SeeSaw City: How To Balance Artistic Expression with Making Money OR Don’t Shoot Yourself In The Foot!

Jillian and Me at Happier Hours Feb 22nd 2014

Jillian and Me at Happier Hours Feb 22nd 2014

This past weekend, I attended two book events.

I’ll be honest: I do this in large part for you.

You inspire me. You motivate me. I don’t take it lightly that you subscribe.

We are all insanely busy. So if you follow me, I aim to deliver value.

For you, I want to stay current. Learn. Stay vital myself creatively and business-wise. And share this with you, so you can benefit.

Now, book events. Let’s call it the Odd Couple.

The first event I went to was a charming literary brunch called Happier Hour hosted by Jillian Lauren (pictured above) and Claire Bidwell Smith. These two are powerhouse writers and personalities. No surprise they drew Nell Scovell, who co-wrote the business and motivation bestselling book LEAN IN with Sheryl Sandberg — along with Gigi Levangie Grazer, author of countless witty bestselling books like THE STARTER WIFE and film and TV productions galore.

Gigi and Nell were in conversation. Under the hot SoCal sun, they glittered with wit and power and depth.

It was like a reunion. All my artsy friends. Writers, artists, actors, editors, critics. I ran into so many friends. Some, even, I’d been estranged from for years. One I reconnected with in a portrait against a heat-glazed vintage trailer Jillian is now using as her office. Follow me on Instagram for that story.

Jillian and Claire threw a lovely party. There was a shaded tent, ample chairs, an indie bookstore bookseller, great food, a boutique sommelier doing a soft launch of his company’s wine. And — nothing came together into a coherent business strategy for the featured authors, or the hosts.

On the other hand, so much was resonant from the day. Memorable. And, the one line that struck me most that day was uttered by Nell Scovell:

“I learned something from every project I started…and finished.”

Finished is the operative word.

You must complete writing projects in order to see the light. I see too many people give up too early. It’s like sports. Keep running, through the pain — until you shift into that blissful zone…your physical flow.

Back to the Happier Hour. I ran into one friend I hadn’t seen for ages, and she invited me to another book event. This time, a book launch for Samantha Bennett.

Now I knew about Samantha from the entrepreneurial world. She had a book called GET IT DONE newly released. On the cover was a blurb from none other than Seth Godin. The book was about completion. About getting creative projects started — and done. Same, same philosophy, right?


…the contrast between the two events couldn’t have been more stark.

This is what I want to share with you today. The chasm between the two events struck me hard. It highlighted the most obvious thing you must do to make money from your personal story. Don’t make the same mistake.

I asked the gorgeous, talented hostess and friend Jillian if she’d recorded the Happier Hour event.

“No! I thought it would just be a few people in my living room. I didn’t think of it!”

Cut to, Samantha Bennett — who had a professional selling books at the door of the intimate wine bar. Taking names for a mailing list. Handing out postcards for the book. To her left, a pair of professional media producers, both with video screens, managing the livestream running concurrently with Samantha Bennett’s live presentation. Other people videotaped the event, handled professional audio. The whole thing was like a well-oiled book launch machine — entrepreneurial style.

When I walked in, Samantha was being interviewed by another expert. This gave credibility too. The whole event was so tightly and professionally organized. And planned. These people weren’t surprised by how many showed live, or on the livestream (over 100!). They planned for it. They expected it. They invested in the event running smoothly.

And they had their eye on a revenue-generating activity.

I found myself blown away by the contrast. And pondering again the enormous split between attitudes towards making money from art. Both events featured real creative and literary forces. Granted, Samantha is more of a teacher than Nell or Gigi. Or Jillian or Claire, for that matter.

Still — why were people on the more literary side of things so hesitant to a) ascribe financial value to their work and b) ask for money? Or even think of the possibilities for documenting and capturing the events for future use? For list-building, or some other venture.

Wherefore the cavalier attitude?

I don’t know the answer.

I do know — that this approach will leave you poor. I don’t care how talented you are.

This pair of events reminded me — big time — one thing I learned in the last year, since I’ve created a new business, using my artistic and teaching skills — and turned it into a solid, six-figure money-making business:

You have to make a great work of art. Yes. You have to tell a powerful story that engages emotionally and entertains.

And, that’s not enough. You then have to make sure you shift into left brain. Step back from your creation. See its value. Its possibility.

Make a revenue-generating plan.

And document the event. Share it. Come up with a Call To Action. Some way for people who’re interested to find you. Follow you. Work with you.

You have to get over your fear of technology. As I often say, if I can — anyone can!

Enter the 21st century. Yes, pour your heart and soul into your personal stories.

Samantha’s Call To Action was to join her upcoming workshop – ! Simple? Yes! Then do it!

I know. I said this Raw Feature would tell you ONE thing that would help you monetize your personal story.

Here it is:

Write your personal story from your right brain. Sluice those veins. Pour out heart and soul. Craft and shape. Finish!


Activate your left brain. Think how to create revenue from this personal story and event — and claim that! Don’t spend time and energy writing a personal story, creating an event, getting people out, spending on food and more (I have done all this!) — and then not have something to either sell or a list to build.

If you find this crass, so be it.

Entrepreneurs — take from this the confirmation that you must activate your right brain to create something vital — emotionally engaging and entertaining to showcase your expertise.

So stand tall. Stake your claim. Spread your message.

And don’t be ashamed to make the Ask — it’s an art too! — and to stand behind your value. This is the number one mindset — AND action step — that shifted me from a brokeass writer to a six-figure business woman. In one short year.

Try it. You might like it.

Yrs in truth,

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3 Responses to SeeSaw City: How To Balance Artistic Expression with Making Money OR Don’t Shoot Yourself In The Foot!

  1. Lisa February 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    I would welcome the opportunity to speak with someone regarding my book.


  2. Jean February 28, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Great post, Rachel!

    (I thought the line read…”It’s an art TOOL!”)

    ~And don’t be ashamed to make the Ask — it’s an art too! ~
    And, I guess it IS an art tool to ask for your art…


  3. Samantha Bennett November 8, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Rachel — I’m so pleased and flattered that you would feature my launch party this way : ) And I was SO delighted to see you there!

    I think the KEY that you touch on is this: remembering to ask yourself, “What do I want out of this?”

    If what you want is a lovely afternoon with wine and friends, then fantastic — but don’t be surprised at the end of the year when you realize you’ve spent a bundle of money and haven’t brought as much back in.

    I was talking with a semi-famous friend the other day who’d been approached about partnering on an app. Cool idea, right? But I rocked her world a bit when I asked, “Well, what do you want out of this? If you just want the PR, then don’t worry about the money and consider it a PR investment. If you want immediate cash, then negotiate for that. And if you want to focus on building your tribe (which is always my preference) then find a way to give the app away for free, but have some membership site or online sharing place where the users can gather and you can get their names/emails and continue to share stuff and market to them.”

    Having a strategy isn’t cold-blooded. It’s just making choices. And when you are clear about what you want, it makes it a LOT easier for people to give you what you want. Plus you can tell at the end whether you’ve succeeded or not.

    And that’s what I wish for ALL of you — the exact kind of success you want.

    Thanks again for inviting me to the conversation, Beautiful Rachel!

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