Pros and Cons of Having A Creative Day Job
A year ago I didn’t have a creative day job. Quite the opposite, actually. I was working as a contract administrator, doing work that I hated, counting down the minutes until I could work on my blog.
Paycheck during the day, passion project at night. That was my jam.
But then I had a quarter-life crisis and decided that wasn’t good enough anymore, so I took a huge pay cut and left my corporate job for a creative one.
Now, here’s the thing. When I tell people (especially other bloggers) that I work in a creative industry, they always tell me how lucky I am. “That’s so awesome that you get to do creative work! So much better than being in a stuffy office.”
For the most part, they’re right.
But they’re also wrong.
So that’s what I want to share with you guys today.
You see, having a creative day job when you’re also trying to pursue a creative side hustle can be a blessing and a curse.
It’s got its pros and cons, like pretty much anything else.
Here are a few, for starters.
CONS OF HAVING A CREATIVE DAY JOB:
1. Your brain tends to get fried
By 4pm every day, it’s safe to say that my brain is fried. And really, how could it not be when it’s operating at 150% the whole damn day? At the advertising agency that I work at, I wear a couple different hats – social media manager and copywriter. And while I love what I do, it’s very much exhausting. I’m constantly thinking and creating and trying to be clever. And when I’m not doing that, I’m researching best practices and trying to stay up to date with the latest algorithms and trends.
So when I leave the office at 6pm, I’m a walking zombie. The moment I walk through the front door of my house, I head straight for the couch. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200. I’ll be lucky if I shower AND manage to feed myself that night. I wish I was kidding. Needless to say, that’s not very conducive to managing a blog or a creative side hustle. No energy at the end of the day means no progress, and when you’re trying to turn your side-hobby into a side-hustle, you need to be making sh*t happen.
2. You may have to work long hours
Creative agencies are notorious for making their employees work long hours. I mean, sure, they might list “team dinners” as one of the benefits they offer, but it’s only because you’ll be working until midnight. Seriously, read the fine print.
I’m lucky in the sense that I don’t need a sleeping bag in my office, but with a 1-hour commute to and from work, I’m not usually home until 7pm. That wouldn’t be a big deal if my bedtime wasn’t 2.5 hours later. But it is, and that doesn’t leave me with a whole lot of time for much of anything. Let’s see…shower? Make dinner? Relax for 5 minutes? Or work on the blog? Only rarely do I have the willpower to choose the latter.
3. Everything requires approval
This is probably the hardest thing about having a creative day job – specifically if you’re working on a creative side hustle too. Let’s face it, as creatives, we don’t like to be told that our work sucks. We don’t like to be critiqued. We don’t like that every single freaking thing we create has to be approved by 50 million people. I mean, what weirdo would actually enjoy that?
But that’s the reality when you’re working for someone else, right? Whether you work for an employer or work with clients directly, essentially you’re doing work for someone else and that means it’ll require approval. As a blogger, I can tell you I’m not used to that. I’m used to writing whatever I want, however I want to, the only approval required being my own. So yea, you give up that authority when you work for someone else. And as a creative, that’s a lot harder than having to take orders at a boring day job.
PROS OF HAVING A CREATIVE DAY JOB:
1. You get to practice your craft daily
Despite all the things I mentioned above, there’s really nothing better than being able to wake up and practice your craft. Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or a graphic designer, having a job that allows you to fine tune your skill set is absolutely invaluable.
See, as much as I bitch and complain about being critiqued, I can’t deny that it’s made me a better writer. I’m producing far better work than I was a year ago, and that translates into the writing I produce for my blog and freelance clients.
2. It’s like a non-stop training seminar
When I worked as a contract administrator, there were bits and pieces that I took from that job that helped me with my side hustle. I learned how to read contracts, negotiate prices, and I also perfected a lot of organizational skills that are necessary to having a successful blog and business.
But when you have a creative day job, almost EVERYTHING you learn bleeds into your side hustle and that’s a win-win for everyone in my book.
3. At the end of the day, you get paid to make art
In my opinion, this one’s the most satisfying of the bunch. Because honestly, how cool is it that we live in a day and age where we can get paid to be creative?
I’m pretty sure that Elizabeth Gilbert covers this topic in Big Magic, but every day I’m super grateful that I have a day job that allows me to be a creator. A job that allows me to bring nonexistent concepts to life through the use of words. And that’s pretty damn cool when you stop to think about it.
For those of you with a creative day job, are there more pros or more cons? I’d love to hear what you guys have to say!