Sometimes you get an idea for a fun creative endeavor, but then you realize there’s one problem… it requires some upfront capital.
For professional creatives (and it’s never been easier to become one) this is just part of the job, but if you’re pursuing a project as more of a hobby, it can be harder to come up with the necessary cash — but harder doesn’t mean impossible, so let’s look at some ways you can fund your creative dreams.
Rely On Your Day Job
The simplest way to fund your creative projects is to use your own money from your day job. There are many great artists who work full time jobs and use the money they make to finance their creative hobbies on the side.
This can actually be a better path to creating the work you want because the only client you have to answer to is yourself. For example, Jeff Boyce is a police officer who, in his spare time, takes spectacular photos. Earlier this year, he took some time off and went on a road trip chasing storms to create this time lapse:
Having a “real” job is no barrier to making great art. Give your passion the respect it deserves and put a small amount of each pay check into a separate bank account. Every few months you’ll have a modest but respectable budget to play with.
Think of it as an investment in your creative pursuits rather than money wasted on a hobby.
Become a Semi-Professional
As well as keeping your day job, you can also become a semi-professional. Trying to turn your hobby into a full-time job requires a lot of hard work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take on a gig every once in a while or sell what you make online.
Take the money that you earn from your creative work, set it aside, and save it for future creative projects. In time, it will become self-supporting. There are plenty of stories where amateur creatives make extra money by selling prints or publishing the occasional article.
Rent Out Your Gear
Throughout the course of your hobby, you’ve probably gathered quite the collection of gear — especially if you’re a photographer or videographer. When you’re not using that gear, it just sits there doing nothing.
One way you can make your gear work for you is to rent it out to other people who need it. For example, sometimes another photographer will need a second camera or a particular lens. If you have what they need, why not make a little bit of cash by letting them use it?
The Internet has made this easier than ever. I’m a member of a few photography Facebook groups and every few weeks someone makes a post looking to rent this or that. Search Facebook and see if there are any local groups for your hobby. Let people know what you have and how much you’ll let them use it for. Just remember to have it insured first!
In Los Angeles, a new startup called ShareGrid is making it even easier. They’re only local at the moment, but they do plan on branching out into other cities soon, so be on the look out. With ShareGrid, anyone can list the gear they have and make it available for other creatives to rent.
Teach What You Do
“If you can’t do, teach; and if you can’t teach, teach gym.”
This might ring true in some fields, but certainly not in the realm of creative work. If your art has a specific look or style, people will always be interested in learning how you do what you do. The easiest path is to start a blog and write a few tutorials on your work. You can then set your blog up to make some money.
You can also get a bit more hands-on by running workshops, one-on-one lessons, photowalks, or anything else that you can think of. If you’re good at what you do, you’ll always find people willing to pay you to share your knowledge and expertise.
Take to Kickstarter
Jarvie wanted to spend a year driving around the United States taking photos of different religious buildings, so he took to Kickstarter. His project struck a chord and raised more than $70,000 — enough for him to fulfill his dream.
This obviously won’t work for every creative idea you have, but if you think you can get other people interested, it’s a great way to fully fund a big project.
Grants, Scholarships, and Prizes
There are many organizations that offer grants, scholarships, or prizes for specific creative work. For example, my local council runs a photo competition every year and my alma mater offers a small creative scholarship. Neither of these awards are huge, but they’re enough to fund a small project.
The one problem is that the requirements can be quite strict. You or your artwork might need to meet specific criteria to be eligible. For instance, the local photo competition has a set theme every year and you need to be a student in order to participate.
Even still, keep an eye out in your local area (and online!) for these sorts of awards. Often, the smaller ones can be better to enter as they’re easier to win, though smaller events typically imply smaller prizes.
Do It On Credit
Sometimes you’ll get an amazing idea and need to move fast to fulfill it — for example, you need to shoot at a particular time of the year — but don’t have the money at hand. In this case, the best option might just be to go use credit cards or take out a personal loan.
Many artists, especially filmmakers, have gotten their starts by funding an awesome project with credit. If you’ve got the time, a personal loan (or even a peer-to-peer loan) will generally offer you better terms than a credit card. Credit cards, however, are obviously more convenient.
It’s important to seriously consider your options before going into debt for a creative idea. If it’s the sort of thing that isn’t time-sensitive, saving money and being patient is absolutely a better idea.
If that just won’t work, then make sure you know how much you’ll need to repay and that you won’t lose your house in the process.
What Did I Miss?
Following through on your biggest creative dreams can sometimes need a budget — even if it’s just $100 to cover travel expenses and studio hire. Money should never be a reason not to follow through on your ideas! You just have to know how to raise those funds.
I’ve mentioned seven great ways you can fund your creative dreams but I’m sure there are many others so, in the comments below, please let me know your favorite way to finance your endeavors.
Image Credits: dreaming optimism Via Shutterstock