Yet another time in my life, at 28 years old, I realize I am unhappy with my life path.
Often I find myself diving into new ventures (most recently being a real estate agent) with the hopes of making enough money to fuel my millions of creative ideas swimming in my artist’s brain. And just as often, I am bombarded with overwhelming feelings of discontent with the way the cookie crumbles.
Call it the journey. Call it my progress. I know I want to create full-time, yet I feel constantly stuck in the drudgery quicksand of building businesses that I don’t fully love. I don’t think I’m alone in this. But I’ve struggled with the solution.
Divided amongst 2.96 million artists, the average non-“top tier” Spotify artist earned just over $36 in one quarter of 2020. Or $12 per month.
“97.5% of YouTubers Don’t Make Enough to Reach the U.S. Poverty Line”
Based on the stats above, I’m not alone. The creator economy now exists with over 50 MILLION people who consider themselves creators. 46 million of them call themselves amateurs.
What this tells me is that the dream of being a creative full time is alive and more possible than ever. So why am I still chasing non-creative ventures with hopes of finding fulfillment. This time I’m going to reverse engineer this thing. What makes me happy? What do I love?
Let’s break it down.
- Performing (music, acting, etc.) 👨🎤
- Family Time 👪
- Creating (Photo, Video, Writing, Graphics) 📸
- Receiving Positive Feedback 🧘
- Traveling 🛫
- Making Money 💰
- Watching Movies 🎥
- Cuddling / Love Making 💕
- Building A Business / Building SOMETHINIG 🕴️
- Food 🥙
- Pushing Myself Physically 🤸♂️
- Learning 🧠
- Teaching / Helping Others 👨🏫
With that being said, what does my “dream life” look like?
I believe I have it in my head. A beautiful family. Spending my days building a business that is ultimately my brand. I write. I make videos. I podcast. I talk to people. I go on adventures. I help. I teach. I CREATE. All on my own time and schedule. I don’t have to be a millionaire off of this. If I could just survive, that would eventually become the dream. (millions preferable)
OH, and a coffee shop / creation station at some point.
Since I was 23, I had this idea that NO ONE was going to give this opportunity to me. No label would sign me. No scholarship would pick me to create for a year. I had to make my own money. So “business” cole was born. But even before business Cole was born, I played the game and found out what I do not enjoy doing.
What have I learned that doesn’t make me happy?
- Struggling to Pay Bills
- Being in Sales (outside of selling my own creations)
- Serving Food
- Delivering Pizza
- Construction Work
- Social Media Management
- Outside Pressure / Pushing
- Fake Conversations
- Building A Business I Don’t BELIEVE In
After 5 years of running my own real estate marketing business, the one thing that stands out the most to me is that building a business takes an incredible amount of time AND energy. I always hoped by 28, I would have it all figured out. My business would have scaled to where I didn’t have to mess with it. I could just create full-time and reap the benefits of my hard work.
I was close, but no cigar.
I built a six-figure business and a team in a business I didn’t love — Ultimately, I believe that’s why it fell apart.
At 27, I decided to become a real estate agent while simultaneously building another real estate marketing business in a new city. I quickly learned that so much of it is things I hate to do.
Here’s the kicker.
Do you suck it up? Push through, make thousands, millions? Spend 5 years building up another business and then…?? What’s the end goal here?
I’ve already learned that business takes TIME.
Creating, starting, and running a business is NOT a 40hr/week job. It is a 60–80 hours a week job. It consumes your mind, and my mind is my most precious, dear asset. It is priceless. It should not be constrained by the walls of business etiquette or surrounded by money motives.
It deserves to be free. Every day. For the rest of my life.
So I know what makes me happy. I know what doesn’t make me happy. What does this mean?
I’ve served food, driven Uber/Lyft, delivered pizza, dropshipped, run a 6 figure business, consulted with marketing, been a real estate agent, and more. Of course, there were happy moments with each, but as I started to create my own businesses, my M.O. became the
My goal became to show people that you can fuel your dream through the money you make in business.
I could never understand why ANYONE would stay “stuck” in a mindless job making $15/hr (or less). Why do so many creatives work at coffee shops chasing their dream for 20 years? Why do they deliver food? WHY DO THEY SERVE FOOD? WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE BROKE WHILE YOU CHASE YOUR DREAM WHEN YOU CAN START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Well, now I sit at that same coffee shop that I’m sure countless creatives have worked. I am pestered by emails of clients that I have in order to merely survive while trying desperately to put these thoughts down into digestible words. I’ve mustered up the courage to continue fighting for my dreams for going on a decade WHILE growing different businesses.
I’m still stuck. I’m a servant to the demand I’ve created for myself. Demand that slowly pushes my creative mind into the darkness.
Maybe I would rather be a starving artist. 🤨
Business and capitalism can suck the soul out of us all. It’s easy to get addicted to the shot of adrenaline from every small win. Gaining a client. Making $1,000. Buying a new car. Growing from nothing to something. It’s exhilarating.
I let her know I’m writing an article on being a starving artist. Her instinct is a small scoff and her worry starts to seep through her pores and travel through the phone.
“Why do you want to do that to yourself?”
She’s my most supportive rock. Yet she struggles with the idea.
I don’t want you to misconstrue this stream of conscious thought. I’m not saying YOU should be a starving artist. I actually love the idea of what Jeff Goins says here. I want you and myself to be THRIVING artists.
What I’m saying is that if you don’t create something you believe in or build a business you’re at LEAST semi-passionate about, it will leave you (most likely) unfulfilled and creatively dark. It may make you want to go back to sweeping floors.
NGL, sweeping is low key very calming and satisfying. 🧹
I’ve now built up SO many tools in my business toolbelt that can make me a thriving artist, yet I still struggle with giving my craft the same time I give my photo/video business. That’s what happens when you don’t see immediate results. And in the creator economy, you NEVER see immediate results. Outside of YouTuber Jenelle Eliana and her snake.
I can gain a new client in an hour. a day. a week. Make $300–500 off a video shoot that takes me 3–4 hours.
Making money off of my art, so far, feels nearly impossible. But I believe it’s because I haven’t implemented the same “business” principles I’ve learned into my “art” marketing plan.
My smart friend PATx said this on me choosing to do more business and less art:
“Now your hands are more full, and the money to fund it (why you even did it) isn’t even where you want it. Simplify bro. Take this same ambition and business mindset and apply it WITHIN what you love doing.”
Now I realize — if I have to get a job that takes my focus 30 hours a week to create stability and allow me to focus more on creative I will. If it’s Uber, I will do it so I can think all day. And infuse my business skills into something I’m passionate about, creating and helping other creators.
Luckily, for now, I don’t have to get a part-time job because I’ve built a business with real estate photo/video that allows me to survive making $75/hr+. So when you do the math, it’s smarter to hold steady while I build. Photo/Video also allows me to continue to build the skills I love. Practice makes perfect.
The whole point is I will not be diving into business I’m not passionate about any longer. I’m done.
👨🎨 So what am I building now?
After sitting on this article and concept for going on a month, I’ve figured out what I want to build alongside my brand. I’m calling it The Creative Survival Guide — a series of courses to teach other creatives how to survive & thrive in this world as a creative.
I focus on Self Development, Social Media, Entrepreneurship, and how they all work together. I’ll have a flagship course that goes through everything from starting a business, the basics of content creation and breaking down mindset blocks. I’ll also have options to take smaller courses for people who already have some things going for them like: how to start a podcast, how to vlog, creating a real estate photo / video business etc..
If you’re interested in a bit of the value this thing is going to offer, make sure to go to creativesurvivalguide.com & JOIN THE WAITLIST.
While I finish this bad boy up, I’ll be picking 2–3 Beta Clients for the flagship course. For these clients, I’ll be walking them through the course and treating it like 1:1 Coaching Program. We will have weekly Zoom meetings going through branding, content creation, marketing, social media, and more.
By the end of this course, you will have the tools, resources, and knowledge to turn your business idea and/or art into a creative business. This is for artists, musicians, content creators, real estate agents, and anyone who considers themselves a creative with an interest in making content. Let’s do it!!
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