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DAVID DUCHEMIN

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST
A Financial Field Guide for Creatives,
Solopreneurs, & Other Anarchists

David duChemin

PDF Edition, September 2014


ISBN#978-0-9917557-4-5

Copyright 2014 David duChemin


All Rights Reserved

Published by Craft & Vision Press


A division of Pixelated Image Communications, Inc.

CraftAndVision.com

Visit our blog at


ABeautifulAnarchy.com
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 4
HARD BEGINNINGS........................... 7 GETTING OUT OF DEBT.................... 27
First, Change Your Habits............................... 28
CHAPTER 2 Spend Less......................................................... 31
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY.................16 No More Credit................................................. 35
My Story, Part One........................................... 16 Renegotiate Your Credit.................................. 36
Sell Stuff............................................................. 37
Make a Plan....................................................... 38
CHAPTER 3 Pay Yourself First.............................................. 39
BEER ON THE BEACH........................20
Q+A With Photographer David Kingham.... 41
My Story, Part Two........................................... 20
CHAPTER 5 CHAPTER 6
SAVING MONEY...............................51 MAKING MONEY..............................85
Spend Less......................................................... 52 Create Value...................................................... 89
Talk About Money............................................ 54 Create and Engage an Audience..................... 92
First Things First............................................... 55 Everything You Need to Know
Pay Fewer Taxes................................................ 56 About Networking.......................................... 100
Invest Your Money........................................... 61 Create Multiple Income Streams.................. 105
Choosing a Financial Advisor / About Craft & Vision..................................... 112
Dean Martin, Chartered Life Underwriter... 67 Scaling.............................................................. 124
Q+A with Amy Kerr CPA, A Word About Pricing................................... 125
The Accountant for Creatives......................... 77 Automation..................................................... 131
Sell Your Waste............................................... 133
Getting Creative.............................................. 135
Five Ways to Make The Money Stuff Easier /
Corwin Hiebert............................................... 142
Q+A With Comedy Performer, David Aiken,
The Checkerboard Guy.................................. 157

A COUPLE LAST THINGS.....177


DAVID DUCHEMIN

CHAPTER 1
HARD BEGINNINGS

T his is a book about money, written by a guy whos learned


the hard way while making a living as a creative person
his entire adult life, and written for other creative people who
would rather eat glass than talk about money, but have come
to the startling realization that they and their families have a
troublesome need to eat and pay bills, never mind the opportu-
nities in life theyd like to pursue. But thats too long for a sub-
title. Mostly this is a book about freedom. Where my first book
on this theme, A Beautiful Anarchy, When the Life Creative
Becomes the Life Created, talks about freedom in a much larger

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context, this book is about financial freedom, or more specif-


ically, it is a conversation about ideas that must be discussed
and considered in order to get our finances to the place where
freedom results.

Because I know of no other way to do it, Im going to be


painfully vulnerable (the vulnerability will be painful for me,
but you will probably suffer more from the number of words
it takes me to perform that simple task). So the first thing you
need to know is how ambivalent I am about writing this book.
Im strongly pulled between (a) my desire not to write it
because its difficult to talk about this stuff, let alone to do so
with vulnerability, and (b) my knowledge that not talking
about it has made it a topic of fear and shame, and those two
pressures alone are probably more responsible than anything
else for where many of us are (or have been) with money. Fear
and shame are not conducive to a spirit of inquiry. More often
than not they just make us want to put our heads in the sand
and hope it just all goes away. It doesnt. Many of us have tried,
and when we finally pull our heads out of the sand (or creditors
do that for us), we find the situation has become intolerably
worse. Enough already.

The other reason Im reluctant to write this book is because


its yet another voice in a choir filled with other voices talking
about money, many of whom (not all) speak loud about accom-
plishments, charge a lot of money to get in on the knowledge,

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

Fear and shame


are not conducive to
a spirit of inquiry.
More often than not
they just make us want
to put our heads in
the sand and hope
it just all goes away.


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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

making the rich guy richer and the ones who so need the
information even poorer than they were. It makes me want to
take a shower. No one should work for free as we all have bills
to pay, but the slick salesman with the million-dollar smile and
the hundred-dollar haircut makes me feel kind of slimy. Fortu-
nately for you, due to the lack of real effort needed, my haircuts
cost much less than that. Still, its hard to talk about the money
stuff without feeling like apologizing. My hope is that this sen-
sitivity has kept me on track, and helped me create a book thats
honest and helpful without so much as a whiff of snake oil. I
wont try to sell you a thing. Youve bought the book, and thats
enough. Perhaps it will help if I tell you right now that I have
no illusions about being an expert on these matters. In fact, I
think thats one of the things that stands in the way of so many
people getting their finances in order: the belief that, beyond
spending, knowledge about money is complicated and requires
you be an expertor the willingness to become onein order
to make sense of it. It does not. It requires a little humility to
acknowledge that theres much we dont know, and then the
willingness to consult and learn from those who do. Im not an
expert, just one creative who finally got his finances together,
is doing what he loves with his life, and wants to help others do
the same.

I have made my living as a creative person since leaving


college almost 20 years ago. I spent 12 years as a comedian,
then transitioned to a career in photography, eventually

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becoming a writer as well. I have learned my lessons about


money the hard way while pursuing my art. I cant imagine
another life so gratifyingnor as challengingas what I do
right now. I spend much of the year travelling the world,
making photographs, teaching, writing my books in small
Italian coffee shops or African safari tents. Most days I feel like
the luckiest guy in the world, but know that this did not come
easily. I was born into a distinctly middle class military family.
Post divorce, my mother spent several years struggling to get by
and keep her son healthy, and happy, and as unaware of our
circumstances as she could. I wore a lot of hand-me-downs,
and I am no worse for wear: I was a kid, what did I know? But
we didnt talk a lot about money, and when we did, it never
stuck. I now know that I would have to learn those lessons
myself, the hard way.

My financial problems did not begin for a lack of income. I


was always employed or self-employed in some way all the way
through high school. I was good at working hard; I was not
good at saving my money, nor at living within my means. Ill
discuss this later when its relevant, but for now its enough to
know that I dug my own hole, never really aware of the tools I
needed to dig myself out, nor did I know they were so close at
hand. Getting older has a way of compounding those mistakes,
much like the interest I could have been earning had I paid any
attention and saved my money. Anything Ive learned (and am
passing along to you), came honestly. If I can recover, so can

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you. If I can thrive, so can you. And that brings up a sermon


that I need to get out now or Im going to explode.

Nothing in this book works. They are just words. And this is
not Harry Potter where the words themselves will do a damn
thing. They wont. There are no magic spells. Nothing in this
book is easy. If youre reading this now and havent bought the
book, and youre hoping for a get-rich-quick book, the best
money youll make today is to put this book down. You just
made $10. Because money saved is money earned. I repeat,
nothing in this book works. Unless you do. Ive read a lot of
books about money in my desire to learn everything I could
about it. Some books profess to tell secrets. There are none.
Its actually relatively simple. But simple and easy are not the
same thing. If theres a secret its this, and I promise you, Im
not being flippant, Im speaking to my early-20s self: spend less
than you make. Save and invest the difference. See? Easy. But
for many of us, painfully difficult. The payoff is immense and
liberating, but its not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do
it. Sometimes its easier, no matter how big our dreams, just
to give up, buy the latest shiny thing to distract us from our
dreams growing ever-distant, and watch TV while we wait for
our ship to come in. There is no ship. The only one thats ever
coming in is the one we build ourselves. To suddenly switch
metaphors, most of us forge these chains ourselves through
our inaction and bad decisions. If these chains are going to be
broken, were the ones that have to do it.

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I wrote this book for people who want freedom. Freedom does
not come from money, but financial bondage prevents it in
many areas of our lives. I want you to have the freedom I have,
and to be as unencumbered as possible. You have dreams.
And while I dont know what they are, I know theyll be bet-
ter served without the bondage of debt and constant lack. Our
dreams are hard enough to launch without added burdens.
What I know is this: its not complicated, but its hard. And it
can be done. The hardest part is taking the first steps.

The first step is understanding your own relationship with


money. To understand what we do with money we have to
understand what we think about money. To you, is it, a neces-
sary evil? Is love of it the root of all evil? What was the tone of
conversation surrounding money when you grew up? Did you
grow up with a lot of money, and therefore never talk much
about it, assuming it would always be there, or did you grow
up surrounded by lack, and for that same reason never talked
about it? Did the words, rich or poor carry certain value to you
that has carried over into your adult life? I only ask because
what you believe about money will inform how you earn it,
spend it, save it, and give it away, and you wont work hard to
get any of that straight if you dont first acknowledge that you
want it.

Money is not the limited resource we make it out to be. On the


scale you and I will deal with, money is abundant enough to go

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Freedom does not


come from money,
but financial
bondage prevents
it in many
areas of our lives.


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DAVID DUCHEMIN

around; there is plenty for everyone (though not without some


honest hustle). Earning it does not make you a bad person, but
how you earn it might. A rich drug dealer is judged for how
he makes his money, not for having it. Having it and enjoying
it does not make you a bad person, but hoarding it and not
allowing it to make a difference in the lives of your loved ones
and the world around you, when it could do so much good
otherwise, might. I wont presume to tell you how to think
about money, or your relationship to it, but I will say this: until
you acknowledge the neutrality of money (much like our other
precious resource, time) and acknowledge that it is possible to
comfortably desire it, earn it, and spend it in accordance with
your conscience, as a thing of beauty, you wont make much
headway. Money is a tool for possibility, nothing more, but
great good and freedom can come from it. And great harm
can come from both ignoring it or loathing it.

Im an unashamed fan of the creative ones, the wild ones who


want to try new things, who want to shake things up and expe-
rience life to the deepest parts, and who want to share it in all
its wildness and beauty with the rest of us, through painting,
writing, software coding, poetry, and every other thing your
muse leads you to. I hope this book helps you sustain that
beautiful effort in some way, and that when it does, youll pay
it forward. It might help to hear my story in more detail.

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CHAPTER 2
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

MY STORY, PART ONE


On February 14, 2006, I walked into a trustees office and
signed bankruptcy papers. Happy Valentines Day. It was not
my finest hour and I had not arrived there by choice, rather by
a long series of choices. I finally got my spending to match my
income, but years of bad decisions had accumulated in almost
six figures of debt. Where it all went I now have no idea. I
always thought I was making good choices, those investments
in my life that would pay off when my ship came in. My ship
never came in. I now suspect I burned it to ashes with all my
spending. So when I walked into a credit counsellors office I
was at the very end of my options. There was no possible way
I could ever pay off the interest on my debt, though the princi-
pal was long repaid. It just kept growing. That day I was given

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options and sent to a trustee to work out the details of renegoti-


ating with my creditors. I was led to believe I had a few options,
but my trustee looked at my file and quickly disabused me
of that notion. Because I was self-employed, I had only two
options: go bankrupt this month or go bankrupt next month.
My situation as a self-employed comedian meant no creditor
would look at my proposal to renegotiate my debt. So I chose
next month, and spend the next 30 days wrapping my mind
around the size of my failure.

Signing away my debt was among the most difficult things Ive
had to do, not because I wasnt glad to be rid of it, but because
I was raised to lie in the bed I make and to be responsible. The
failure and shame was the hardest part. I will always be grateful
for my trustee, a kind woman who spent the next six months
recalibrating my financial habits and gently massaging my
bruised spirit.

Im telling you this for a couple reasons, not the least of which
is my need to be candid about the path I took out of debt. Its
not the way I would have chosen it, but if I had to do it again,
the way I did, I would. I should have been more responsible. I
wasnt. I should have paid my debts. I couldnt. But in the end
I dealt with my debt legally and in good faith, having tried first
to renegotiate that debt and pay it off. Canadian bankruptcy
laws required certain things of me, and there were a couple
debts the bankruptcy would not absolve me of, so I paid them.

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But at a certain point I passed a point of no return. I wish Id


seen it coming, but Id hidden my head in the sand. When I was
asked about my reason for bankruptcy, I wrote Optimism. I
could also have honestly written Ignorance. So when I talk
about getting out of debt and give you suggestions about deal-
ing with it, the wisdom is no less true for coming from other
sources. My own experience was a faster route. But know this:
however you choose it, the moment you find freedom from
debt can be one of the most amazing liberties youll ever feel.
Whatever legal road you take to get there, the road is worth
whatever is asked of you. Read the conversation I had with
photographer David Kingham for a candid look at a man who
took three years to pay down his debt and now lives on the
road, debt free and happily making his art.

The second reason I tell you my story is because, for some of


you, bankruptcy is an option. Not a big fan of the power of fear
and shame to keep us from making tough decisions, I want you
to know I survived. In fact, I thrived. It took some work. As a
man in my thirties, I had to ask my mother to get me a cred-
it card in her name because I couldnt travel and do my work
without one. I needed to show every dark corner of my financ-
es to strangers. I spent the following seven years with my head
down, waiting to get out from the shadow of my bankruptcy,
unable to get a simple credit card. But the good outweighed
the difficult. I suddenly had money to invest in my new
photography business, with those thousands of dollars not

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going to my creditors. I had my own financial advisor in the


form of my trustee. I learned more in those first months than
in all the years leading up to them. I didnt lose all the things I
worried I would, and what I did lose wasnt nearly as difficult to
release in light of the trade off. No more debt. Bankruptcy laws
are there to protect debtors, not make things worse for them.
They are there to keep you in the game. If youre at that place,
all I can say is Im sorry. But Im excited for you. The future can
be brighter than it is right now.

After my bankruptcy I began to experience things I never


imagined. I had a fierce desire to stay out of debt and made
different choices. I saved money. I began to read about finances
and ask others how they managed their money. I was hungry
to make up for lost time. I had more money with which to be
generous. I retired from comedy and grew a healthy photogra-
phy career that was shaped by the lessons I learned and the new
freedom I had. And I began to reassess my own relationship
with money. And then I went to Thailand with a friend, and he
said something that changed my life.

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CHAPTER 3
BEER ON THE BEACH

MY STORY, PART TWO


One of my close friends and travelling companions is an enigmatic
character Ill just call the Legendary H. Its not a secret code name,
its just what I call him. This story will show you why.

H came with me on a photography trip through Thailand. Wed


been there briefly the year before as I made photographs and
wrote my first book, and wanted to go back. Towards the end of a
great trip we found ourselves on a small, quiet island in the Gulf of
Thailand, living on a few dollars a dayenough to keep us in beer
and Pad Thai. We had several conversations over those few days in
the sun, but they all took the same shape. H was trying to get me
to drink the Kool-Aid hed been drinking for a while, the Kool-Aid
that was allowing him to travel the world with me while building

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his business and earning an income. That Kool-Aid was so-called


passive income. At one point he looked at me and told me he was
going to return a favour. A couple years previously, H had been
working full time as a company man while dabbling in his side
business. After repeated badgering from me, always self-employed,
he finally quit and committed himself to his business full-time. He
now lives in the Mediterranean and spends his days with his wife
and kids, working as he needs to on his thriving business.

Returning the favour meant badgering me to take a step I didnt


know I needed to make. He explained a simple formula to me. As
a photographer making my money on assignment work I could
only work so many hours and the market would only bear me
charging a certain day rate for those hours worked. In other words,
there was a very real limit to how much I earned. And, God for-
bid, should I get sick or derailed from work for some reason, that
income would stop immediately. He told me a story about a guy
who outsourced some research to an Indian firm for a few dollars,
then took that information, put it into an eBook and sold it online
for a reasonable amount. That eBook was purchased over and over
and over again, the money coming in 24/7, making the guy over a
million dollars in the first year. He told me that he himself was on
that beach with me only because he could afford it; he was making
money right then and there. A software developer, H had written
some code for which people would pay him, and the money just
trickled in. It was a good, faithful, trickle.

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The time has


never been better
to become
your own patron.


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You need residual income, Dave. Hes one of the few who gets
to call me Dave. And after that conversation he can call me
whatever he likes.

We talked about it more over the next couple days before we


dragged our sunburned bodies back to Bangkok and flew home.
His words echoed. And I fought. I didnt want to sell crappy
white papers and badly designed eBooks to people. But I slowly
realized that H was telling me about the possibilities; how I
pursued those possibilities was up to me. I could do it my way.

I went home and wrote my first short eBook. It was called TEN:
Ten Ways to Improve Your Craft Without Buying Gear. It was as
short and beautifully designed as the subtitle was long. I put it on
my blog, a growing resource for photographers, and sold it for an
introductory price of $5. To my shock, people bought it. Many,
many, people bought it. Then more. I never did raise the price.
In fact now, as a thank you, its now free. It owes me nothing. I
followed that book up with the cleverly titled, TEN MORE. And
sold that for $5 as well. Now, five years later, my accidental pub-
lishing effort has a name: Craft & Vision. We have over 50 eBook
titles from over twenty authors, myself included, and are now
creating video resources, and a bi-monthly magazine, all earning
over $1 million dollars gross annually. That income allows me
and the authors we publish to continue to do what we love, and
to serve an audience for whom we care deeply. It has been an
astonishing five years, and were just getting started.

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When I fell from a wall in Italy while teaching photography in


2011, I broke both feet and my pelvis and ended up in hospital
and rehab for a long time, taking me away from the assignment
work from which I earned a significant part of my income. Craft
& Vision, along with other book royalties and stock photography
sales, became the biggest chunk of my income and allowed me to
stay above water.

I believe that creative people can make a living doing what they
love. I do not believe its ever easy. But it can be done. The prob-
lem, or one of them, is that creative people often put too much
stock in their creative work, their art, and not enough in the
realities of business: marketing, sales, accounting, and basic
financial savvy. Open to immense possibility in other areas of
their lives, creatives shut down when its time to talk about
money and business. Thats a shame, because the romance of
the starving artist is overrated. I know great art has been created
in the context of hunger and lack, but its by no means a prereq-
uisite. The families of creative peoplethe innocent ones who
didnt sign up for thishave a stubborn need to eat. In the past,
artists found patrons to underwrite their living expenses so they
could create whatever it is they create. The time has never been
better to become your own patron.

How you become your own patron is the topic of this book.
It begins with gettingand stayingout of debt. Ill then
discuss saving money and leveraging that money, and end

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Open to immense
possibility in other areas
of their lives, creatives
shut down when its
time to talk about money
and business. Thats a
shame, because the
romance of the starving
artist is overrated.


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with a longer conversation about the possibilities for creating


that money in multiple income streams. I will keep the dis-
cussionone-sided as it isas honest and pragmatic as I can.
Philosophy wont do us much good here unless its grounded
and as actionable as possible.

One last thing, and this one might be a stretch. I need you to
believe you can do this. I dont much believe in putting it out
to the universe or in positive affirmations, per se. But I do
believe that what we think and believe has a profound effect
on our actions, and practically speaking, nothing in this book
will mean a thing to you without action. You have to want it,
and believe its possible, not because that will make a hill of
beans worth of difference on its own, but because without that
attitude youll never have the fuel to move forward. Action is
everything and only you can do that. If you believe you cant,
then youll prove yourself correct. We have so much potential,
both to make extraordinary changes in our lives or to sabotage
the possibility of those changes.

All right, lets talk about money.

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CHAPTER 4
GETTING OUT OF DEBT

Y ou now know my story. Im not particularly proud of it.


But I also refuse to be a martyr to the bad decisions of
my youth. I took an unpleasant shortcut, not because I want-
ed to, but because I could no longer exist the way I was living
and when I sought legal options, one was imposed upon me.
Im not going to discuss bankruptcy, but Id be a hypocrite if I
didnt ask you: are you sure its not an option for you? Have you
looked into the repercussions and not just imagined them? The
process and the consequences were much less fearsome than I
had imagined they would be. If you want to live free, you need
to get out of debt, then stay out of it. However you do it, so
long as its legal and a path you can walk with your conscience
intact, do it. Ill discuss other options in this chapter.

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Even if you are not deeply in debt, these principles still apply
to anyone who wants to make both a life and a living by their
creativity and wants greater financial freedom. As Ive said,
doing that is simple. Not easy, but simple. That said, this
chapter encourages some austerity measures, some of them
fairly dramatic. That should not set the tone for the rest of this
conversation about money. I live with an abundance mentality,
and will happily spend $100 on a bottle of wine when the occa-
sion calls for it. I have my own vices. I own nice things. I know
I cant have them all, so I make what I hope are wise choices,
but whats wise for mea vintage watch, for examplemight
be foolish for you. Thats a different conversation. Whats rele-
vant here is a different kind of spending, and right now, thats
about debt and extinguishing the flames that threaten to burn
down the house. Your house. Now is not the time to cling to
your desire for the nicer things in life. Now is the time to get
aggressive, to make some sacrifices now for a better future.
And as some of us got to this point because of our appetite for
the finer things, it might be time to exercise some restraint. You
can buy nice things again later, when you pay for them with
cash and feel good about them, not when they prevent you
from taking the next steps to freedom.

FIRST, CHANGE YOUR HABITS


This is not a matter of how much you make, but how much you
desire. It is a problem with our appetites.

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We all got where we are by virtue of decisions weve made. We


end up in debt by spending more money than we make. If youre
thinking its because you dont make enough money, then you
need to change the way you think about that, and own your
choices. It may be true; you might not make enough money.
But that money didnt just spend itself. Ill talk later about ways
to earn more income, but if theres one thing Ive found true,
its this: no matter how much more money you make, there will
always be the opportunity and the temptation to spend more.
This is not a matter of how much you make, but how much you
desire. It is a problem with our appetites.

Most of us live in a culture that doesnt make it easy to spend


less money and be content with what we have. We live in a
culture that defines us and labels us by the things we own, and
the brands we buy. We buy those thingswhatever they are
because we believe them to be the best, or we believe (perhaps
unconsciously) that they are the symbols of success that we want
to be identified with. On the outside, much of North America
and Europe looks very wealthy by world standards. We wear the
right things, drive the right cars, and own the right accessories.
And on the surface of it, theres nothing wrong with those things.
But when they are a mask behind which we hide, and they cover
up our bankruptcy, both in terms of our inner lives and our bank
accounts, were wildly divergent from the path were pretending
to be on. We have a way of seeing the things we want and the
things we need as the same thing. They arent.

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If you want to get out of debt, consider what got you there.
Everyone spends differently and for different reasons. But how
did you get here? What was it that compelled you to spend the
way you did? If you got there because of a medical expense and
live in the U.S. without health insurance, you get a pass on this
one. In most cases, the rest of us got here through a series of
purchases we could not afford. Take some time and do an in-
ventory. What do you own and how much of it was purchased
on credit? How much of it do you no longer use? How much of
it could you live without if it meant being free from debt? What
could you cut from your life and ongoing spending for a year
or two (or more) to reign in your spending?

If you want to take that exercise a step further, spend the next
month keeping track of every dollar you spend. Write it down
in a notebook, or add it to an Evernote file on your phone.
Keep every receipt. And at the end of the month tally the totals.
How much did you spend on your car and gas? How much on
clothes? How much on food? Entertainment? Break it all down.
Now get creative and brainstorm with me: what can you do
next month to cut that bill in half? If youre like me, you just
shook your head and said, Nothing. Half? Is he joking? Look,
most of us say we want to change. We just dont want to have
to change our behaviour to get there. This is going to be hard at
first. But if you cant cut your spending, you might as well quit
now. Its not forever. When you no longer have to service
hundreds or thousands of dollars of debt, you can go be as

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extravagant as you want, so long as you can do that without


going into debt or forsaking your savings plan (discussed later).
My guess, however, is that once you change your behaviour for
a time, youll become more attached to the resulting changes in
your life than your previous spending habits which prevented
those changes in the first place.

Know the numbers. I hate numbers. I like words. But you have
to know what youre earning, and what youre spending. My
guess? You might have a sense of the numbers, but you dont
know them. Write them down.

SPEND LESS
Now that you know the numbers, its time to get ruthless about
your spending. Every dollar you spend is a choice. How much
more money would you have at the end of the month if you cut
your coffee budget in half? I used to drink lattes and started
drinking coffee instead. Not only did I save money, but I also
lost a little weight. What would happen if you sold your car
and rode your bike to work? Im guessing youd save money
and improve your health. If a bike is not an option, could you
carpool or take the bus? If so, youd save both time and mon-
ey. The money you could put towards paying down your debt,
and the time could be spent reading a book and learning about
better use of money or learning a new language. What about
your groceries? How much would you save if you stuck to the

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

outer edges of the store and bought produce, meat/fish, and


dairy, and stayed away from the processed stuff? What about
restaurants? How many times a week do you eat out? Can you
cut this out, or cut it down?

Notice Im not asking if you want to. None of us want to stop


doing the things we enjoy; thats how we dug our holes in the
first place. But wanting to get on track financially without
making changes in the behaviour that got you off-track to
begin with is like hoping to get in shape without changing
your diet or your exercise habits. You just have to want some-
thing else more. That something else is your freedom. How
badly do you want it?

I know, you probably wanted to read something else. But theres


no magic path here. Even if you choose bankruptcy, you need
to change your habits or youll wind up back where you are. Ive
seen it. Its not pretty. Theres no point at all in working so hard
to create a blank slate if youre just going to write all over it in
red ink again.

I feel self-conscious writing this. It seems so elementary. And


its probably not new information. But the gulf between what
we say we know and what we act upon can be vast at times.
If youre serious about this, stop reading now and work your
way through the questions Ive already asked. Not all of them
will apply, and some of the solutions Ive proposed might seem

32
DAVID DUCHEMIN

wildly inappropriate for you, but there are ways to cut your
expenses dramatically and to do it right now. Action is every-
thing. Dont let the desire for immediate gratification that is
responsible for so many of our spending decisions get in the
way of your long-term dreams and the freedom youll need to
make them happen.

Heres a list of questions that came up for me in my own


evaluation of expenses while I went through my bankruptcy
and in the years to follow.

How much do you spend each month? Dont guess at this.


Actual dollar amounts are the only helpful answer.

How much do you earn, after taxes and the minimum


payments toward debt? Now subtract another 10% for
savings, and another 10% to put towards your debt. Whats
the number youre left with? This is where your monthly budget
comes from.

Can you cut car and gas expenses?

Can you make more meals at home?

Can you eat a simpler diet? Cut out processed foods? Drink
water instead of diet cola? Cut back on wine / beer?

33
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Can you change bank accounts so youre paying either fewer or


no fees?

Can you change your cell phone plan to eliminate some of the
features you dont use?

Can you either trim features on or cancel your cable bill?

Can you cancel your home phone?

Can you liquidate anything on which you are still making pay-
ments? You might take a loss, but the gains of no longer paying
for it can be put towards your debt.

Its not saving, per se, but can you sell anything you no longer
use? Technology loses value especially fast; if you arent using it,
sell it before its worth nothing at all. Apply the money to debt.

Can you make changes to your lifestyle, like moving into a


smaller house or taking on a roommate?

These are just a start, and your own lifestyle will suggest areas
you might cut out. Like pulling off a Band-Aid, it wont be fun,
but itll hurt less once its done.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

NO MORE CREDIT
This ones easy. Stop using your credit cards. All of them.
Unless you can pay off the balance each month, credit cards
are a liability. If youre not in debt and can use them responsi-
bly, do so. I love my credit cards because I never, ever, carry a
balance. But I use them to insure major purchases and travel,
and I earn several free flights a year to anywhere in the world
by using them. But I repeat, I never carry a balance, and most
of the time when I make a purchase I log on to my online
banking app and pay it off straight from my bank account. I
never use my card to borrow.

If your reaction to that is, I couldnt afford to live without my


card, then its likely the case that you cant afford it. For anyone
struggling to be free financially, credit cards are not a substitute
for responsibly managing your cash flow. Dont let money go
out unless it has already come in. Dont be fooled by your op-
timism and the promise that the cheque is in the mail. Things
happen (like reality), and the cheque might not come. You can
try to dig out any way you choose, but you cant create money
from nothing. Dont spend it if you dont have it. And by have
it, I mean that its already in the bank.

If your reaction is still I cant afford to live like this, then go


back and re-read the part about spending less, and make harder
decisions. Yes, it might also be high time to make more money,
but that wont happen quickly or youd already have done it. We

35
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

work with what weve got. And if you can cut your spending
and increase your income, youll have a little more with
which to chip away at your debt. But if you increase your
income without first changing the way you spend by taming
the appetites that lead to that spending, youll be no further
ahead. Youll just have more stuff.

RENEGOTIATE YOUR CREDIT


Everything is negotiable. If youre not prepared to declare
bankruptcy, theres another option. Renegotiate what you
owe. Consumer debt comes with unconscionably high rates
of interest. We consent to pay it with no knowledge of what life
holds for us around the next corner. If youre up against the wall,
theres no reason you cant ask the credit card company to change
its terms. You can start by asking them for a lower-interest card.
They all compete for your business. They know that if they dont
accommodate you that you can find another credit card with a
lower rate and transfer your balance. Cutting your interest rate
can save you thousands of dollars.

If youre too far gone for that, it might be time to talk to a credit
counsellor and ask them about helping you renegotiate what you
owe. In the face of you defaulting on a loan, most of them would
rather see you pay (as an example) 50 cents on the dollar than
nothing at all. Theyre in a risky business and they know it. In
fact theyve probably already earned back what they loaned you,
if not the interest, so they arent losing, just gaining less than they

36
DAVID DUCHEMIN

would if you paid things down for the next 50 years. Because this
option wasnt op to me when I went bankrupt, I still had a bank
loan of about $10,000 that wasnt covered in the bankruptcy. It
was an unpleasant surprise when they called to tell me this. But
Id been saving and I asked them if I paid $5000 over the next
six months would they consider the matter closed? They didnt
even hesitate, just told me where to send the money, closed my
account, and even thanked me for my business.

SELL STUFF
I touched on this briefly already and it bears repeating. If you
have stuff youve paid for, dont need, and can liquidate for
cash, do so. The trap here is a mental one. Its hard to let go of
something for which you paid $1000, for a mere $100. But dont
be held back by what you paid. If you arent using it, and its
not making you money, its a liability, not an asset. Ask yourself
what you can make better use of right now$100 or that thing
you arent using? But its worth $1000! No, it isnt. If you arent
using it, its worth whatever you can get for it. Sell it. Again,
especially if its technology: cameras, computers, phones, iPods;
all of them are worth less and less every day. If you can get $100
for it, thats $100 less you have to earn or $100 more you can
put towards your debt. Desperate times, desperate measures.
Dont be put off by thinking no one will buy your stuff, either.
Youd be amazed what people buy on eBay. Ceramics, books,
CDs, DVDs, old cameras, guitars, clothes. Ceramic gnomes.

37
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

One day it wont be worth the time spent to list, sell, and mail,
these items, but right now its cash, not time, that will pay off
your debt. Do what you have to.

Lastly, dont be put off by thinking its only $100, that wont
make a dent in my debt. Most of us got into our debt $100 at a
time, and thats how most of us will get out. You chip away and
chip away. It can be done. Im watching my best friend do it
right now and he doesnt put $5000 towards his debt at a time,
but constant, manageable, payments. After years of being faith-
fully committed to this routine, hes now mere months away
from being free of his debt, and those small payments will be
free to go to saving and investing.

MAKE A PLAN
I admit Im not much a fan of long-range plans. Life seems to
always get in the way. But finances are different, and like most
things, if you dont make it happen, it wont. Now is the time, so
soon after youve done the previous exercises (you did do them,
didnt you?) to make a plan. I suggest putting 10% of your in-
come, as a starting point, aside to pay off debt, above and beyond
your existing debt payments. And then put another 10% into a
savings account as an emergency fund. Why not put 20% aside
to debt, especially as the debt incurs high interest? Because you
need an emergency fund and without a buffer youll just use
the credit card when the unexpected occurs. Now is the time

38
DAVID DUCHEMIN

to start better habits. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? The


first financial book I ever read (and many thereafter) suggested
that most people can put aside 10% and not miss it too much. If
it helps, do that for a few months first, then increase it to 20%.
Now do the math. How much debt will you have paid down in
a year, and how much will you have in savings? In The Richest
Man in Babylon, George S. Clason suggests putting 10% aside for
savings, living on 70%, and putting the remaining 20% against
debt. Dave Ramsey is also solid resource on this topic, check out
his Debt Snowball Method for another approach, mentioned in
David Kinghams profile at the end of this chapter.

Whatever approach you use, its less about the details and all
about action that works for you. Feels like possibility, doesnt it?

PAY YOURSELF FIRST


Id bet that this one is found in every book about money youll
ever read. Its crucial. That 20% youve just committed to saving
and paying down debt? It has to come off the top, before
anything else, when your paycheque comes in. If you wait to
pay into those with whats left over, youll never do it. There is
never anything left over. Pay yourself first. Always. And dont
ever allow yourself an exception to the rule. In this case, pay
yourself means your 10% for the emergency fund and your 10%
above and beyond your minimum payments that service your
consumer debt. This is the big rocks first principle at play.
Make your biggest priority your first priority. Then use the rest.

39
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Get creative. This will force you to be less compromising about


some of the things you cant afford. Better to take care of the
important stuff and not have money for the bottle of wine you
want, than the other way around.

Theres no secret. Pay off the smallest debts first and itll give you
a sense of accomplishment and prove to you that this can be
done. Then move on to the next one. Then the next one. I know
this works because Ive done it. I didnt go straight from debt to
bankruptcy. I fought down some of my debts and while I didnt
clear the biggest obstacles before bankruptcy, I cleared several of
them. Most people arent foolish enough to get as deep into debt
as I was, and even that deep, I was determined to go down fight-
ing. If youre dealing with $20,000 to $30,000 of debt, you can
probably clear it in less than three years, even fewer if you rene-
gotiate and implement some of the ideas in Chapter 6. And then
itll be gone. It wont feel like it some days, but that three years
will go fast. And it beats the alternative, which is a perpetual debt
that just drags on and on. The freedom after those three years, or
however long it takes you, will blow your mind.

40
DAVID DUCHEMIN

Q&A WITH
PHOTOGRAPHER
DAVID KINGHAM

David Kingham is a photographer with whom I recently met on his way


through Vancouver, living nomadically with his dog. He is now published
by Craft & Vision, my online publishing company, and I thought his story
astonishing. I asked him if hed be willing to share it, and was surprised by
both his willingness and his candor. Here is that conversation. You can find
Davids work and his blog at DavidKinghamPhotography.com.

You are now making a In total, I had over $300,000 of debt, but
full-time living as a $200,000 of this was a mortgage on my
photographer, but in home, which I was extremely fortunate to
order to do that you sell days before the recession started. On top
got rid of all your debt.
of this, I had auto loans totaling $60,000, a
loan on a camper for $10,000, $20,000 in
How much debt did
you have? credit card debt, and finally a second mort-
gage on my home for $10,000. I was living
the American Dream with full force.

41
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Thats a staggering debt Once I made the decision it took around


to clear completely; how three years.
long did it take you to pay
it all down?

Did you take other Absolutely. Without a drastic change in


measures like changing lifestyle, this would have never been
your spending? possible. To continue the old habits would
mean being stuck in the same old rut. I
forced myself to live like a hermit during
this time; I no longer went out for dinners,
movies, or drinks unless it was a special
occasion, and by this I mean once a month,
at the most. I instead focused this time
on my craft. Those reading this may worry
that they will lose their friends; while I cer-
tainly did lose a few, I also learned who my
true friends were, not those who were only
around for good times.

42
DAVID DUCHEMIN

What led to this debt and Like most people, as my income rose, my
how did you change those spending followed proportionately. We
behaviours or habits? tend to think we will get ahead with the
next promotion, the next raise. We chase
it, thinking things will be different when
we have all that extra money lying around,
and once that happens we will be free to
travel, to do the things we love. What hap-
pens in reality is bleak: we get that raise
and our consumer-driven minds want the
next great thing; a shiny new car, a bigger
house; more toys. We think owning these
things will bring us joy, but instead they
own us. We continue living paycheque to
paycheque, while our feelings of fulfill-
ment from those things goes down.

How did you repay the debt I avoid using credit at all costs. If I don't
and what kind of resources have the cash to buy something, I will
did you make use of? simply wait. I admit, I'm not perfect. I still
struggle with beast of desire. I still want
the newest iPhone, a new camera, lens,
etc. The difference is, I can see the tempta-
tion now. In the past, I was blindly buying

43
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

whatever I wanted with little hesitation.


Now I can stop myself before I make an
impulsive purchase, and take some time to
stew on the thought: do I really need this,
or do I just want it? I also make quality
purchases now. For example, rather than
buying a cheap pair of hiking boots that
I will have to replace every year, I will
instead buy the highest quality boots that
will likely last 10 years. This requires time
to research. I've been burned by only buy-
ing the most expensive option, thinking it
must be the best quality. As it turns out,
this is not always true.

Debt has a way of I started by selling the things that had a


paralyzing us in inaction, loan attached to them. I sold my home and
Id guess mostly because rented with a good friend instead. Without
of the fear and shame a mortgage, utilities, taxes, maintenance,
associated with it.
my living expenses were cut from $2000/
How did debt affect you month to $400/month. I sold my prized
emotionally? What is the Chevy Duramax Diesel truck that I used to
difference now that youre pull my camper and ATV's. Fortunately, I
free of that debt?
had a zero interest loan on the truck, so the

44
DAVID DUCHEMIN

$800/month payments I had been making


pushed me into the black. With the extra
money I purchased my current vehicle, a
2000 Toyota 4Runner that had 160,000
miles for $6800 cash. I sold my ATV's,
something I thought I could never do be-
cause that was my escape on the weekends;
the thing I thought brought me happiness.
I knew sacrifices had to be made to create
the life I wanted, no matter how painful it
was at the time. Once the big-ticket items
were gone, I focused on the credit card
debt. I followed Dave Ramsey's Debt Snow-
ball Method of paying off the credit cards
that have the smallest balance and working
my way up to the bigger cards. This worked
surprisingly well because seeing those cards
paid off gave me hope. Each one I cut up
was a trophy, and a little more weight lifted
off my back. I created a customized spread-
sheet to track each purchase I made and
each bill I had to pay in the future. I also
used it to budget all of my spending, and
refused to deviate from it. This gave me a

45
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

clear picture of how soon I could get out


debt by maximizing how much I was paying
to the credit cards each month.

How has your life changed I felt truly hopeless. When there is nothing
as a direct result of being left each month after paying all the bills,
out of debt? it appears impossible. Without a dramatic

Whats different now? lifestyle change it is impossible. I would


ignore the mountain of debt, thinking
What has debt-free living
someday I would make enough money to
allowed you to do that you
pay it off. In the meantime I would enjoy
could not do before?
life; go out for a dinner, movie, and drinks.
I would deal with the debt later. I know full
and well how hard it is to overcome this
emotional block. The mind tries to avoid
pain in the present: such a powerful
biological instinct to overcome. We are not
programmed to think about the future, only
survival in this moment. I don't have an easy
answer to this conundrum. I can only advise
that you find joy in eliminating debt. I
personally do not find goal-setting to be

46
DAVID DUCHEMIN

useful, but I know for many personalities this


is the way out. Hitting those milestones can
keep you motivated since you can see you
are making progress in a measurable fashion.
I found joy in making the largest credit card
payment possible each month, so much
so that I had nothing left to spend on
entertainment; it left me with no options
to spend (only because I refused to use the
credit cards again). This would have been
nearly impossible without my spreadsheet,
which helped me forecast how much I could
put towards this. Mint.com can be a valuable
tool as well because you can set up goals to
pay off debt, save money and budget, and
it's free. With the right tools I found hope,
but ultimately it was the desire for a
different life that kept me going. Having
a purposea reason for the sufferingis
the only way to create change.

47
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Youve been there. Life threw me a curveball a few years ago


when I was laid off from a good paying
What would you say to
job. If I had been shackled by debt, I would
people wondering if this
is even possible? have been forced to find another job that
drained my soul daily. Instead, I had the
freedom to take a risk and try something
new. I was passionate about photography
and wanted to start my own business. At
that time, I had just worked my way out of
debt and had very little money saved, but
it was enough to try. It took time and more
suffering (talk about zero entertainment
budget). Now I have found a level of
success and a sense of freedom I never
imagined possible. I'm living on the road
as a nomad, a dream that seemed so far
out of reach it was silly to even think
about. I've found a deep level of happiness
and peace that grows every day I live out
this dream. If I had not suffered to pay off
my debt, I would still be staring at a
cubicle wall waiting for the day to end.

48
DAVID DUCHEMIN

Youre making a living Anything is possible. The only thing holding


as a creative / artist you back is fear: fear of the unknown, fear
and living a nomadic of losing everything. You must learn to let
lifestyle free from the go of control, for when we try to control
usual scriptsdoes
every aspect of our lives we fuel the fear.
all your income come
Whenever something does not go exactly as
from one place or
multiple streams? planned, we reinforce the feeling we should
not take risks. If you instead embrace fail-
ure, you encourage learning and growth.
Leave some things to chance and take bold
risks. I lost everything I had by choice, and
it was the best thing that ever happened
to me. If I lose what I have now, I will start
over and enjoy the new adventure. Losing
everything might be the best thing for you.
What's to fear? Jump.

For the first couple years I did consulting


related to my previous career to supple-
ment my income from photography, which
is a great way to get started. This year I am
free of that and living fully off of photogra-
phy. Within this I have a variety of income
streams, most of which come from teaching

49
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

workshops. I also sell prints, license


images, and I've written an eBook. This
year, I'm working on video tutorials on
post-processing, Lightroom presets, and
getting into the high-end stock image
market. I also allow my fans to support
me by making donations. I've found people
to be very generous when you are generous
giving your knowledge, plus I allow anyone
to download my full resolution images for
personal use at no cost, which is truly
appreciated by my fans. I will continue to
diversify and evolve, as sitting still is never
an option in this ever-changing market. I'm
not wealthy by any stretch of the imagina-
tion, and it's a constant struggle to find
the next source of income. It's an exciting
challenge that constantly pushes me outside
of my comfort zone. I am doing what I love,
and doing it on my own terms.

50
DAVID DUCHEMIN

CHAPTER 5
SAVING MONEY

I
learned young that I should save my money. I was much
older when I finally did it, but I remember the lesson. I
was sitting with my mother in the dining room talking to
a family friend. Bruce was a financial advisor and, I imagine,
was there to talk to my mother about her own finances, but
took a minute to explain compound interest, a concept that
blew my mind so thoroughly that I did nothing about it for
another 30 years. What can I say? Im a slow learner. But Im
doing what I can now to make up for lost time. If Id put aside
the money that was suggested at the time, Id have a million in
the bank right now.

All the financial wisdom on this is the same. Save 10% of your
income. Put it somewhere out of reach, and in a place that it

51
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

will earn more money on your behalf. One of the ways to do


that is with the power of compounding interest. Another is
through investments like stocks and bonds. But those arent the
only ways to save money. It begins with spending less.

SPEND LESS
If you skipped the chapter on debt and came straight here, go
back. Read through my suggestions about spending less money.
Learn how to make a budget if that kind of constraint is help-
ful to you. I like the bucket system. I dont use a strict budget
so much as one account, separate from my savings accounts,
that I put my money for monthly expenses. When that money
is gone, its gone, until I pay myself next, so I watch it carefully.
Whether you use a formal budget or not isnt the point. Its that
you are aware of what you can spend and you stick within it. If
four coffee cans on the counter, one for rent and utilities, one
for food, one for car, and one for miscellaneous, works for you,
then do that. I know Ive said it before, none of this is magic.
The wisdom is simple: its finding a way that works with your
nature, to work with yourself and not against yourself, to know
your limits and stick to them. Spend less. If youre looking for
ideas on how to do this, try searching the Internet for ways to
save money everyday or how to spend less money and see
what you come up with. Id guess you come up with hundreds
of ideas, from cutting your power consumption to cooking with
beans and lentils. Use the ones that make sense. This brings me
to another piece of wisdom. Start talking about money.

52
DAVID DUCHEMIN

Whether you use


a formal budget or
not isnt the point.
Its that you are
aware of what you
can spend and you


stick within it.

53
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

TALK ABOUT MONEY


If you wanted to learn a new skill, youd talk to someone who
already had that skill, wouldnt you? So why is that so many of
us are reluctant to talk about money, and to seek out people
who already have a more consistent relationship with money? I
still think its fear and shame, but the only thing that matters is
that you find someone. A close friend of mine had a so-called
financial advisor, really just a mutual fund salesman, who
barely had two coins to rub together himself. He sold mutu-
al funds as a way to make money, not because he already had
money and the wisdom to help others manage and grow theirs.
He didnt last long. It was that same friend who I approached
a couple years ago and asked if he knew anyone with money.
Not a little money, and not a billionaire, though that would
have been fine too, but a mere mortal, who had what I would
call well-managed wealth. He introduced me to Dean Martin,
and the conversations I had with Dean have changed my life.
Ill talk more about them toward the end of this chapter. Find
someone to talk to about money, preferably someone who will
not make his money off your dollar before you do. Dean has
become my financial advisor, and he invests my money for me,
but he never makes a dime until I make my promised rate of
return, a very different scenario from the years I invested with
mutual funds and almost always lost money. I can assure you
my advisors continued to be well paid. People get rich off mu-
tual funds; its just not the people investing in them. I digress.
This is just a sidebar anyway. Find someone to talk to. Read

54
DAVID DUCHEMIN

books. Become literate. Even if you cant read a stock index,


which I cant and have no interest in, at least start learning
about how money works. If that person is a financial advisor,
keep reading. Dean has graciously let me include a short guide
on how to choose a great financial advisor.

Want a crash course? Read these three books (For your


convenience, at the end of this book youll find Amazon
links to all the books):

The Richest Man in Babylon


I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Rich Dad, Poor Dad

FIRST THINGS FIRST


Life has a way of going sideways and diverging from our clever
plans: thats why you need an emergency fund. Most wisdom
says you should save an amount equal to three months of your
usual salary. Some say nine months. Call it a draw and make it
six. Or 12. Whatever you decide, make it your first savings goal,
and dont touch it. It might help to define emergency ahead
of time. Losing a job, or a health crisis; these are emergen-
cies. A sudden inexplicable need to go to Tonga is not, strictly
speaking, an emergency. Nor is a new iPhone. And if you do
deplete those funds to go to Tonga and then have a real emer-
gency, then youre screwed. Dont touch it. I suggest putting 3-6

55
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

months income in savings with your first 10%, then consider


splitting that 10% into 5% that goes into investments, which
can be as simple as a tax-free savings account, and the other 5%
either adds to your emergency fund, or goes into a separate ac-
count marked Tonga. However you do it, make sure you dont
lock it away, but make sure you dont touch it until the shit hits
the fan. And if you never have an emergency, and that fund
keeps growing, and youre not sure what to do with all that
money, well thats a problem Id wish on anyone.

PAY FEWER TAXES


One of my frustrations as a Canadian, living in a shrinking
world in which information flows freely over borders, is that
the bulk of financial information, especially about an issue
like taxation, is so country-specific. Usually that country is the
United States. So in order to keep this information as helpful as
possible to everyone, Im going to talk in generalities. This is re-
ally a book about possibility, not about the specifics of tax law.
A little time spent online, or even better, with an accountant,
will serve you well.

Unless you want to get into games of cat and mouse, or offshore
accounts, you have to pay your taxes. That doesnt, however,
mean you cant pay fewer of them.

It blew my mind (this happens a lot) when I found out that


incorporating meant creating a legal entity that was allowed

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

to pay considerably less tax, in terms of percentage of income,


than I had to pay as an individual. It cost me something like
$1500 to set up a simple corporation, and in my first year that
saved me many times that amount in what Id normally have
paid in tax. My finances are super simple. I hate complications.
My accountant does two sets of tax returns for me at the end
of the year: my personal return, and my corporate return. Its
not fancy or messy. But heres the beauty: corporations are
taxed less than individuals (savings #1), but income earned by
individuals as dividends from a corporation are also taxed less
than normal income (savings #2). So my company takes in all
the income and pays less tax. My savings and investments stay
in the company because, well, its my company. No one else
owns a share. And my personal income is taken as dividends.
Whatever I save personally, I do with a TFSA (Tax Free Savings
Accountin the U.S., similar to a Roth IRA) and I have mon-
ey in RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Planin the U.S.,
similar to a 401K) , though I dont buy RRSPs now because if
you earn your income from dividends in Canada you dont
have an RRSP allowance, which is fine because youre saving
significantly elsewhere.

If you make money on your own through a growing side


business (and I assume you either are either currently doing
so or will be), then discuss incorporating with your accountant
sooner rather than later. Now may not be the time, but you can
plan for that time and make the most of it when it comes.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

If you still earn a salary from a so-called regular job, have a


conversation with your accountant about maximizing your
RRSP / 401K and TFSA / Roth IRA contributions. A couple
years ago I asked my accountant what my RRSP contribution
limit was and if it was worth doing. He laughed at me. Hes a
nice man, but he laughed at me. David, he said, you can put
$30,000 into an RRSP this year, and if you do that your imme-
diate tax savings will be $11,000. Eleven. Thousand. Dollars.
Thats an immediate return of over 30% on an investment,
never mind what that $30K is earning for me in interest and
dividends. Ill say it again, talk to your accountant. And read
the conversation with Amy Kerr, a CPA who specializes in
working with artists and creatives, at the end of this chapter.

There are other ways to maximize tax savings. Being self-


employed makes it easy and as its creative people for whom
this book was written, that shouldnt be hard. First, talk to your
accountant. Laws differ from place to place. But dont miss out
on the chance to make a write-off of your business activities. If
you have an office or studio in your home, you should be able
to deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage. If you use your
car for income-generating activities, log your miles and keep
your receipts, and write a portion off. Every bit helps. Are you a
photographer? You can write off all, or part of, your gear, your
magazine subscriptions, your office supplies, even your travel.
That right there is why I love the idea of an integrated life. My
play is my work, my work is my play. I love what I do and do

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

what I love, and most of my life is a legitimate, well-document-


ed, tax deduction. The savings are not insignificant. And even if
you do this part time, you can not only be earning extra money,
but getting tax advantages you can leverage to put more of the
money you earn into the bank.

Another sidebar: stop messing around. Get an accountant. I


know, its not sexy money, but an accountant you trust is gold,
baby. They know much, much more than most of us about
money, possibilities, and the ins and outs of tax laws. They can
help you assess the health of your situation, both personally
and as a business, and give you new ideas. And they can kick
your ass when you need it. Other than getting an accountant
you trust, my only further suggestion is to get one who under-
stands your ethics. If you want to run your finances squeaky
clean, with no skeletons in the closet, you need someone whos
not going to betray that desire and get creative with the books.
Its important to me that my accountant know that I want all
income disclosed and that I want any potential audit to cost me
as little financially and emotionally as possible. I will not live in
fear and the best way to do that is to stay squeaky clean. It all
comes down to trust. Dont find your accountant in the Yellow
Pages: get a recommendation from someone you trust.

This is a subject about which whole books are written. I dont


know enough to fill even one of them. But I know who to talk
to to discuss the possibilities, and I urge you to do the same.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Please note, Im not suggesting anyone avoid taxes, just legally


minimize them. Lord knows I still pay the Canadian tax man
plenty of money (and more each year), but I now save tens of
thousands of dollars Id otherwise have to pay, and that money
can be used to earn more when its in my own accounts. And
every new dollar that my money earns from me is one more
dollar I dont have to earn somewhere else. It will earn without
any help from me. Once in a while Ill rearrange my investments
to make sure they reflect the diversity and level of risk Im willing
to live with in my investments, but otherwise its truly passive
income and its only earning because I did what I could to keep
it out of the tax mans coffers and safely within mine.

Your next steps?

Read the Q+A with Amy Kerr at the end of this chapter.
Get an accountant.
Discuss incorporation if it applies.
Maximize your write-offs.
Maximize your tax savings through vehicles like tax-free
savings accounts and registered retirement plans.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

INVEST YOUR MONEY


I started the conversation about investing in the last section,
but Id like to expand on it a little. First, I think its helpful to
understand what I mean when I say investing because its often
commonly understood to mean the stock market and investing
is, or can be, so much more. By investing, I mean leveraging your
money to earn more of it. Mostly thats the money earning more
of it all by itself, but not always. One of the best investments you
can make is in yourself and in your own business. When you
save $1000 to grow your business, and that growth results in
more than $1000, youve just realized a positive return on
investment. And if you go to yourself for that money instead of
a line of credit or bank loan and are therefore not paying fees or
interest, then that return is even higher. Go you.

Anything you invest in that makes you money is an asset;


anything that you invest in that does not make you money is
a liability. Its an important distinction. Creatives, and creative
entrepreneurs in particular, are given to spending money on
things we want and calling it either an investment or a write off,
as though that makes it somehow cost nothing. Buying a $100
tool that doesnt actually make you money, from which you get
a $10 tax write-off, is still a $90 tool you dont need. And if it
doesnt make you any more money, its not an asset, its a liabili-
ty. Liabilities are bad. But Im getting off track.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

There are a lot of


ways to invest your
money. Putting it into
the bank, however, is
not one of them. Not
these days.


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DAVID DUCHEMIN

There are a lot of ways to invest your money. Putting it into


the bank, however, is not one of them. Not these days. Most
bank accounts (a) charge fees of some kind, and (b) offer rates
of interest that dont even keep up with inflation. A standard
bank account is a place for storing your money, not growing it.
There are things like TFSAs, but at the time of this writing, the
most interest my TFSA at Canadas Scotiabank will earn me is
just over 1%. One. Percent. In a year, my $1000 would be worth
$1010. My annual maximum contribution to that is $5500. So
with a maxed out contribution, that would be $55 per year. I
dont have to pay interest on that, but thats a small consolation.
Now that doesnt mean the TFSA isnt a good thing, but I buy
my TFSAs elsewhere, not at the bank, and they earn me much
higher returns. If youre going to be given a break on income
earned through something like a TFSA, make it count. Do your
research. My TFSA money is invested in private equity and
earns around 9%. Its a little more risky, but as the maximum
contribution is only $5500 per year, I prefer that risk to the risk
of making almost nothing. (The concept of a tax-free savings
account is simple: you deposit after-tax dollars into it, but what
you earn in interest wont get taxed. So it pays to earn the most
you can with it; 1% doesnt cut it.)

Im nervous about going into too much detail about investing,


for two reasons. The first is that Im a young student at this
game and I dont want to recommend a course of action that
isnt appropriate for you. The second is that things change,

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

which is why you need to stay interested in your money, and be


willing to learn new things. At one point mutual funds might
have been a good choice. I wouldnt put my money into a mu-
tual fund because I dont trust fund managers to do anything
with my money other than make themselves rich. If I were
going to invest at all in the stock market Id take the advice of
one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, and put
my money into index funds (which will be the next thing I do
to diversify my savings investments). Index funds allow your
investment in them to grow with the average of the entire stock
exchange in which youve invested, which has always had a
long-term historical gain. Unlike one stock here or there or a
few stocks chosen by a fund manager, an index fund covers the
gamut. If its good enough for Warren Buffett, its good enough
for me. In 2014 he told his heirs to put their inheritance in
index funds when hes gone. It doesnt get better than that.

I follow a couple rules for investing, all taken from wiser


financial minds than mine. The first is diversity: I wont put
all my eggs in one basket. I found someone I trust to help me
purchase my investments and they cover a variety of sectors.
The second is risk: I wont risk more than Im willing to lose.
I keep half my (non-emergency fund) savings in very conser-
vative places, and half goes to places with a little more risk. So
far those investments average around 10% per annum or more.
The third is complexity: I wont invest in something I dont
understand at least in simple terms. If I dont get it, its more

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

complex than I want to risk. The last is ethical: I dont want


my money financing child soldiers or conflict diamonds. As
best as I can I want my moneyand the ways I earn itto do
good in this world, and make it a better place. So where am I
putting my savings to invest them? Right now most of it is tied
up in private equity, in things like real estate, solar energy, and
commercial lending. I get dividends around 10%, and when the
funds are sold, I get a piece of the action. As I get older Ill put
more of my money into investments that promise a little less
but are safer, because Ill have less time to recover from a loss.

I told you I wouldnt go into much detail. My hope is that Ive


given you enough to see that there are creative possibilities. The
point of this chapter is not to give advice but to open you to new
ideas and encourage you to find someone to help you invest. Do
some research, talk to someone you trust about investing your
money so it can do more for you than sit there collecting dust
and paying service fees. You can invest your money without it
being scary or complicated. Do your research. Learn from peo-
ple who have more wisdom and knowledge than you do. Keep
your investments simple, and diverse, and dont risk more than
you can afford to lose. As you get older youll likely want to shift
more and more of your funds into lower risk investments, as
theres less and less time and energy to bounce back from a loss,
but if youre careful and dont get too greedy, theres no reason
whatever money you squirrel away cant be making something
for you, compounding year after year and growing your savings.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Now lets talk about ways you can actively make a living with
your creativity. I truly believe theres never been a better time
to become your own patron and make a life and a living from
your art. Im not alone. Pundits like Seth Godin and Gary
Vaynerchuk have said the same thing over and over again.
We live in an extraordinary age and there is huge possibility,
possibility that has never before existed on this kind of scale,
with this kind of access. Technology has given us the ability to
own unbelievable tools of creation in a laptop we can throw
into our bag and take anywhere in the world, while connecting
to everywhere in the world anywhere theres a wifi signal. I have
done my work on beaches in Zanzibar, a boat in Antarctic
waters, and drinking wine in Italy. So can you (or your own
version of that). What you choose will, I hope, be consistent
with who you are, what you want, and what you love to do,
but it is a choice. Its not hype; its not magic. Its possible and
scalable and the stage has never been set so well for creatives to
make a deeply gratifying living, in whole or in part, with what
they do.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

CHOOSING A FINANCIAL
ADVISOR WITH DEAN MARTIN,
CHARTERED LIFE UNDERWRITER

Dean is my own financial advisor. Ive asked him to share


with you the same information he gives to others about
choosing a financial advisor.

The advisor you choose can make or break your financial


situation. These suggestions should give you some confi-
dence as you search for someone you trust to manage your
growing finances.

It is interesting to note that most people have never utilized the


services of a financial planner or financial advisor, even though
the vast majority clearly recognize the importance of having a
plan in place that will create specific strategies for wealth accu-
mulation, personal taxation and retirement. Likewise, a large
percentage of people rely on their workplace benefit plan for
life and disability insurance coverage, rather than consult with
a licensed insurance agent to gain professional advice specific
to their individual coverage requirements. Most of us agree that
wealth management and life & disability insurance coverage are
as essential as medical insurance coverage in ensuring protec-
tion for ourselves and our families. So what is it that stops us
from making our life strategy a top priority? Why is it that we

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

are more apt to purchase collision coverage for our automobiles


every year than to purchase personal health and life insurance
that will protect our loved ones? The majority of people that I
have talked with admit that they are reluctant to initiate a dis-
cussion on financial planning for one of the following reasons:

PROFESSIONAL FEES Most people have indicated


that they have no idea as to the costs that they may
incur when utilizing the services of a financial advisor.
As such, many individuals are reluctant to initiate a
conversation with a financial advisor for fear that they
will not agree with, or be able to afford the associated
professional fees that a financial advisor may want to
charge. Consumers are much more willing to consider a
product or service when they have some idea of the cost.
I can confirm that it is very difficult to source a financial
advice cost menu anywhere, including the internet.

LIFE PLANNING STRATEGY A solid financial plan


is the result of much consideration and planning and can
seem pretty daunting for many of us. Often, an individ-
ual does not know where to start or how to prioritize a
financial plan, and does not have the time to undertake
the necessary research to become appropriately knowl-
edgeable on the various components of the financial
planning process. The insight and knowledge of a finan-
cial advisor is essential in creating a viable, tailored life
strategy that is both affordable and simple to understand.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

FACING MORTALITY The 3rd, and in many cases


the most prominent issue that impedes an individual
from establishing a financial life plan is their reluctance
to embrace the notion that they may become disabled or
even die. No one wants to think about these possibilities,
but failing to create a contingency plan for either situa-
tion will not eliminate or alleviate the possibility that it
could happen.

Below I have included a bit of commentary relevant to the


above-listed objections as well as offer some additional insight
on what should be considered when selecting a personal finan-
cial advisor. This information is intended to equip the reader
with adequate knowledge to confidently engage the services of
a financial advisor that you will both trust and appreciate.

PROFESSIONAL FEES
You will discover that the rates charged by various financial
advisors may vary greatly and depend on the service provid-
ed. For example, some advisors will charge a flat rate of up to
$2500 or more for a full financial review. From my perspective,
I do not believe that a financial advisor should ever request a
consultation fee to develop an investment and/or insurance
strategy for a new or existing client. In fact, a client should
never incur any costs or fees when utilizing the services of a
financial advisor. The financial advisor will receive compen-

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

sation in the form of commissions from the various product


providers that he/she represents. Always ask the fee question
upfront when interviewing a financial advisor. Removing the
guess work of service cost should eliminate your reluctance to
utilize a financial advisor.

EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE


Choosing an accredited financial planner is a key aspect of the
selection process and will provide you with the comfort that
your financial planner has achieved a formal education on
investment and insurance strategies. Look for nationally accred-
ited designations such as CFP (Certified Financial Planner), RFP
(Registered Financial Planner), or(Charted Life Underwriter).
Be aware of institutional designations such as PFP (Personal
Financial Planner), a designation developed for the employees of
the banking industry that promote internal investment strategies
such as mutual funds. Every recognized professional designa-
tion within the financial services industry stipulates a specific
code of professional conduct and fiduciary responsibilities that
must be upheld by every designated person. This information is
readily available on institutional websites such as Advocis and
The Institute for Advanced Financial Education. In addition,
every licensed or designated individual is required to complete a
minimum number of hours of continuing education every year,
which is monitored by governing institutions in each province.
In addition to formal financial services education, a client should

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

also take into consideration a financial advisors relevant experi-


ence including past employment history and achievements. An
advisor that is new to the financial services industry may pos-
sess a wealth of relevant ancillary experience and skills that can
provide great value for initiatives such as the creation of wealth
accumulation/transfer or tax strategies. Consider all aspects of
a financial planners experience and education as part of your
review and selection process.

FINANCIAL STABILITY & INDEPENDENCE


An essential aspect of the financial planner selection
process requires the client to have a clear understanding of
the planners current financial situation as well as the business
relationship that the planner maintains with his/her insurance
and investment providers. Although it may be uncomfortable
to broach the subject of the financial planners financial situa-
tion, the subject certainly warrants consideration, as you, the
client, need to understand how motivated the financial advisor
is to make a sale in order to pay the rent. Granted, the majority
of people need to earn an income to keep food on the table, but
a well-positioned financial advisor will be financially equipped
to make ends meet rather than promoting an insurance or
investment strategy that is not in the best interest of the client.
Unfortunately the financial services industry is no different
than any other occupation that is strictly commission based,

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

which lends to the number of aggressive financial advisors


that you may come across. Your selection process should
ensure that you are engaging a financial advisor that is
financially self-sufficient and has planned for the hills and
valleys of a commission pay structure.

Of equal importance is for the client is to understand the


relationship that the advisor has with the financial product
providers which they represent. In many cases, a financial
advisor may act as a representative for a single insurance or
investment brand. This type of business arrangement typically
includes monthly quotas or minimums that must be met by the
advisor in order to retain dealing representative status with the
product provider. In addition, many investment houses charge
their dealing reps or agents a monthly administration fee,
which places the agent in a negative financial position from day
one. Institutional financial advisors are required to promote the
financial products and services that are on the shelf of bank or
Credit Union that they are employed by. Thus, a financial advisor
employed by a bank will promote that institutions suite of prod-
ucts including creditor insurance, mortgage insurance and mu-
tual funds. It remains obvious that it is impossible for this type of
financial advisor to remain impartial and offer financial products
and services that are best suited for the client. Rather, the advisor
is required to sell what is on the shelf . On the flip side, there are
financial advisors available that are not only financially stable,
but remain completely independent and have the opportunity

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

promote any financial product or service that they so choose.


As such, the independent advisor has the opportunity to create
a financial strategy that is best suited for each client, without
constraint or pressure to sell. It is very important to understand
the business relationship a prospective advisor has with the
product providers he/she is associated with.

ALIGNMENT
It is essential that the clients personal expectations align
with the skill set and philosophies of their financial advisor
in order to solidify a long-term relationship. The client needs
to be confident that the financial advisor that they choose will
always place their requirements and expectations first above all
else. For example, knowing that the financial advisor will only
suggest insurance or investment strategies that are appropriate
for the clients specific needs and risk tolerance is essential to
solidify confidence and trust. Investments strategies should
always pay the investor first rather than last, which is so prev-
alent today in the publicly-traded money markets and mutual
fund trusts. Insurance coverage options should be reviewed
and compared for coverage language and price, and should
make good and clear sense to the client. Ultimately, the client
must be able to respect, trust and appreciate their financial
advisor, and clearly recognize that the advice they are given
is always in their best interest.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

ERRORS & OMISSIONS INSURANCE


All licensed life insurance agencies and agents are required
to carry a minimum of $2 million of coverage (aggregate) for
errors and omissions that could occur in the course of doing
business. Alternatively, some, but not all, financial brokerage
houses that offer investment strategies and products do not
require their dealing representatives to carry E & O coverage.
The client that is looking to engage with a financial advisor
should ensure that the financial planner carries sufficient
E & O coverage at all times. Although this coverage is often
quite expensive, it is a clear sign that the financial advisor is
making sure his/her clients are protected should a situation
occur that may cause damage or difficulty for the client.

SUMMARY
The basic role of a financial advisor is to develop strategies for
their clients that will result in the accumulation, protection and
transference of wealth during the clients lifetime or at death.
This process is accomplished by implementing a well-structured
financial plan which is regularly reviewed and amended to reflect
changes in the clients personal situation such as marriage, chil-
dren, business initiatives, investment strategies and retirement.
A sound financial strategy will involve other professionals such
as the clients accountant and legal representative. The financial
advisor/planner is ultimately accountable for the creation, imple-
mentation and success of the clients financial plan, and as such

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

is required to remain current and in contact with each client. It is


essential that the client meets with their financial advisor as least
once each year for a formal discussion and review of the financial
strategy. New information, ideas and amendments to the clients
financial plan can be initiated during the formal meeting with
their advisor.

Additionally, the financial advisor should check in with their


clients at least every quarter, even though there may be noth-
ing new to report or discuss. Regular communication between
the financial advisor and client will strengthen the relationship,
enhancing the bond of trust and confidence. The client should
expect much from the individual that he/she appoints as their
personal financial advisor. After all, the client is placing their
financial future in the hands of their financial planner. The finan-
cial planner must be expected to work strategically and diligently
for each client in order to solidify and maintain the clients trust
and confidence. Clear and concise interaction is also a key com-
ponent of a successful client/advisor relationship.

Ultimately, a professional financial advisor will always recognize


that the ultimate reward that can be bestowed by a client is that
of a new introduction or referral. A loyal and appreciative client
will always be more than happy to promote the individual that
has been instrumental in assisting them to achieve their finan-
cial goals and prosperity. A great and enduring client/advisor

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

relationship is truly an exciting and essential component of the


world we live in today.

I hope that this information has equipped you with the confi-
dence to select a financial advisor that aligns with your goals and
values. Start planning your financial future today!

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

Q&A WITH
AMY KERR CPA,
THE ACCOUNTANT
FOR CREATIVES

Amy Kerr, The Accountant for Creatives (AmyKerrCPA.com), is a life-long


creative with an uncanny ability with numbers. Her understanding of the
ins-and-outs of accounting and the very specific needs of creative clients,
gives her unique insight into an audience that is passionate about what
they do but often reluctant to talk or learn about how to make the most of
their money. Amy graciously took time to have a conversation with me in
the hopes that you make use of this wisdom and advice. Amy can be found
online through her blog, and newsletter, in which she shares tax tips, and
due-date reminders, and offers consulting in addition to the more standard
offerings of a CPA.

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Creative people and When a creative entrepreneur takes the


solopreneurs tend to be plunge and hires an accountant, they can
very good at the creative stop stressing about the accounting and tax
stuff, and less pro-active side of their business and put more energy
about the financial stuff.
back into the part they love the creative
What advantages do
part. An accountant can remind creatives
creative entrepreneurs
access when they hire an about tax deadlines, assist in the case of a

accountant? At what point stressful audit, and be a resource for you to


are they losing more money ask questions to as you continue to learn
than theyre saving by not more and more about accounting and tax.
hiring an accountant?
Theres a point where youre spending so
much time researching and trying to under-
stand tax laws, deductions and thats the
time to call in an expert. A question, like
How to deduct business mileage? may
take you several hours to research, and it
may take your accountant a few minutes to
email you an explanation.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

As a CPA you see a side In my work with creatives, I find that it is


of things that creatives a common mistake to not plan for the tax
would love to ignore: due from the income their business gener-
the realities of financial ated during the year. By working with your
decisions. What are the
accountant throughout the year and not
most common financial
just when your tax return is due, a plan can
mistakes or omissions you
see creatives making? be made so taxes are paid in periodically or
money is saved in anticipation of the taxes
being due.

Are there best practices that Its easy, even for me, to want to put off the
you see creatives commonly bookkeeping and focus on income-generating
neglecting or ignoring con- activities. The problem is that this makes tax
cerning tax time? time incredibly stressful because not only will
you likely have a large payment due, you also
have to set aside a huge chunk of time to
organize a years worth of income and
expenses. By setting aside an hour each week,
or a couple hours a month, to get your book-
keeping squared away, you can see how your
business is performing throughout the year
and you wont have an overwhelming amount
of work to do at the end of the year.

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Many creatives do what There are a couple deductions some creatives


they love on a part-time forget to take or are nervous to take in fear
basis. Are there exemptions they will cause an audit. The first is car and
or write-offs they could truck expense. This can be calculated by
be taking advantage of
adding up all auto expenses and deducting
that they might never
a percentage of the total amount or it can
have considered?
be simply calculated by tracking all business
miles you drive. It takes discipline to track
each business trip and the business purpose,
but with the help of smart phone apps, some
of the hassle has been lessened.

The other deduction is for the home office.


I hear time and again that the creative
entrepreneur would rather just not take the
deduction because theyre nervous it will
cause an audit. With more and more people
working for themselves and working from
home, this deduction does not raise
eyebrows with the IRS like it has been
rumored to in the past. It requires a little
work in tracking home utilities, repairs, and
other home expenses, but it will be worth it
if youre able to lower your taxable income.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

What kind of tax There are several retirement savings


savings are your clients options available to self-employed
commonly missing out creatives. SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs and
on by not maximizing individual 401(k)s all allow you to skip the
retirement savings?
tax on contributions made now, and pay the
tax later, when youre ready to use it in re-
tirement. Depending on the size of the con-
tribution, this can be a sizeable tax savings.
ROTH IRA plans dont get a tax break when
you make a contribution now, but instead,
you are able to let your money grow and use
it in retirement, tax free! Either way, if you
arent putting any money away, youre miss-
ing out on the opportunity for tax savings.

What kind of tax savings or If a creative entrepreneur is considering be-


other benefits can creative coming a Limited Liability Corporation and
entrepreneurs realize by in- they are the only member, they would be con-
corporating? At what point sidered a single-member LLC and would be
should they be considering
treated, for tax purposes, exactly the same as
incorporation?
a sole proprietor. If making the switch to an
LLC, there is a benefit of limited liability pro-
tection. This means creditors cant come after
personal assets of the owner to pay the busi-
nesss debts.

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When considering becoming an S Corpora-


tion, there are several factors to look at. As
an S Corporation, tax savings occur when the
business is producing enough income to pay
the shareholder employees a reasonable sal-
ary, pay expenses, and have enough left over
for distributions. While the salary is subject to
payroll taxes, the distributions are not.

Are there other ways Take time to learn about the business side of
creatives could be more your business. Its the less glamorous side of
proactive in their finances? being a business owner, but the better armed
you are with information, the better youll
be at making decisions for your business. For
example, thinking about hiring someone?
Knowing the difference between an employee
and a contractor can have a huge impact on
how you report their earnings and whether or
not you are required to withhold employment
taxes. While it can be necessary to hand work
off to others (bookkeeping to a bookkeep-
er, etc.) you still want to be knowledgeable
enough to question the person if something
looks odd.

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How much should creatives While everyones situation is different, I


be setting aside in anticipa- generally recommend setting aside (or
tion of tax time? paying as a quarterly estimated payment)
about 30-35% of net income (income
less expenses).

Are there online tools, apps, There are so many great resources out there
or resources to which you for creative entrepreneurs. A few of my
point clients to help them favorites are:
better track and manage TripLog, a mileage tracking app available for
their finances?
Android and iPhone that will automatically
start tracking your trip when you are mov-
ing 5 mph or faster. Thanks to this feature,
forgetting to track a trip to meet a client, or
a trip to Staples to pick up supplies doesnt
happen anymore.
Freshbooks, a cloud accounting program, is
a very simple program that pulls in your bank
transactions. Their app allows you to take
pictures of receipts so you never forget or
lose one and you can categorize it instantly
or while youre waiting at the dentist office.
Xero is another option for cloud accounting
and their app, similar to the Freshbooks app,
allows you to manage your business finances
outside of the office.

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A client just asked you 1. Keep your bookkeeping up to date, or


what three things she hire someone to do it for you. The power
could be doing right now from knowing how your business is doing
that would make the throughout the year, rather than just at
biggest difference to her
the end of the year, can be huge.
at the end of the year:
what do you tell her?
2. Make a plan for your money. This in-
cludes saving money for taxes, money
for retirement, money for expenses, and
money for yourself. Finding the right
balance will take time but you will learn
what works best through experience and
a little chat with your accountant.

3. Instead of putting receipts in a big pile,


organize them by month so at the end
of the year, if you or your accountant
needs more information about a specific
expense, you wont spend hours search-
ing through a mountain of receipts. I put
mine in document-sized envelopes la-
beled with the month but you could also
snap pictures and save them in Evernote
(another great tool for creatives).

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CHAPTER 6
MAKING MONEY

Disclaimer: I hate disclaimers, but feel the need to say that none
of the following should be misconstrued as advice. Ill tell you
openly what has worked for me and, I hope, give you some ideas
for further research. I have a pretty high tolerance for risk; you
may not. I get that. So when I talk about things like possible
places to put your money for this or that tax benefit, or I tell
you that I prefer to invest in private equity instead of the stock
market, please remember there are a lot of options out there,
some riskier than others. Your investments have to make sense
to you, and should come from a source you trust.

O
ne of my favourite moments in the last five years
came about three years ago while I was teaching a
group of photographers in Italy. We had just boarded

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a boat in Camogli, a beautiful little seaside town, to visit the


abbey of San Frutuozzo. It was a perfect day and I remember
wondering if life could get any better. In the back of my mind I
recalled that back at home in Canada my small team was re-
leasing my most recent eBook, taking care of all the logistics
while I taught my clients and showed them a good time on the
Italian coast. It got better when one of my clients, now a friend,
leaned over with his cell phone in hand and said, Your latest
eBook just got released. I asked him how he knew, and he told
me he just got the email, purchased it, and was downloading it
at that moment. On a boat. In the Mediterranean. I still shake
my head at this. I work hard, but its work I adore. And there in
Italy, I was doing work I loved, being paid to do it, and at home
my business was running smoothly and earning everyone on
my team the money we needed to keep doing the things we
love. If Id had a glass of prosecco in my hand at that moment
Id have turned to face Corsica where my friend the Legendary
H lives, and raised a glass in gratitude for the push he gave me
on that beach in Thailand.

All I can tell you is how I did it, and underline the principles
that I value as a creative who wants to make a living doing
what he loves. I have no slick techniques, and no promises. But
I have learned so much in the last five yearsand the harder
years leading up to themand Ill do my best to share them
with you without either bullshit or false modesty. Im proud
of what weve done. Im still a little blown away by the success,

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Weve built a great


business that serves its
audience with integrity and
respect. Were profitable
and growing. And best of
all, its exactly what Id
be doing if I had a more
money than I knew
what to do with.


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but Im proud of it. Weve built a great business that serves its
audience with integrity and respect. Were profitable and grow-
ing. And best of all, its exactly what Id be doing if I had a more
money than I knew what to do with. Money has no intrinsic
value to me. I value it for what it allows me to do. It allows me
time to create, to travel, to spend time with loved ones and
share the adventures of this too-short life. It allows me to be
generous and give to the causes Im passionate about. It allows
me time and money to now take, and even create, pro-bono
photographic assignment work for organizations I believe in
and want to work with. Money allows me to do that. For you
it might be opportunities for your family to travel together.
It might be the freedom to volunteer at a hospice or give to
cancer research. It might be the freedom and ability to send
a needy child to school, or go back to school yourself. Or you
might just want to buy a Porsche. And like me, it might be the
simple opportunity just to create your art and share it with the
world. Its these things I value, not money. But money gets me
there in ways nothing else does.

Heres what Ive learned and how Ive applied it. It is not the
only way, just my way, but its a good way, and it works . . . for
me, as well as countless others. Itor some version of itcan
also work for you.

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CREATE VALUE
Value makes money. Not hard work. There are a lot of very
hard-working men and women out there who do not make
much money: thats a different conversation. But you need to
understand this paradigm because it flies in the face of the pre-
vailing and so-called Protestant Work Ethic, and because while
hard work is important at times, its not the onlyor even the
bestpath to making money. Creating value is the right path
to making money. Unless youre on that path, hard work just
determines how tired you are at the end of the day, not how
large your paycheque is.

It all comes down to value. What do you offer or contribute?


What itch do you scratch for people that they cant itch them-
selves in the same way? And how can you do it so well, or so
uniquely, that they will part with their time and money in
exchange for it? Thats the big question. What can you create
that either serves others or solves a problem? What story can
you tell that theyll pay to listen to? Worry about how large the
audience is later; well talk about that next. For now focus on
what you offer. If you can serve a portion of the population by
solving a problem for them, even a problem as simple as bore-
dom, people will gladly exchange some of what they do have
time and moneyfor what they do not, so long as they value
that solution more than the time and money for which you
exchange it. Thats what has driven human commerce for thou-
sands of years. It used to be the barter of goods and services

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your ability to make me an axe in exchange for my ability to


raise chickens. You have axes and cant use more than one at a
time. You dont need more of them. But you sure could use a
chicken. For me its the reverse. We strike a deal and both leave
happy: two winners, no losers. A relationship of trust builds
and we continue to work with each other. You get to know me,
find I need a couple knives as well as an axe and offer to make
those knives if Ill give you some eggs. And then you need a
cow. I dont have cows, but I know someone that does. I make
an introduction. You two make a deal and the dairy farmer
gives me a bucket of milk as his thanks. In fact, he tells me I can
have a bucket or two of milk for every similar deal I bring his
way. The axe-maker too, he comes by and sharpens my tools as
his thanks, and then he tells others where he gets his chickens
and eggs. And so it goes. Nothing has changed. It really is that
simple. Make something of value, and the higher the better.
Find someone who needs or wants that thing. Then help others
do the same. Repeat.

I know you want to do your thing, get discovered, and watch


the money roll in, or some version of that common fantasy, like
just being able to afford to do what you do with fewer demands
on your time; but first step back. If you want to combine your
craft and commerce, you must first know what you offer and
why it has value to those to whom you offer it. What difference
will it make in their lives? Thats what people pay for. The big-
ger that difference, the more it meets some longing, the more

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What itch do you scratch


for people that they cant
itch themselves in the
same way? And how can
you do it so well, or so
uniquely, that they will part
with their time and money
in exchange for it?


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they will pay. Now would be a good time to start writing a list
of the ways in which you bring potential value to your world.
That, and that alone, though it takes innumerable forms, is
your leverage.

CREATE AND ENGAGE


AN AUDIENCE
I am a voracious reader. Several years ago I read an article
discussing an idea they called the 1K Follower Theory, which
to the best of my ability to discern, was first called that by Chris
Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine. The idea was simple:
if you can build an audience of one thousand true followers
(defined as people who will pay $100/year for what you create),
then you can make $100K/year, which, by my estimation, is
more than enough to keep most artists from starving. The math
is flexible. You could have more followers who pay less and
still make the same. Of course you could have fewer followers
who pay more, or legions of fans who pay anything from $10 to
$100/year. However you slice it, its doable, and very doable if
you have something of value to offer. One thousand followers is
a small audience in an online world that is connected like never
before in the history of mankind.

It wont happen overnight. It takes time to grow an audience.


And it takes a willingness to be transparent and vulnerable to
some level to grow an audience that is both large and loyal.

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If you want to combine


your craft and commerce,
you must first know what
you offer and why it has
value to those to whom
you offer it. What
difference will it make in
their lives? Thats what
people pay for.


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But if you can only pick onesize or loyaltygo with loyalty.


A loyal audience will grow in size, but the same is not true of
a large audience naturally growing in loyalty. The best time to
have started to find and build that audience was a couple years
ago because by now it will have become something special. I
started blogging (one of the ways Ive built a platform around
which my audience naturally gathers) almost 10 years ago with
a personal blog, which eventually became a photography blog.
Like any created thing, it took time and failure and several iter-
ations before it became what it is, and it grew all the while. But
the second best time start building your platform is right now.
You dont have to have a brilliantly designed blog. Seth Godins
blog is full of high-value content, all of it free, and the design
is as simple as it comes. You dont have to have a gimmick or a
product. In fact, at this point its probably best you dont. You
need one thing: the willingness to openly share with your au-
dience. You need a vision and a voice. The rest will get worked
out as you go. Hell, even the vision and the voice will grow and
change so dont look to have it all figured out. Go to Wordpress.
com or Wordpress.org if youre a little more tech-capable, and
sign up for a blog and start talking to your people about the
thing you do. Dont worry about keywords and SEO. Dont fret
about anything other than beginning: it will find its own shape
as it builds.

What if youre not a writer? Do a video blog or an audio podcast.


If you have a computer Id bet almost anything youve got the

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And it takes a willingness


to be transparent and
vulnerable to some level
to grow an audience that
is both large and loyal.
But if you can only pick
onesize or loyaltygo


with loyalty.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

tools to do this already. Maybe youre a potter and right now


all you can think to do is post photographs of your finished
pieces, links to other potters who create work you love, and
some thoughts about learning pottery. Do that. Maybe youre a
writer and you want to post your short stories. Do that. Just start.
For the love of all thats good, just begin. And do it now. Trust
Goethe when he says that boldness has genius, power, and magic
in it. Share your work. Talk about your work. Talk about your
process or your inspiration or your favourite artists. Somewhere
out there are people itching (and youre going to scratch this itch,
so be listening and be ready) for information and inspiration in
exactly the field youre so passionate about. You dont need to be
years ahead of them, just a couple steps. Willing students always
make the best teachers. Be a student and share what you learn.
Tell stories. Make people laugh. Make them cry. Point them to
others who do the same. And tomorrow, do the same thing. Find
others who are doing the same thing in a different way and share
the loveleave comments on their blog and introduce them to
your small but growing audience on your blog. The Internet is no
place for keeping things to yourself, including your followers: the
more you give, the more youll find that what goes around comes
around. Dont buy into the scarcity mentality; there is enough for
everyone. Only the hoarders lose.

As your audience grows and they leave comments, listen hard.


Are they telling you something about the itch you scratch for
them? Are they giving you suggestions about ways you serve

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Somewhere out there


are people itching
(and youre going to
scratch this itch, so be
listening and be ready)
for information and
inspiration in exactly the
field youre so
passionate about.


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them, ways you provide them value that you hadnt considered?
Can you do that more intentionally? Begin making a list (I keep
an Evernote file that stays synced on all my devices) of possible
stories, articles, links, and resources I can share. Your job is to
create new content and curate existing stuff thats already out
there. Thats part of the value you offeryou create what others
dont and curate in a way that others cant. Dont underestimate
the value of curation. Time is precious and if you can intro-
duce me to inspiration and/or information that Id otherwise
have to sift through myself, then youve given me something
of value and Ill return the favour, exchanging that for my time
and loyalty. In time that will translate into an exchange of what
you offerin some formfor my money. Because if theres one
thing thats more valuable to me than my money, its my time.
And I am not the only one. Remember you only need a
thousand. There are billions out there. Curation is not only
about time, its about the point of view that you bring, and the
ability to cool-hunt. If your audience likes you for certain rea-
sons they are likely to likeand find value inthe things you
like and the opinions that you bring to bear on those things.
Doing a book review serves your audience, anddepending
on what you have to say about the book, I supposeserve the
author as well. Serve that author in a visible way, with con-
sistency, and youve created a possibility for relationship and
connection. All of this hinges on connection.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

I can honestly say that


the best business
decision I ever made


was to start my blog.

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I can honestly say that the best business decision I ever made
was to start my blog. It has become a place of connection like I
never imagined, and is responsible both directly and indirect-
ly for the best business opportunities and relationships I now
enjoy. My best clients came not from my clever email or direct
mail campaigns, but through my blog. My best connections,
including the ones that led to my first book deal, came from
my blog. My blog, and the people that gather there, gave me
the ideas for most of my books because I listen to them when
they comment and ask questions. If people keep asking the
same question I take note, and if its something I feel I can an-
swer uniquely and with credibility, then I start thinking about
scratching that itch in a way that more people can benefit, and
in a way that I can answer more thoroughly than I ever could
in a reply to blog comment or email. Its not the blog thats the
point; its the platform and the audience to whom you speak.
For me thats blogging, and while I do engage in other ways,
my blog will always get my attention and be the place I give
back to the community that has supported me and allowed me
to create my art all over the world, and for clients that couldnt
otherwise afford me, through their patronage.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW


ABOUT NETWORKING
Relationships are everything and the more openly you
approach them, the more willing you are to touch and be
touched by other people, the more opportunities will come

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You no longer need a


publisher or a record
executive to tell you youre
good enough and to give
you permission and
opportunity to share your
work. The gatekeepers are
gone. No one needs to be


discovered anymore.

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your way, to both serve, and be served. Forget networking events


where everyone wants to give you their business card but no one
wants to take one. These events are low-hanging fruit filled with
people desperate to sell, not people who want to connect and be
truly human, which is the only real place from which sustainable
business relationships grow. Just connect. If thats on Twitter, say
thank you to people who comment and recommend you to
others. If its on Facebook, say happy birthday. Send flowers
and recommend the books or blogs or art of others. For every
relationship you have, ask yourself, How can I serve them? How
can I bring something of value into their life? And if you cant
answer it yourself, ask them. In a sea of people trying to get
something, its the rare one who tries to give, and rare people
like that stand out. Thats networking. Its not clever, and its not
strategic; you never know who youre going to connect with, and
assuming they may or may not return something of value to you
is a poor place from which to connect. Its human. The social
media world is only potentially social. Its a tool that can be
downright anti-social or it can be truly connective. Its not
important that you use it; its important how you use it. Some
people will find you, and you will seek out others. Look for peo-
ple who have more wisdom, more talent, larger audiences, and
wider impact, and find a way to serve them. This is how business
has worked for a thousand years, and for all our advances, its not
changed much. The Internet has shrunk the world back down to
village-sized and relationships are not less importantif any-
thing, they are now more important.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

The best voice out there right now about this topic is Gary
Vaynerchuk. I cant more highly recommend you read his book
CRUSH IT! and JAB, JAB, JAB, RIGHT HOOK. Hes razor sharp
on this stuff but hes also got heart. Tons of heart. Seriously,
stop reading this and at least follow the links and take a look.
If you can only get one, get CRUSH IT! Trust me. I re-read it
every year or two.

Blogging is not the only place to grow an audience. There


are creative people using Facebook exclusively to share their
work and feed their fans. Say what you like about Facebook,
there are people using the tool very well. The same is true
of Twitter and Vine and Google+ and whichever flavour-of-
the-week social media app is big right now. Anywhere humans
gather to connect is a place you can find an itch to scratch, an
ear to listen to your music, or eyes to read your latest book.
You no longer need a publisher or a record executive to tell
you youre good enough and to give you permission and
opportunity to share your work. The gatekeepers are gone.
No one needs to be discovered anymore. As Seth Godin says,
now we can discover ourselves and tell the world on our own.
The opportunities to share your work onlineand Im talking
about online sharing so much because its almost infinitely
scalable, a concept covered later in this chapterare mind-
bogglingly numerous. Musicians can be on iTunes alongside
their heroes. Authors can have their books on Amazon, selling
right next to New York bestsellers, and talk about those books

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In a sea of people
trying to get
something, its
the rare one who
tries to give, and
rare people like that
stand out.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

directly with readers on Goodreads. And if you want to give it


away, you can do that, too. YouTube is the worlds second larg-
est search engine. People will find you there. The opportunities
are endless. Share your work. Share your life. Serve people with
all the inspiration and information you feed yourself with, and
youll find an audience. They will come. Just make sure they find
value there, and theyll come.

For Further Reading (Highly recommended):



The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
Linchpin, Seth Godin

CREATE MULTIPLE
INCOME STREAMS
Once you have started to develop an audiencethe community
that finds value in what you offeryou have a proven platform
from which to offer more. I say proven because theyve already
been exchanging with you. You give them your creation and
curation and they exchange that for their time. If it was of no
value they wouldnt give you even that. Now you have an op-
portunity to serve them even further, and this is where people
get uncomfortable. Most of us dont like talking about money
and we feel slimy talking about charging for what we do. But
those of us buying from you dont feel the same way as long
as the value to us is high. Youre doing me a favour by making
more of what I love available to me. I know you cant do it all

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for free. Most of us know that. And if what youve been giving
away so far has been so good I want more of it, then Im
willingeager, evento pay you for the greater access. When
my favourite singer releases a new album I cant wait to give
him my $10 on iTunes and listen to it. More so if hes been
interacting with his fans online and releasing snippets or pre-
views on YouTube. I cant talk you out of this feeling, but I beg
you to somehow find a way to see it from my perspective as
your fan. You can only give so much without making a living,
and if I want what you offer, Ill pay, happily. Please dont deny
me that. Dont soak me for my loyalty either. If I wait and wait
and then you charge me $100 for that new album, thats stops
being valuable to me and probably a big chunk of your audi-
ence. Besides, it costs the same to sell your album to a million
people online as it does to sell to ten. Better to sell a $10 album
to 10,000 people ($100,000) than only 100 copies on a $100
album ($10,000), isnt it?

Just like investments, diversifying your income is smart. Better


to fish from several streams than just one if you can, especial-
ly if you can drop the lines in and wander away for a while. A
lot of these conversations talk about passive income; I want
to avoid that term because I think it misrepresents the reality.
I work really hard. I love it, and it feels like play much of the
time, but its hard work. Theres nothing passive about any of it.
Building an audience and interacting with them is hard work.
So is taking the time to listen, to serve, to create new work,

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

A lot of these
conversations talk about
passive income; I want
to avoid that term because
I think it misrepresents the
reality. I work really hard.
I love it, and it feels
like play much of the time,
but its hard work.
Theres nothing passive
about any of it.

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both the work I give away and the work I sell. It takes time
to stay ahead of my craft and be the artist I want to become.
Theres nothing passive within sight of it. More important are the
concepts of automation and scalability, which well discuss soon.

First, as someone who wants to make a living as an artist


primarily a photographer and writerit might be helpful to
show you where my own income comes from. It ebbs and flows,
and sometimes certain areas are more active than others, but
I work actively to pursue them all in some fashion. My annual
income is generated from these streams, in no particular order:

SPONSORSHIPS
My sponsorships are an exchange of product or money for dis-
closed, honest endorsements. I dont really do ads on my site, but
the principle is the same. If you have the trust of your audience,
and you have a certain amount of eyeballs viewing your site or
getting your newsletter, there is space and ample opportunity to
leverage that with the right kind of marketing partnerships. Just
dont do anything that would jeopardize or dilute that trust.

WORKSHOPS / SPEAKING / EVENTS


These arent even vaguely passive, but theyre a great way to
connect more intimately with some of my audience and the
money can be good. Some of the best money photographers
can earn these days is in teaching.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

CLIENT WORK
Mostly this represents assignment work as a photographer. Like
workshops and speaking events, I need to be there to earn. This
is where much of the fun is for me, but as a source of income it
can be the most unreliable and the easiest to lose.

TRADITIONAL PRINT BOOK ROYALTIES


I have five titles with Peachpit Press, all of which are sold in
a dozen languages worldwide, and two self-published print
books. The combination of print bookswhich keep me in the
broader public eye and carry a certain perception of legitima-
cyand eBooks (which have a much higher profit margin), has
proven to be a good one.

EBOOK SALES MINE


I have over 20 titles sold online by my company, Craft & Vision.
The beauty of the eBook is the low overhead. It costs me money
up front to create and administer, but then the profit is almost
100% and theres no warehousing, shipping, or inventory issues.

EBOOK SALES OTHERS


Craft & Vision publishes the work of around 20 other authors,
paying royalties well above standard industry rates for more
traditional publishing models. Weve created a collaborative
model that allows us all to be introduced to the audiences of

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

each other while making books we want to make without the


consent of gatekeepers. For every book we create and sell, we
keep part of the sales.

WRITING/LICENSING ARTICLES
I write for, and license articles to, print magazines and online
journals.

STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY
I have my work placed with major stock agencies, including
OFFSET. While stock sales arent what they once were for
photographers, there are new models that allow you to sell
your work without selling them within the micro-stock model.
Stock photography earnings are significant enough to be able
to pay for my gear replacement and upgrades every year.

AFFILIATE EARNINGS
Placing links to reputable online companies like Amazon.com
or B&H Photo Video allows me to earn while referring people
to products and resources I believe in, and in the case of B&H,
the affiliate commissions I earn go to charity and it doesnt cost
anyone any more than going to the site without the referral of
an affiliate.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

INVESTMENT DIVIDENDS
As I earn more, parts of my savings go into interest and
dividend-yielding investments that earn on their own. For
now, that money goes back into the investments.

Thats nine separate income streams, all of them connected, and


because theyre connected, they help feed each other. Someone
whos never heard of me might read an article for which I was
paid $500, then buy a $5 eBook from me, then order one of my
books from Amazon, and eventually come on one of my inter-
national trips. In at least one case, that reader then proposed
a book to me, and joined the family were creating under the
Craft & Vision banner. He now has several books with us and
makes a fine income together with his other photography and
teaching. These all work together, and the more streams you
can competently manage, the more diversity you have. If nine
streams could, on average, each earn you $1000 every month,
youd be earning $108,000 before tax each year. Thats the 1K
theory in action. Now let me walk you through the largest part
of my own income. Im not doing it to brag; so much of it grew
in ways we could never have anticipated (and its bigger and
more interesting than I ever imagined), but I want you to know
it can be done.

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ABOUT CRAFT & VISION


I could elaborate on all the income streams I listed above, but I
think the most helpful will be to unpack the one that has been
the most successful and is closest to the heart of what I love
doing. Its also a business model thats simple and easy to learn
from or even duplicate or adapt in some fashion, and it illus-
trates well the principles of scaling and automation that follow.

In 2014, Craft & Vision celebrated its fifth anniversary with 68


eBooks, a couple of print books, a couple of video products,
some software plug-ins, and two years of a quarterly magazine
which is about to become bi-monthly. I had no idea it would
ever become what it has. Our model is really simple: create
high-value, digitally delivered photographic resources for a
growing, loyal, audience of enthusiastic photographers. Initial-
ly, that model began and ended with me. I wrote the first sever-
al eBooks, did the layout myself, posted them on my blog and
quickly on a companion site I called Craft & Vision. I first sold
them through a service called Lulu.com about which I have
nothing negative to say, but they charged a lot for their service
and it wasnt scalable. Quickly I moved to E-Junkie, which cost
much, much less and provided more services and greater confi-
dence. Essentially my eBooks were stored on their servers, and
when I sold a product, customers hit a BUY NOW button that
took them to another website to process the payment. Buyers
were given a download link and the product was on their lap-
tops quickly and simply. The money for the product was then

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sent to me via PayPal. We eventually outgrew E-Junkie as well,


switching to Shopify, but they served us well for several years.
The beauty of all these solutions is the ease of implementation,
especially for someone without a credit card merchant account
or the tech-savvy that would be required to create and install
their own e-commerce solution. Shopify is a more complete
platform with even fewer barriers to entry, making it possible
to sign up for, tweak, and launch a site within hours, and be
selling products that quickly.

As people purchase our products theyre added to our mailing


list, which we manage with MailChimp, which we love for its
incredible integration. Whatever the solution you use, direct
mail ishands downone of the best ways to stay in touch
with an audience. But it needs to be handled carefully: because
there is so much noise created by direct mail, staying valuable,
and therefore heard above that noise, is a constant challenge.
We use our mailing list to offer not only news about new
products but to also launch giveaways and push people toward
featured resources and sources of inspiration. Everything we
do has to offer some kind of value, and not be merely a self-
serving mouthpiece that shouts me, me, me. Its not an easy
balance to find (and where that balance is found will be differ-
ent for everyone), but its worth finding if you want to maintain
the trust and loyalty of your audience. Do whatever you can to
nurture and protect that audience while also growing a healthy,
fat-free mailing list. In the beginning you can start this mailing

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list simply with a form on your blog, asking people to sub-


scribe in exchange for any number of possibilities. Perhaps its
a collection of free, beautiful, desktop wallpapers. Maybe its a
collection of poems, or an eBook of stories. It could be a tuto-
rial on something you know how to do, or anything that can
be delivered digitally and is of value to your audience. Begin
there and add names to the mailing list as new people come
your way. Hold an article or two back from the blog, and send
that to your mailing list as an exclusive, or do the same with a
password protected subscriber-only podcast. There are so many
ways for you to create value not only to your larger audience
but also to a growing mailing list. Scratch their itch, be selfless
about it, and theyll thank you.

Once I had a few eBooks, I realized that I had accidentally


created a micro publishing house. Wed learned some valuable
lessons and knew how to edit, design, and market something
great. We also knew that if my audience found value in these
products, theyd find value in resources from other photog-
raphers, friends and colleagues I respected and trusted. So I
approached them, letting them know what I had in mind. They
would give me the words and the photographs, Id design the
book and sell it to my audience, introducing both my audi-
ence to the new author, and the author would introduce his or
her existing audience to Craft & Vision. Slowly we grew, one
book and one author at a time, and each time wed expand each
others audience. The author and the publisher would split the

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Do whatever you
can to nurture
and protect that
audience while also
growing a healthy,


fat-free mailing list.

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income 50/50, from which we would pay expenses on the


publishing end. The mailing list grew. Authors felt valued
and well paid and would write more books on subjects they
were excited to write about, and more authors joined us.

A couple years ago I asked my authors with help on a project.


The idea was to create a really great eBook with articles about
becoming a better photographer. We would give it away,
completely free, as a way to promote those authors and to
grow our mailing list. The results were staggering. So good
we did it again a year later. And after that, instead of creating
completely new books (because the aim was to draw new
costumers who hadnt read any of our books), we turned
one, then eventually two, of my first eBooks free. We now have
four free eBooks, all beautifully designed and completely free,
on CraftandVision.com. Feel free to visit and download them
to see how we do itjust look for TEN, TEN MORE, Craft
& Vision 1, and Craft & Vision 2. Free is a powerful concept
when used well and when you remember that free is not an
excuse for crappy quality. Free and cheap are not remotely the
same. We give them away gladly, knowing that in some people
it will create a hunger for more of our product and a desire to
become part of our audience, and for some that product will
serve them well and thats a good in itself. What goes around
comes around, and I like to give back to an industry that has
been so good to me for so long. Slowly we gained traction with
affiliates as well, and our affiliates used the free eBook to boost

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sales and, therefore, their own commissions. I cant overstate


the value of free. Theres even a term for leveraging free:
freemium. The idea is that you offer value for free to grow
and serve and audience, like a free iPhone app, but then offer
more value for a premium to that same audience, like added
functionality or more information, for a premium. The free is
consumed and enjoyed by many, and the offer of a premium
product or service allows access to more value, not less. Its a
win-win-win.

Remember the analogy at the beginning of this chapter, the


one that had us trading chickens for hardware and introducing
the dairy farmer to the axe-maker, and being rewarded for that
introduction with a bucket of milk? Thats affiliate marketing,
and it can be a huge source of income. In fact, one of my
bigger affiliates at one point promoted my eBooks for a month.
Sales were off the charts. I was giving 30% of all sales to affili-
ates who were responsible for new sales, and the e-commerce
software tracks all this stuff with easily-implemented code, and
this particular affiliate made $16,000 in one month. And he
didnt even write the books. All he did was leverage the trust
he had with a large audience, grown over time, and pointed
them to my books. Sixteen. Thousand. Dollars. Theres gold in
them hills. And you would be amazed at how many companies
offer affiliate programs. Amazon is a big one. I do a series on
my photography blog at DavidduChemin.com called Study the
Masters, introducing photographers to masters of photography

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Free is a powerful
concept when used
well and when you
remember that free is
not an excuse for
crappy quality. Free and
cheap are not
remotely the same.


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from whom they can learn and study. In those posts I link to
two or three books or resources on Amazon, using my affiliate
code. The Study the Masters series is free to my readers and I
put solid time into them, but if they want to buy a book, they
can do so through Amazon, and I get a percentage without
it costing anyone a penny more. Win-win. I use affiliate pro-
grams with a very light touch, but those few coded links can
generate a healthy stream of revenue that, when added to the
others, becomes much more than a stream. Another advantage
of affiliate programs is that they work through cookies, small
bits of detectable code that allows Amazon to identify repeat
visitors and how they got there. So if I do a blog post about
Ansel Adams and a reader clicks through to an Adams book on
Amazon, but at the same time buys a new Nikon and four other
books, I get a commission on the whole sale. Cookies also have
a shelf lifeand using Craft & Vision as the example herethis
means that even if that reader clicks though from an affiliates
blog or newsletter and doesnt purchase a thing, but returns the
next week and buys five eBooks, the cookie identifies them and
credits that affiliate. The shelf life varies. For Craft & Vision its
a couple months.

You can be as creative as you want to be with affiliate programs.


Some affiliates are very aggressive, some much less so. We dont
often link to photographic gear on my site, but when we do, we
link to B&H Photo Video in New York City because we like them
and trust them. We link with an affiliate code and anything we

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I use affiliate programs


with a very light touch,
but those few coded links
can generate a healthy
stream of revenue
that, when added to
the others, becomes much
more than a stream.


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make goes to one of our favourite charities as soon as it comes


our way. Everyone wins. Our readers win because they dont have
to hunt for the product we talked about. B&H wins because they
get the sale. We win because we deepen a relationship by making
connections, and the charity wins because they get needed funds.
Making money can be beautiful. I think it should be beautiful. If
its not, youre not thinking creatively enough.

You can use affiliate links on blogs, email newsletters, social


media, and almost anywhere you can digitally point people to a
webpage. Amazon, B&H Photo, iTunes, web hosting companies,
ClickBank, Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, and
many others all offer ways to leverage trusted relationships and
loyal audiences into win-win earning opportunities. A couple
minutes on Google researching this should give you a sense of
the possibilities, and what might or might not be a good fit for
you. While we dont use affiliate programs aggressively to either
sell our own products or to promote others, we use them enough
that they make a significant difference.

Eventually I couldnt keep it up on my own. My manager,


Corwin Hiebert, was already at the helm for most of this,
and we eventually rounded out our team with a designer, copy
editors, and a production editor, all working on contract. My
fear of debt from my past bankruptcy has made me very
keen to avoid overhead. I want to be able to close shop at any
moment if I have to and it will take a lot to convince me to

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ever hire bona fide employees. Contractors work well for us,
and our relationships with them allows them to build their
own business while helping me build mine. I value working for
myself and creating something great, and I value the chance to
allow others to do the same. This team allowed me to automate
my business in the sense that it runs no matter where I am in
the world, or what I am doing. I still work hard at it, but I have
someone to coordinate with authors and liaise with me. I have
someone to deal with tech issues when they arise, and to do so
with a greater level of expertise than I. And I have scalability,
because I could only write, edit, design, and launch one book at
a time, and only then when I was physically around. Now I could
have several books in the pipeline at a time and if I needed two
designers, I could get another for a project here or there. Auto-
mation and scalability are the two tools that allow this business
to grow bigger than me, and be better than my own limits would
otherwise allow.

Craft & Vision has become a beautiful thing, allowing us to


do what we love, work with people we love and respect, and
earn a growing income thats totally scalable, automated, and
location-independent. The model itself can be applied in a lot
of different ways and in different industries. Applying it might
take some creativity, but isnt that the stuff we live for?

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Making money can be


beautiful. I think it
should be beautiful.
If its not, youre
not thinking
creatively enough.


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SCALING
Returning to the chicken farmer and the axe maker, the
analogy falls apart when we begin talking about scalability.
Unless something changes, the axe maker can only make so
many axes, the chicken farmer can only raise, sell, and
deliver so many chickens. But we arent really chicken farmers
and scalability means an ability to sell to many more people
without a corresponding increase in effort or cost. If you sell
a book through Amazon, you can sell a hundred books
almost as easily as one book. If its a Kindle book, its exactly as
easy. For example, if you sold a handmade keychain on Etsy, it
would be less scalable, but not necessarily impossible to do so.
It might be possible to find someone in China or India to make
the keychains for much less per unit and maybe even do order
fulfillment for you, combining scalability and automation. If
you sell any kind of digital deliverable, youre in luck because
digital productsjust a series of ones and zeroes, reallyare
bytes, not atoms, and theyre infinitely scalable. Scalability is
a spectrum from not at all scalable (e.g., a large hand-carved
marble sculpture), to unlimited scale, like my eBooks. The
less scalable the product, the more youll have to charge for it.
Thats not necessarily a negative thing, its just the reality youll
have to work with. Beautiful, one-of-a-kind items sell at high
prices, and are in demand as luxury items, not despite the fact
that they arent scalable, but precisely because they arent. You

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just have to embrace a different business model, and obviously,


make sure youre speaking to the right audience. The question
comes back to what you do, who your audience is, and how you
can best serve them. The rich guy who wants a one-of-a-kind
painting wont find value in a reproduction that costs a very
accessible $100 when what he wants is the very inaccessibility
of exclusivity. Charge him too little and hell lose interest and
wonder whats wrong with it.

A WORD ABOUT PRICING


Perhaps one of the hardest issues we creative-types grapple
with on the way to market with our wares is how much to
charge for them. What Im about to tell you might only muddy
the waters. I wish I could give you an answer to the perpetual
question of How much should I charge? But I cant. I can,
however, tell you this, since weve been talking about value: its
not about what its worth to you, but about what its worth to
your audience. It might have taken you 400 hours to make,
but unless its got value to your market, your hope to get $30/
hour (and therefore $12,000) is irrelevant. You need to find a
different audience or find a way to make your art a little more
scalable. Maybe youre a singer and your audience cant, or
wont, pay $100/ticket to attend your concert. You could look
for a different audience (hard) or scale that concert. Film it,
allow the loyal followers to come to the concert for $30, and
use that income to make a 60-minute concert video that you

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sell online for $20 to people with smaller budgets and those
who live 1000 miles away in Melbourne. You could also create a
great audio recording and sell it as a live album. Just a thought.
However you do it, keep value central in your thinking.

Because we lean toward the self-deprecating and our confidence


is not always as high as it ought to be, the big struggle for most
creatives is charging too little. Remember, the thing you do isnt
as exciting or valuable to you as it is to others. You already know
this stuff, have this skill. Its easy to forget that the reason others
want what you have is because, well, they dont have it. Dont let
your self-loathing, low self-esteem or timidity get the best of
you. In the beginning, you might want to give it away for free,
whatever it is you do. Dont give it away cheap, because cheap
is worthless. Give it away free, in exchange for their feedback.
I guess, worded like that, its not really free. Ask for honest
feedback. Be vulnerable and tell your small test audience you
need help pricing this. How much would they give in exchange
for this? What is it worth to them? I once had a friend, a man
who collected my photographs, and he told me point blank I
was charging too little. I asked him what I should charge and he
told me this: pick a number that scares you, then add 20%. He
had the most to lose because my print prices went up. But he still
bought them. In fact, to many people there is less value in getting
what they want when that thing they want is attached to a small-
er price tag. Would demand for a Rolex watch be as high if they
sold for $50 instead of $5000? I doubt it. They would lose cachet

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Its not about what its


worth to you, but
about what its worth to
your audience.


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and have to compete with all the other $50 watches. When
scarcity goes up, so does the price, as long as there is demand.
What creates demand? Value. It all comes back to value. Bring
unbelievable, undeniable, cant-get-it-anywhere-else value to
your audience, and they will pay for it. And theyll do it with
gratitude because they want your prints, your pottery, your
album, the work of your hands, whatever, more than they want
their $20, $100, or $1000. They can get more of that doing what
they do. They cant get what you have without you and your
willingness to exchange value for value.

Still cant bring yourself to charge more, but know you have
to and have value to offer? Ask someone to help you. Ask
someone to keep you accountable. Hire someone on a per
email basis, to answer your emails (get a specific one like
inquiries@yourname.com that you can direct to them) and
do all your quoting for you. Call them your management if
you have to. Give yourself an authority to which you yourself
are accountable, and to whom you can appeal. It might be your
spouse or partner or best friend. Give them that task, and
remove yourself from that aspect of the business. Talk about
anything else with your audience, but when it comes to finances,
just let them know you cant wait to serve them, and that youre
going to introduce them to your manager who will talk finances
with them. Its deeply freeing. Im guessing you have people in
your life right now who cheerlead for you, whove already told
you that you charge too little. Im also guessing theyd help you in

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Dont ever be afraid


to upgrade your audience,
or re-train them, if that
audience no longer
helps you pay the bills.
The loyal ones will follow:
the rest dont matter.


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this regard just for the joy of watching you succeed, at least until
youre making enough that you can thank them appropriately.
Ask someone. You get no credit for going it alone.

This is a bit of a tangent, but it addresses the raising of fees


so its related and nows as good a time as any to mention it.
One of the best moves I ever made when making a living as a
comedian was to double my prices. Just like thatovernight
because Im a tear-the-Band-Aid-off kind of person, I doubled
my fees. Youd first have to understand the simple reasoning,
and if youre reading this book, you likely already do. You
might be living it right now. I was fully booked, and by that I
mean I was doing as much work as I felt I could without losing
my mind or burning out. And I wasnt making enough money.
Id have been happy with less work without losing any income.
Id also have been happy with the same amount of work, and
more income. But staying where I was wasnt working for me:
something had to change. So I doubled my fees and figured Id
lose half my clients, making it a wash and giving me more time
to pursue other things, like my photography. In the end I did
not lose half my clients, I lost about a third of them. I gained
more time, and more income. And although I lost some previ-
ous clients, I eventually gained others and slowly replaced the
we want a comedian for less money market, with the weve
got a budget for someone with a bit of a following market.
Raising fees can be hard, but there will always be times when
somethings got to give, and thats the time to take some

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calculated risks. If your market or audience is faithful and you


bring them value, you might be very surprised by how will-
ing they are to pay more. Some will not, but you cant cater
to the Craigslist or Wal-Mart crowd forever. Wal-Mart works
because of insane economies of scale, a demand that is well
beyond anything most creatives can serve. But not everyone
wants to buy groceries at Wal-Mart, as Whole Foods, for ex-
ample, well knows. Dont let the demand for cheaper services
and goods derail you; those voices might be the loudest, but let
them clamour. If you cant make a living as a graphic designer
for $20 per logo, then doing so just puts you on the fast track
to the bottom. And if those clients want you that cheap, theyll
leave you when they find someone who will do it for $15. Dont
sweat them. Let them go. They werent going to be loyal and
they werent looking for value. They were looking for cheap.
You dont do cheap. So find the audience who will pay what you
require. Theyre out there. Theyre just different people. Dont
ever be afraid to upgrade your audience, or re-train them, if
that audience no longer helps you pay the bills. The loyal ones
will follow: the rest dont matter.

AUTOMATION
The conversation about automation is less about how you make
your art and more about how you run your business, so that
you can be free to make your art. To be sure, it could be applied
to reproducing art, but for most of us thats not what we long

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to do. Still, either way the principle applies. If you can find a
way to do certain tasks once (or find someone else to do them
for you), for less money or in less time than you can do them
yourself, then youll be richer in time and money, and still get
the job done. An example of this is Shopify, the e-commerce
system we use at Craft & Vision. We could have people send us
an email, telling us what they want, triggering an email from
us with a PayPal invoice, which they would then pay, trigger-
ing a receipt, and we would then manually send them an email
with a note of thanks and an attached PDF. I cant even imag-
ine. Someone just shoot me now. Instead weve implemented
software that does it all. I can be photographing lions in Africa
while people are being served at home, mostly by the software
solution we use. And what cant be done by software, like our
customer support (which is actually largely served by ZenDesk,
a software solution), can be done by someone weve contracted
for the purpose.

Heres another example. Say you create something great and


doing your work can earn you $500/day. But to manage the
business and fulfill orders and keep the website updated, you
need to work five days a week and have no time to do your
creative work. Are you going to make any money? Not much.
You wont have time. But what if you could find someone to do
those things for you for $150/day? You would be free to do your
creative work while someone else did the other stuff, possibly
better than you could do yourself if youre willing and able to

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hire talent, and youd be up $350/day. Most creatives never get


there because they think they cant afford $150/day, not seeing
that they are instead losing $350/day. And it doesnt have to be all
or nothing. When I first hired my manager, Corwin, he came in
to do a couple simple tasks and manage my email for one
specific international trip during which Id have no access to
email. Slowly he took on more tasks as my business grew, and as
we found areas where he performed better than I did, freeing me
to photograph and write, and eventually create the Craft &
Vision eBooks. Corwin now owns his own management agency
for creatives, Taendem Agency and while I remain his biggest
client, he has used principles of scalability and automation to
grow his agency and work with others. You might not be able to
afford it now, but make sure thats the case and you arent losing
the opportunity to do your workand earn moreby doing
work you could contract out. And then get creative. Start small,
outsource the stuff you dont like or do as well as someone else,
and use that time to do what you do best.

SELL YOUR WASTE


Most of my ideas come from books, and years ago I read an
idea that took a while to wrap my head around but has since
become a source of several streams of income for me. The idea
is simple: sell your waste. Probably better illustrated with an
example than trying to explain. When I was still a performer
and struggling to make ends meet, I learned to use Photoshop

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and studied the basics of graphic design. Then I learned how to


build a simple webpage. With that knowledge I marketed my
own business. The waste here is the hours put into learning
these skills. So I set up a small marketing consulting and de-
sign business and my time learning design and marketing got
a much larger return on investment than if I had just allowed
those skills to remain in-house. Heres another example. I go on
assignment for a non-profit organization with no budget. I do
the work, retain the copyright and where it is appropriate, I can
sell those images through a stock agency, use them to illustrate
my blog and grow my audience, and put them in my books,
on which I make a good profit. In a way, this ties to the idea
of scalability: you do the work once but it scales up because of
applications beyond the one for which you did the initial work.
Weve done a conference for the last two years called The Cre-
ated Image. We break even on the event, which we do for our
own love of this community and a desire to educate, but we
film it and sell the resulting video to our broader audience, for
much less than it would cost them to travel to Vancouver and
attend the two-day conference. They dont share the same expe-
rience as those who attend, but they get access to the material,
and we have a way to scale that content and make it earn well
past the dates of the event itself.

Every business generates this kind of waste, though waste


isnt really the way I like to look at it. I prefer to see it in terms
of possibilities. The only waste truly happens when those

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It is amazing how
profoundly creative
people, people who
want to make a living
from that creativity,
dont apply that
creativity to their
income generation.


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possibilities arent seized and leveraged. What have you learned


that you can teach others to do, or do for others as an added
service or product? How can you create art, performances, or
product/services that have a longer shelf life, possibly even in
several incarnations, such as a live performance taped to sell
later, or adding a talk with the artist after that performance
which allows you to increase value to the concert-goers, and
gives you a chance to create another product that can be sold
or given away (to broaden your audience)?

GETTING CREATIVE
It is amazing how profoundly creative people, people who want
to make a living from that creativity, dont apply that creativity
to their income generation. We all have to eat, pay bills, and
buy the paint or paper we need to do our art; you might as well
do so creatively.

I had a phone call recently with a talented photographer for


whom I act as an informal mentor. The conversation turned to
getting her work out there in creative ways that didnt involve
heading to a major city (she lives remotely near a lot of small
towns but no major center) and shopping her work around
to major galleries for which wall space there is significant
competition, and which didnt really jive with her desires for
her work. It didnt take long for the two of us to brainstorm a
dozen ways she could get her work out thereways shed never

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considered. There are no major galleries but there are boutique


hotels and Bed and Breakfasts that could hang the work and keep
a commission from any piece they sold. She could create a series
of beautiful print-on-demand books, full of local photographs
and place them in the waiting rooms of dentists, doctors, and
lawyers offices, or offer them in larger quantities to local busi-
ness or the chamber of commerce as gifts for clients. She could
offer to place rotating art on the walls of those same offices. She
could sell greeting cards in bookstores. And if selling her work
wasnt comfortable or took her too much away from creating it,
she could find someone who excelled at this kind of thing and
pay that person a commission to represent her in the communi-
ty. And thats just a start.

Heres another example of approaching business as an artist with


creativity. Several years ago I was going to spend time in Kath-
mandu. For a few years, I was there every year for a month. I love
it there. This time I needed to work, and wanted to find some-
one to serve. One client had already spoken up and asked for a
couple days of freelance time from me, but that wasnt enough.
I also had a connection with an NGO (non-governmental orga-
nization) that worked with the education of child labourers, and
they wanted a week from me that I couldnt afford to do for free.
I was talking to a friend of minea local businessmanand was
brainstorming a solution when we asked if there was a way he
could help and make it a tax deduction. I am not a non-profit,
so a donation was out of the question, and the complication of

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donating to a group in Nepal and hoping they could then cut me a


cheque wasnt even worth considering. So we made it an advertis-
ing expense, and for several months put a banner on my website,
one that included his logo, a link to his website, and an expression
of my thanks for their help in what at the time I was calling the
Women & Children First Project. I receipted him for a legitimate
advertising expense, he wrote it off, paid me, and the client worked
me like a dog for that entire week, coming out of it with a huge
collection of photographic resources to use in their advocacy and
fund-raising: win-win. And I get photographers telling me all the
time that not-for-profits cant pay. True. But if thats the work you
want to do, you can either whine about it until the world chang-
es itself for the better, or you can get creative. NGOs and CBOs
(community-based organizations) still dont pay much, if anything,
at least not the tiny, grassroots ones that most interest me at this
point in my career. So I make my money elsewhere, and eBook
sales subsidize that work. I have a patronits Craft & Vision. I
just had to create it before it could start cutting me cheques. Thats
what creativity is: finding a solution that doesnt yet exist to a prob-
lem that hasnt yet been solved.

My guess is that most creative people expector hopethat their


work is good enough that it will sell itself. Nothing sells itself. Even
the most amazing stuff in the world doesnt sell itself. That doesnt
mean people dont want it or need it. Most of them are just too
wrapped up in trying do their own things that they need a little
help becoming aware of that need or desire. Creative work is hard

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My guess is that most


creative people
expector hopethat
their work is good enough
that it will sell itself.
Nothing sells itself.


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all on its own, and most creatives know and accept that. We know
that the book is going to take some blood and tears and sever-
al drafts before it gets written. Itll probably also take hustle and
countless rejections before it gets published. Books dont discover
themselves. Neither will your pottery, illustrations, photographs,
paintings, yoga classes or gelato stand. It takes hustle. It takes a
willingness to be creative about connecting that high-value thing
you create with the people that will become your audience and
your fans. Brainstorm a couple dozen ideas, throw them against
the wall and see what sticks. Then go do it. Fail fast, pick yourself
up, learn from the rejection, and try again. Craft & Vision wasnt
the first thing I tried to do as a creative, and it wont be the last. I
sold myself as a juggling comedian for 12 years before returning
to photography. If I can find a way to make a full-time living as a
juggler, then by God, you can find a way to grow an audience for
what you do and connect your art with that audience.

Get creative. Hustle. Fail often and fast, and then come back for
more. Find ways to scale what you do and get it to as many as
possible within your audience, or barring that, find a way to sell
a few at the highest prices possible. Both work, though one is a
little more likely than the other. Find a great team to better do
the things you dont do as well and automate what you can. And
most of all, listen to your audience. Find out where they itch then
scratch like hell.

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If I can find a way to make


a full-time living as a
juggler, then by God, you
can find a way to grow an
audience for what you do
and connect your art with
that audience.


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FIVE WAYS TO MAKE THE MONEY


STUFF EASIER / CORWIN HIEBERT
Corwin Hiebert is my secret weapon. My manager for the
last 5+ years, he is the co-founder of Taendem Agency, a
management agency that works exclusively with creative
people, helping them to live the dream. Coincidentally,
Corwin is the author of Living The Dream, Putting Your
Creativity to Work (and Getting Paid) I cant think of
a better person to talk toor listen towhen it comes to
dealing with the day-to-day work of managing your money
as a creative person.

In my work as a business manager for creative people, I am


exposed to all types of independent small businesses, and
regardless of industry, experience, personality, or talent,
solopreneurs basically all share the same trait: theyre not
great at the money stuff. And while this entrepreneurial
confession is a helpful admission (awareness is important),
money management is too often relegated to a dark corner,
forgotten until something goes terribly wrong.

The truth of the matter is that ones bottom line is not determined
by spectacular, year-end maneuvers (though I suppose tax evasion
could be a short term, and short-sighted, solution but highly not
recommended), its in the trenches, in the day-to-day handling of
your business and your moneyno matter the scale of your
operationthat will produce the results youre looking for.

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Emerging creatives, especially photographers, erroneously


strive to go pro and the more I hear that statement the less
Im convinced they (or anyone, really) knows what it means.
Yes, its different for everyone, but its also a mindset that as-
sumes you have yet to arrive; and thats dangerous. Successful
freelance ventures are invariably those who have removed the
chaos and mystery associated with asking for, collecting, and
managing their personal and business finances.

Categorically, Im absolutely fine with the idea that ones financ-


es take a back seat from time to time when an inspired soul is
in hot pursuit of a great business idea. Selling one's creativity as
a service, or as art, is not the same as opening a Krispy Kreme
franchise, and so sometimes the "money stuff can certainly
feel like a distraction. Its when finances are mismanaged that
stress and anxiety quickly follow and at the best of times these
effects steal your momentumand even more tragic if those
dollars and cents are ignored completely.

When looking to increase your bottom line, its important


to consider that there is always more than one factor at play.
Making one change will not produce 100% of the results youre
looking for. Its important to implement the types of strategies
that make your work less stressful, and to use cloud-based apps
that make running your business more seamless. If you can
create some accountability while at the same time train yourself

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Categorically, Im
absolutely fine with the
idea that ones finances
take a back seat from time
to time when an inspired
soul is in hot pursuit of a
great business idea.


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DAVID DUCHEMIN

to have a better workflow, youll start to feel like youre running


a real business instead of stumbling around in the black void of
commerce and administration.

Here are the five tactics and tools I recommend you consider
using to whip your finances into shape:

1. BE IN THE KNOW
Doing creative work in the margins of your life means you have
limited time and resources; the last thing your muse needs is
for you to be distracted by your account balances. If you feel
like you dont have a lot of money it can be easy to relinquish
control, but you have to fight that urge.

When you take a prospective client out for coffee and you hand
the cashier your bank card, you shouldnt have to worry about
whether its going to get declined or not (or be surprised if it
is): thats just embarrassing and unprofessional. Familiarizing
yourself with your finances, whether you feel like you have
much money or not, is an important step towards financial
stability and future prosperity.

A lot of freelancers feel the pressure to create elaborate cost of


business (COB) budgets, but to be honest, theyre usually over-
thinking it. A separate bank account/credit card is definitely
the first step, but in the end, a sole proprietorship is simply a

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doing-business-as (DBA) operation under your name; the flow


of money has a direct impact on your personal standard of
living, so dont get fancy. Revenue is ten times harder to earn
than it is to spend, so become intimate with your cash flow that
way so when you must spend your hard earned money, you can
spend with confidence.

Mint.comis a powerful (and free) way to get in touch with your


money. Mint automatically pulls all your financial information
into one place so you can see the big picture. This amazing little
app organizes and categorizes your spending so you can easily
create a workable budget. And the automatic alerts and bill re-
minders give you the accountability necessary to stay on top of
things. Just simply being able to see all your balances and trans-
actions together, either on the web or your phone, means youll
never feel unsure of whats happening with your money.

2. GET PAID ONLINE


Money is a funny thingwe always feel like there isntenough
of it. And its in that vein that I regularly see freelancers forego
the convenience of collecting money online in lieu of waiting
for a client to issue payment by cheque.

While this may sound like a small thing, I assure you, it is not.
For those who consciously make the decision to require pay-
ment only by cheque or cash, they are doing so because either:

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(a) their coffers are so full that the promptness of a payment


isnt of concern to them; or (b) the more likely scenario is that
they dont want to relinquish credit card or transaction fees as
they see that as an unnecessary expense. But cash flow, as un-
sexy as it is, is very important.

Consider this: when it comes to your finances, if youre carry-


ing debt, then the loss of 2.9% pales in comparison to the 19%
youre likely paying on any interest youre servicing. Money
now is better than money later. Always.

I firmly believe one of the best things you can do for your busi-
ness is to create simple, fast ways for people to give you mon-
ey. Connecting your online payment processer to a dedicated
bank account (separate accounts helps protect you from fraud)
means that in as quickly as two business days you can have
the money where you need it: in your back pocket. And when
it comes to your clients, they love the convenience of having
alternate payment methods.

Regardless of the kind of business youre running, I recom-


mend that you seriously consider developing products that can
be purchased online. Making money while you sleep is one of

the telltale signs of someone who is truly living the dream


even if its small potatoes, because small potatoes add up. Ed-
ucating your industry, giving clients self-serve tools, creating

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Too many creatives


assume their clients are
uncomfortable spending
money, just as much
as youre uncomfortable
asking for it: thats
not the case.


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art for others to enjoywhatever it is that floats your boat. Its


inaptly called passive income (inapt because theres not much
passive about it), but finding ways to leverage residual earnings
from a one-time work effort means you could earn the money
you need to fill in the gaps between gigs or create a financial
buffer to take the pressure off. If you were to earn $5/day for
the next 5 years youd have over $9,000 a little becomes a lot
when you make money each and every day.

PayPal.comis the standard for online payments. Ive been us-


ing it for eight years now and have integrated it into my clients
point of sale processes, invoicing systems, and commerce sys-
tems through web themes like Wordpress (WooCommerce) and
Shopify. I realize there are plenty of competitors out there, and
not everyone is a fan, but PayPal is the most consistently trusted
credit card and digital payment processor out thereits what
buyers expect to see. The customizable features and detailed
reporting helps to ease the pain when it comes to bookkeeping,
and the recent changes theyve made (like the mobile app read-
er PayPal Here, a chip and PIN card reader that plugs into your
phone) allows you to conveniently swipe cards onsite.

3. ASK FOR MONEY LIKE A PRO


When you send a request for money, you should get paid. Too
many creatives assume their clients are uncomfortable spending
money, just as much as youre uncomfortable asking for it: thats
not the case. Before work begins on any project, you need to

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discuss the price and the payment terms. A contract will often
clarify this, but in some cases theres room for interpretation,
especially when a work effort doesnt involve a proposal process.

Enter The Estimate, a powerful document that can be short


and sweet but acts like a pre-invoice that states the basic finan-
cial details of the project and clearly itemizes the terms of pay-
ment. Decision makers want (and need) this kind of paperwork
because it removes the mystery of the engagement and prepares
them to do what you want, and thats to pay you. An estimate
calms the waters and gives both you and your client the up-
front chance to agree on the financial stuff; i.e., it saves you that
awkward conversation about money at the end of the project,
especially if the work effort went differently than planned. Save
yourself the trouble and get approval on an estimate before you
move forward on any creative work. Then the request for mon-
ey wont be awkward, but will instead just be the next step in a
process youve already agreed on.

Freshbooks.comcan help you prepare an estimate, and the as-


sociated invoices faster and easier than any other tool out there.
This cloud-based service has a user-friendly interface and an
iPhone app that works seamlessly. Even though I love this tool
for a number of reasons, they all pale in comparison to the real
reason: FreshBooks users get paid faster. My clients and I can
attest to that; FreshBooks states that their users receive pay-
ments 11 days faster than average.

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If you want to stop chasing clients and get paid sooner, send
a professional invoice digitally, on time, and to the right per-
son, so you can make that trip to the bank before your rent
cheque bounces. If youre creating invoices from scratch in a
text editor, retyping client addresses, or calculating totals or tax
on your own, youre ready for a change and your clients will
welcome it. Erroneous invoices create unnecessary stress on a
business relationship, and a structured, simple system like this
really helps. Some of my favourite features:

Clients can have real-time access to their estimates


and invoices.

The Pay me now! feature enables your clients to pay


instantly using PayPal (or one of 11 other integrated
payment gateways), which means you can pass along the
convenience while collecting payment instantly.

You can remind your clients that theyre late with pay-
ment by automating late payment reminder emails.

Additionally, they also have certified FreshBooks accountants


you can contact if you need specific help with your business.

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4. DELIVER EXCLUSIVE CONTENT AND VALUE


Everyone wants to know what the best marketing solution is,
andlets be honest now that the gig is up and the magic is
fading on social networks, I find that the most reliable way to
get the word out is still permission-based email marketing.

When you deliver email campaigns that elicit curiosity, you will
generate demand for your creative work: its all about connect-
ing. Whether youre sharing a project launch, promotion, a
behind-the-scenes story or some exciting news, youre invest-
ing in your target audience. Your audience is made up of your
clients/customers, but they are also referrers and fansthey are
your marketing potential.

Believe me, the size of your list doesnt matter; the quality of
the email you send does. A lot of creatives whore themselves
out to every digital space imaginable and they end up just
creating noise and bashing their audience over the head with
duplicate messages. Reserve the best of the best for your email
campaign and your subscribers will be excited to read your
message. Create high-impact, low-information, visually stun-
ning, branded email campaigns and youll do more than stand
out in a crowd; youll draw a crowd. If you want to inject some
narrative, go for itjust be sure to write it very well, and make
it a special reading experience that they care about. In this
regard, I practice what I preach: my personal website features
an email sign-up with the headline I dont blog, I deliver. My

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long-form articles receive a 44% open rate and I receive dozens


of inquiries every time I hit send. Nothing grows a business
faster than being pursued.

Mailchimp.commakes this marketing effort fun and easy and I


cant imagine doing my job without it. This full-featured email
marketing service makes it simple for anyone to create, man-
age, and send professional email campaigns. If you can navigate
Facebook, you can use Mailchimp. The templates are easy to
use and so eye-catching that they make creative work really
stand out.

Email messages, when you design and distribute them proper-


ly, can produce some really great results. Being able to legally
manage accurate subscription lists, customize and brand your
sign-up forms and confirmation emails, integrate the sign-up
widget into your website, and schedule campaigns to be deliv-
ered based on their voodoo witchcraft algorithm, all give you
the tools you need to stay connected and cut through the noise.

5. BE A (PAPER) CHAOS KILLER


Creativity does not need to besynonymous with mess. Chaos is
one of the traits business people fear most when working with
creative people, especially freelancers. You dont have to be dis-
organized to be inspired and creative. A cluttered life is an un-
focused one; your entrepreneurial effort will be more focused

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You dont have to be


disorganized to be
inspired and creative.
A cluttered life is an
unfocused one; your
entrepreneurial effort will
be more focused when
you get rid of the paper


in your life.

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when you get rid of the paper in your life. If youve come to tax
time with a massive box of random receipts and gum wrappers,
or you've wasted time looking for lost mission-critical attach-
ments, then its time clean up your act. Removing the mess will
free you up to be yourself: creative and unfettered.

Streamlining the organization of your receipts, statements, and


important files into labeled file folders is a start, but getting
them into a digital environment thats cloud-based, secure, and
easier to share is ideal. Having those papers stored properly will
mean your dining room table or home office can be used for
what they're meant for: eating and working, not for making
or movingpiles.

Genius Scan andDropbox.comare a pair of tools that work


really well together. Genuis Scan is a mobile camera app with
some really clever features to help you grab colour captures
(or my favourite, plain-text B&W PDF) of any kind of paper,
and then sync to your digital storage service (Evernote, Google
Drive, OneNote, Expensify, or Dropbox). Forget the flatbed
scanner or waiting until you get home to file your paperwork
snap the pic with your smart phone and go! Archiving docu-
ments makes it easier to find them later and saves you space.
And speaking of file storage, Dropbox is a remarkable cloud-
based solution for viewing and managing your files across all
your devices. So imagine this, you get to tax time and instead of
showing up at your bookkeepers desk with a frazzled look and

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

a garbage bag of paper, you share a Dropbox link with


PDF scans of all your important receipts and statements and
they take it from there. Less stress, less chance of things going
missing, less chance of being billed twenty extra hours while
the pros clean up your mess.

If you make one change this week with your freelance business,
consider acting on one of these tactics or tools so start making
your creative life more productive and more profitable. Be as
messy as you need to be in your creative endeavors, but when
you deal with your business and money, the more you con-
trol the process, the less waste you create (especially in terms
of time, which will cost you money), and the more profitable,
relaxed, and productive youll be.

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Q&A WITH
COMEDY PERFORMER,
DAVID AIKEN, THE
CHECKERBOARD GUY

David Aiken is a juggler and comedian, working internationally as The


Checkerboard Guy. Hes been juggling since he was 13 and now, over
30 years later, is still at it, doing more than 300 shows every year for
festivals, corporate clients and cruise ships. While his income varies from
year to year, depending on his schedule, its safe to say he averages a
six-figure gross income and he owns his home in North Vancouver (not
something most jugglers can say), with his wife and two teenage boys.
While I was performing, Dave was a friend, colleague and mentor, the
best example I could find of someone who did what they loved and
sustained it. Im grateful for his willingness to share his story with us.
Dave is an excellent example of someone who puts his stamp on what
he does, and is successful not only because of his immense talent, but
because he makes relationships a priority and understands the value those
relationships bring to his clients and audiences. And hes always set the
bar for me as an example of being smart with money. I didnt always
ollow that example, but he gave me something to aspire to.

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Youve always struck me If you go back to the very first successes I


as having been financially had as a street performer, youd be shocked
savvy from the start. Is this to discover how many quarters ended up in
the case? Were there early machines at the video arcade. I blew tons
struggles? Where did this
of money playing games when I was a kid
sound relationship with
and never really got very good at any of
money come from?
the games I was playing, which is a bit
embarrassing. I think Ive always had a
pretty independent streak in me and be-
cause there wasnt a lot of money around
when I was growing up, I became good
at generating revenue whenever I wanted
something. If I say Penny Saver, does that
mean anything to you? Thats the name of
a weekly newspaper I delivered for a couple
of years. I also used to go around finding
bottles to return for the refund and bred
guinea pigs that I sold to pet shops.

I think my parents instilled in me the notion


that if I wanted something badly enough I
should work for it; I should figure out how
to get the money to pay for it. Even as a
very small boy, I remember going to my

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

mom or dad and asking for some pocket


money and being told I could earn it by
weeding the garden, cutting the grass, or
helping out around the housemoney was
never an issue if you were willing to work
for it. The fact that I didnt necessarily like
the option they were providing was on me.

I remember being about 9 or 10 when we


lived in Minnesota and having this incred-
ible discovery. I used to hang out with a
bunch of the kids in the neighbourhood,
many of whom enjoyed the same sort of
candy and treats that I did. I found a store
that had a buy three, get one free deal and
realized that I could make money by creat-
ing a little stockpile of candy. By charging
my friends the regular price, I ended up
making a 25% profit by being a candy
distributor. This scheme didnt last long,
but I have vivid memories of feeling like Id
beaten the system in a way that nobody got
hurt and I generated income.

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This work for the money, earn it, then spend


it thing was drilled into me and Im pretty
sure its in my hard wiring. Ive never under-
stood how people could spend on credit. It
just never made sense to meit seemed in
such opposition to the way Id always done
things that it never occurred to me to let my
greed exceed my capacity to earn.

Have you always saved The whole saving thing happened for me
money? Did you save a around my 21st birthday. Prior to this I was
percentage of income? quite content to spend money as quickly as
I earned it and far far far too much money
went into my obsession with cool looking
cars: I've had Austin Minis, several Checker
Cabs, and a few cool Japanese imports, to
name a few. Im actually still paying for this,
as Ive got a 1960 Austin Healey Bug Eye
Sprite thats still at a restoration shop in
Salem, Oregon. However, Im weaning
myself off cars; I sold my Nissan Figaro last
year and will sell the Sprite after I drive it
for a summer or two. Im just not as into

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

cars as I once was, or have realized that I


still like them, but dont need to own them
to appreciate them. I think thats a better
way of putting it.

Anyway, thats a bit of a tangent. I started


street performing when I was 13 and after
a couple of years of doing shows, my
capacity to earn money and spend it far
out weighed my ability to save it. It wasnt
until my mom gave me a copy of The
Wealthy Barber by David Chilton that I
really started to get my financial house in
order. The most fundamental principle that
the book teaches is to save 10% of your
income and let compound interest work for
you. In essence, let your money make you
money. This is only possible if you start
saving money and make saving a habit.

I read this and it made sense to me, so I


started saving 10% of my income. But
10% didnt accumulate at a rate that I was
particularly pleased with, so I upped the

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

percentage. I credit this practice with my


ability to buy a house and pay it off in
about 10 years.

These days I take 40% of my income from


all sources and put it in a separate account.
This is ourinvestment account, the one
we use for: buying our RRSPs; making mort-
gage payments; major home improvements;
paying into RESP funds for our boys; or
paying down lines of credit that are being
use for investing.

Youve always seemed to It goes back to my hardwiring and the


avoid debt. Was this values that were instilled into me at a
intentional? Just had no young age. At one point I got myself into
need to go into debt? a bit of a predicament with an Austin Mini
convertible that I used to own. I ended up
over-extending myself and had to borrow
money from my mom to fulfill an obligation
that I had anticipated wouldnt be a prob-
lem. The car needed a custom soft top,
so I took the car to the top maker who
proceeded to make the top for several

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

hundred dollars that I figured Id be able to


make doing street shows. The problem was
that it was late in the season in Ottawa and
the income I anticipated making from street
shows vaporized when the weather turned
cold sooner than expected and I wasnt able
to get out and do shows. It wasnt a lack of
willingness to work; it was that the oppor-
tunity to work had been taken away from
me. Its the one case of me spending money
I thought Id make before I made it and get-
ting a bit behind the eight ball as a result.

I hated this feeling, so I became determined


to never let it happen again. Thankfully it
hasnt. Dont spend money you havent
earned yet. Its as simple as that.

I get the impression from After reading The Wealthy Barber, one of
previous conversations that the things I did was to set up a monthly
while youve always worked deposit into a mutual fund that was being
hard, youve invested well. invested via The Investors Group. Its a pret-
Can you describe your
ty standard financial institution that offers
investment strategy?

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

various financial options to help people


grow their wealth. I stuck with them for a
number of years and invested monthly for
years. This money grew to be the nest egg
we used to buy our house.

After buying our house and talking with


other friends, I realized that the people who
were working at The Investors Group on
our behalf didnt necessarily know anything
more about investing that I did. Hell, I told
them to buy me a couple hundred shares of
Apple stock back when it was about $25 a
share, two stock splits ago. In this case, my
intuition was better than theirs.

A good friend who works in the mining


industry started offering me some advice
about stocks that he felt had great poten-
tial, and gradually I started to take over
things from The Investors Group myself.
Ive made money, Ive lost money, but over-
all Im in a better position today than I was
ten years ago. This could be chalked up to

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

the fact that our house has increased in val-


ue as much as it has, but has as much to do
with understanding how to save and letting
my savings work for me.

Did real estate play a role Definitely! Weve made money on our
in building your wealth? house, on a second house we bought in
North Vancouver and subsequently sold,
and are currently invested in two other
houses in Edmonton. With real estate,
timing is everything.

I contend that no matter Whenever possible, I try to over deliver on


what our art, that where expectations and express my thanks and
its able to connect with the appreciation for having been given the
world of commerce and opportunity to do the work. If you look at
earn us a living is in the
my cruise ship agents website and scroll to
value we offer the world,
the page with jugglers on it, its clear that
and on the smaller scale,
our audience / client. Youre Im just one of many guys all competing for
a juggler: what value have the same gigs. The key becomes not being
you offered your clients that just a juggler theyre happy to employ, but
has made what you do so by being the juggler that they WANT to
sustainable? employ. This starts well before an offer ever

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

hits the table, by having a clean web pres-


ence so that potential clients see your page
and already know that youre the person
they want to work with.

Years ago, before the Internet, back in the


days of VHS video cassettes, I used to load
up packages with the standard promo ma-
terials, photos, press releases, reference
letters, and video, but then I would also
add something like an egg of Silly Putty, or
a balsa-wood airplane, or some other fun
item intended to engage with the recipi-
ent so that the fun I bring to my show was
present from the get-gofrom the very first
contact I had with a potential client.

This is why the trading cards that I still pro-


duce are such a great tool. In essence, its
a business card and contains much of the
same information as a business card, but its
so NOT a business card that it immediately
connects with the recipient on a much more
visceral level. Its fun incarnate!

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

I try to sculpt the engagement with not


only my audience but also with my agent,
the clients who inquire about me, and the
bigger companies that use the agents. I
attempt to make the interaction with me as
an individual such a positive and fun experi-
ence that they want to do it again.

I was out to lunch in Japan with a client


and a friend whos originally from Indiana
and who is likely one of the most powerful
and successful street performers in Japan.
Hes strong-willed and has alienated himself
from many Japanese clients because hes a
cowboy where cowboys arent necessarily
appreciatedbut his show is incredibly suc-
cessful! I wanted the guy I was working for
and my friend to talk to each other because
I wanted to encourage a positive exchange.
At one point, my cowboy friend turns to the
client that Ive worked for probably a dozen
times with the following question: Daves
a good juggler, but not the best juggler;
his ability with the Japanese is OK, but its

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

not as good as many, so why do you hire


him as often as you do? The client, with-
out flinching or taking a moment to think,
smiles, looks at me, then looks back at my
friend and says, Thats easy. We hire Dave
because we like him.

Being likeable is HUGE! Be likeable before


the gig starts by making your promo easy
to navigate and useful for people who need
to get information about you. Be likeable
when clients reach out to you for gigs. Be
likeable at the gig. Over deliver. Walk in
with such a positive attitude that it makes
everyone in the venue happy to have you
there. Be likeable by being gracious and
appreciative following the gig as well. Ive
been doing cruise ship gigs through the
Don Casino Agency for about 10 years and
I still make a point of taking a picture on
every voyage, framing it with a little CBG
branding and sending it to the cruise ship
client along with this thank you: Thank
you for picking me over all of the other

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

jugglers on the Don Casino Productions


website and all the other jugglers that are
out there. I appreciate it!

Best piece of financial Its actually a concept that I dont specifically


advice you ever got / implement myself, but have seen it work re-
would pass on to another ally well for other people: dont treat revenue
artist wanting to make that you generate as your money; its money
a go at this?
that belongs to the business. Pay yourself a
salary from what the business makesthats
your moneybut dont set a salary for your-
self that bankrupts your business.

Set up a separate bank account where you


deposit all of the income from your business
and run all business transactions through
this account. Dont let your personal fi-
nances muddy this account at all. Ive been
audited and being able to hand the govern-
ment the bank statements for my business
account and have them match up perfectly
with my bookkeeping saved my ass!

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Learn how to do your own bookkeeping.


You may eventually choose to farm this job
out to someone else, but there is no substi-
tute for knowing how accounting works. It
really is just addition and subtraction, but
being able to understand the ebb and flow
of money via an accounting system is time
well spent for your overall financial well-
being. You may not like mathor be good
at mathbut spend the time to learn how
to use a piece of accounting software and
all you really need to do is type in numbers
and let the software do the rest. And theres
no excuse for being sloppy with this.

You run your empire as a The thing I tell people who ask me for
tight business: whats the advice about performing is this: it should
best business advice you be fun. If youre not having fun, youre
ever got? doing something wrong. It can still be an
enormous amount of work, but it has to be
fun or all of the effort is being misplaced.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

In terms of finances, dont spend money


you dont have. If you really want/need/
desire something, youll figure out a way to
get the money to pay for it, and that cre-
ative approach to financing your business
will only help to serve and inform how you
approach all of your creative challenges.

Being a creative person in 1. Be as good in the locker room as you are


business means a whole on the ice. By this I mean that delivering
skill set is in play. If you a great product (e.g., for a hockey play-
had to pick three or four of er, a great game on the ice) should be a
these for younger creatives
given. You wouldnt be under consider-
to focus on / not neglect,
ation for a job if you didnt have the skill
what would those be?
set they were looking for, but beyond
being able to deliver on the job, part of
the interaction is to be good at the other
social interactions as well. Its often not
the best candidate who gets the job; its
the one who is liked the best. Keep that
in mind and make every attempt to avoid
being a princess (or prima donna): you
may be great, but if youre really that

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

good, you can afford to wield your skills


with grace.

2. Invest in yourself and your growth. Take


workshops, expose yourself to new ideas,
continue to explore what is possible in
your field and always push yourself. I
dont do this as much as I should, and
I always benefit from it when I do. This
could be something as simple as read-
ing a book or signing up for an online
seminar, but the benefits to making
these sorts of investments pay long-term
dividends for your creative process and
youre ability to remain viable.

3. Capitalize on your strengths and take a


bit of time to figure out what they are. A
friend once referred me to a book about
finding ones strengths. That book made
some excellent points about how soci-
ety often reacts to the grade system we
receive at school. For example, say you
come home from school with your report

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

card and you show it to your parents. You


got an A in English, an A in dramatic arts,
a B in biology, an A in social studies and
an almost failing mark in mathematics. Far
too often, the knee jerk reaction is to say
that you need to work on improving the
math grade, but instead, the book sug-
gested that perhaps you really needed to
focus on English, drama and social studies
because thats where your strengths are.
Capitalizing on these while mitigating the
impact of the math grade as much as pos-
sible will allow you to remain true to the
things youre really good at.

Being aware of my strengths is some-


thing thats served me well. It helps me
understand how and with whom I work
best and this can be incredibly valuable
information if leveraged correctly.

4. Use your super powers for goodand


remember to say thank you! For 15 years
I contributed to the success of the

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Circus And Magic Partnership (C.A.M.P.)


program teaching circus skills to at-risk
youths during the March break in Win-
nipeg; I taught unicycle. Initially, none of
the performers that were brought in to
teach were really all that aware of how
to teach. We learned on the job and got
better through trial and error. Over the
course of the week with the kids it was
important to be yourself because these
kids had pretty astute bullshit detectors
and wouldnt put up with being talked
down to or patronized. Each of the in-
structors brought their skill set to the
table as well as their personality, and it
was really interesting to see how certain
kids gravitated towards certain skills, as
much so they could hang out with the
instructor as so they could learn the skills.
By the end of the week, the results were
pretty amazing and the final show a tri-
umph and a celebration.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

Do work like this that feeds your soul. Maybe


not all the time, but make sure you include
some of it in your reality as the benefits are
tangible, though often not predictable.

And remember to say thank you. I recall


performing at an arts festival in Fort Worth,
Texas. It was one of those sorts of jobs
where I performed three or four shows a
day over a three-day weekend, and by the
end of the weekend I was feeling pretty
spent. Regardless, I made a point of finding
the programming director who had hired
me and offered to take her out for dinner
or a drink as a way of saying thank you for
such a great weekend. She looked startled,
and declined the offer so I started to walk
away, but she stopped me and said, You
know, in the 20 years that Ive been doing
this, youre the first person to even make
the offer. Thank you.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

5. Get a good accountant! Although Im


fine with doing my own bookkeeping,
Im happy to spend the money to have
my tax returns done for me.

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

A COUPLE LAST THINGS

T
he time has never been better for creative people to
share their work and their value with the world. The
opportunities provided by the online world and the
access that brings to wider audiences is astonishing. From
blogs to social media, iTunes to Kickstarter, there has never
been a better time in history for artists to touch the world, and
to do it almost instantaneously. That there are such amazing
opportunities, however, does not mean that everyone will
manage to put food on their plates with their art. Theres so
much more to all this than simply being great at what you do,
though Steve Martins advice to be so great no one can ignore
you will always hold water. It just isnt the whole story. Feeding
the so-called starving artist takes hustle and a willingness to
wear an entrepreneurial hat, to approach the making of money

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

and its subsequent stewardship, as a craft all its own. Failure to


do so doesnt mean your art is anything but great; its not mon-
ey that validates your art. But finding a way to sustain our art,
while we create it and share it, means more opportunities to do
just that: create our art and share it.

Whether you do this full-time, or part-time, dont let it over-


whelm you. Most of this is a long game and, like learning any
craft, the path to learning moneycraft is long and full of ups
and downs. The most faithful gains are the ones that take place
slowly, like compound interest or building a business that re-
lentlessly serves a loyal audience. Be wary of the quick fixes and
short cuts. Learn from everyone you can. Take a calculated risk
or two, and when those risks pay off, enjoy the freedom to live
fully and abundantly and help others do the same.

There are other resources that I think you might find helpful,
aside from the ones Ive already recommended, though Im
listing those here too so its all in one place for you. Here is a
list of the books Ive found to be written with integrity, heart,
and wisdom. Its a short list because I dont want to overwhelm
you, nor do I want to recommend to you books that Ive not
read myself and found something of value in. Theres good
stuff in here, but dont swallow it whole. Adapt it; dont adopt
it. Like everything in this book, the books listed here will apply
differently to different people in different contexts. The adven-
ture and the creativity lies in finding our own road. Building a

178
DAVID DUCHEMIN

The time has never been


better for creative
people to share their
work and their value
with the world.


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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

businessand stewarding the income that resultsare creative


endeavours that can be as unique, and meaningful, as you are.

Id love to hear from you. If this book has helped in some way,
Id be grateful if youd leave a review on the Beautiful Anarchy
blog abeautifulanarchy.com or on Amazon. And if youd like
to take a moment to connect, tell me your story, or otherwise
engage, feel free to drop me a line at:
starvingartist@abeautifulanarchy.com

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield - This ones about doing


the work, and its a must-read.

A Beautiful Anarchy, David duChemin - I wouldnt have


written it if I couldnt whole-heartedly recommend it.

Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon

Show Your Work, Austin Kleon

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki

The Wealthy Barber, David Chilton - This ones specifically


Canadian, but the principles are universal.

Millionaire Teacher, Andrew Hallam

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DAVID DUCHEMIN

But finding a way to


sustain our art, while we
create it and share
it, means more
opportunities to do
just that: create
our art and share it.


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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Crush It!, Gary Vaynerchuk - Killer stuff. My first impression of


Gary Vaynerchuck was, Heres a guy Id never get along with. Hes
too brash. But you know what? The mans got serious heart and I
love his priorities. Not everything he does is going to be scalable,
but combine his heart and savvy with some of Timothy Ferris
business acumen and youve got a wicked combination.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk

The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris - This one is a favourite,


but it comes with a disclaimer. It took me at least a dozen trips
to my local bookstore to buy this. It felt too like so much hype.
But when I read it I was hooked. Ferris makes a case for the
so-called new rich as those who are not only wealthy financial-
ly, but in terms of time. He throws a lot of ideas at the reader
and I think its the readers job to sift them and see what sticks.
I highly recommend this one.

I Will Teach You to be Rich, Ramit Sethi - This one should have
been called, How Not to Be A Financial Moron. Its excellent,
despite the somewhat sensationalistic title, which is, it turns
out, pretty accurate. My generation needs a book about solid
financial advice, and this one has it in spades, along with plenty
of attitude. Get past the attitude and read this one.

The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason - Short, written


like a biblical parable, and full of basic wisdom that should be
common-sense but is for from common.

182
DAVID DUCHEMIN

The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin - Love this book. If you want
to make a living as a creative person but question your ability
or need to do so, read this one. Godin is spot on. If you want to
make it a one-two punch, read Linchpin as well.

Linchpin, Seth Godin

Free: How Today's Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving


Something for Nothing, Chris Anderson

Thank you for being part of this. I hope this book is only the
beginning of your journey towards the kind of freedom that
comes from getting your finances under control. Its amazing,
isnt it, how we seem so reluctant in this culture, to discuss
something so powerful and liberating? I hope, if nothing else,
this short book will help you see the possibilitiesthat this
can, in fact, be done. I hope it clears away some of the fear and
shame and gives you whatever beam of light was missing from
your search. Im not being falsely modest when I tell you if I
can do this, you can too. It was not my financial knowledge
that got me here, but my creativity and a willingness to learn
what I clearly didnt know. I had to hit rock bottom first; Im
hoping you can look up and see the light well before you hit the
bottom. Either way, it can be done. You can make a living with
your creativity. Its not the full story, but you can make a living
doing what you love. Passiondespite being the most overused
word of the last few yearsremains in desperate short supply.

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HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

Passiondespite
being the most overused
word of the last few
yearsremains in


desperate short supply.

184
DAVID DUCHEMIN

It is that passion that will fuel the long days and nights of
plying your craft that itll take to make a go of it financially,
but dont mistake the hard work for complexity. Its really pretty
simple. Spend less than you make. Save and invest the rest. Get
out of debt. And if you want to make a living from your creativ-
ity (and put food on the table of the otherwise starving artist),
it takes little more than it ever hasbuilding an audience and
giving them something of value, over and over again.

If you want more of this, feel free to join the blog at


ABeautifulAnarchy.com. Youll find articles, interviews,
links to resources, and more. You can also always find me
on Twitter or Facebook. My photography site and blog is at
DavidduChemin.com. And finally, Craft & Vision, can be
found at CraftAndVision.com. Id love to continue this
conversation at any of these outlets.

If youve enjoyed this book, please consider telling others about


it or leaving a review on ABeautifulAnarchy.com or Amazon,
if youve read it on your Kindle. Were all in this together and
no author forgets that without readers his voice would remain
silent. Thank you so much; Im grateful.

185
HOW TO FEED A STARVING ARTIST

COLOUR OUTSIDE THE


LINES; MAKE THE BEST
ART OF YOUR LIFE.

This heartfelt look at the hard work of creating, and living,


with greater intention and authenticity, will change the
way you make your art, whether thats a photograph, a
novel, a family, or a business. Our greatest creation can
be an intentional life, well-lived, on our terms.

A Beautiful Anarchy is available


as a paperback, PDF, and
Kindle edition from $10.

CLICK FOR MORE INFO

186