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?.

Moo Giulia Mulè via Compfight

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.)

Tell me, what kinds of money-related growing pains have you encountered recently (or are you struggling with right now)? How have you come to best navigate this thorny issue? Are there projects you’ve had to let go because they were just too expensive to continue?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Em Star

I feel the same way, wondering if it’s “worth it.” I started an Etsy business on a whim in February, and as I try to grow it, I find I’m spending more and more money. Supplies to make new products, renewing listings, advertising…it’s all so much more than I thought it would be, and I’ve yet to make a real profit. I’m constantly plagued by worries that I’m wasting my time and my money. But then I get an idea for a new listing, creative energy is sparked, and I stop worrying for a few days while I work to get it on the site. Above all, it’s an awful lot of fun, so if I think of it in those terms, I’m really just paying for a good time. Which *is* worth it.


This series of posts is so perfectly timed for me, as my husband is going back to school in a couple months and I’m trying to look much more seriously at my business this year. Not that I haven’t been serious about it in the past, but I’ve always kind of gone down whatever path seemed right at the time, and some of those paths, in retrospect, were not good ones to go down, resulting in wasted time (and therefore money)… So I’m trying to make better decisions on what is worth my time and money now.

Just recently I made a big decision to invest (what is for me) a huge amount of money to show my work at the biggest trade show of the year – I was indecisive for so long, until I was forced to decide… It’s so much money (that I don’t have, so that much more added to credit card debt, big cringe), but it’s an investment in my business, and if I want to truly grow (which is my biggest goal this year) then I NEED to make that investment. So the money has been spent, and now I’m working crazy hard to prepare for the show the best I can and REALLY make it worth that investment.


Yup, TNNA – I just saw on twitter that you’re going too this year! It’ll be my first time with a booth, I’m so excited and nervous!

Lee Meredith

what the heck? I don’t know how I got signed out and then signed back in with a different account, but I’m the same person! I’ll try to get back to my original account this time… ETA well that didn’t work, oh well.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x