The “starving artist” stereotype has been around for years. Unfortunately, it continues to stick for plenty of good reasons. While the term itself might seem a little dramatic, the reality is that artists, writers, and other creative types often live paycheck-to-paycheck. Or, they’re trying to land their “big break” with a great piece.
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Just over 77% of self-published writers make over $1,000 each year.
It’s important to get a hold on your personal finances, no matter where you are in your creative journey. So, make sure you know how to survive as a “starving artist”. Using a few basic tips and knowing which pitfalls to avoid can not only help you survive but thrive. You don’t need to live up to the stereotype, and you can enjoy your life as an artist without worrying when your next paycheck will come.
Simply put, you can have your cake and eat it, too, if you know what you’re doing.
Avoid Common Traps
The first thing you should do to ensure you’re not living on your last dime is to avoid a few common traps artists often fall into.
First, don’t assume that you have to suffer to be taken seriously. Being a “starving artist” shouldn’t be something you wear as a badge of honor. Instead, you should strive to be a successful artist.
With that, what should you do to avoid the label and move past the idea of being a starving artist? Try some of the following:
- Don’t discriminate against commercial work
- Focus on the big picture
- Understand you’ll have to deal with rejection
- Knowing that your art won’t speak to everyone as we all have different tastes
The sooner you’re willing to stop seeing yourself as “starving” or suffering for your art, the easier it will be for your mindset to change. That can boost your motivation and productivity, and can even improve other areas of your life. There shouldn’t be a sense of pride in struggling to survive for your work. It doesn’t make you more creative and can hinder you from working in the future since fewer people will be likely to hire you or buy your work.
When you stop feeling the need to “punish” yourself for creativity’s sake, you can boost your self-esteem and might feel less stressed and anxious.
Join the Gig Economy
The gig economy has seen a major boom in recent years. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has grown even faster. There are currently over 57 million freelancers working in the U.S., including a variety of artists making money with:
- Graphic design
- Web design
- Video production
Whether you’re going through a tough financial period or you just want to rely on consistent income each month, joining the gig economy is a great way to make money with the skills you already have. But, because it’s so popular, there can be some competition. That can often make it difficult for “newbies” to break into the scene and start getting clients.
But, it’s not impossible.
If you want to work as a ghostwriter, for example, consider who might need your services. Ghostwriters can work on:
You can advertise yourself as a business when you’re a freelancer. Think about your target audience (people who might want the services above) and consider how you’ll market yourself to them. If you can get your foot in the door of the gig economy and you provide quality work, word-of-mouth will grow.
Focus on Your Finances
One of the best things you can do to “survive” as a starving artist is to manage your finances effectively.
That starts with reevaluating your spending and creating a budget.
Sit down and go over your monthly spending habits. Your “extras” might include things like:
- Television subscription services
- Dining out
Even student loans can wreak havoc on your finances, bringing new issues to light that you probably haven’t thought about in years. Consider forbearance or deferment for your loans or other financial hardships. Doing so doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for them. But, it buys you some time and will allow you to save some money.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to deal with any of these financial issues on your own. If you’re an artist, you probably didn’t get into the industry to deal with office work and finances. So, while it’s important to know what’s going on, it’s also a good idea to work directly with someone.
If you need help, consider talking to an accountant or financial consultant. They should be able to dig deeper into your financial situation and help you out with different assistance programs. So, understand that you don’t have to deal with your finances on your own. Working with a professional can make a big difference, and will allow you to breathe a bit better.