What I wish I had known when I was starting out
When I think back to the very beginning stages of my journey, I'm filled with feelings of compassion and hope. The early stages of any creative career are so important, and they need to be nourished and cared for. This makes me think about what I wish I had known when I was starting out. If I knew then, what I know now, would I have still continued the same journey? In my case, the answer is undoubtedly YES.
Here's a letter to myself the year I started pursuing my creative career.
Dear '2009' Bonnie,
It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. You'll have to shift your priorities and make some BIG sacrifices. You'll quit your day job after making enough money selling on Etsy to just barely squeak by. You'll sell a car and became a 'one-car family' for about 3 years. You'll cook at home almost exclusively and shopping will be a thing of the past. You'll decorate your small 1 bedroom home from second-hand stores. You'll live 'pay check to pay check' and struggle most of the time, and you'll work really hard. BUT - you'll be following your dream and loving your work and David will support you the whole way. It will take you 4 years to match his income, but then your business will take off! Your soul will be happy through it all because you're doing what you love!
There's room for you. In a seemingly overcrowded marketplace, you'll feel small and insignificant. You'll wonder if there's room for you, and if you'll be able to make a career from doing what you love. You'll get overwhelmed from looking at all the beautiful things other people are doing, and how successful they are. Then you'll realize, there IS room for you. It doesn't matter what others are doing, because the world is huge and there's room for you in it. The world will open it's arms to you, invite you in and welcome you. One of your missions will be to share this news with other's who want to make a living from doing what they love, too.
Cherish your early work. The time BEFORE anyone knows who you are or what you're doing will be difficult. You'll create A LOT of work and only hope that the future will pay you back for all your time and effort. It will be difficult to stay motivated and inspired. You'll want to rush this stage, but you should cherish it. Take this sweet time for what it is. Nourish this very necessary stage of your upcoming career. Pour yourself into your work as this the only time in your entire career that you'll be purely creating from your heart. No deadlines. No briefs. No pressure. THIS is the time where you establish your signature style of creating and it cannot be rushed. THIS is when you'll discover who you really are as a creative, what your main goals are and what your mission in. Because you take the time to nourish this stage, you will end up with a body of work that you are incredibly proud of. You'll create 100s of patterns that feel they like a direct reflection of your very soul. This is when you'll know it's time to show start showing your work to the world.
Sell with no ceiling. Focus on things you can do that will 'work themselves' (i.e. generate income while you sleep). You will always love to make small batches of handmade goods and art prints, but 90% of your business will run on things that 'have no ceiling' to their success. The key to your success will hinge on this idea. Focus on the the things that can generate an income based on percentages, like digital goods, eBooks, memberships, ecourses, licensing opportunities and more. Above all else, let your imagination run free!
Amazing things will happen! You will work A LOT in the beginning. You'll put in 50-60 hours a week for a few years, in order to work LESS later. In just a few years, you'll be running your own creative business, supporting your family and staying at home with your two beautiful children (their names will be Bear & Ollie!). You'll design a business that allows you to do all of these things while you work 15-25 hours a week. Your biggest dreams will come true, some so great you don't even know you should be dreaming about them! You will be living you greatest creative life and be excited to 'work' each and every day. The future is bright and exciting!
Love, '2020' Bonnie
Your turn! Depending on where you feel like you're at in your career, take a moment to write a letter to yourself using one of the following prompts (feel free to leave your answer in the comments section!):
- Write a letter to your past self, what do you wish you had known when you were starting out?
- Write a letter to your future self, what would you like her to know?
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