Letting your art be art

Every once a while, we see a lot of buzz about monetizing weekend projects. It comes and goes in cycles. The basic thesis is – start a blog or podcast or newsletter, build an audience, and make some money on the side. What’s the downside?

The downside, in my mind, is that pursuing weekend/side projects with the pressure to monetize (or to meet some lofty engagement goal) converts art to work. You have to find an audience that’s willing to give you their attention and build for them. That is very different from painting for fun.

It also changes the focus of the exercise from you to your audience. Your growth and what interests you matters a lot less than generating content that appeals to your audience. There are two exceptions to this – existing celebrities and the rare creator who manages to engage a large audience based solely on what interests her/him.

If you are planning on a weekend/side project, consider letting your art be your art. Perhaps it could be something you do for fun and be the kind of thing you’d do even if no one paid attention. If you can just celebrate having an audience >=1, these fun projects almost always contribute to our long term learning and growth. And, if we keep at them long enough, they provide many opportunities for us to connect with and perhaps even have a positive impact on others on a similar journey.

Let your art be art.