You finally know what you want to do with your life. You’re good at it, you’re passionate about it, and you know that this thing, whatever it is that you’re making or doing, is the contribution you want to make to the world. Maybe for the first time ever, you’re excited to get up and get to work each morning.
Yeah. It’s totally awesome, but now what? How do you move from having a great idea and nothing to show for it to being able to support yourself doing what you love?
Maybe the idea is brand new and you haven’t done anything beyond thinking about it. Or maybe you’ve been at it for awhile, struggling to find a way to be able to quit your 9-5 job to devote yourself to doing what you love. Or maybe you already took a leap of faith and quit your job, and now you’re starting to panic because things aren’t happening for you quite as quickly as you had imagined;you’re running out of money, and you’re dreading the day your mother gets to tell you, “I told you so.”
While no one else can do the work for you, you don’t have to go it alone. There are a lot of people who’ve successfully accomplished what you’re trying to do. They’ve faced the same challenges that you’re facing right now, and learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t.
It used to be that artists and entrepreneurs had to spend thousands of dollars on books and conferences in order to get their hands on any worthwhile advice. Those are still excellent resources, and if you have the money for them, books and conferences are a great investment. But these aren’t the only worthwhile resources available anymore. The internet is full to overflowing with intelligent and accessible information on every subject you can imagine within the arts and entrepreneurial niches.
The best part? All that it will cost you is the time it takes to read it. Since anyone can post absolutely anything they want on the internet, sometimes it’s hard to find the good stuff. You can spend hours surfing through a tide of crap in order to find just one or two worthwhile articles. I could have provided you with hundreds of links if I had duplicated authors, but since I wanted to ensure that you got information from multiple sources, I read close to one hundred and fifty articles just to find twelve that were really worthwhile. It can be frustrating, and it’s easy to give up before you get to the good stuff, if you don’t already know where to look.
Obviously, twelve articles aren’t going to tell you everything you need to know in order to make your creative endeavors a success, but it’s a great jumping off point. Once you’ve read all of these links, you’ll have a better understanding of some of the intricacies of starting your own business. You’ll also figure out which authors’ writing styles and information work best for you, and you can check out more of their work. Be sure to spend some time looking at other posts on the blogs these links came from. They’re all brimming with interesting and relevant content.
1. Killing the 7 Motivation Murderers, by Kevin Eschenroeder – This post is long, but it’s worth reading from beginning to end. It is, without a question, the best blog post I’ve ever read on the subject.
2. Ramit Sethi: How to Charge What You’re Worth – People seem to either love Ramit or hate him. You won’t find a lot of people hanging out in the neutral zone when his name comes up. The people who don’t like him typically say that it’s because he’s mean, or because his highest level courses are so expensive. Personally, I love him. Is he mean? I guess if you think that being brutally honest is mean, but I think it’s an act of kindness. His bullshit tolerance is somewhere around a -57, so you won’t find a lot of sympathy for whining and excuses. Does he charge a lot of money for some of his trainings? Yup. But in his “meanness” he very frankly says that if you have credit card debt, he won’t take you in those programs, because it’s not where your time and money should be going. Instead, he encourages people with debt to use his free information, even tells them to go to the library, rather than purchasing his book, to get out of debt before paying for anything he does. He knows that people with massive debt are oftentimes desperate for a quick fix, and he could make a killing from them. He doesn’t take the bait. He does the right thing. And it isn’t hurting his business any. His information is all solidly tested and research based. I’ve yet to hear him make any claims that aren’t backed up by fact. Plus, he’s funnier than hell.
3. On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, by Jon Morrow – If you don’t already know Jon Morrow’s name, I’m so pleased to be the first to introduce you to his writing. Not only is Jon one of the most inspirational people you’ll ever encounter, he’s brilliant. When you start to tell yourself all of the reasons you can’t possibly be successful, that things are stacked against you, I’d like to point out that Jon went from broke, living in a crappy apartment, and feeling like his life had no purpose, to helping other people, and being able to support not only himself, but his parents. Oh, and he’s done it all from a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down, with a terminal disease. I’m one of his students, and his lessons and assignments have taught me more about internet writing in the span of a couple of weeks than what I had learned without him over the course of a decade of self-study. No joke.
4. How To Become Rich and Famous On The Internet In 5 Easy Steps, by Naomi at ittybiz – Every piece of advice that Naomi writes is totally sound, but the real reason I love it? She makes me pee my pants laughing. When you’re at the point where you’re going to start pulling out your eyelashes and breaking dishes against the kitchen wall if you have to read one more piece of dry, boring business advice, this is the place to go.
5. The Real Reason Why You Can’t Write, by Esther Litchfield-Fink – This article is (obviously) written for writers, but if that’s not what you do, you should read it anyway. It’s applicable.
6. 13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising, by Beth Hayden – Like it or not, if you’re going to be a successful artist or entrepreneur, you’re also going to have to be a successful advertiser. You can do this without being slimy. Promise.
7. Instant Relief from the Pressure of Pitching Your Art, by Alyson Stanfield – If you’re reading my blog, Alyson Stanfield’s writing will benefit you. This isn’t just for people pitching to art galleries. If you’re going to be pitching to anyone, read this. It’s a basic walk-through of the difference between an appropriate and inappropriate way to handle business relationships. Most people think they know how to pitch. Most people are wrong.
8. 4 Simple Tricks For Setting Goals And Creating Outstanding Business Clarity, by Sonja Jobson – Simple fact: If you’re not clear about what you’re doing, you’re not going to find anyone who wants you to do it. If you’re not clear about where you’re going, you’re not going to get there.
9. What Does It Sound Like When You Change Your Mind? by Seth Godin – Seth has a freakish and enviable skill. He can get across a message in one short paragraph that would take most people a couple of pages to articulate. It’s a beautiful thing. This post on the importance of being willing to change your mind is no exception. Since his posts typically take less than a minute to read, you should stick around and read a few dozen once you click over to his site.
10. 16 Business Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Know, by Young Entrepreneur Council – The title says it all. Sixteen pieces of solid advice, compiled into one tidy post.
11. A Million Dollars Ain’t a Million Dollars… and Other Assumptions About Money, by Danielle LaPorte – I’m all about big dreams. I’m also all about appropriate and realistic planning, because life will bitch slap your dreams right out from between your ears if you don’t. Danielle LaPorte tells it like it is.
12. 3 Lessons for Would-Be Entrepreneurs from Successful Quitters, by Sumitha Bandarkar – Three things you’ll want to give very careful consideration before you tell your boss that your cubicle days are over.
Who are you reading for inspiration and solid advice about business and the arts? If you feel like there’s someone incredible that I’ve missed, please tell me about them!
photo credit: StockMonkeys.com