Advice? How do you find balance between work and life as a creator? 🤔

Hey, it’s Erica again from Patreon’s content team. I’d love to get your input for a story I’m currently planning. We’re writing a story about finding balance as a creator and I’d love to get your advice and feedback on the following questions:

  • How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?
  • How do you find space for self-care?
  • What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?

Full disclosure: we would like to use some of the answers we receive from this discussion for a blog post, so please let us know if you’d be willing to be mentioned in the post, or if you’d be willing to talk directly with one of our writers!

Thanks so much! :star_struck:

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Nice!! I am pretty new here and looking for same answers. Would you be interested how we are facing these challenges in a big city in South America?

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Thanks for your response. Yes, I’d love to hear about how you’re balancing work and life! :slight_smile:

Great! We are facing hard polítical and financial times. I supposed you don’t know about Brasil as we know about USA. We are so similar!
But we are called third World and technology is a little farther. Talk about Patreon here (São Paulo, a 20-million people city) is not common.
Any question? How could I help you?

How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?

I don’t. Sometimes I have slack times and I play extra video games, and just fart around working in slow motion. Sometimes I am eyeballs deep in commissions and personal work and have to buckle down and work for 30 days straight without loading up a game or movie the whole month.

I am frankly horrible at this when the work pours in (and it does these days - there was a time where I did have a great balance, but it also involved earning a lot less money).

How do you find space for self-care?

When I’m way over my head, I send out a notice to all friends and professional contacts to let them know that I’m way over my head and will be focusing on finishing things off in the order I started them and that I won’t be available for new work, and some of my work will be late because I have a client that pays me three times what others do and they get my priority work spot at all times.

I feel a lot more in control when I send one of these out, and it leads into me getting a lot of work done in a short period because I have stopped myself from looking at / for other work for the time being and just focusing on the project in front of me.

What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?

Don’t do what I do.
Learn to say “no” to additional projects.
Creativity doesn’t work on a schedule, which sucks, because scheduling and time management are KEY skills for balancing life / work. If you can figure out how to apply them to creating, then you are my hero.

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Love the transparency on not having balance! I had a conversation with a creator yesterday who mentioned that he thought balance was a myth and it was more about juggling.

Thanks for your feedback, it’s very appreciated. I’ll reach out if we need more info!

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  • How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?

I haven’t found the wished balance but I think I’m on my way now. I have a full time job, a home to take care of with a hidden dissability in a third world country with socio-political disasters and not so many facilities or opportunities to make my life easier while I try to work on my true passion on my free time (that is not much). ah! Also I use some of my free time to try to learn English.
I am trying to use at least 1 hour at day for creative stuff even if that hour I have to divide it on minutes along the day. It doesn’t work everyday tho, since my job actually consumes most of my life (but, hey, this is what actually pay my bills and not my passion. and no, dont come at me with “change jobs”, its not easy here and I am lucky enough to have this job)
This is my second year trying to set a routine, I haven’t changed it much what I have wanted to schedule for my everyday life, I havent get myself to be enough organised to have the desired balance but this year has been more balanced than last year’s try haha so be patient.

  • How do you find space for self-care?

I am obligating myself to have enought self-care everyday. As I said, I have a hidden dissability, so I need at least 1 hour at day for physio, 2 hours per homechores and resting, so I can use 1-2 hours to creative proccess while I also try to go to bed early for a new work day.
There are days that absolutely I need for to rest and I obligate mentally to not to get desperate or guilty for not finishing something. My health comes first.

  • What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?

Think on your priorities and make a difference between priorities and whishes.
Have in mind that also some priorities changes a bit with time but others are always priorities like: health and surviving int his world.

Be honest with yourself and your clients(patrons etc) about your disponibility, time and skills.

Set small goals to reach in short time lapses that lead you to a main one for the year but same as priorities, have it in mind these goals can change and that is ok.

Be patient with yourself if you can’t manage wverything as you wished.

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Ooh, I’m happy to respond to this one! I’ve struggled my way through some pretty rough times to get to a relatively healthy work-life balance.

How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?

I have a few strategies:

  1. A printed monthly calendar where I can write down all upcoming due dates and cross out days that have passed
  2. A daily task checklist that keeps me on track with both the smaller things and progress I need to make on bigger goals

These two things keep me on track enough that I can disengage my mind from my work in the evening, so

  1. I make evenings and (as much as I can) weekends FORCED non-working hours. Evenings are deliberately for cooking, hanging out with my partner, and playing video games. No work allowed!

How do you find space for self-care?

It’s helpful to look at what tasks energize me/give me happy brain chemicals, and what tasks are draining, and as best as I can, mentally prepare myself for that. And I have to do it without judgement-- I found that multiple parts of my job are very tiring, and that was honestly unpleasant to find out. But it’s better to know! You may have your “dream job,” but it’s still work. Parts of it will be stressful and draining.

Some ways I get through the hard stuff is to acknowledge it, celebrate the accomplishment, and reward myself somehow. “I got through these three emails, time for some tea,” or, “I posted an advertisement, time to take a walk.” It’s imperitive to my health to meet those draining tasks with some form of self-care.

What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?

Don’t judge yourself too much for what you find difficult. It is what it is. Just be aware, and try to look out for yourself as best as you can.

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Thanks so much for sharing this, I love that you’ve put your health first and that even though you haven’t found ‘the wished balance’ you’re working towards it everyday!

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love your advice on not judging yourself and looking out for yourself, thanks so much for sharing!

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How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?

I set goals and I plan time for creating. I still create when I feel inspired, but I set a goal to create a certain amount of content a week if I can. For example, I try to do at least one lingerie selfie session and one vlog every week. Normally I get to two sessions of photos and sometimes I don’t get in the video, but I try. And those are just my personal goals, I actually “promise” a minimum of one video and 300 or so selfies (that’s 3 or 4 sessions) a month to my Patrons so I very much under promise and over deliver. That helps me not stress so much about it.

Another very specific scheduling thing I do is first thing in the morning I make a good morning Lens Snap video for my Patrons along with a few quick artistic selfies. I do this every weekday unless I’m having a pain flare. Having that one consistent thing done can really help motivate me to stay in the creative mindset, but it also lets me sort of relax knowing that I’m delivering something. For me, this means I can let myself create when I feel creative instead of feeling that “Oh my gosh! I haven’t posted recently! I have to come up with something!”

Another part of that is that I schedule (in my planner) dates for my major content releases on the month. Aside from videos and selfies which can vary, I release 3 photoshoot galleries. Each one is on a specific day of the month. Plus I release the Archive links at the beginning of the month.

I keep a backlog of galleries and occasionally I’ll re-release a past gallery instead of a new one (no issues on that so far). Having a backlog means I’m not struggling to shoot those galleries every month which would be difficult as they usually require collaborating with another photographer. Instead, I do shoot days where I’ll shoot content with 3 or 4 photographers in the same day a few times a year.

The trickier part to me isn’t so much creating, but promoting. I feel like I have to be constantly active on social media in order to gain new Patrons as there is a decent amount of turnover.

How do you find space for self-care?

This is something I used to feel guilty about, like it was a selfish luxury even before I became a creator. Thankfully, self care kind of fits into my creation process. Bubble baths, funny face mask photos, doing a mani/pedi, etc. are all things I can tell my Patrons about or take photos of for Lens Snaps.

But also, given my pain condition, I know that my body and my mind need those things and sometimes I don’t document them. And part of it means I just have to be firm with myself. I’ve been trying to meditate more regularly, for example, so I put it on my Habit Tracker in my Bullet Journal and I sort of make myself do it before I’m “allowed” to do other things.

What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?

I think it’s like learning: you have to figure out what works for you. I think it’s fairly common for creators to be pretty self motivated, but plenty of us aren’t too. If that’s you, I’d suggest an accountability buddy or maybe putting it in your schedule/routine. Or follow a few self care accounts on Instagram. Anything that will remind you to take the time and also remind you that it’s okay (and important) to do.

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thanks for sharing this, I love that you’ve found a way to integrate self-care with your content creating (I’ve been meditating more often too!)

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Might be too late to the party but here’s my addition!

How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?

I am fortunate to not have any ‘dependents’ (children etc) so I can essentially do what I want when I want. I have been making my living from my art only (previously took on other work) since 2017, but have been working as an illustrator for around 16 years. I live with my partner who is also an artist and he is VERY disciplined and this has really rubbed off on me!
I work an average 9-5 in the studio and usually mornings are admin (social media posts, wrapping prints for shipping etc, stuff like that) and then if I am in a busy patch I will go back to work after dinner at night but only for a couple of hours and only after I’ve had a couple of hours break. Sometimes I’ll spend the morning in the garden (I love growing fruits and veggies) during the summer which is a really great way to switch off. I try not to work at weekends but it does happen (just because I want to), but it’s not a 9-5, more like a couple of hours or so each day instead.

How do you find space for self-care?

I don’t really think about ‘self care’ as such, I just know that doing stuff that isn’t my work is important so I make time for it. Sometimes there can be really long stints without a proper break, but usually me and my other half will book ourselves away for a weekend somewhere just to be away from the temptation of ‘shall we just go upstairs and work’ (our studio is an attic room in our house). I can’t function on less than 7-8hrs a night so sleep is VERY important for me. I’m terrible at this structured life without living with my partner as I’m by nature a night owl and tend to stay up late! My hobbies are also creative (the gardening is and so is making clothes which I also do) so I’m never really not doing anything. I do like computer games as breaks throughout the day, but that’s only 30 mins of pubG mobile or Hearthstone! Oh and I love cooking so sometimes taking a break could be making jam or something else in the kitchen to switch off.

What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?

Don’t get into bad habits with staying up late or procrastinating. I’ve seen how productive I can be if I work a proper structured day (which I didn’t used to) and I have got more done in the past 3 years than I ever have. STRUCTURE is essential! If you don’t have work deadlines from clients, give yourself deadlines and make sure you tell the world so that you can’t slip out of them!! :wink:
The other great thing about the structured day is that you know at the end of it you can sit down and relax without any ‘guilt’ that you should be working.

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Never too late to join the party and thanks so much for sharing! I love your advice on setting deadlines for yourself, I think I’ll borrow that idea :wink:

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Yeah it doesn’t always work but with kickstarters it’s been great for me. Saying ‘I will launch at X date’ - and know that I have to do that is great, otherwise I could move it back and back and back indefinitely!

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I don’t. Not really, anyway. I’ve been at this for five years, and I haven’t technically had a proper vacation with no work in that span of time. For all intents and purposes, I work three jobs - my ‘full time job’ at a game studio (though as of the beginning of July, no longer full time), my main Patreon (which involves critiquing my students’ drawing homework, managing the community, creating new lesson content, etc.), and my work illustrating a web comic which has its own nascent patreon.

For all intents and purposes though, if we’re just looking at the one Patreon campaign, then I think I’ve done a pretty good job of balancing it against everything else.

I have a habit of taking what I enjoy and turning it into work - so at its core, there is no balance. It’s all one big homogenous mixture and if I had any free time, I’ve got a docket of projects I’m dying to get to, which while still being a lot of fun for me, are work. In fact, it always seems that the projects that demand the greatest investment of time generate the least revenue - but they also tend to be the most fun (like the web comic).

I was, in a twisted way, fortunate enough not to have any relationships for most of this period. I’m now living with my girlfriend (who I met through the community I’ve built). Balancing that can be a little challenging, but she does help to drag me away from work every now and then. On the flipside, I also drag her into work, and have her helping out in meaningful ways.

Self-care isn’t really something I think about that much. Either I’m repressing something that’s going to bite me in the ass later, or I’m just more emotionally stable than most (although my lovably grumpy demeanour allows me to vent things off in small amounts here and there). Every now and then though, I will purposely go out to a movie - you know, a place where you’re locked in for a set period of time, where you’re not in any position to take care of any problems outside of the bubble of that movie theatre. Good movie or not, I find it very relaxing.

As for advice, either design your patreon to be sustainable for the long haul, or leave a lot of room for change. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to use patreon as a platform to get paid for personal drawing commissions - pledge at this tier, get 1 commission per month. Forget about the fact that this usually results in underpricing one’s self, but a bigger concern is what happens if no one asks for any commissions for a few months, and then all at the same time, everyone comes collecting? Your system breaks down, and with it, so do you.

Be very careful when tying any kind of personalized work to a monthly payment. Keep the connection between the dollar value and the product or service rendered vague. My patreon is built around a free set of drawing lessons with assigned homework - people pledged at certain tiers are eligible for homework critiques during that month. The patreon pledges themselves are a mixture of supporting what is already freely available, and paying for additional services. The tiers are also priced low relative to the service being offered, and the suggestion is made that things “balance out” between those who submit for critique, and those who don’t (of which there are many, since it takes a lot of time and effort to do one lesson’s worth of homework). If a patron has not taken advantage of that for several months, I am not required to make that up. On occasion, I will, but there is no guarantee nor expectation there.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to change your terms. If the demand is becoming too much, increasing your prices is a good way to decrease that demand and bring your workload back into a manageable range (I’ve done this several times, and each time it resulted in an increase in revenue rather than a decrease, though that depends a lot on the relationship you have with your supporters). Reorganizing is just a part of doing business, just be sure to strategize when you do it. Bundling a change with some new feature or offering can help blunt the sting, and make it seem less like “moneygrubbing”.

Lastly, good will is a currency. My lessons have always been free, and for about two years, I critiqued the homework anyone submitted for free as well - patrons and non-patrons alike. Once it became too much to handle and I was forced to implement a cost-barrier, the fact that I’d done so much time up until that point made my community celebrate what I’d given them, rather than bemoan the fact that I was now asking for money. Years later, they still talk about what I’ve given them, rather than what I’ve asked for in return - despite the fact that the patron manager’s “Total Processed” counter reads $94,105.62.

I invested the effort and time at the beginning - while the community was small and doing everything for free was feasible (kind of, it was still a lot of work) - and now because the community is entirely welcoming of certain measures to reduce my workload (like increasing prices, restructuring patreon tiers, and most recently, bringing on teaching assistants to spread the load), I’m entirely able to make a considerable amount of money each month, while technically balancing my work and life.

The only problem is that my “life” consists of two other jobs.

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I block out one day a week and devote that time solely for creating. Or at least I try to. It’s so easy to push aside my own creative projects because I don’t have anyone to answer to directly other than myself. If someone else is relying me to do something, I’m much more likely to do it as I don’t want to let them down! But if it’s just me pushing me, then it’s easier to push my own projects to the back burner.

One of the greatest benefits of Patreon for me is adding another layer of accountabiliy. I feel I owe my patrons the content their asking for and that helps me stay committed to creating.

Again, I have to schedule it. Self care for me is exercise, yoga once a week, cooking my own meals, getting a good amount of sleep, meditation. Similar to what I stated above, when I have no one else to be accountable for, I too often push these things aside.

Create a budget. How much time can you set aside that might take away from your regular job to devote to your creativty/Patreon? Factor in how much you can get back from Patreon and treat it like part of your job. That’s the goal, right? It’s a risk at first for sure, but a risk that must be taken. Your art deserves that kind of commitment.


You’re free to use these answers in your blog and I’d be happy to chat with one of your writers. :slightly_smiling_face:

Rob (88bit)

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Hi Erica,
These are great questions!

How do you find a balance between constantly creating and managing your everyday life?
It’s something I have struggled with a lot because I am very prone to overworking myself, it’s tricky when your hobby and your job is the same. I have found keeping a schedule and setting working hours to be very important. I am still flexible within that schedule if projects or deadlines call for it, then I might switch the time around. I try to stick to 9-6 pm for working hours, and keep the evenings free for fun and family time. I also keep my Saturdays free for time off.

How do you find space for self-care?
It’s all about scheduling again and also realizing that self-care isn’t having a cupcake and a bubble bath. It’s to take responsibility for yourself, it’s to schedule that time to exercise and actually do it, it’s to eat healthy, and it’s to enforce taking time off to give your mind a break and to see friends and family.

What advice would you offer to other creators who are trying to find balance?
Write out a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Realize if you’re working yourself to the bone, you eventually won’t be able to create anymore. It will break you. Therefore it’s part of your job to take good care of yourself, that way you’ll be able to keep making amazing things to share with this world.

Feel free to mention me in the post, I’m also happy to speak with your writers.

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Thanks for sharing Kiri! I LOVE that you mentioned that self-care isn’t having a cupcake (though I sometimes wish it was). Can you link me your Patreon page?

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Thanks so much! What’s your Patreon page so we can highlight it if we use your quote in the article?