How to stretch yourself creatively and launch a new revenue stream (or even a new career)
It was right around the time that my first child started sleeping through the night when I laid the groundwork for starting my handmade business. I brainstormed ideas, I launched, and amazingly, landed national press mentions and accolades.
But something else happened along this creative journey: it turned out that it was my blog that was actually fueling me (and not so much the fulfillment of handmade orders). I found myself getting up early to write and squeezing in sessions during nap time whenever business was slow. I did some guest posting as a way to gain exposure for my business. Then, after seeing a call for submissions, I pitched an editor of the Etsy Seller Handbook and received my first (decent) check for writing. It was such a thrill and honestly, I have never looked back.
I accidentally launched a freelance writing career.
I want to share my story in this awesome, creative community and say this: it is worth it to make space in your life for a new project, even if this means that it never goes anywhere. It’s OK if you change your mind, realizing that an exciting idea or new venture was actually not for you after all. Sure, it’s possible that you’ll generate a new revenue stream that ends up being more profitable, successful, and more in line with your purpose, but the goal here in the beginning is to give yourself the creative space without the pressure. Call it a pilot project, a side-hustle, or an experiment. Or don’t call it anything. Just make sure you give it—that thing you’ve been thinking about—a try.
Start. (Really–maybe you should start today.)
In my case, I didn’t even know I had started. I was blogging for this other reason, promotion, and then all of a sudden I realized, oh, this is the thing I really want to be doing. Of course, It doesn’t always happen that way. Most of us face a fair amount of resistance before we can begin. Here’s another example: you have done the work of strategizing, and know you want to carve out time, for say, digital pattern-making. Set a pomodoro, give yourself 25 minutes, and get going.
Log in the Hours.
This is necessary. Ira Glass says this brilliant thing about how we all sort of suck when get started. It’s true. But you must keep going. Give yourself the time and space to keep practicing. After two years of blogging, I spent two months deleting almost half of my posts. They weren’t very good. But you can’t edit like that in the beginning. You need the body of work before you can cull something worthwhile. Keep going. You’ll get better.
Education is great, but beware of the education trap.
Most of us have spent a good portion of our lives in school. We’re curious, and interested, and are willing to seek out the advice of experts. When you’re starting a new venture or expanding the types of products or services you’re offering in an existing business, you’re going to need to understand the basics of how to do this new thing. You’ll absolutely want to do your research and pore over those few books or guides that are the essential workbook to your craft. But you must put them aside and make room for the doing. I am beginning to explore writing opportunities in the children’s space and found myself up late one night researching Masters programs in Children’s Literature. (I’m not knocking this degree—in fact I’m envious of those who have it.) But here’s the thing, I just paid off my student loans not too long ago, and I have two kids under five. I’m not getting another degree anytime soon. This is not a real barrier. You see, I’m sort of making up an obstacle. Instead, I can attend a local conference or workshop in my area for the boost of camaraderie and opportunities to network in the children’s publishing world.
Pitch, Ship, Show — pick your word. Then fail. Or, even better: land and soar.
Austin Kleon says: show your work. Seth Godin says: ship it. In my case, since writing is my craft, I’m sharing and pitching. Whatever your thing is—get it out there. Join a group. Make a call for beta testers. You may discover, this is not my thing at all. Or better yet, I was made for this.
Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
Rebecca Pitts writes and makes stuff for kids + kids at heart. She is the founder and creative behind Hudson + Daughter and a contributor at Dear Handmade Life. Her work and ideas have been featured in Country Living, the Etsy Seller Handbook, the Martha Stewart American Made Market, Craft Industry Alliance, And North, Blog Society, and atly.