Listen, You Absolutely Can Create For A Living
Anyone telling you otherwise? They don’t have your best interests at heart.
If you’d told me six months ago that I could make a living by blogging about cats, brains, and feminism, I would have laughed. By the time I’d stopped laughing, you would have long ago walked away, perhaps talking about soothing drinks.
But it’s 2019, y’all. The internet is a magical, wonderful place (as long as you stay away from the comments section). If you make anything, chances are there’s someone out there who will buy it, publish it, consume it in some way, and give you money to do so.
And now, through the internet, you can reach them, and they can reach you.
When I first started blogging about my experiences, thoughts, and life, I had modest hopes. I’d read that you could make a small side income, and I’d harbored teeny ambitions that it would be enough for me to keep my cats in Whiskas and deluxe cat water fountains without ever having to worry.
Other people had other opinions. A lot of my friends scoffed at the idea of blogging altogether, saying I was going to be the cat equivalent of a “mommy blogger” or that it was weird to put my personal life out there on the internet.
It was disheartening, especially as I can’t imagine the same reaction if I told people I was going to aim to be a professional painter or singer.
It might have seem far-fetched, but people wouldn’t have mocked me, at least not to my face.
Eventually, I stopped telling people. My parents and partner knew and were supportive, but I hesitated before telling anyone else that I’d actually signed up and was writing for money.
It’s bizarre, but writing is one of the few things that people tell you not to chase your dreams on. It doesn’t matter that writing is a great way to keep your memory or observation skills sharp, or that it delivers a much-needed boost of introspection into your hectic life. People will go out of their way to let you know that you’re not going to be the next J.K. Rowling.
That made the little success I started to find, all the sweeter. The first month I made enough money to treat my cats to a new cat bed was a very good one. And things only got better from there.
People love tearing you down. If you’re passionate about something, people will love to tell you exactly why you’re wrong, or stupid or deluded. It seems like some folks derive joy from knocking you down a peg.
My pet hypothesis is that they’ve lost their passion. Someone told them they had to grow up to make money and be “happy,” and so they hate seeing other people potentially chasing their bliss and not following the typical corporate 9-to-5 route.
Maybe I’m wrong. But hey, I earn enough money to think that, if things keep going well, I can make a living doing this. I can stay at home with my cats, waxing poetic on the joys of friendship, or why two cats are better than one, or any other topic that catches my interest.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my eight months of blogging. You will have ups and downs, like any other job. You’ll have days you can’t imagine doing anything else, and days when you can’t imagine writing another word.
You’ll come to believe you’re blessed, cursed, lucky, deserving, hard-working and lazy — sometimes all in one day.
But you’ll be doing what you love. Writing for other people, sharing your unique experiences and opinions for the common problems everyone else has.
Whether you choose to tell people or not, eventually someone will find out that you are a content creator, and that you want to earn money from it. And it’s nearly guaranteed that someone will have a problem with that.
They might come outright to tell you that you’re making a fool of yourself. They might do it in a well-meaning way, letting you know that there’s no future in this. You can’t hope to succeed. They’re giving you tough love, to save you time and energy down the line.
Whether you sing, dance, write, paint, script or sculpt, any kind of creation is incredibly valuable. And what’s different today, is that these creations are valued as well as valuable. People who are just as passionate as you will find you and consume your content.
It’s not foolish or misguided to believe you can earn your living by this. We’re all just out here doing our best. And if you try and fail, what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll have spent time following your passion instead of chasing money.
And Jim, Sharon, Kelly, or any of your other office mates can’t convince you that’s worse than the alternative: never trying at all for fear of failure.
I might not be there yet — in fact, I might never. But it hasn’t stopped me from giving it my best shot. And trying isn’t shameful.
You’re not deluded to believe that you can make a living through doing what you care about, and you’re certainly not crazy to try.