How Four Full-Time Creators Leverage Motherhood to Inspire (and Monetize) Their Art
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow. —Maya Angelou
Mothers: They are love, wisdom, and power—all wrapped up into one warm, selfless package. Life—with all its joys and adventures—would literally not exist without them.
But motherhood is also a full-time job (oftentimes in addition to a day job), and just like any other job, there are challenges, successes, and dreams that come along for the ride.
In the spirit of Mother’s Day, we’ve spoken with four mothers—Sarah Lacy, Lynette Carolla, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, and Lucy Knisley—who’ve not only pushed boundaries as creators, but who’ve also leveraged their experiences as mothers to inspire, fuel, and monetize their passions.
Straight from the women themselves, here are 3 tips for juggling life as both mothers and creators:
1. Reach inside your toolbox.
Know how to tie your child’s shoe while making breakfast and organizing carpool? Great. Now’s the time to implement every seemingly random skill you’ve picked up from being a mother.
“Motherhood makes you better at everything,” explains Sarah Lacy, podcaster and CEO of PandoDaily, an online tech publication that’s raised more than $4.2 million. “First of all, you become a master of creative problem solving. You are put in so many fox-grain-and-the-hen style riddles everyday that you just figure out because there’s no other choice. For instance, my kids and I fly in full costumes, because it was the only way my son got over his fear of flying. Trying to explain concepts like ‘God’ and ‘Donald Trump’ to young children tests your use of words and concept in amazing ways.”
Sometimes, reaching inside your toolbox also means pulling out the Superwoman Cape. “A lot of my career is about standing up to bullies,” says Sarah. “Doing the right thing is a huge motivator. My podcast (and my book) is in some ways about standing up to the biggest bully of all—the patriarchy.”
Sarah plans on continuing the fight against patriarchy in her upcoming book, A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug: The Working Woman’s Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy, which will be out this November. According to Sarah, the book is meant to be “a rally cry for working mothers everywhere that demolishes the ‘distracted, emotional, weak’ stereotype and definitively shows that these professionals are more focused, decisive, and stronger than any other force.”
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2. Embrace the community.
Support fellow mothers, and they’ll likely support you, too. “Our fans/listeners are the most incredible support,” explains Lynette Carolla and Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, founders of For Crying Out Loud, a hilarious podcast about parenting that leaves no topic unturned (even Botox!).
“Because of the intimacy that podcasting creates (People tend to listen through earbuds at home or while driving alone), we feel like our listeners are our personal friends who we are just chatting with over wine or coffee,” says the unapologetic duo, both of whom are raising twins. “Our fans constantly recommend other podcasts or TV shows or movies they think we would like and comment their support when one of us is going through something difficult.”
But the road to podcast success hasn’t always been easy for Lynette and Stefanie. “Whenever we think about quitting (and there have definitely been those times!), we think about how loyal our listeners have been for so long, and we don’t want to disappoint them. Our fans have always been the reason why we keep doing this, even before we knew there was any money in it.”
Now, with more than a thousand loyal patrons, FCOL is able to take in an extra $6k per month and focus on things that matter—like recording podcasts about nannies who like tequila a little too much and creating shirts that say, “You’re a parent now, don’t F it up!”
Pro tip: To keep your patrons in the loop, consider asking them what content they want to see by using Patron Polls!
3. Give yourself a bonus.
Generally speaking, investing in yourself is the best thing you can do…If you’ve got talent yourself, and you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold. —Warren Buffett
“Patreon is like giving myself a bonus,” explains comic book writer and artist Lucy Knisley, who shares her humor and pitfalls of new motherhood via her sketchbook drawings. “I was already making these comics for free, and now I’m able to gain some monetary support from my readers, which makes it easier to take time away from my regular graphic novel work to create comics for patrons.”
Lucy’s biggest muse and the subject of most of her comics? Her son, Pal.
“I love that I can write about my experiences, and other parents can reach out to tell me how familiar that story was to them, or how it gets easier once your kid is sleeping through the night, or that they love my take on parenting,” Lucy tells us. “It’s a great way to feel less alone in early parenting.”
What’s next for the artist who’s famous for depicting the joys of sleep deprivation? “A children’s book, three graphic novels, other illustration work, and a few comic conventions and signings,” says Lucy. “It’s a full plate, balanced atop an already full plate of baby life!”
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To all the mothers out there:
Thank you. For breathing life into canvases and pages and podcasts and songs and videos, and most importantly, for breathing life into this world.
So keep creating. Keep inspiring others. And keep honoring your inner artist and creator. After all, you’ve already created the most valuable masterpiece of all: human life.