The Rumors About Artists and Money Are Wrong
For the longest time, we have romanticized this notion of the creative who sacrifices everything to embrace their craft. We’ve all read the books and seen the movies about creatives who are locked away in a room — half-starved, barely drinking water, and struggling to pay their bills — and like absolute fools, a lot of us believed that was normal.
Spoiler: it isn’t.
The idea that artists need to put themselves at financial risk and ignore the people that they love in favor of their craft is garbage. It’s an image that we created to make creative fields seem exclusive — and it is time that we let it go.
Let’s talk through some of those outdated beliefs and where they fail.
You Can’t Be Creative and Work in Corporate
Out of every creative trope, this one has a tendency to make my blood boil. In creative communities, there is this constant sentiment that corporate is the antithesis to all that is creativity. You can’t be a “real artist” if you’re working for the man and making good money.
Personally, I’m just curious where these people believe that modern creative standards come from. Acting like the most widespread creative works aren’t generally a byproduct of corporations is just silly — and I’m sure Disney, Netflix, and Riot Games think so too.
After I graduated college, a lot of creative folks that I knew had a tendency to roll their eyes at my corporate job. I was a sellout — and that was only true if I even was creative at all.
These creative types were the ones who were suffering for their craft. You know the type. They all had college degrees but chose to work the same jobs that they had in high school so they could complain about their odd hours and inconsistent pay. It was all a part of their creative process, of course.
I’m not sure how a consistent paycheck, set hours, and good benefits were supposed to strip away my creativity — but they didn’t — and I worked in finance of all places.
Working in a corporate environment helped me to learn a lot of professional skills that I use on a daily basis. It’s why my clients love talking with me and how I’ve managed to scale my business. Making good money and having consistency in my work-life helped me to gear my schedule towards writing for money. It didn’t steal away my soul and feast on my creativity — it helped me.
While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say that I spent more time freely creative writing while working in corporate than I do as a full-time writer. Sure, a toxic corporate environment might influence your mental health and productivity — but toxic work environments aren’t specific to corporate.
And hey, in my experience, corporate groups love creativity. These days they call it innovation and yell at everyone to embrace it.
It’s Impossible to Make Money from Art
If there is any idea that is so outdated it needs to be outright destroyed, this is it.
Telling people that they can’t make money writing, drawing, painting, or whatever other artsy thing makes them happy is completely incorrect. Plenty of people make money through creative pursuits. Now, even children are doing it on a daily basis — and adults are too!
When people are upset that they aren’t finding success with something, I generally assume one of two things.
Either they are trying to enter an overflowing market because they — like countless others — saw that it was getting popular and decided they wanted to join too. Or, they aren’t trying hard enough (and this can be true a thousand different ways!).
I’m no expert in art history, so I can’t tell you how big of a role groundbreaking talent used to play in making money as an artist. Judging by all the tropes, I assume a lot. But, as a person who makes all their money creating content for the internet, I can tell you how it works now: consistency and quality.
If you can manage these two things, you can and will monetize your creativity.
It’s All Rigged
In online spaces — particularly in social media — there are a lot of people who seem to think that the art game is rigged somehow. While there are certain biases that must be contended with on a personal and societal level, the reality is that no one is out to get you in particular.
No one is sitting by and secretly working to make you fail. No client of good quality that you are qualified to work with is trying to con you with poor pay. No one really cares whether you succeed or fail — and that is actually a really good thing.
It isn’t easy to be the best in a creative field, but being one of the many people who is making money in a creative field isn’t all that hard. New people start doing it every single day — and you can be one of them.
You might not make millions, but you can still build a steady career through organic growth with time.
[Site] just doesn’t like me.
This is something that I hear a lot, and it just isn’t true. There are a million reasons that your content might not be thriving, and it probably isn’t just because the website doesn’t like you (unless, of course, you are creating content on TikTok).
Common Reasons Your Content Isn’t Succeeding
When it comes down to it, there are a lot of different reasons that your content isn’t succeeding. Some of them are in your control, some of them aren’t.
- You are inconsistent with posting
- Your content isn’t professional enough
- You are making content without an audience in mind
- You are creating content for a small niche
- You are creating content in a highly competitive niche
- You aren’t focusing on search engines
- You aren’t putting in as much work as others
Making money in a creative field requires you to be adaptive, driven, consistent, and somewhat talented. If you treat your creative field like a hobby instead of a profession, you’ll make what hobbyists make: nothing— and that is fine, as long as that is your goal.
There is no reason to throw your current life away and quit your job to write a book or get better at photography. If you want to make money as an artist, keep your day job and start working on your craft in your free time. Success comes to those who work for it, so make sure that you are working hard.
Until that day comes when you can cover your bills by doing what you love, keep growing, thriving, and making connections. The rest will come with time.