Baller on a Budget: Print Your Own Money

Yes, “print your own money.” That’s the advice I heard when I visited a talk on artist survival by veteran poet Diane di Prima at the San Francisco Public Library. I was skeptical about the tip – until I fully understood it.

As an emerging artist, whenever Diane was low on funds, she would just write up an original book of poetry to be published and sold exclusively by a small press where she had friends. Because Diane and the sellers had developed their audiences, and because these books were created in limited batches, the copies would fly off the shelves. And she would have enough cash to cover all her living expenses for a month or so.

The little cynic in me thought, Certainly we can’t all do that. The situation was too unique for the pointer to be considered useful. I mean, who can produce quality work under that pressure? And who’s got such friends, for that matter, that can mobilize buyers in a cinch?

And that’s the moment that I laughed at myself because even I have to be reminded of my own words of wisdom: Not to take guideposts so literally. Of course, di Prima’s method for raising funds was specific to her circumstance. But we needn’t lose sight of the more significant points in those details. The real – and universal – lesson is that we all ought to:

  • Take inventory of our resources.

    Material goods, tools, skills and relationships.

  • Practice business creativity.

    Think outside of the box.

  • And always deliver value.

    Surely those books sold because the author’s name was associated with high caliber creations.

In this respect, I have been printing my own money for years! And you can too. At the risk of personal vulnerability and still, for the sake of transparency and concrete examples, here is a broad range of some authentic moneymakers that have worked for me over the years…

As a performer, I have worked theatrically, commercially, and for UCSF Medical Center’s standardized patient program. As an educator, I have worked (independently and with institutions like nonprofits, public schools, and universities) to give talks, writing workshops, acting workshops, marketing workshops, as well as one-on-one coaching. I have taken on project-specific positions in event coordination, marketing consulting, and arts curation. I have printed t-shirts – just for fun, but they generated revenue. And I have even, like Diane di Prima, sold collections of poetry; my first try at a self-published chapbook raked in an estimated $250 profit.

I mention these details to demonstrate a very crucial – and applicable – point. That you can definitely diversify, and therefore expand, your income if you would:

  1. Acknowledge all your talents,

  2. Get daring, and

  3. Contribute to positively impacting people’s lives.

How are you going to maximize on your skills and positive impact? As you can imagine, printing your own money isn’t necessarily easy, but it sure can be fun. So, enjoy!

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3 responses to “Baller on a Budget: Print Your Own Money”

  1. satsumabug says:

    On a related note, in a recent workshop with filmmaker Cheryl Dunye, she impressed into us that we can still generate money even while our projects are in development. One of her examples: say you’re trying to get a film made, but you need some cash and you’re not anywhere close to the finished product. But you’ve been taking lots of reference and inspiration photos in preparation. Get those printed up and mounted, and host an event where you tell people about the film and sell the photos to raise funds. Not only might you make some cash, you’ll generate buzz for your project!

    • That is great Lisa! That’s exactly it. And what’s wonderful about the suggestion is that it’s all in accord. We all need to do this – look at our film stills (metaphorically speaking), our works in progress, and see how the process itself can be maximized on. Like you said, “Not only might you make some cash, you’ll generate buzz for your project!” Thanks for sharing this.

  2. […] however, this experience also became a source of pride. I didn’t let the situation stop me from printing my own money, learning new skills, and continuing to offer to as many people as possible top quality services. […]

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