001: Welcome to the Starving Artist No More Podcast & BlogNov 01, 2022
Being a creative entrepreneur is hard. The messages we hear from the world around us tells us that creative industries are environments of scarcity, where hundreds of people are all competing for the same projects and positions. We’re told that only one in a million “creative hopefuls” will ever make it to “successful creative entrepreneur.” And yet, creatives persist. The grit of creative entrepreneurs is unmatched! But figuring out how to grow a creative business is a tricky thing. So much of what’s out there about how to build a successful business doesn’t work for a creative business. Creative businesses require a different structure than traditional business, and traditional business advice simply doesn’t work for creatives. Addressing that gap is the purpose of this podcast. If you’re a creative entrepreneur who wants to grow your creative business in a sustainable way, you’ve come to the right place.
Hi there, and welcome to the Starving Artist No More podcast. My name is Jennifer Jill Araya. I am an audiobook narrator and the creative entrepreneurial mind behind Starving Artist No more. I began this coaching enterprise to help creative entrepreneurs like myself, who love their business and love what they do, but are struggling to know how to shape and grow their business into something that truly gives them what they need from their business. I’m hopeful that the ideas I share here in this podcast, on social media, and in my courses and workshops will help creative entrepreneurs build the business they’ve always wanted.
This is Episode 1 – the very first episode ever! – of the Starving Artist No More podcast, and this episode will be an introduction to me, the creative entrepreneurial mind behind Starving Artist No More, and to the goals I have for this new business coaching enterprise. I’m so glad you’re here!
Before we dive into the meat of this episode, I want to mention quickly that I have a free guide available on my website: “Say Goodbye to “Feast or Famine”: Three Financial Must-Haves for Creative Entrepreneurs.” Financial problems are some of the most common stumbling blocks for creative entrepreneurs, and this guide can help you set yourself up for financial success in your business. Just visit my website, www.StarvingArtistNoMore.com, and fill out the contact form to receive the guide for free. That’s www.StarvingArtistNoMore.com, and fill out the contact form.
And with that, let’s get this show started. You’re listening to the new podcast Starving Artist No More, hosted by me, Jennifer Jill Araya. In addition to my work with Starving Artist No More, I am a full-time audiobook narrator, but that’s not been my creative industry for my whole career. I spent many years working in other creative fields before I transitioned to audiobook narration. My background is in classical music. Although it is no longer my main source of income, I still work as an active freelance classical musician. Over the years, I've also worked as a music teacher, both privately and in the classroom, and I've gigged extensively as a musical theater actor. For several years, I worked as an artisan within the craft fair / art show scene.
I am a creative entrepreneur through and through. My parents were small business owners, and I’ve always know that the freedom, flexibility, and responsibility that comes with the entrepreneurial life were what I wanted for myself. More than that, I am a creative. Flexing my creativity and improving my artistry is my raison d’être. Being a creative, an artist, is central to who I am and what I do. I love the life of a creative, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have built the career I now enjoy.
But I also am a firsthand witness to the incredible difficulty of building a creative business. Popular culture tells us that, as creatives, we should expect to be starving, that we will never be financially fulfilled from our business. Society says that working for "exposure" (aka working for free) is a normal part of life for every creative, and we should consider ourselves lucky to even have the opportunity of free gigs. If we don't sacrifice everything for the sake of our art, then we clearly don't love our art enough and don't deserve to be a successful artist.
These are all lies, of course, but working to build a thriving creative business in the face of such pervasive cultural messages is demoralizing at best, soul-crushing at worst. I know I stumbled a lot along the way. Remember all those creative enterprises I mentioned just a bit ago? When I was working in those pursuits, the struggle was real! Finding ways to make ends meet financially, pursuing projects that fulfilled me creatively, scrounging for the time to care for myself physically and mentally so that I could be my creative best – these things were (and sometimes still are) really hard. But I also know it is possible to do it, to achieve the goal of building a truly fulfilling creative business.
That is exactly my goal with Starving Artist No More: to help creatives navigate this difficult process, to fight off the lies that society tells us about who artists are and how they live and work, and to develop strategies that allow these creatives to build businesses that fulfill them holistically: personally, creatively, and financially.
The path that would eventually lead me to launching Starving Artist No More began just over two years ago, in early 2020. I started working as an audiobook narrator in 2018 and knew right away that this was the right place for me. But as my narration business grew, I started running into the same struggles that had plagued my earlier creative businesses. I knew there had to be a better way.
As one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2020, I began reading every business book and entrepreneurial guide I could get my hands on. I devoured every business-related resource I could find. I made it my mission to learn everything I could about how to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur, and I did learn a lot of helpful information. But as I was reading and learning and growing in my understanding of how business works, I also kept running up against a problem: TIME.
Time is a finite resource, and as a creative entrepreneur, my time is what I am selling. When my personal creative energy is my business's product, I am limited by the finite nature of this resource. Many entrepreneurial manuals and business coaches focus on business growth through automating, outsourcing, building a supportive team, and hiring great employees. But if my clients want my creative energy -- not my team's or my employees' creative energy, but MY creative energy -- how can I grow beyond the constraint of my time?
When I am working as a music teacher, there are only so many hours in the day during which I can teach music lessons. When I am hired to play a concert, the concert organizer wants MY performance skills to be on display on the day of the concert, not that of an assistant I hire to perform for me. When a painter sells a completed canvas, the purchaser is buying the work of art with the understanding that the painter, and not an assistant or student, crafted the beautiful canvas themself. When a photographer is hired to take family portraits, the family hiring them expects that the specific photographer they hired will be the one who shows up for the photo session. When I am selected to narrate an audiobook, the publisher is expecting to hear my voice on the finished product. The creative work of a creative entrepreneur simply cannot be delegated to a contractor or employee. The creative process can’t be systematized or automated for efficiency.
As a result, many creatives who are working to grow their business accept more and more and more commitments, filling every possible hour of every possible day with work duties, leaving no time for their personal life or for self-care, resulting in exhaustion and burn out. Or they barely scrape by financially, throwing every penny back into their business in hopes that more resources will help their business grow. Or they take work that pays the bills but that is creative drudgery, making them resent the work they used to love.
There’s no doubt about it: figuring out how to build a fulfilling creative business that truly meets your needs is a tough nut to crack.
In my journey as a creative entrepreneur, after much trial and error, I found an answer that works for me. I settled on a process of continual goal-setting, intentional habit creation, accountability relationships, and task prioritization that helps me keeps my business's purpose forefront in my work, which in turn has allowed me to build a business that is holistically meeting my needs as a creative person. This is, of course, still a work in progress. No business is static, after all. But I've found a process that is allowing me to grow my business in a way I had only dreamed about before.
When I began sharing my new ideas and insights with my creative colleagues, I was greeted with enthusiastic encouragement, followed by the statement that I needed to share this info. I was repeatedly told that the concepts and ideas that helped me could help others, and I needed to teach my process to other creative entrepreneurs who were struggling just as I had been.
... which brings us to the present, and to this podcast episode you’re listening to right now. Starving Artist No More is my effort to share my successful entrepreneurial approach with other creatives so that you too can:
- discern why your work matters to you and how to use that "why" to cultivate intrinsic motivation.
- discard the scarcity / "starving artist" mindset for one in which you recognize that abundance is possible for you.
- learn how to grow your business and your income without sacrificing creative control.
- know how to craft daily/weekly/monthly practices that serve you holistically.
- recognize the importance of accountability and how to look for fellow creatives to walk with you.
- understand how to prioritize your self-care to nurture your creative energy.
I have lots of plans for us together. I'm working hard to bring everything to fruition, but here are just a few of the projects in the works.
- 1:1 Business Coaching - Beginning in January 2023, I will be working with a small number of creative entrepreneurs one-on-one, helping them develop a personalized, actionable plan to craft the business that meets their needs.
- Group Workshops - Also beginning in January, I will be leading 8-week, 12-person group workshops that will meet weekly and will allow participants to be inspired by, learn from, and be accountable to their fellow creative entrepreneurs.
- Online Course - I am currently writing and filming a collection of evergreen, self-paced online courses that will help creatives develop an entrepreneurial strategy that works for their creative business and that will allow them to find fulfillment in their work. I intend to have the first course ready to launch in early spring of 2022.
- Social Media - I posting brief tips and ideas on my social media channels, with new posts every weekday. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok to get creative entrepreneurial goodness right away. I’m available @StarvingArtistNoMore on all platforms.
- And, of course, this podcast! You’re reading or listening to episode 1 right now, but I already have several more episodes ready to go, with lots more topic ideas already in the works. New episodes will be available weekly.
- Also, the transcript of this podcast will be available as a blog on my website, www.StarvingArtistNoMore.com/blog. That way, regardless of how you want to access this content, whether by listening or by reading, you can.
If you are interested in any (or all!) of these offerings, let me know! The 1:1 coaching and the group workshops beginning in January will both be open to a limited number of participants. Enrollment for these options is not yet open, but if you know you want to participate in either 1:1 coaching or the group workshops, send me an email, and I'll make sure you have the first opportunity to sign up. I can be reached at [email protected].
I would love to know: what do you struggle with in your creative business? What about finding fulfillment from your creative work causes you to stumble or struggle? Send me an email and let me know. I want to make sure my coaching curriculum truly meets the needs of the creatives I hope to serve. Your feedback is invaluable.
I have a vision of a world in which creatives are no longer starving artists but instead are thriving and growing creative members of society. I want to create a world where starving artists are no more.
I'm so glad you're here with me. I look forward to building a "Starving Artist No More" world with you, together.
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