How to Level Up on Your Creative Projects Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket

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learn-to-record-music

If you’re like me, you get tons of ideas for creative projects you want to work on. I oftentimes feel momentarily possessed, jotting down ideas and business plans without much restraint. Right now what consumes my free time (besides idling on my couch, eating potato chips and thinking about working on things) are blogging, writing fiction, and exercising. If I had an infinite amount of time, which nobody on this planet is privileged of having, I would venture into making music and joining a roller derby team. First world problems, am I right?

I don’t think of myself as a very ambitious person. I certainly don’t aspire to cure cancer to to solve world hunger, but I love getting knee-deep making stuff and making sure I have enough time for what I love to do. So how do you level up on projects that could potentially take up a lot of time and resources? Here are a few ways to help you get started:

Example: Learn to record music.

Well, 20 years ago you essentially needed to have access to top-notch audio recording equipment that only professional engineers in the industry could afford. These days, all you really need is a computer, home audio recording software, and a few basic items.

  1. Start small.

    Schedule some time each week to work on your project. I had started a 40 Days of Dating Your Passion Project series, which offers some parameters on how to approach working on your project. Find free or very inexpensive ways. For instance, if I want to learn about home audio recording, I can watch videos on YouTube the Pensado’s Place or fiddle around with Garage Band on your computer.

  2. Give yourself a time limit.

    After X amount of time, access how your progress and your interest. Is the momentum still there? Do you still want to keep doing it, to invest more, and to keep learning? It’s totally okay if you don’t feel like doing it. You can either drop it, take a break, or try to figure out what’s working and what’s not. If you want to keep working on it, proceed to the next step.

  3. Level up

    Alright, so you are getting more into recording music. What to do now? Allocate a little more funds and time to the project. If you were spending 30 minutes each week before and zero money, maybe you can spend an hour each week and invest in a USB audio interface for a few hundred bucks.

  4. Borrow stuff.

    If you have pals who are into the same things as you, ask them if you can borrow equipment or buy their used wares. Or you can join a meetup to meet fellow hobbyists. You can also hunt for used equipment on Craigslist, Freecycle, or at one of those rock ‘n’ roll flea markets (yes, they exist). When I started getting into roller derby last year, I was able to loan gear during practice until I felt committed enough to spend $300 on my own gear. I waited close to a year before doing so. I would’ve felt bad throwing money away if I bought all that gear and didn’t end up using really.

So the idea is that you eventually “level up,” gradually spending more time and resources into the project. Ideally there should be a natural momentum.

Hope this helps get you started. Have fun!

What project are you working on, and what are some challenges you have for starting out?

(Originally published at Cheapsters.)


Jackie Lam
Personal finance blogger helping people thrive in the gig economy



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