Kathleen and I spent last weekend way up on a hilltop in the Austin hill country in the home of artist Alyson Fox, at a workshop hosted by The Jealous Curator. Well, Kathleen will tell you, the “jealous” part worked – at least at first arrival (hint: it had a lot to do with being in a glass house an artist designed and built up on a hilltop). But as we talked and asked and answered and laughed (and maybe cried a little, just a little) with this group of women designers, painters, authors, bloggers and photographers, the question that kept coming up around this circle of working creatives had a lot less to do with wishing we had created something jealousy-worthy, and instead was this – when do you finally feel like a “real” artist? What does it take to get to that place where you say, “okay, this is really what I do now, and who I am, and how I make a living?”
Is it when someone buys that first piece of work? Is it when you can afford to rent a studio that’s not in your home? Is it when you have your first show? Or you first show not in your own town? Or you first show in a big city? Is it when your design is picked up by a brand? When your work is published? The funny thing is, even as some of these “markers” of what makes it feel “real,” had been reached by some in the group already, they all had new making-it-real feelings that they hadn’t reached either. Like a mirage in a desert, feeling like you’ve finally arrived and/or become accomplished, is all shimmery and beckoning, and just keeps freaking moving farther ahead as you keep moving ahead, too.
If you are in business for yourself, selling your talents or your creative products, you may not consider yourself an “artist” (apparently even artists have a really hard time giving themselves this title, as well) – but you can at least embrace the fact that you are a creative entrepreneur. And chances are, you are asking yourself a very similar question all the time. When does my business that I’ve created for myself, that I stuck my neck out for, that I frankly had a really hard time explaining to my friends, family, former coworkers – when does this business finally feel “real?” So I’ve listed just a few of these “make-it-real-markers” that I have thought myself, that I have heard from plenty of our creative clients, and that I really don’t have the answers for either! But see if any of them ring a bell (or conjure up a shimmery mirage) for you.
What is it going to take, for you to finally feel like what you do is real, and that the business you’ve created – is really real, too?
Is it the physical space where you work?
- finally, an office in your home with a door?
- or a backyard shedworking studio?
- a membership at a coworking space?
- a one room studio in the city you rent?
- an office space you design and build out?
- or is it simply being able to afford that new laptop and work from anywhere?
Is it the freedom to do what you want?
- to spend more time with your kids during the week?
- to stop commuting and take long hikes instead?
- to pursue a passion project?
- to be geographically independent and travel throughout the year?
- being able to take a sabbatical? or a whole year?
Is it the financial sustainability and stability?
- to be able to pay yourself a regular “salary?”
- to be able to hire an assistant?
- to be able to hire a staff?
- the ability to invest in redoing your website the way you want it?
- the knowledge that you could solely support yourself (without help)?
Or is it people just finally knowing about you?
- getting people (you don’t know) wanting to hire you because someone told them about you?
- getting comments on your blog (that aren’t your mom)?
- getting 100 “Likes” on your business Facebook page? 1,000? 10,000?
- getting sponsors who pay you to blog?
- being featured in a publication you admire?
- being asked to speak at a talk? a conference?
- getting a show? publishing a book?
- feeling a little (or a lot) famous for who you are, and what you do?
Okay, so these lists above are probably pushing a few of your “yes! that’s what it will take for me to feel legit!” buttons. But, there are probably some of your own unique ones, too. For Kathleen, it may be coaching a creative client in a video session from a completely different country, while wearing yoga pants. For me it’s getting through a full “tax” year, and everything is still possible and still standing, house, family (and our family vacation). It’s also hearing a pretty famous client of ours saying how much she respected us sticking-to-our guns with our own Braid process and how much she got out of that process in the end. I get emotional about our process, Kathleen likes travel and working from anywhere (wearing anything or hardly anything). You have your own thing. And I really believe, that moment when someone else really “gets” your thing (and paid for it, yes, but also really got meaning from it), is one of the greatest markers of making it real.
What makes it all finally feel real for you? It can be small, silly, or huge! Sometimes just remembering that you were even reaching for a marker in the first place, makes it more real (before you decide you now want more). Tell us on Facebook.
Our Braid Workshop: Sharing YOU and Selling What You DO is still open for registration. It’s $250, and on May 4 in Oklahoma City. Learn more and register here.
And our Braid ECourses are always open for enrollment. The Personal Branding Braid ECourse actually starts tomorrow, so today is your last day to register for this session. You can go do that for $75 here.