The Best Kept Money Secret for Freelancers and Creativepreneurs

We just passed the 6 year anniversary of starting to work for ourselves, and let me tell you, it has been a journey. When we were both working salaried jobs, finances were a breeze. We just went to work, and we got paid the same amount each month. It was stable, dependable and super easy to budget around. 

But then, Nat was laid off.

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Resting to Reset

Oh boy. These past couple of months have been a doozy

We got the podcast up and running in September, then had a family emergency and health scare in October that made us slow way down, then discovered in November that changing banks for all the business and personal accounts takes a lot more effort than we would have thought. 

And on top of that, we’ve been doing our normal full time work of running a makerspace and making sure our freelance work keeps pace, which both keep us busier than normal through holidays. 

Oh, then we got put out of commission with a New Year’s flu. 

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The Close Of A Decade

In just over a month, we close the door on the 2010s and walk into a new decade. And while this is an admittedly arbitrary dividing line, these markers can be helpful to track the big-picture trajectory of our lives.

Ten years ago, Michelle and I were planning our wedding. I had just moved home after a brief stint in Chicago trying to make it as a full-time musician and had gotten a job as a substitute teacher. She was working as an administrative assistant at a nonprofit and going through a program to get her teaching license. She had done art all through college, but had set it aside for a bit until she finished her program. 

Ten years later, she’s running a makerspace to help other artists. I’m planning music festivals, hosting shows, and fresh my band’s third release—second on vinyl—all while I write freelance for a living. 

It wasn’t an easy journey. The past decade has been filled with frustrations, artless seasons, career detours, layoffs, debt, and even food stamps. But at the end of all of it, we’ve still ended up more or less where we wanted to be—doing creative work and investing in a community where others can do the same. 

Looking back over the last decade, I wonder: 

What would we have done differently if we knew where we’d end up?

Would we have taken a chance on our dreams earlier if we knew that we would actually be able to succeed? Would we have swallowed our creative dreams and gotten safe jobs if we knew that we would be able to do what we wanted in the first place? 

Or would we have jumped in headfirst from the get-go?

Maybe Michelle would be celebrating her shop’s tenth anniversary this February instead of just her fifth. Maybe my band would have already had some tours under our belt instead of just now starting to plan them now. Maybe our festival would already be the major event that we know it can become. We certainly would have had some missteps, but we could be looking back on even more successes if we started earlier.

Look back at your past ten years. What have you achieved? Where have you failed? 

Maybe you’re not where you wanted to be a decade ago. But, that doesn’t need to be true of this coming decade. 

What would you be doing differently if you knew that it was possible to reach your creative dreams? What risks would you take now if you knew that they would pay off? What things have you been putting off that you would jump into now?

There’s a saying we like to throw around a lot in the FitzGerald household:

“One Day” starts now. 

Maybe the 2010s weren’t a stellar success for you. But maybe the 2020s can be. You can start moving toward that goal today. Every little step gets you closer.

And we want to help. 

Ten years ago, we didn’t have a community around us supporting us on the way to their goals. We didn’t have a lot of people who were chasing those creative pursuits. Even when we quit our jobs to do our own thing, we didn’t have many examples around us who were killing it creatively. We just sort of winged it (wung it?) until we made it happen.

But now that we’ve come out the other end, we want to give others the help that we didn’t have. That’s why Michelle opened her shop. That’s why I’m hosting house shows and open mics and festivals. 

And that’s why we started the Killer Creators. We want to offer you the support, community, and knowhow we wish we had when we first started out. If that just means being on our email list or bookmarking our blog or subscribing to our podcast, that’s perfect. 

But if you want to really take things up a notch, join our course. In our program, we give you all the support we can muster to make your creative dreams a reality, with modules addressing limiting beliefs, managing your resources, honing your vision, and practical business tips to actually get started, plus a helpful workbook to organize all of your ideas into a tangible plan, a members-only Facebook group where you can share successes and challenges with like-minded creators, and two one-on-one coaching calls with us. 

We know that all of this information can help take you to where you want to be, because it’s all the same lessons that we learned in the last six years of doing this creative work for ourselves. We’ve seen more success than we ever thought—and we want to bring others along too.

If you want to jump in, join our course here. We’d love to help you make this next decade better than you ever thought. 

Episode 5: Finding Your Super Power with Brooke Fuller of Superkid Capes

Join our conversation with Brooke Fuller, a creative entrepreneur who went from kindergarten teacher to cape maker when she opened Superkid Capes, a pretend play company. Despite no formal training as a sewer, Brooke started making capes at her kitchen table using a simple sewing machine and a serger. That was nine years ago. Today, Brooke sits in the top 1% of sellers on Etsy.  Tune into this episode to discover how she got started making and selling goods online and her best advice for others hoping to do the same! 

Listen here

This episode is brought to you by the Killer Creators Program, where we help transform unfulfilled folks into killer creators by finding and unlocking their truest potential and learning all the practical tips around time and money management that make living as a full time creative easy to do. You can join our email list to get weekly motivation, the latest blog posts and podcast episodes, and to be the first to know when the doors to our course open again. 


Subscribe + Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed yet? You should be, or else you’ll miss out on new episodes and bonus material. And if you like what you’re hearing, leave us a review here to help other people find us. Let us know what part you like best. 

Links mentioned in this episode:

Apologies for the Radio Silence

Hey Killers—Nat here with an update.

Things have been a little quiet over here in Killer Land—some of you may have even noticed and been wondering why.

The answer might get a little heavy, but it’s worth sharing with you all. 

Three weeks ago, my Uncle passed away unexpectedly during a hip surgery. It was sudden and shocking, and caused my family to slow down a bit to appreciate eachother a little more in the fragility of life.

Then this past Monday night, Michelle was awoken by a dull, persistent pain in her right arm. She wondered if she might be having a heart attack, but there weren’t any other symptoms, so after some googling we decided it was safe to wait until morning. 

She felt fine, so she left early with a friend for a conference in Chicago. Once they arrived in the city though, the pain came back—accompanied by clammy skin and chest tightness. I woke up to a text that she had checked into the emergency room to get checked out. 

After a few tests, they ruled out anything serious. The doctor’s best guess is that it was merely muscle soreness paired with the anxiety of thinking she was having a heart attack.

But even after she checked herself out (and went to the rest of the conference—what a champ), the fear of losing her had left me in a state of shock that was difficult to shake out of. Coming right off of the loss of my uncle, I recognized just how fragile life can be, and realized how tenuous our stability can be.

And to be completely honest, it left me incapacitated. For a few days, I was still wracked with the anxiety I felt when I got that text message. I tried to work to get my mind off of it, but it didn’t work. All I could do was wait for her to walk through our front door so I could be sure she was alright.

I’ve recovered now—yesterday was actually pretty dang productive. But the lessons of this episode are crystal clear…

Life is precious.

Don’t wait to tell someone how much they mean to you. Don’t wait to do the things you want to do. Because you truly never know what might happen. 

I don’t mean for this to be heavy handed or guilt trippy or anything like that. And truly—we’re fine. Michelle’s perfectly healthy and I’m out from under the trauma that floored me.

But I wanted to remind you to make sure you don’t take anything in this life for granted. Say what you mean. Do what you care about. Be grateful for the things you have. And for God’s sake, be true to yourself. 

Appreciate you all.

Episode 4. Living Your Truth and Making Room For Others To Do The Same with CHAV

CHAV fills us is on the gaps in their journey from Nat’s improv-club co-member and commercial model to black queer icon, and we fill them in on what’s been going on in South Bend since they left.

Listen on Anchor.

CHAV is a multi-media conceptual artist living in Brooklyn, and they are absolutely blowing up right now. Their work has included photography, art installations, poetry, videography, dance, and music. They are a co-founder of FagMass Collective and recently launched Flat Pop Records, a pop label that showcases the work of marginalized artists, especially women, nonbinary, LGBTQ, and people of color. 

This episode is brought to you by the Killer Creators Program, where we help transform unfulfilled folks into killer creators by finding and unlocking their truest potential and learning all the practical tips around time and money management that make living as a full time creative easy to do. You can join our email list to get weekly motivation, the latest blog posts and podcast episodes, and to be the first to know when the doors to our course open again. 

Subscribe + Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed yet? You should be, or else you’ll miss out on new episodes and bonus material. And if you like what you’re hearing, leave us a review here to help other people find us. Let us know what part you like best. 

Links mentioned in this episode: 

@CHAV.pop on Instagram

@flatpoprecords on Instagram

@_fagmass_ on Instagram

“Kickin’ on the Floor (QUEEN)” premiere on Paper Magazine

Feature on “Queen Black America” on Paper Magazine

Interview with Wussy Mag

The #1 Secret to Living with More Freedom

Jump on Instagram for a minute, and you’ll likely cross a photo of someone living their best life. They travel whenever they want, live without a care in the world, and work new projects whenever inspiration strikes. And you might think, “Man, I just wish I had that much freedom.” You might think they have that freedom because they happened to win the lottery or have a great inheritance, and very rarely that is true. But for most people who are living their best life and making it look flawless, they have a secret that you can steal. Want to know what that secret is? They are planners. What?! They’re not just carelessly spontaneous? No, quite the opposite.

Most people who are able to live with such true freedom have planned it intentionally. 

I know I just dropped a pretty big truth bomb on you, and you might be disappointed. You wanted a trick that takes no actual effort. Around here I like to say that you have to plan to be spontaneous. And as much as it seems like an oxymoron, it really works. Let me give you a few examples to show you how this works. Then you can try a few this week and see how much more freedom you feel. 

Nat and I have some different ideas about what freedom looks like. For him it might be buying all the records he’d like and attending every concert he possibly can. For me, I like to be able to make lunch plans with a friend a new restaurant or even just be able to take a day to try new recipes. I really love cooking and trying new foods. When Nat and I weren’t great at planning, we’d just do what we wanted anyway and then act surprised when the back balance was low or the workload we had procrastinated on seemed insurmountable. But once we started to plan out our time and money better, we felt real freedom when we did the same things. 

One incredible and often overlooked area of planning that can give you more freedom and less stress is budgeting. I know, I know. You’ve tried it before but just couldn’t stick to it. We’ve been there. It takes some discipline, sure, but there are also some great tools that can help you succeed. A few things we’ve found to be helpful have been using auto pay and scheduling to know where money is going and when, separate accounts for things like allowance and savings that ensure we’re only spending what’s available, budgeting apps like Mint to see progress on your budget on the go, and we’ve even tried a cash envelope system. My favorite tools that I use are a Google Sheet that I update weekly and my separate debit card just for allowance. I can go out to eat with friends and feel the freedom to go when that money is already planned for in my allowance. 

The other area that can make or break your feeling of freedom is in managing your time. Just like money, you have to proactively plan where you want to spend your time otherwise you’ll just be missing it. Do you find yourself responding to everyone else’s needs and reacting to situations through the day? Maybe you’ve become a slave to check and reply to every notification ping of an email or social media post. If you’d rather be proactive and in charge of your day, turn off non-essential notifications, schedule times to check email and social posts. Set timers and limits on how much time you want to give to specific tasks or mindless ones (I used the app time limits on my phone so I don’t get sucked down a 2 hour You Tube rabbit hole). Most smartphones have a screen time tracker, or at least a battery usage tracker that might reveal how much time your phone really takes from your day. And if you find yourself shocked by the vast amount of hours wasted there each week, it’s time to make a plan. 

We find that building morning routines and daily habits, along with blocking out parts of the day for various work and hobby activities gives us the most sense of time freedom, because all the things we want the freedom to do are planned into the day. Build routines, habits and daily schedules around the things you want to be free to do, and don’t feel bad about turning off notifications and living reactively to everyone else’s plans. You’ll be surprised at how much time you can find in the day to take back as your own, and if you want to do something spontaneous with those extra hours each day, you can do so freely. 

So, that’s it, in a really small nutshell. If you want more freedom to live spontaneously, you got to plan for it. If you want even more detailed, step by step help on implementing this kind of discipline in your life, you’re going to want to jump in the Killer Creators program when it opens next. We walk you through the exact methods we use to make sure we’re living as freely as we like, so you can too. We’ve built our program specifically with creatives in mind. So, join our email list and make sure you don’t miss your chance to join us the next time we open the program up. 

Challenge Update!

Last week, we gave you a challenge: spend one intentional hour on a creative project that you’ve been putting off.

And that challenge was just as much for me as it was for all of you, so I thought I’d pop in with an update.

My goal was to spend one hour recording parts for the NTVTY record that I’ve been putting off for over four years. Seems pretty easy, right?

Full disclosure: I didn’t do it until today, when I realized that the deadline was rapidly approaching.

I had completely intended to do it on Monday, which is Michelle and my day off. But I didn’t make an intentional plan to make it happen. I did however restring my acoustic guitar on Sunday night to make it easier on myself, so I should get credit there, right?

But when Monday came around, I let myself get distracted by other things. I spent a couple hours trying to rewire the stereo in my van to work with the rear speakers. Then, I watched some TV and played video games. By the time I remembered that I wanted to record, it was already too late. 

Tuesday came around, and I had other work to do, so I felt like I didn’t have the hour to give it. Wednesday, same thing.

But Thursdays, I don’t work until the afternoon. I realized that this was the last day for the challenge, so I took an hour out of my morning, went into my practice room, and set a timer.

Here’s how it played out.

Setting up to record—the huge obstacle that has stood in my way every time I think about recording—took me five minutes. Five minutes. Five minutes, and everything was mic’d, plugged in, and leveled. I was ready to hit record after only five minutes. You better believe I’ll be remembering that next time I try to hit that excuse.

Then, I spent another two minutes setting up inputs on the computer and setting the tempo. 

Then, it was recording time. I recorded a take of the guitar part—four minutes. I messed up in one spot, so I spent thirty seconds to go back and fix that. Then I spent another four minutes recording a second part. 

Barely twenty minutes into my hour, and I had already gotten two guitar tracks onto tape. I figured that forty minutes was enough to come up with a cool synth part, so I started messing around with different sounds and parts until I found something I liked. Once I got something, I recorded a couple more takes, thinking that was my time. 

I looked at my timer: I still had nine minutes. Definitely enough time to record a vocal take.  

Now, all that’s left is to write some electric guitar parts to put over the acoustic tracks, record a few harmony parts, and the song is ready for mixing. 

One hour, and a song is half finished.

My biggest takeaway is this: never underestimate the power of one intentional hour. If I were to do this two times a week, my record would be finished in a couple months—with time that I would have otherwise spent scrolling through Reddit or rewatching The Office. 

What about you guys? How did your challenges play out? We’d love to hear what you accomplished—or what struggles kept you from finishing. 

Episode 3. Creative Play as a Career with Jonathan Randall Grant

Jonathan Randall Grant talks with us about the way our creative journeys have coincided over the last decade and how he turned his art from play to profession.

Jonathan Randall Grant is a muralist, liturgical artist, fashion consultant, and advocate living in Chicago. He is the manager of communications for Episcopal Charities in Chicago, artist in residence at the American Church in Paris, and serves on a consulting team that seeks to make room for creatives and LGBTQ+ individuals in the Church.

Listen here

Continue reading “Episode 3. Creative Play as a Career with Jonathan Randall Grant”
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