I’ve spent a decade and a half getting paid for creative work and running my own show (also called being a freelance designer). There’s a weird intersection of creativity, business and money, that can be hard to navigate at times. Here are a few things I’ve learned about making a sustainable living being creative.

  • Get paid for every job you do. Free will always end up costing you.
  • Don’t let anyone try to put your creativity into a process that doesn’t work for you.
  • Feel important, creative work is an important part of every advancement, launch and product ever.
  • Take credit, and most of all—get credit (for everything you do).
  • You are responsible for the work you create. So don’t create something if you can’t stand behind it.
  • Push your limits, knowledge and problem-solving skills every single time or you’ll get bored very quickly.
  • Own your expertise and stand up for it. You were hired to be an expert, not a yes-person to every bad idea management or your client has.
  • Don’t force your work. Walk away instead, come back to it later.
  • Be yourself in every situation and let that shine through in every piece of work you put your name to.
  • Walk away from a job/project if you have to. Even if good money is attached to it.
  • Recharge as often as possible doing entirely work-unrelated things.
  • Get inspired by everything that is not: in your office, at your desk or on your computer screen.

Few can balance creativity and business (and stay relatively sane). So if you’re doing that, congratulations—you my friend, are awesome. And if you’re still getting there—it’s worth it when you do.