While it would be awesome if we could spend all of our time focused on our creative pursuits, we do in fact need a way to finance our ideas to see them come to reality. Some of the needs that come up are supplies and materials, travel fees, continued education, and the list goes on. It may seem like there’s no way to pay for these costs without either digging into your savings or trying to open a storefront, but there are alternatives.
Allocating your own money to support your creative activities is the easiest and most reliable way to make sure that you remain in control of your creative vision. Unfortunately, it also means that you will be using money that was probably earmarked for some other part of your life.
Balancing when to apply your money towards your creative ideas versus your daily bills is a difficult process. However, since you have the only say in how you work on your creative endeavors, you can set the pace to match what you are comfortable spending. If you want to start building a gadget, you can take as long as you need without the pressure to meet deadlines or spend money on the latest equipment.
In the case that your creativity drives you to create something others may value enough to pay for, it could be in your best interest to create a small business around it. Many people have tried (and failed) to create the next billion dollar business based on their hobby, but I would advise against it, unless that’s truly what you want to do. Running a large business is a lot of work, and right now the focus should be more on paying for your hobby, not necessarily paying for your lifestyle. Creating a business that will pay for itself is much more realistic than one that will replace your day job.
In the example of a photographer who enjoys traveling, finding a way to sell enough of her photos to cover the trips she takes is all she needs in this case. There is no pressure to grow to support employees or to find the next big opportunity to become famous. Instead, it is just a desire to keep things running smoothly and finding clients who aren’t too demanding.
Somewhat related to selling, is the concept of bartering your creative skills. Many creatives can share the product of their work with others for something in return. A craftsman can offer to build some shelves for a local business, and in return receive the necessary supplies to upholster his latest project.
While this method will probably require at least some self-funding, it can reduce the amount of money you need to outlay by a significant amount. It can also help to make connections with people who may one day decide that they want to purchase your work, and potentially cover all of your costs.
Family and Friends
You don’t always need to go at it alone, however. There are often times family members and close friends who might be interested in helping you express your creativity, and develop your skills. Sometimes they may offer to fund you directly, whether through gifts or through paying for what you make. Other times, they may offer to feature your work in a high traffic area, like the lobby of their office for example, knowing that the increased attention could lead to a sale or two.
Although it may not seem like a common occurrence, there are organizations out there that may pay for you to work on your creative dreams. In general, you won’t find a grant program for making trinkets, however if your creative outlet is working within your community, that is probably a different story. Check around, as a quick internet search may pull up a relatively unused source of funding that might work specifically for your situation.