Investing has classically been viewed as an activity for the rich.
Luckily, this couldn't be farther from the truth.
By definition, investing is the allocation of resources (usually money, time or energy) with the expectation of a future benefit.
This means that:
By investing, you're putting yourself in a position for a better future.
So these are a few of the most impactful places to invest your time, money, or energy as a creative:
Your greatest asset is yourself & your ability to make money. Whether you're a designer, musician, or YouTuber, there's a process you follow to create a final product.
So by improving the skills that go into that process, you can get better at the things you love and ideally make more money.
For example, I designed & built my first website for $125. The last website?
The only thing that had really changed between my first website and my last website was my skill level. By continuing to get better through repetition and education, I was able to create a better end product which has allowed me to charge more for the creative services that I provide.
Also, I've been able to invest in other tools to help me be a better designer, such as a subscription to a pattern-making software, an icon pack provider, and other things that I wouldn't be able to incorporate into a website build without making the investment.
Whatever your creative skill is, improving on it will be the best investments you make throughout your career.
Behind your ability to make money, your second biggest asset is your network.
With a diverse set of connections, you may never have to "search" for work ever again. You'd be surprised how many referrals go around when you've established yourself as a trusted creative amongst others.
But your network shouldn't be solely focused around business.
Most creatives work solo and having friends within your space can be life changing. I've spent the past 2.5 years working from home by myself and I feel like I'm barely apart of society anymore.
Investing in your network may be the cost of coffee & a croissant to meet up with someone local - it doesn't have to be high-dollar to be considered an investment.
If you search for authentic connections and give without expectation, you shouldn't be surprised if good things come back to you through your network.
Further reading: How to network as a creative without feeling cringey
At the same time I started my business in 2020, I went to a couple sessions of hypnotherapy.
I'd never done any form of therapy before so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. To my surprise, it was wildly effective.
However, I couldn't afford any further sessions and my mental health started deteriorating. Fast forward to today and I haven't gone to a therapy session since. I haven't always prioritized my mental health and I'm feeling the effects of it at this point in my life.
If you feel yourself struggling, take some time to think about what may be most helpful - then align your money with that decision.
Whether it's travel therapy or real therapy, money's meant to be used.
Take care of yourself with it.
Stories make us more interesting people.
If you want to be a better creative, being well-traveled or having a colorful life story will only help you.
Think about all of the different conversations, sights, and pieces of inspiration you'd immerse yourself in if you prioritized your own story & experiences as much as other areas of your life.
I don't know about you, but travel is the best example of this in my life.
I've gone to New York three times in the past year and after every trip, I've released a big creative project within a couple of months.
I don't know if it's being a new environment, being surrounded by creativity, getting a break from work, or a mixture of all three - but the people I've met and things that have happened on those trips have changed my life story forever.
And at the time of the first two trips, I used the last of my savings to pay for them. There were definitely better places to spend that money, but I viewed it as an investment in myself. I needed a mental health break from work and I needed to go out and see the world, so I did.
There's no right or wrong way to spend your money, but I think investing in stories & experiences provide some of the greatest returns.
Lastly, I have to share some practical financial education - it's who I am. So once you're able to regularly cover your expenses and you have extra money left over each month, it's time to consider investing the old-fashioned way.
It's important to prioritize the other areas we've talked about first, but you also want to set aside money for your future self so that one day work is a choice, not a necessity.
A lot of this website is dedicated to personal finance and I've written more about the deeper details of investing—such as how to to get started, knowing when, picking accounts, and choosing investments—here:
Also read: Best Retirement Accounts for Creatives