I rarely do a 'hot take' but considering that this has been in my consciousness of late let's talk about money for a moment.
Money conversations are part and parcel of running a creative business - clients pay us, we pay ourselves and then pay our bills! Having the conversations might feel uncomfortable for a while ("I don't sell; I'm creative!") but they're necessary and, if you're thinking about it from your client's POV, expected.
I fully understand, too, that it can be very hard to battle through months of low earnings (seasons of low earnings in some cases) and still want to continue on as a business owner.
I see a lot of 'Your income can be so much more!' and 'Ready to reach your financial success?' content in the wild and, honestly, I am tired of it.
Where has the notion that money equals success come from?
Let me be clear; money is not 'the root of all evil' since we do need to keep ourselves fed, watered, and in a comfortable-enough place to serve our clients and - you guessed it - make more money! Plus, as moderately functional adults, it's important to know how much we need to make each month to ensure our lights stay on.
BUT the concept of financial expectation (eg. "I want to make XXX this month.") is rarely driven by needing to pay the bills; it's a 'should' that we carry around with us. We are becoming conditioned to expect a certain amount of money landing in our bank account each month AND are supporting that condition by beating ourselves when we don't have it.
This expectation that as freelancers in business we should be making five figures, six figures, or more annually is an artefact from employment.
When you're earning that fixed amount each month, it's a direct representation of how someone else values your skills, your effort, and your time. You don't control that. So, considering that you can't control value in that way, why would you carry that around with you when you're running a business of your choosing on your terms?
Valuing your skills, your time, and the amazing outcomes you create for your paying customers is important. It can be hard to talk about. Heck, any kind of transactional conversation when it comes to creative work feels a little dirty! Sell my glorious art? Never!
You have to know what the market will pay for your stuff; you need to know what profit could look like for you; it's crucial to know what's coming and going from your account.
But this need for a baseline onto which you build the rest of your business isn't what got you into business in the first place. If you got into freelance work to make a million dollars by the time you're 30, you might as well be back at your corporate job climbing that ladder!
The thing that got you into your freelance business was that desire to do something on your terms; do the kind of beautiful, exciting, creative work that you always dream of; make things that you are truly, deep-down proud of every single damn day. If you've got that, you're on the road to whatever success looks like for you.
Let's normalise the conversation of 'I make just enough for me' as creative individual running a business. Call out those who say you're not making enough or you're not 'winning at life' because you're not full-to-the-brim with disposable income. Support your community and your freelance peers when they're having a drought.
Money comes and goes but your drive and desire to do stuff on your terms? That's here to stay.