Autonomous Creative

What if nonstop hustle isn’t how you succeed…but how you fail?

Published 12 months ago • 2 min read

What if all that hustle and all those late nights…

Those projects you poured your soul into…

The marketing strategies you keep putting on checklists and telling yourself you definitely need to try…

What if all those years of blood, sweat, and brainstorms are literally what’s preventing you from reaching the creative career success you dream of?

Wouldn’t that piss you off?

Yeah? Well, you certainly wouldn’t be an outlier.

A couple of years ago, a group of impressive, accomplished, mid-career creative professionals got together to share what was going on inside their creative businesses.

Here’s what they said:

When I get paid for creative work, I calculate the hours and energy spent on it versus how much I got paid, and realize I’m not even making minimum wage.
Our tree fell on our roof this year. We’re having plumbing problems right now. We can’t start on repairs for a couple of months because we just don’t have the money.
My child and I shouldn’t have to live officially under the poverty line for me to pursue my dream…if I had understood business, it wouldn’t have gotten that bad.
I fear going without health insurance. If I get sick or something happens, my entire world’s going to be ruined for the rest of my life.
I want to go out to movies and treat my kids to stuff and just be normal. That’s the life I’m ashamed to admit I want. That’s what everybody really wants. They’re all just ashamed to say it.
I look at how many hours I work and see how little it earns, and it’s just impossible. I compare that to how much other (probably awful) jobs earn for the same hours and just get so depressed.

The thing is, these people have done everything right. They’ve:

  • Taken advanced training
  • Gotten good grades
  • Taken even more training
  • Developed a clear creative point of view
  • Honed their technical skills
  • Made amazing work
  • Been paid for their work

But here they were, well into mid-career, still flailing.

Still cobbling together gigs and part-time jobs and whatever they can come up with to make ends meet. Working such long hours for low pay that their “real” work got sidelined.

Exhausted, demoralized, even wondering if they “have what it takes,” or whether this is a sign that they’re not cut out for creative success.

Seasoned, capable creative people should not be burning out, embittered, baffled, forgoing necessary medical care and rest…and worst of all, feeling like it’s all their fault.

It’s not.

It’s the system.

It’s not just you: What we learn about creative careers sets us up to fail

I’ve just published a major article about exactly how and why this is the case…and how to break that pattern.

If you’re serious about making money as a creative, you owe it to yourself to read this. This is the culmination of about 18 months (or perhaps more accurately, 53 years…) of research and writing, and the revelations in this piece will FLIP. YOUR. LID.

You’ll want to settle in: It’s not a short piece. But it’s need to know.

Go check it out, and then hit reply and tell me: What are you going to do, now that you know?

In solidarity,



Autonomous Creative

With Jessica Abel

For creative iconoclasts who want to pay their bills AND do the work they love, get insights, ideas, and next steps from a graphic novelist, author, & business coach. Find out how to build a balanced and productive creative life, and to thrive financially with simple, sustainable business foundations—without creative compromise.

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