How to Be Creative on a Budget

We all have a creative streak in us, be it the ability to write stories, make beautiful art or perform in front of an audience. For some of us, the urge to be creative is the compelling force to quit our day jobs and commit ourselves to our craft full-time. Unfortunately, making our craft pay for itself costs a bit of money at the beginning. The goal is to not let it cost a lot of money.

This is where many creative folk run into problems. Their passion is so intense they spend inordinate amounts of money to get started. The pressure to pay themselves back becomes so great that the craft they once enjoyed turns into a chore, which leads to less productivity, which leads to a large hole in the budget, which leads to going back to a real job to avoid going broke. The vicious circle doesn’t need to happen. In fact, by utilizing their creative energy, people can get many things for little or no money, which leads to more inspiration. Here are a few things to look at.

Business cards. You need to promote your creative capabilities but, unless you’re a graphic artist, designing a simple business card from home is probably not the most professional way to go. To avoid stretching the budget, look around the Internet for some low cost, professional card options. One place to go is Vistaprint, where you can order a starter pack of business cards for just shipping costs. Should you want another design and your budget can afford it, it costs around $20 to upgrade.

Book covers. Self-publishing is huge these days. And even though the story inside is the greatest ever written, there’s less chance of someone buying the book if it doesn’t have an eye-catching cover. There are a few ways to create a cover, with a few of them free. One option is to use a free or pay-as-you-go stock photo site like where you can select from hundreds of images that fit your idea. To design the cover you can utilize a program like PowerPoint and advice from someone like author William King, who provides step-by-step procedures. Those who don’t want to design their own cover can go to a site like 99designs. Here, you can choose the level of pay — $299 is the minimum — and have a series of artists design your cover in a contest format.

Performance spaces. You’re interested in putting on a play that you wrote or performing some Improv with a group of funny and spontaneous folks. The only problem you have is there isn’t any money to rent out a space, let alone hire the folks for lighting, costumes, etc. Simplicity is a solution that fits the budget in this category. Many playwrights are foregoing fancy backdrops and costumes in favor of sets that can be put together with purchases from the local thrift stores. And doing Improv is even sparser since props are rarely used. On the subject of where to perform, check with local theaters to see if they set aside blocks of time for community members to use the space free of charge. In addition, contact local churches to see if their open spaces are available for use.

Leave a Reply