How I changed my passion into my livelihood – the short version!

I have not had paid employment since April 2008, when I quit my day job as a mentor at a school to do this:-

…and teach art, drumming and creativity.

Here is the short version of how I did it:-

I switched to a part time job with school holidays off and did lots of voluntary work and a teaching qualification in the spare time.

When we started The Art House, I moved out of where I was living and camped out in an attic for a year, kept the day job for the first four months and quit after it was actually making me ill! 

After that, I was offered a small flat at a low rent by a friend who loved The Art House and wanted to help. 

Scraped the rent & bills every single month for 3 years, very close sometimes, through freelance teaching! 

Lived off favours, freebies, secondhandsies and leftovers for three years (yes, Mr Taxman, they were all non-taxable thank you). 

It all worked because I was providing a valuable service to my community by running a venue lots of people loved, so my community looked after me.  When you are skint, even a stay at a friend’s posh flat in London (thanks Colin), a free meal or a lift somewhere makes all the difference.

Also, my partner kept working so was able to help out.  My Dad wrote a very riveting book on VAT which sold very well, so he sent my a few gifts of money, usually £500 or so, for birthdays etc – these big injections of cash helped A LOT.

I also did plenty for nothing at first, to get experience and contacts. Then, at a certain point, I transitioned over to charging for my time more. 

I made a lot of mistakes including being uncomfortable with charging for things and money, undervaluing and underpricing my work. 

I didn’t educate myself well enough on the business & sales side of things at first, or it would have been much easier.  Since taking Leonie Dawson’s Business Goddess course, things have really improved financially for me.

If you decide to do this, the transition is likely to mean giving up certainty about money and you will have bad months where you have nothing at all. 

You will have to get really good at saying NO and not giving away freebies to friends and people you feel bad for.  That’s the most important learning for me from Leonie.

Giving away your products or time for no equal exchange is going to mess you up and send you back to that cubicle – don’t do it!  By all means, give away things that you want to, like my free UnEarth your Creative Nature eCourse, but make sure you get something out of it, even if it’s non-material rewards like good contacts, satisfaction, motivation or moral support.

You will have panics and red bills. 

You will have to sell/give up stuff, possibly move house and radically change your lifestyle. 

You will have to learn to ask for what you need and be open to unusual ways of getting it.

You will make really, really good friends with uncertainty and irregular cashflow.


Have you already, or are you transitioning from ‘day job’ to making a living from your creative talents?  Tell me about it in the comments section!

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How I changed my passion into my livelihood – the short version! — 10 Comments

  1. Fine blog Jani – and pretty familiar – one fine day in the Civil Service (ironic as I’m only barely civil and definitely not servile) I picked a date on the calendar and vowed to leave then whether or not anything came up. Luckily it did – voluntary redundancy paid for MSc course fees so I just had to live on nothing for a year (see above!). It moved me from horrid officage to splendid ecology and now I’m working on goipng pro with my creative side. Luckily I like what I do as an ecologist so am happy to keep at least some of that aspect going this time and have the creative stuff running parallel. Slightly different route for me, but the same concepts apply and like Jani says, totally worth it 🙂