Going from broke to bountiful.

Introducing a graphic designers journey out of debt.

That’s right, this is hopefully my journey from broke to swimming in money. Or my spectacular recorded failure at it! Most of us are in debt to the banks with mortgages, credit cards and bills that just never seem to stop coming. Add in working a job that requires a long commute every day and you can start to see where this is just all a bit much.

My starting position? After making a sea change several years ago, moving out of Sydney and up to the Central Coast to allow for the purchase of a decent home with everything we wanted (including proximity to a good beach). The problem is that the local employment prospects for a graphic designer like myself are pretty slim, and the jobs on offer pay significantly lower than they do in Sydney. Which means I commute twenty hours per week to get to and from the job. True I could work a job locally and work those additional twenty hours at a second job and start to earn the similar level of money but it would be hard and probably mean I burn out pretty quickly! So, now on to the big one. Debt. Not only is there a mortgage for the house, there is school fees for the kids, running costs for the house, and the ever present credit card debt. Add in a year of my wife going through all manner of medical issues including back surgery and her not being able to work, has left medical debts that were not only unexpected but that drained all savings and even then still left more to pay.

You get to a point where you can’t borrow more money, you have tried all manner of short term things like selling unwanted clothes, CDs and DVDs on eBay or even selling bigger things via an auction house and there is still more debt sitting there.

Its a depressing and stressful concept isn’t it? Well, that’s where I am at. Currently going through the real estate values and it looks like the house will need to be sold to downsize to a smaller place (after some recent water damage to the carpet and wooden floors is repaired through insurance). Meaning we will hopefully get the debts cleared and might even each have a start towards a deposit on somewhere new.

Okay, add in to the mix that I am believed to be suffering from a form of depression and my happiness level is about nonexistent when it’s all added up.

So how am I going to stop being killed by these debts, because if they aren’t cleared they will keep eating away at any income I generate. No, I am not going to declare bankruptcy and cop out that way. This is a hole of my own making and not something I can easily dig my way out of. Pun intended!

So, back to that twenty hours of a week spent commuting… Rather than spending it listening to music, or wasting it on Facebook or similar I can focus on building a second income through writing eBooks, guest blog posts, finishing my own book on graphic design and coming up with various methods to get my name in front of people to help pick up more freelancing design work. Not all the things I do are going to work, some are going to fail, some things won’t be part of what your own journey needs. I hope you can learn something from my successes and failures and can build on them for yourself. When my goals are don’t be in debt and have enough money that I feel I have a buffer against unexpected events, it doesn’t seem that difficult or unachieveable. It is just the point between thinking / talking about it and doing something about it. This is me doing something about it. It is one of the hardest steps! Just getting started!

Start getting the audience.

Before you can make a sale, you need an audience. So I am going to try and come up with some ideas to help get some traffic and interest built up. What things can I do considering my skill set and background? Well, I can offer up free vector resources, videos, music and animations. Either funny, viral or topical I hope they bring some interest to me and the products that I will have on offer. The plan is to finish off my book on design to put up for sale, and help build interest in my online stores run through zazzle, cafepress and redbubble.

Working smarter and not harder.

As mentioned above, I have a few print on demand online stores. They certainly won’t allow me to retire to the tropics on what they earn, but every couple of months provide a royalty payment to my PayPal account. After the initial set up of the stores and designing some products, the production side of things is taken over by the company providing the service. I still need to market the stores and products, but I don’t need to print, pack, ship and chase payments. That allows me to worry about coming up with further designs and cool things. Getting things set up for automation can take a bit of work, but down the line, it will make it more of a passive income stream.

First items up for building an audience and generating traffic.

As a designer I can give tips and tricks for designing and design programs, so I could do a couple of blog posts on that, but that is fairly limited in audience compared to simply scanning in all my old comics and releasing them as PDFs. Not only will I have a neat little product to share, it also means I finally have digital versions of my comics. There was some music I worked on when I was younger, but tracking down the people involved to try and find copies of everything has been very difficult. Here’s hoping I can track some copies down to share! Plus I have a few vector files and quite a few iPhone wallpapers that I can add in to the mix as well.

Brass tacks and making money.

So, how does this help make my debts go away? Aside from the passive income stream from the print on demand online stores I mentioned earlier, I am looking at selling my eBook on design very cheaply through amazon and iTunes and anywhere else that automates the sales process. Of course I am not above simply asking for a donation! If you would like to buy me a coffee/beer then I would be very grateful! I would be looking at doing more freelancing work, but I won’t be doing it for free/cheap. The only way that it benefits me is if I work for a standard industry rate, and even then I can still pick and choose my clients. (I happen to believe strongly in not working for cigarette companies or political parties.)

Samples of my work can be found at my design website, along with samples of my design articles and many other things.

Affiliate marketing and making the money.

I understand the concept of the affiliate system, but the returns and rewards seem so low for the amount of work needed to be put in, it just doesn’t suit me. True I can put up links for amazon books that I recommend but further than those or a link to a movie I had just watched and talked about I just don’t see it being a viable method to earning money. I don’t want to have to work it full time to earn decent money from it. Unless I am totally missing something about it? Yes I could find good converting payouts but most of the time it is for products that I have either no interest in or don’t believe in. Meaning if my hearts not in it, should I really be doing it? I may want to make more money, but I am not about to sell out for a few extra bucks and burn my audience in the process.

Time to get started.

Hopefully this introduction has given you some insight as to what might be coming, and the struggles I get to tackle and overcome. Or just my spectacular failure at meeting my goals! Here’s hoping I get to have a few laughs along the way and have some fun building comics, animations, iPhone wallpapers, vector graphics to share and any number of other things. Be on the lookout for more of my ‘crazy products’ like my rohypnol water.

And if there is anything you would like to see, or have made available as a t-shirt/poster let me know and I will make sure I add it to my list of products to do!

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