How to handle growth in your creative career

If you do good work and find yourself consistently getting booked with more, bigger and better projects, then you will no doubt be faced with the challenge of growth. 

When you have more projects than you can handle, more inquiries that you can deal with or too many opportunities on the table, things can get challenging. 

Do you hire a team?
Do you try to take it all on?
Do you raise your rates?

My goal with this post is to not give you the answers, but instead challenge you to think about growth in a different way.

 

Why did you get into this to begin with?

Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Thomas Leuthard

Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Thomas Leuthard

When you start to experience growth, it is easy to get wrapped up in business advice and thoughts of others around you.

Often this advice will tell you, hire more people. build a team, scale the company!

But the truth is that when you grow beyond yourself it means less time doing creative work, and more time running a business.

As creatives, we can sometimes trick ourselves into believing that is what we want.

Reading publications like Inc and Entrepreneur Magazine will make us feel like failures if we don’t have a staff of employees.

But ultimately, when you face growth you need to ask yourself one question.

“Why did you get into this in the first place?”

Was it for the money?
Was it for the creativity?
Was it for the freedom to determine your own schedule?

Try to remember your true motives for starting.

Try to remember what got you into this in the first place. 

Try journaling for a few days in a row.

Write out your feelings about growth. 

It is easy for us to lie to ourselves in the face of growth and opportunity. 

Try to remember your true motives for getting into this in the first place.

 

Be intentional with your lifestyle

Many people look at business and lifestyle as two different things.

That is the completely wrong way to look at growth. 

Your work directly impacts your life, your happiness, and your ability to pursue other things.

Instead of dreaming about what the company will be, dream about how you would like your life to be.

What does an ideal day look like to you?
What do you want your lifestyle to look like?
How can you sculpt and grow this company into fitting your ideal lifestyle?

Your work life and personal life are one in the same.

Design your work life with your personal in mind. 

 

How I designed my life

The goal with my freelancing career is not more money. The goal is more time. - Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI

The goal with my freelancing career is not more money. The goal is more time. - Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI

When I started my freelancing business, I had a goal of what I wanted my life to be.  

  • Make $6,000 per month
  • Be completely location independent
  • Work less than 20 hours per week on client work

At first when I wrote it that it seemed outrageously far off, yet over time my business grew.

Eventually I was making $4,000 per month, and then $6,000, and then $8,000 and more…

But as my business grew, I found myself working more and more.

My income was skyrocketing, yet I found myself working 60-70+ hours per week.

I had forgotten my goal. 

I had forgotten why I got into this in the first place. 

Eventually I made a change.

I took on fewer clients and charged significantly higher rates.

Today I earn on average $6k per month and work roughly 20 hours per week on client work.

The rest of the time I spend writing, reading, creating and enjoying life and world travel. 

If I wanted to make more money, I could. 

But money isn't the goal. 

The lifestyle is the goal. 

 

The bottom line

A lot of people loose sight of their personal life when they face growth in their creative career. 

They look only at business goals, and forget about their personal aspirations.

Always remember that how you build your business directly impacts your personal life.

More money isn't always more success.

Instead, you determine your own measures of success.

Quit making decisions in your life based on how other people view success. 

Design the life that you want to live. 

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