This post is part of a series about, you guessed it, money, as inspired by a letter I received from artist Rachael Ashe. Read Part 1: Guilt at Home, Part 3: Cost of Living, Part 4: Where It Comes From and Part 5: What's a Real Job?.
That voice in your head. Maybe it's your college roommate who eventually got her MBA. She's whispering and she won't shut up. “You have to spend money to make money.”
You know, that voice.
The kicker is, you know she's right. From the most basic business cards to the most elaborate craft-fair setups, being in business costs money. Graphic design, web design, copywriting, editing, photography, PayPal fees, Etsy fees, credit-card processing fees, printing, advertising, application fees, professional development courses, networking events, conference attendance, packaging, shipping, travel expenses, marketing.
Rachael mentioned this issue in her letter in merely a passing fashion, which I mentioned in my previous post. But I wanted to highlight it here, in case you haven't thought about this explicitly. One of the more daunting aspects of struggling to make money is the expense involved. We can wing it to an extent – say, by making our own business cards from paper scraps and our own art, or taking to the tool shed as much as possible, but we can't negate the expenses entirely.
Which can leave us stuck, because who has money to spare? No one. So we keep on keeping on, feeling more and more like we have no options.
On my less risk-averse days, when I'm excited about an idea and I'm convinced it's a winner, I may spend the money anyway. For small things like registering a URL – which, for example, I did within an hour of coming up with Mighty Ugly – I don't give it a second thought. For big things, like hiring a graphic designer to make postcards for that project and then having them printed, I may mull on it for a long time before deciding I can't get away with not spending the money. On those days, I force myself to choose between continuing with a project as a labour of love that gets no more money from me, or with spending the money and kicking my business-generation mojo into high gear. (And then I print as many postcards as possible for the amount I can afford, in case that mojo ain't what I thought it was. I've been using the metric tonne of Might Ugly postcards for years, even though I'd like to completely redo them but can't afford to.)