Hobby or Business: Should you Take your Creative Pursuits to the Next Level?

Creative-Hobby-or-Business-Which-Way-To-Go-Tips

 

My experience of running a business has been rewarding in many ways but, it’s no walk in the park. If you’re creatively inclined like myself, you may have had the thought: “how can I design my life so that I get to do more of this making stuff?” It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of this – I’m often encouraging people to go for it. However, if you’re planning on making a living from it, it’s important to really think about whether you want to create a business of it, or if you’re better off with a creative hobby. 

Here are some questions to help you decide:

Passion
a). Do you have an unwavering love for what you do? Do you eat, sleep, breathe and think about it all the time?
OR 
b). Do you just like it a lot right now?

Focus
a). Do you have a relatively clear vision of the career and lifestyle you want to have?
OR
b). Does your vision change fundamentally, with every day, every encounter and every new experience?

Drive
a). Are you a self-starter?
OR
b). Do you prefer to have things all planned out for you?

Multi-tasking ability
a). Are you adept at juggling several different tasks and responsibilities?
OR 
b). Do you prefer to work exclusively on one thing at a time?

Confidence and fearlessness
a). Are you proud to show and tell the world about what you’re doing?
OR
b). Do you hate talking about yourself?

Resilience
a). Do you have a thick skin when it comes to what others think and say about you and your work?
OR
b). Would you rather not put yourself out there for scrutiny?

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the ‘a’ questions – welcome to the wonderful and challenging world of enterprise!

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the ‘b’ questions – why ruin a good thing? Why not nurture your creativity without the pressures of business, for now?

If I had to sum up the qualities I think it takes to make a living from your craft, I’d say that these are up there: passion, focus, drive, multi-tasking ability, confidence (at least enough to fake it well), fearlessness and resilience.

At the end of the day, running a creative business is about so much more than just making (see my post on non-creative business priorities for creative professionals). Some people welcome this as a necessary part of the lifestyle they want to lead but, for others, these demands destroy their enjoyment of their craft. With a creative project, you can change your mind, change the plan at a whim or quit at any point. You can do so with a creative business too but, the consequences of this kind of spontaneity could be more significant.

Let me know if this post has been useful to your decision-making. 

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Related:

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Afri-love is 5

Afri-love-is-5

 

Today, Afri-love is 5 years old. 

I started the blog just after I left the world of employment so, this milestone not only marks the anniversary of an idea but also, of a completely different way of life! That of a self-employed creative entrepreneur. 

It’s so fitting then that the mission of this blog has evolved over the years to what it is now – a platform to showcase, encourage and support creative entrepreneurship. My experiences, and in particular, the things I’ve learned as I’ve dealt with the various (and many) challenges that have come my way, have inspired content ideas. My hope is that by sharing these stories and tips, others can avoid some of the setbacks I’ve faced and focus on excellence and striving.

 

Adele-Dejak-Lulu-Kitololo

[with client and Afri-love interviewee, fashion designer, Adele Dejak]

 

Constants

The ultimate vision with which I started Afri-love remains the same …

Imagine Africans who love who they are, as they are, and so love each other and the environment that nurtures them. Confident and assertive, they are engaged in charting their growth and celebrating success as defined on their own terms.

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment.

Imagine all starting by looking inside themselves. Self-discovery, self-awareness, self-love and self-respect. And then true learning, understanding, love and respect of the other. Harnessing the power of emotion to influence great positive change.

 

Kitengela Glass Art Sculpture

[Sculpture at the Kitengela Glass studio in Kenya]

 

I’ve always seen creativity as a powerful vehicle for these aims. My beloved continent is responsible for so much of who I am. The sun, the natural beauty, the people’s spirit, the diversity of culture, the innovation, the resilient unrelenting joyfulness. I like to think that I express this influence – this richness, dynamism and even complexity – through my work. And I recognise a similar ‘language’ in the work of the many many creatives that I’ve come across on this Afri-love journey. Whether they reside on the continent or in the diaspora. Whether they identify as Africans or are simply inspired by Africa. The creative expression that Africa inspires is phenomenal and it feels like the world is taking proper note now (once again). Fittingly, Afri-love is also about celebration.

I recall the tagline that I came up with 5 years ago: Be proud. Be inspired. Spread love. Grow.

On a personal level, this is still appropriate today:

 

Lulu-Kitololo-Founder-Afri-love

 

  • I am proud to be who I am – every single piece of me
  • I continue to be inspired by the world, people and life in general but, as pertains to my heritage in particular
  • I aim to approach every situation, thing and everybody with love. And that starts with the self. It starts with approaching myself with love.
  • I am thankful of the opportunity to grow – with every experience and with every encounter (it what makes each day even better than the last – even though it can seem quite the opposite when we’re actually in the moment) 

 

V&A-Afropolitans-Friday-Late-Yemi-Hannah-Lulu-Minna-Tolu

[Panel at the V&A Afropolitans Friday Late in 2011. From left: Yemi Alade-Lawal of Afro-Pop Live; writer, editor and curator Hannah Pool (who is also a client); me; writer Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan and Afri-love interviewee; journalist, poet, photographer and fiction writer, Tolu Ogunlesi. My take on the discussion here. Photo by Barbara Muriungi/Them2k]

 

That’s why I’m so grateful to all of you who have read, commented, shared and participated in this Afri-love journey. I could never have imagined that I would get to know so many amazing people, let alone get to share prestigious stages and grace the pages of magazines, newspapers and blogs. From simply putting what I’m passionate about our there! I thought I believed in the transformative power of passion back then but, now, I’ve actually experienced it.

 

Changes

In life’s funny way of bringing things full circle, it’s now challenging me to take things a step further in the pursue-your-passion department. After years of providing a graphic design service to clients, it’s becoming clearer and clearer with each day that I need to let my self-directed work assume more of the spotlight. Work is in progress (previews and sneak peeks) as I find a balance that works. Now that I’ve voiced it – I have thousands of witnesses! Sometimes it feels like I’m quitting my day job, all over again. 

 

Lulu Kitololo Asilia Work in Progress

 

Juggling these new ambitions with my existing commitments, and trying to focus on staying healthy at the same time, means that I haven’t been able to make the anniversary splash that I would have liked to make today. Thankfully, self-love mode kicked in (kicking out unrealistic-high-expectations mode), and I realised that the celebration is so much bigger than one day. And so, I will be stretching it out across several. Maybe even several months … A live event is definitely a part of it so, stay tuned.

 

Again, thank you for being here with me – now, then and later. 

Big big love!
Lulu

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Earth Day Celebration: Nature as Creative Inspiration

Earth Day Squash

Nature has always been my number one source of creative inspiration. The diversity abundant in the flora, fauna and landscapes that surround us have been inspiring artists, craftspeople and designers, around the world, for centuries.

In this late Earth Day post (you may have noticed TypePad was down for a few days last week), I wanted to share some photographs I’ve taken – most of them recent, thanks to my new enjoyment of Instagram, and a couple from the archives.

Patterns in nature

Wundanyi Taita Hills Plants Pattern
The leaves above were found in my Aunt and Uncle’s garden in Wundanyi, a beautiful town in the Taita Hills. I love stripes in general so these leaves caught my eye. The photo was taken on my phone and I had some fun with VSCOcam to play with colour (the leaves are actually a dull greyish green) and really bring out the pattern.

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In Technicolour: Turquoise Colour Palettes Inspired by Wax Print

Colour-Palette-Ideas-Wax-Print-Turquoise-In-Technicolour-Diamond-Pattern

 

Wax print, and African textiles in general, are often such a great inspiration for me when it comes to my design work, making art and being crafty in general. The shapes, the patterns and of course, the colour combinations! The ‘In Technicolour’ series continues and this time round I've got 3 palettes for you, drawing from predominantly turquoise prints.

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The Afri-love List: 5 Must-Follow Pinners

AphroChic Juju Hats Kuba Cushions

An abundance of Pinterest inspiration awaits you ,with all things Afri-fabulous and much much more. Here are some of my favourite Pinners and a few images to give you a taste of what to expect from their boards … 

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A Success Reading List for Creative Entrepreneurs

Success-Reading-List-for-Creative-Entrepreneurs-on-Afri-love

 

When I embarked on journey of self-employment, almost 5 years ago, I went on a mission to educate myself about success. I got caught up in all the fantastic things I was learning about business, finance, personal effectiveness and ultimately, about myself. So much so that, I can probably count on my 2 hands, the number of fiction books that I've read during this period. 

Over the past few months, as I establish my second business, I find myself ramping things up and making this reading part of my daily routine – at least 30-45 mins every day. The difference I'm experiencing in my mindset, my behaviour and my results is not a coincidence. When wiser, more seasoned and more successful people talk about swapping some TV time for reading – they're not trying to rob you of joy! They know how they got where they are. So I'm going to retrace their steps (these days I catch up on TV on Sundays when I'm doing my hair … but, that's a whole other post).

Below is a working list of books that I've found very useful, as a (creative) entrepreneur. We can have both (creative satisfaction and wealth). Here's to no more starving artists!

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The Wisdom of Crowds: A Collection of Treasures from 4 Years of Afri-love, Part III

A-Collection-of-Treasures-from-4-Years-of-Afri-love-3

Following parts I and II, today we wrap up the birthday celebration with the third and final installation of the collection of treasures. I am extremely grateful to all readers, subscribers, fans, followers and supporters. The journey has been all the more richer because of all of you who've shared ideas and critique, discoveries and personal stories. This is a celebration of you all!

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Is it African? Questions of Aesthetics, Authenticity and Classification

Is-it-African

In the past few weeks, the question of what constitutes as 'African' has come up in different contexts.

As I prepared my African fiction and non-fiction reading lists, I had to reflect on how I was selecting the books. In the end, I defined African fiction as such because of the heritage of the author and thus their perspective and experience, whether or not the subject of the book had anything to do with Africa. On the other hand, African non-fiction picks had everything to do with the subject matter.

I attended a couple of conferences in April: the African Creative Industries Investment Summit (ACIIS) and London Business School's Africa Day. Both were great opportunities to meet some truly inspiring people and listen to some exciting insights and ideas (and as much as I've been a skeptic of networking – I must say that that was actually the highlight of these 2 events. In fact, these experiences changed my whole perspective on the matter but, more about that here).

What did of course come up was this question of the African aesthetic. What makes something African?

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Labour/May Day Special: Posts for those who’ll be resting and posts for those who’ll be building

Work Life Balance

For many of you around the world, today – labour day or May Day – is a holiday. Free time for you to spend relaxing, with yourself or with family and friends, and for some of you, extra time to spend working on building that idea you've been nurturing and perhaps even executing. 

Whether you're taking a break from your labour or indeed hustling to transform its shape, here's some inspiration for you via popular posts from the Afri-love archives.

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Ways to Use Pinterest as a Creative Tool

Ways-to-Use-Pinterest-as-a-Creative-Tool

Pinterest is much more than just a place to salivate over pretty pictures. My obsession with beautiful things aside, what keeps me going back to use the social media platform, again and again, has to do with its function as a creative tool. 'Tool' you ask? Indeed! You may actually be able to justify adding Pinterest to your timesheet. Here are some ideas of how you can use the platform towards more productive ends (not that the act of seeking inspiration can't be productive – context is everything).

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