You’re Not Alone
Working on your own doesn't always suck.
Maybe it’s the Mercury retrograde but I’ve got a feeling you might be having a tough week.
I’ve had four emails from artists on the theme of loneliness and it’s only Wednesday. So let’s see if there’s something we can do. First, here are six reasons why you might feel alone in running your creative business.
1. Most of the people you went to art school with packed it in long ago.
Now they’re teachers and plumbers, maybe one manages a branch of Whole Foods. Or maybe you’re self-taught. Either way, you’re the only one you know who’s trying to make a living from their art.
2. Your family doesn’t always understand what you do.
They try but sometimes they just don’t get it. This shows itself in subtle little ways, like your mum sending you newspaper clippings from the “Help Wanted” section with big red circles around jobs in data entry.
3. You don’t have colleagues.
An office party for your business would be you and the guy who fixed your printer, sitting in a Nando’s.
4. You work at weird times of the day.
When the kids are in bed. In the morning before your day job. You’re out of sync with the usual rhythms of daily life. The idea that your working day stops at 5pm is laughable.
5. You have to do stuff you’re not comfortable with.
Your accounts. Fixing the sidebar on your blog. Selling. There’s no farming this stuff out to another department. You do it or it doesn’t get done.
6. You have to make yourself do difficult and scary things.
There’s no HR person to decide you need to go on a Building Confidence course or a Selling To Shops Masterclass. You’re solely charge of your professional development. Sometimes that means doing stuff you really don’t want to do.
And here are six reasons why it’s going to be okay.
1. You’re seriously determined.
You also have a deeply fulfilling relationship with your work and have the ability to juggle paying the bills with growing a business.
2. A few people have tried pretty hard to blow you off course over the years.
They haven’t managed it yet.
3. You get to choose your own colleagues.
No-one’s forcing you to share a cubicle with an newt-breeding co-worker with a passion for egg mayonnaise. You’re free to create – and socialise with – your own little work family from the peers and professionals you meet along the way.
4. You control how, where and when you do your job.
Why do you think working from home has been so enthusiastically embraced by office types? Because there’s no commute and you can make money while wearing your PJs.
5. You’re getting a full body-and-soul workout.
Running a business makes all of you stronger. You get better, sharper, faster at the things you’re already good at. You find ways to become good enough at the stuff you hate. Instead of specialising in what already comes easily, all of you is called upon to expand. And you get to see what you’re really made of.
6. You learn how to be kind.
Sometimes it’s hard to be kind. It isn’t a skill that’s particularly prized in our work culture, especially when it’s towards yourself. But by running a creative business you get a crash course in looking after yourself.
You learn to say “That’s enough for today” and go watch Midsomer Murders. Or “This terrifies me but I’m still here and I’m going to try taking a tiny step forward.” You learn to be fluent in your feelings, whether you want to or not.
So if you’re having a crap week, you’re not alone. I’ve got the inbox to prove it.
If you need to talk, please ring someone and ramble until you feel better.
If you need help, please find someone who can give you what you need.
If you need to cry, please watch the Unfinished Business episode of Battlestar Galactica. That’ll flush out those tear ducts.
And look after yourself. Better days are coming.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY
I help creative people like you sell their work to independent retailers, without hyperventilating into a sandwich bag. I take the EEEEK! out of wholesale and replace it with AAAAH, right up until you're making the kind of money you want to make.
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