If you’ve got a creative bone in your body, you know how hard it is to make a living from your craft. And if you don’t know, someone will tell you. Unsolicited and often. Most of us will only ever write our novels, take our photos, play our instruments for fun, and we accept that our passion will probably have to be an evening pursuit after our time spent at the workplace. But for some, making a living from doing the creative work they love isn’t just a pipe dream.
There’s a certain feeling of pride and jealousy combined that comes up every time I read about a friend’s book deal or see their byline on one of my favourite websites. It’s amazing to see people achieving their dreams, especially if they can actually pay the bills with it. While I’ve been lucky enough (or, sometimes I think, unlucky enough) to incorporate my love of writing into my work, it’s definitely not easy or lucrative.
A recent goal I’ve set for myself is to show more support for creators. Obviously the best way to do this is financially. Buy authors’ books, Commission artists. Purchase a ticket for the theatre or the cinema. However, supporting creators also means thinking outside of the box and, sometimes, offering money where none is required. I recently gave $10 to a busker and my first thought after doing so was, “Hm, that seems like a lot.” But then I thought: this man entertained me, Steve, and the rest of the audience for at least half an hour with his juggling, unicycling, and comedic banter; if I had paid $10 for a ticket to the show I wouldn’t have felt ripped off, so there was no reason to balk at giving that much after the fact for a performance I enjoyed.
I also recently donated to a yoga activist’s Gofundme–Dana Falsetti is currently facing a lawsuit from a major clothing company about whom she spoke out against with regard to their lack of inclusivity and body positivity. The Gofundme money is going to help her with her legal fees, with the byproduct of allowing her to continue her work. I’m not telling you about these things to show off or so that you know how generous I am, but to show that there are so many different ways to financially support your favourite creators. Membership platforms like Patreon are being used by internet-based creators like webcomic artists, podcasters, and Youtubers for weekly or monthly support from fans. Often including exclusive content just for subscribers, there’s frequently an incentive to pay, but mostly it’s just about helping creators have a steady income stream so they can keep producing their work.
Now, you might be thinking, “What if I can’t afford to offer monetary support?” Maybe you’re a broke millennial. Maybe you have so many faves that you can’t give to every single one. Maybe you’re still coming around to the idea that you should pay for things you don’t explicitly have to, but you want to do something to support creators anyway. A few things you can do for internet creators that still put a few cents into their bank accounts are turning off your adblocker (I know, boo, hiss) so that they can get ad revenue from their page or channel, and shopping through their affiliates links where they get a small percentage of every item bought through their links. The ubiquitous discount codes peddled in particular by Instagram makeup/style/lifestyle influencers do the same, so if you’re going to buy those Morphe brushes anyway, pick your favorite ‘grammer and use their code.
Here’s a fact: recognition doesn’t pay the bills, but it does feel damn good. Sometimes creating art feels like you’re sending your passion out into the void, so it’s nice to know that someone is seeing and appreciate it. There are other forms of support that, while they they don’t have a financial benefit, can be so important in motivating creators to keep doing what they love. First of all, TELL THEM! Interaction feeds the soul. I appreciate every single person who reads this blog, but there’s nothing like the thrill of seeing ‘1 new comment’. This is especially true for creators with a smaller following, although bigger names will surely still appreciate your love even if they might not have time to respond.
Equally as important as telling creators you like their work is telling other people you like their work. You may not have the funds to commission work from your favorite artist or you might not live close enough to go to your favorite musician’s gig, but maybe you have a friend who does. And even if your recommendation doesn’t lead to a sale, you’re helping grow their audience. Plus, you’ll have someone new to geek out over your favorite podcast/webcomic/whatever. with!
So to finish off this post, I’m going to issue you a challenge and a request. My challenge: do something to support a favourite creator. If you have the means, buy their content, subscribe to their Patreon, or find another method of financial support; if not, leave them some feedback, share their content, or tell a friend about them. This ties into my request: tell me about someone, online or off, whose creative work you’re loving that you think I should check out. It could be someone well-known and famous, or someone whose only fan (so far) is you, your choice! Tell me who they are and why you love them, and hopefully I’ll love them too.