There are many ways to build a creative life — some folks are creators full-time, some are part-time, and some have a full-time job while pursuing their creative work as a side hustle.
While it might seem like the full-time creator is the ideal or the most successful, there are plenty of reasons why people choose other structures. The fact is, there’s no single right way to be a creator. Each creator’s working hours, technique, intention, habits, structure, and job description are a little different — and they should be!
The fact is, there’s no single right way to be a creator.
Creation is a deeply individual process, and what one person needs to create is often wildly different than another. So how do creators who can’t dedicate most of their time to creating find balance? In this article we’re sharing advice from and for creators who are pursuing their creative career as a side-hustle.
“I use at least one hour a day for creative stuff, even if I have to divide that hour into minutes along the day,” Noe, who creates illustrations on Patreon, shares. “I have a full-time job, a home to take care of, and a hidden disability.”
Noe shares that one of the ways she has succeeded, and one recommendation she has for others, is “set small goals to reach in short time lapses that lead you to the main one for the year but same as priorities, have it in mind these goals can change and that is okay.”
Another creator, Irshad Karim, who runs Drawabox, says, “I work three jobs — my full-time job at a game studio, my main Patreon (which involves critiquing my students’ drawing homework, managing the community, creating new lesson content, etc.), and my work illustrating a webcomic which has its own nascent Patreon.” He suggests that goodwill is a currency and that investment of time, in the beginning, can pay off to a better balance later. “I invested the effort and time in the beginning while the community was small and doing everything for free was feasible. Now, because the community is entirely welcoming of certain measures to reduce my workload (like increasing prices, restructuring Patreon tiers, and most recently, bringing on teaching assistants to spread the load), I’m entirely able to make a considerable amount of money each month, while technically balancing my work and life.”
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Noe says, “This year has been more balanced than last year, so be patient. There are days that I absolutely need to rest and I [try] not get desperate or guilty for not finishing something. My health comes first.”
And while some creators say that they are making it work, other creators are clear that they don’t have a good balance. “I don’t,” Karim shared.“Not really, anyway. I’ve been at this for five years, and I haven’t technically had a proper vacation with no work in that span of time.”
Fraser Cain, the creator behind Universe Today shared a similar sentiment, saying “Like many of the others, I don’t think there’s such a thing as balance.” For him, it was more about focusing on patrons, continuing “all we can do is work as hard as we can to build up as much of a following as we can. That means long hours, and going above and beyond to deliver content and experiences to our patrons.” he went on to share that having to hustle was necessary, but in his opinion, worth it. “I’m working all the time. But then, I love what I do, so it doesn’t really feel like work.”
Having an efficient work schedule that gives you time to create while also giving you space to breath is important regardless of your schedule, but especially important if you currently consider your creative career to be a side hustle. So, whether you decide to work four days a week for ten hours each instead of the typical eight hours Monday through Friday, getting creative with your schedule can make it easier to make space for your side-hustle.
Other options are waking up early and getting your creative work done before you leave for the office or setting time to create in the evening after you get home. The most important aspect here is actually scheduling the time so that you don’t get so caught up in your day to day that you find yourself no longer able to keep up with your creative pursuits.
Having a side-hustle may sometimes seem like a fast track to burnout, but if you make balance a priority, continue to make space to create, and treat your creative pursuit seriously by scheduling time to make it happen, it’s possible to do it successfully.
Eventually, you might find that you won’t to dedicate even more time to your side-hustle, making it your part-time or even full-time gig. The important thing to remember is that no matter what you do, your creative endeavor is important, valuable, and worth pursuing!