Weekly blog posts have stopped over the last five months, as you have seen by the archives to the right. Tumultuous turmoil entered my life and to make a long story short, like most artists, I have to bring in a secondary source of income to help support the family.
When this reality made itself known and loud, it knocked me to my knees, and I grieved. Ever since we moved from Thailand back to the US – 10 years! – I have made it work out by doing piecemeal jobs here and there, and working online from home with some income-generating websites.
Most importantly, I was lucky enough to be able to be there for my son, volunteering in his classroom with art lessons, helping him with homework, taking him to school every day. Well, he is 10 years old now and becoming more and more independent.
I also liked being able to go on my powerwalks during the day, grocery shopping during off-hours, going out of town whenever we wanted – yeah, I was spoiled. And living this way was soon to end. No wonder I grieved.
Reentering the workforce?
Ugh, I have a sporadic work history; plus I was on my own for 10 years, and before that I lived in Thailand teaching English for four years. Basically 14 years of a really weird resume. How the heck was I going to sell myself to something more than a minimum wage job? I wallowed in that pity party for a few days last April, then came to my senses.
For one thing, over the past decade I have cultivated very strong writing skills and I also took some art marketing courses so I thought I could do something in marketing. Marketing is interesting, lots of psychology and why humans behave the way they do…
I had tried getting a couple of jobs, but the interview process felt like I was a court jester, performing a song and dance routine for those in power, who would then nod or shake their heads, determining my fate. I hated the feeling.
As I was exploring the realm of employment options, I learned of other possibilities. I don’t know what I don’t know, afterall, and I would naturally change course as I became aware.
Freelance copywriting came up. I bought four or five books on how to do it, and how to get started in this business. It is just as much an entrepreneurial venture as anybody starting out with no contacts. I got some business cards made (with my artwork on it, of course!), a portfolio of existing and mock-up writing samples, and got busy cold calling (gasp!). I chose to focus on the B2B side of the hospitality industry.
I did that for a couple of weeks and it felt like it would take forever to get paying clients, especially ones willing to pay professional rates. I’m no content mill! And as I learned more, I discovered that rates have tended to drop and copywriting is very competitive.
One thing I am grateful for is the fact that we didn’t NEED extra income ASAP. If I had been forced to take any job I can get, it probably would have been a minimum wage job, one I HATED and would soon be stuck doing. Misery and depression would soon ensue and this was the last thing I wanted. I must carefully choose my occupation during this time of change and uncertainty.
Thoughts like this caused me to abandon my art for some months as I doubled down and tried to figure it all out. Pressure’s on, man!
Clarifying what I want
The topic of grant writing popped up on several occasions as I was opening myself to exploring what I could do. Grant writers apply on behalf of non-profit organizations to get funding from corporate/private foundations or from the government. This money keeps non-profits in existence so they can continue their good work, and the funders who give the money see that their vision is also achieved. From what I understand, good grant writers are in high demand and are paid well for their services. Sign me up.
But at first I dismissed grant writing, thinking it was way too intellectual for my brain’s capabilities. Well, it is a learned skill, and not so hard to learn if your writing skills are already strong. So I bought a book about it, Grant Writing for Dummies, and immediately felt in over my head. Information overload, to say the least.
But the process has helped me clarify what I want to do with my life. A livelihood where I can feel good about my contribution to the world. Helping out nonprofit organizations with causes that resonate with my values, mostly the environment, elderly and education/training. I think I could get out of bed every morning and look forward to doing this!
And you know what else I want? Not to have to always have to fish around in my imagination for ways to make money. I would like to spend my energy on making a solid income through my writing, then during my off hours (hey, I would probably work half or 3/4 time) create my paintings.
I would come from a place of peace and well-being and as I look for different venues to display my work for sale, and if I don’t sell anything fine, but if I do, then great! Frantic art marketing via social media, scheduling posts, stressing about getting FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Newsletters, contests, etc would be more relaxed and natural.
It feels so good to finally know exactly what it is that I want; it feels peaceful and still. I have some interviews with a couple of nonprofits lined up for next week, so I am headed in the right direction.