At a creative coworking space like Framework Melbourne, I'm surrounded by people who are determined to make a living out of doing what they love. The guys who made scribbling all over their maths text books into an actual career. The girls who went from high school diaries to feature news articles. The people whose business cards and websites list a title that is just a more socially acceptable way to say 'artist'.
For those who chose the regular 9 to 5 office job route, it is pretty hard to comprehend this kind of lifestyle. For those who do throw themselves head first into to the intimidating freelance minefield, it is pretty hard to stay positive let alone make ends meet.
I may not be your classic creative coworker and I certainly wouldn't dare call myself anything close to an artist, but I have been lucky enough to find a creative solution to supplement my creative income. I took the terrifying but exciting step into teaching, and I've barely had a minute to think since.
When I started out trying my hand at contributing to a small creative agency I knew I couldn't ask for too much cash. I was new to the industry and even I was still working out what kind of value I actually was to the business. But damn it, I didn't want to go back to working in bars... as much as I would appreciate easy access to a stiff drink at the end of the day.
My saviour in the end was a few Hail Mary's to some of my old uni lecturers that ended up landing me simultaneous teaching gigs at both the universities I attended as a student. I have no teacher training or qualifications, I'm certainly no doctor and have had very little contact with my universities since graduation. I have a Masters in my field and this was enough to get me in front of a class full of twenty-somethings who have a much better grasp on the latest communication technologies than I could dream of.
I'm not saying it was a breeze. I'm not saying the money is great, especially when you consider the amount of preparation and marking. But the way I see it, I'm getting paid to take a refresher in some of the courses I finished ten years ago and am getting a bit of free professional development by learning some modern techniques, not to mention getting a bit of experience as a teacher, leader and public speaker.
But this teaching thing isn't just for us fancy-pants post-graduates in ambiguous fields like communications. There are literally hundreds of hands-on TAFE and short courses for all of the practical creative skill sets out there. Photography, design, writing, you name it. If you need some extra cash but don't want to sell your soul to a job you hate, why not help out the next generation, maybe learn a thing or two yourself and make a few valuable connections along the way.
Those who can, do. Those who can't face a bar job, teach.