It Wasn’t Worth Trading All of my Creativity for Money

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I earned next to nothing by doing so.

It wasn't worth trading all of my creativity for money
Photo by Arun Clarke on Unsplash

Like everyone else in 2020, my life was turned upside down. I began to experiment with other ways to make money and work for myself. I was lucky enough to not lose my nanny position and not being able to go anywhere besides work and the grocery store, I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands.

I spent the majority of 2020 doing research. Reading and watching videos about others who were starting businesses and doing things that I was becoming increasingly interested in.

By the time 2021 rolled around, I felt ready to put my words into action.

First came the Etsy Shop. Originally named ‘Wink + Whiskers’ I sold stickers, all of which I drew myself on Procreate on my iPad. (Most of which sucked if I am being honest, I’ve never been good at illustration.)

Second, came the shop rebrand as I wanted to pivot to my own online shop. ‘Wink +Whiskers’ became ‘Cynthia In The Wild’.

Cynthia In The Wild inspired me enough to start a blog while researching starting a YouTube Channel.

Currently, I crosspost here and on my blog. As I continue getting the ball rolling with repurposing my content for YouTube.

So what have I learned after all this time?

I traded all of my creativity for money and I failed spectacularly.

There was no passion in my art. There was no drive to continue with my sticker shop. I was constantly running out of ideas and driving myself crazy trying to always be on top of things.

Today, during a gloomy thunderstorm, I realized that I had given up my passion for money and let almost two years slip by before realizing this isn’t sustainable.

I went back to school because I wanted to be a better writer. I wanted to write better books, have stronger prose, and craft more realistic characters.

Fiction has always had my heart.

Yet when my life flipped upside down in 2020, I didn’t spend all my spare time trying to write the greatest novel of my generation.

No, I searched for ways to make money from home and ended up trying to become someone I am not.

I stopped writing because only blogging came up in my searches as the recommended way to make money writing, aside from freelancing. There was a steady stream of “authors don’t make money” and with the bait and switch we’ve been seeing on Amazon with digital books, I’m sure you understand why I felt compelled to switch gears.

[A great article on NPR about people reading and returning books on Amazon and how it is negatively affecting authors.]

However, I allowed myself to get lost in the appeal of making art through mediums I was not familiar with. Such as illustration for stickers, or pressuring myself into selling my clay items because ‘whimsical’ was trending.

I tried selling stickers, bookmarks, notepads, clay pins, and clay magnets.

Since opening my Etsy Shop in June of 2021, I have made a whopping $454.91.

I have come to realize that I do not have to monetize every hobby. I can make adorable clay friends and not list them on Etsy. I can gift them to my loved ones. Or start an increasingly weird collection of odd-looking clay items around my apartment.

I can paint and draw for fun. I don’t need to constantly create for the sole purpose of making money.

That’s the trouble of living in survival mode. You forget that you can be creative, just to be creative.

So from here on out, I am pivoting my content in order to do what I love and be able to run a successful small business. I want to republish the books I took down to edit. I want to write more books.

From here on out, I plan to enjoy my hobbies simply for enjoyment. Not all of my creativity needs to be monetized.

As always, thanks for reading!

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