You may have noticed the recent uptick in conversations around creatives striking out on their own and finding non-traditional paths for funding their careers. That’s because, as the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneurs Report recently shared, current generations are starting their own businesses more often and at younger ages than previous generations. In short, liberating oneself from an organization and attempting to turn a creative passion into a full-time career is becoming the norm.
We spoke to some of our favorite creators, Ashley Flowers, the host of the Crime Junkie podcast, and Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, and Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys to learn how they have found balance and independence while pursuing their creative careers.
“When we were considering the idea of going independent, getting more autonomy to be able to make the decisions and take all the risks and make creative projects that maybe they work, maybe they don't, that was something that was very exciting to us,” Fulmer shared with us. “There’s so many creative projects that we wanted to unlock, and we knew that it required going out on our own to be able to take those risks.”
Cutting the cord from an organization that wanted creative control gave The Try Guys space to make their own business partnerships, pursue projects freely, and grow in a way that made sense for their long term career goals.
There are benefits to cutting out the middleman. For example, without the buffer of a company many creators find they’re able to forge a stronger connection with their fans. Being able to fund projects directly from their audience, not only means that fans get to see how much they’re appreciated first-hand, it also means creators get the benefit of direct feedback on what content and rewards fans want more of.
Ashley Flowers, the host of the Crime Junkie podcast, shared, “We’ve had some really cool interactions with fans where the show becomes so much more than I thought it would. What I found more than anything is we're giving people a way to feel connected. So we have people that are like, ‘You guys are my best friends.’”
Kornfeld agreed with this sentiment, and the benefits of connecting directly to their audience, sharing, “We're really looking for ways to deepen and strengthen our fan engagement and build a community.”
Without the confines of middle-men and controlling entities, creators working independently are able to experiment more. There’s less of a propensity for playing it safe when you run your own business, because there’s no one to answer to but yourself. According to The Try Guys, that’s one of the best parts of having creative control, taking risks without having to worry about the fallout.
“I think it's about having the flexibility to take a risk on something that may not be profitable,” Fulmer said. “We understand the business model of the environment that we're in, and we know that certain things are risks and certain things may be too expensive. We can take that risk on something that we just want to do, which is very good, it kind of keeps you going.”
Striking the balance between creative goals and funding your career can be tricky. Luckily, creators are finding that their are independent and lucrative ways to do both. “Ideally, your want is in two areas,” Habersberger shared. “I want to make something that's creatively satisfying and I want my message to get to as many people as possible. I want to make this [thing] and I want it to succeed. So, I have to figure out how to make both of those [goals] work together.”
Flowers talked about how she found balance and independence by using a fan-based model through Patreon. “Giving me the platform to fund and grow my business without going to investors, without joining a network allowed me to stay independent and still grow my show while I was waiting for more traditional methods of payment to come through,” Flowers shared.