The hardest part of creative entrepreneurship for me is the entrepreneurship of it all. I know it’s that way for a lot of creatives who are trying to make their art their full time job. I feel like if you love writing, art, film, music, etc., and think of yourself as a writer, artist, director, musician, etc., that making money from it should be something you’re always striving towards. For me, making a living doing what I love would be the definition of happiness.
Making Money, Two-Fold
In my experience there’s two pieces that stand in our way when we’re first starting out.
The first, and most time-consuming, is learning the fine print of business. “Business” here means the blanket basics like marketing/analytics and the nitty gritty of whatever tools you plan on using. This is the in-between period after seeing one of your peers successfully making money off their craft & trying to emulate it and before you yourself are at the same level of success.
That piece is where Google comes in. Everything you need to know about running your business is online and most of it is free.
For me, that isn’t the hardest part. Don’t get me wrong, it is HARD. There is so much trial and error. But personally, I love research and learning. I like sorting my to do list and deciding what’s important for my creative work right now. I guess it’s because I can totally push something out of my brain. “Sure I’ll buy that service instead of MacGyver-ing an incredibly time-consuming work around, after I sell x amount of x and can afford it.”
Buuuuut it’s right there where I hit a snag. Selling. Making money. Just the very CONCEPT of it. That’s part two. It comes with a lot of emotions, feelings and other mushy stuff us creatives deal with.
Complex Feelings about Money (and the people who have it)
When I was drafting this post I went into the capitalism of it all and how it’s literally almost killed me and we’re all supposed to support it so maybe just maybe it won’t actually literally kill us, and how absolutely shitty that it…but that’s probably a post for another day. Plus, it just really bummed me out.
You can tell my stomach ties into knots and my brain swims just writing about money, so let me quote a woman whom I (very begrudgingly) refer to as my hero.
“Everyday we experience awesome things that happen because of money. We use it everyday to enhance our lives, yet we always seem to focus on the negative about it.”
Okay I’ll stop negging someone I’m thankful to, but hey at least she’s self aware of how puke-worthy self-help books are so if she’s reading this maybe she won’t send too many negative thoughts about me into the universe.
The bottom line is that book was the turning point in healing my relationship with money, and therefore also with myself.
A Bit of Chrometophobia, or The Fear of Money
We do live in a fear based society. We get all the messaging from our parents and society that say ‘you gotta work hard and that it’s no fun.’
We’re taught a lot of really harmful shit about money. In her writings Jen goes on to explain that it’s not just “you gotta do stuff you don’t want to do to make money.” It’s so much more than that. It’s hearing your parents fight about money as a kid and unconsciously believing that money brings only this badness. It’s the belief that only people like Trump can easily make money. Or the belief that only kind-hearted geniuses like Bill Gates can make money. Or that because we live in the right now, when everything’s kind of shit and the baby boomers destroyed the economy, that it’s not possible for us to even make enough money to ever be comfortable. Or the idea that society loves to tell us and that politicians love to argue about, that if we’re not “normal” we don’t deserve to survive let alone be happy.
All of these lessons, and more, get scrambled into this general FEAR of money or success.
I haven’t been diagnosed with Chrometophobia but I have been diagnosed with a whole bunch of other shit, most relevant being GAD (aka a constant underlying fear of everything) and Agoraphobia (aka an intense fear of leaving the house which haha makes making money difficult). So, if anyone is gonna really GET the concept of living in a fear based society that has pushed the fear of money onto even the neurotypical, it’s gonna be moi.
I will be the first to admit that any and all lack of success in my life is based on fear, and my fear of money is one of my biggest hurdles. I don’t think I really understood that until I did an exercise from You Are a Badass
What To Do To Combat All That Money Badness
The gist of it, in Jen’s own words is: “Start healing your relationship with money. Sit your broke ass down and write a letter to money and then break it down, sentence by sentence.”
You don’t necessarily have to actually address money like it’s come to life before you like some demented cartoon character, but you do actually have to sit down and type out your true feelings about money.
“Write a little ditty on how you feel about money. Get clear on all your craziness around it. Just get it on the page so you can look at it. Then break it down, sentence by sentence and expose your drama around money for the award-winning performance it is.”
So that’s what I did. And that’s what you have to do if you’re like me and let your brain sidetrack your path to happiness. You need to have that breakdown of your learned beliefs in writing for those times your brain gets the best of you.
What I did was question each sentence of those learned beliefs is think of an argument with an internet troll. It doesn’t really matter which side you choose to be on. Question each sentence like you’re an internet troll trying to start a fight by poking holes into the argument. Go on and “well, actually” your ingrained beliefs. Or act like a rational person dragging the failed logic and strawmen arguments of your troll-like false beliefs.
Make sure to directly go into the take-down, don’t write out all those crappy beliefs and let them fester! Shut them down! Make sure you have enough time to really delve into all of it.
Here’s my brain-dumped beliefs and take down back when I struggling even worse than I am now, back when I was 21-ish:
Having money and being on top of it means I’m an adult and I don’t really believe I’m an adult, or that I am capable of being an adult. I feel guilty taking money from people, especially as I am constantly worried about upsetting them or doing a bad job at work. Because being an adult and having money means doing something for someone which means following their instructions but in most cases the instructions are not forthright enough for me to not be worried that they actually meant something else. I would rather be miserable than make someone else miserable just so I can be free.
“Being an adult” just means being above the age of 18, there is no rulebook or right way to be an adult, it is the societal pressure of being neurotypical that is causing the fear because I am an adult but I’ve let other people tell me I’m not. People don’t normally give up their money easily, when they pay you it is because they are satisfied with your work, if they’re not they just won’t pay you and you’ve been doing work for no money for four years so that is the worst case scenario, most likely you are more capable than you think you are because you were hired for a reason or because you’ve been working really hard these last four years doing a thing over and over again that you’re pretty damn good at it. [Redacted] and being terrified all the time is SO MUCH WORSE than someone not doing something the exact way you specified; I will not make anyone miserable by asking questions or by doing something a little bit wrong.
I will say that where I am now, even though it’s not all that different from then, “they just won’t pay you” is not necessarily an affirmation anymore, but it was when I was feeling bad every time someone bought my art from me. Chickie, if they weren’t satisfied with your work they wouldn’t have ordered a print!
I believe I’m stronger now that I believe my time is worth my money, not just my skills. I fully believe I deserve to be paid for my time, now. That, when it comes down to it, I deserve the happiness I could achieve with that money.
As you can see I didn’t write an argument for my fear of being on top of my money and to this day I am NOT on top of my money. Like, I don’t even remember my bank info because I feel MUCH better just forgetting it’s even a thing.
Okay But Seriously, Do It
So this is my challenge, for both you and me, okay? We’ll both go and write down our beliefs and fears surrounding money and then walk through each one and write out why it’s wrong. As Jen says, “You are going against some seriously ingrained beliefs here; money is incredibly loaded for most people, so if you want to get over your issues and start making money, spend time on this.”
I’ll share mine on Thursday in the newsletter, but until then I want you to email me yours, okay? Sometimes something is so ingrained that you can’t even see how wrong it is. So if you need a fresh pair of eyes on it please ask me! If you just want to share your “aha” moment with me or want someone to hold you accountable (I will! There may be a week next month where I don’t send out a mass email but individualized notes reminding you how much good you deserve! Maybe there will even be rewards, we’ll see!), I promise your “letter to money” is safe with me.
Feel free to let me know how the exercise went either with my lil form here
or emailing me kyra @ kyrajwolff.com without the spaces. Also, feel free to tweet Jen
about how it went! I’m sure she would love to hear about it!
I really hope the outcome you get to is something along the lines of “Holy shit, I deserve to be happy, and if some of that happiness will cost money, that’s okay, I deserve and capable of making that money.”
I’ll leave you with another one of Jen’s brash quotes:
So if you need money to improve your life, get over it and go get yourself some.
Despite everything I’ve said about how sickly-sweet it is, I really do recommend her stuff!
Thanks for reading! You can tweet me
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