successful this tension does not magically disappear. There will always be things that we need to do that aren’t fun or that we’re not completely passionate about in order to maintain the lifestyle that we want. The challenge is to find the right balance for you.
FACT: Sometimes the “blended career” (where one person is juggling two different career streams at the same time) works really well for some people.
2. Change your money habits and mindset
“You can’t run a business if you have no money and your only thought is ‘I NEED money’. That needy energy will send every potential client running for the hills. They can literally FEEL your needy energy.” – Ritch Litvin
Entrepreneur and author Roger James Hamilton suggests the following in his book The Millionaire Masterplan: Your Personalized Path to Financial Success:
- Understand your personal finances – how much money do you need to live on? Take care of that first.
- Set quarterly financial milestones for your income to ensure you go into positive cash flow.
- Calculate your monthly living and business expenses and work on cutting those down.
3. Apply for funding
If you live in Australia then you may be eligible for the New Enterprise Investment Scheme (NEIS) program. This is a program for job seekers who are interested in running a new small business and successful applicants get access to accredited small business training and business mentoring for up to 52 weeks plus income support for up to 39 weeks.
If you’re not in Australia there might be other similar assistance programs available for you to take advantage of. So do your research. You can also contact your local government, small business network, or chamber of commerce for further information.
4. Systemise your marketing
If your creative work is not generating enough cash flow to support your lifestyle then this may mean that you’re not marketing your services well enough.
A few things to check:
- Do you have a system in place to attract new potential clients, both online and offline?
- Once people arrive at your website, do you have a system set up that offers them something free and valuable in exchange for their contact information and takes them down an automated process to develop a relationship with them and move them closer to receiving an offer to hire you?
- Where many creatives and entrepreneurs struggle is that all the work that they are doing online on social media, and offline to promote their business fails because their website is not set up to build trust and sell their services well.
5. Increase your pricing and/or sell more
Ask any accountant, bookkeeper or business coach and they’ll tell you that the most important variable for success in your business is your cash flow.
Are your products and services priced well enough so that they cover your expenses of running the business?
Do you offer clear packaged services that make it easy for potential clients to select what is best for them? As much as you might despise fast-food establishments there’s much to learn about how they package their meals and make it simple for their customers to choose what they want.
It’s completely possible to maintain creative freedom and pay down your debt. Just apply some or all of the above suggestions, and don’t allow your ego to stop you from doing what’s necessary to become successful.
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