I'm glad to bring you a First Creative Dollar Interview today featuring someone from the present (if you follow the blog, you probably know most of the series has a focus on people from history).
Erik provides a great service for the personal finance community by curating informative posts and offering them to avid readers. Savvy History has been thankful to be featured a couple of times!
We decided to do an interview swap. I hope you enjoy learning more about Erik and his take on the overlap between money and creativity.
Take it Away Erik!
Please give us a little background along with where we can track you down on the web.
Hi, my name is Erik and I’m one of the creators of Personal Finance Blogs, a personal finance website where we feature personal finance articles daily, and highlight awesome personal finance writers in weekly interviews.
I’ve been part of the personal finance blogging community for over 3 years, and am passionate about personal development and how improving as a person can bring happiness and success in life.
Can you share the story of the first time you made money with a creative endeavor? Do you mind sharing how much you made?
The first time I made money with a creative endeavor was my first website back in 2015. I started a personal development and career blog, and after 3 months, I had made $11. While I wasn’t ready at this point in my life to continue grinding with this endeavor, there was now a fire lit inside of me to want to pursue ways to make money in creative ways.
What happened internally when you realized you could make money from your creativity? Were you inspired? Were you concerned about what it would do to the originality of your ideas?
I’m passionate about two things: helping others and building things. Making money is all about providing value to those around you. If you can provide a lot of value, people will pay you for it.
In my day job, I’m a programmer, and with this, I’ve been able to somewhat combine these two passions to have a career I’m happy with. However, at the same time, I’m still hustling on the side because I want to help more people than just the people around me in my department.
For me, when I realized I could work on something outside of my day job, and provide value to others in a creative way, I was inspired to build, write, and learn how I could do this most effectively.
As for originality, I was never really concerned with this because everyone has a different perspective and different experiences, and for me, as long as I’m doing my best work, I knew I could create something unique and special.
Did you ever decide to pursue the creative activity full-time? Why or why not?
I have not decided to pursue my creative activities full-time (but I have definitely wanted to!).
One of my overarching life goals is to create a solid financial foundation for my future family. While I don’t have a family yet, when I started side hustling, I had no doubts that I could have survived on my talents. However, I was making good gains in the corporate world, and didn’t want to give up my income which was creating the foundation I very much desired.
Are there times when you feel pulled between traditional success and creative ideas that just won’t leave you alone?
There have been many times I’ve wanted to quit my day job and pursue my creative ideas full-time.
On the side, I’m no stranger to hustling and trying to create something where that something wasn’t there before.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve tried blogging, podcasting, a subscription box, web design contracting, and statistical consulting. Some of these things have been more successful than others, and each of them has taught me different things which has helped me in my day job, the other hustles and life.
So while I have a large creative itch, over the last few years, I’ve found a balance and have been able to dedicate enough free time to my side hustles to keep this creative itch scratched, while (as I mentioned above) continuing to push towards my other goals in life.
Do you consider yourself a highly sensitive person? Do you mind sharing if you’ve had any mental health struggles?
I’m not a highly sensitive person. I’m pretty laid back and relaxed. As I’ve learned over the years though, is that it’s important to weigh both the emotional and logical sides of things, and I think I’ve become more sensitive over the years (though again, I don’t think I’m very sensitive).
With regards to mental health struggles, I’ve dealt with times of high stress where my body shuts down on me for a week or two because of working too much, not sleeping enough, not giving myself a break, etc.
To manage this, I just need to remind myself that breaks are healthy, going for an hour walk outside sometimes can be the best thing for you, and life is not a race.
How do you define creativity? What does living creativity mean to you?
Creativity is all about creation and making something that wasn’t there before.
Living creatively is making an experiment out of your everyday life, constantly searching for ways to do something new and being curious.
Creativity is doing things differently than before - but in terms of your own life. It may not be unique to the world, but if it’s unique and new to you, I’d say it’s creative.
For me, that’s how I’ve been able to find more happiness in my life - by experimenting with my diet, exercise, hustles, work, etc., and trying to be creative to find what works for me.
Do you have any advice for people making money or wanting to earn money with their passion?
My advice would be to connect your passion with solving a need. What’s something you are passionate about that you think you could teach, provide a service or good to help someone else’s life become a little easier and more enjoyable?
For example, if I can use my websites to provide useful information and can help others on their path to financial success and reaching their goals, then this is valuable and has the potential to make money.
With the power of the internet, anyone can create anything, and as I’ve seen on YouTube, you can have a very successful career (for example, talented musicians without a label) by putting out amazing content or an amazing product.
What role (if any) has art and music played in your life? Can you tell us some favorite bands?
Growing up, I was in band and took piano lessons, and I have a keyboard I play on once in a while now, but in reality, I’m not much of a musician.
However, I love listening to music of all varieties and genres. When I was younger, I listened to mostly rock (Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Foo Fighters, etc.), and also bands like The Killers, Hoobastank. Now, I’ll listen to anything, but lately (as this year I’m working to become fluent in Spanish), I’ve been listening to a lot of singers and bands from Latin America, such as Morat, Reik, and Carlos Vives.
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Erik has a very healthy take on the role of traditional work and complementary side-hustles. I also liked his straight forward take on creativity and his emphasis on creating interesting works online that are of value to others. Thanks for sharing Erik.