Ayana Webb explains how she did it. And how you might do the same by sharing and teaching your creative skills.

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

The six-figure piano teacher

In the pandemic, at a time when many musicians have struggled to get by, Ayana Webb’s income went past $100,000 a year from piano lessons. An achievement that is all the more impressive given that not a single lesson involved meeting her students face-to-face.

From New Jersey, on the eastern coast of the USA, Ayana started young on the piano. Her dad and grandmother gave her some basic teaching from the age of four. By the time she was nine, she was taking more formal lessons. And like many youngsters, she hated it. “I couldn’t be bothered with it,” she…

What I’ve learned from designers, artists, musicians, comedians, architects, actors, and others — and how it helped my writing

Start messy! Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels

Over the years, I’ve worked with or interviewed thousands of creatives from many different fields — many of them at the very top of their game. As a journalist and as a magazine editor. As a collaborator. And more recently as a coach working with experienced creatives of all kinds. Here’s what I’ve learned.

From photographers: organization

I’m taking it easy this summer. Here’s why you should, too.

Unbearably smug shot of me relaxing on my local beach in the Uk. It rained soon after! (Photo by author.)

I’m giving it a rest this week.

It’s important to take a break, especially in the summer. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been suggesting to my clients that they try and ease back too, so they’re rested and ready to go in September.

It’s been interesting how relieved many of them have been. Even in middle age, even when we’re hugely successful, it seems we all feel we need to be given permission to take some time off. Me included.

We all need time out.

We need to rest and replenish our energy, focus and inspiration. And we all know this. And yet.. we continue to think that we’re the one…

To get to the yes you want, you have to get comfortable with hearing no. A lot.

Rejection hurts, but it’s part of the creative life. Wear your rejections with pride. Photo from Dreamstime

Get comfortable with no.

You can have pretty much anything you want in life, so long as you’re willing to hear the word no. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of times.

You need to ask for what you want. To be clear about it, because the people around you aren’t mind-readers. And you then must get comfortable with hearing no. Because once you do ask, people are under no obligation to give it to you!

For writers and other creatives, this is crucial. If you put your work out there, it will be rejected. Or ignored. You’ll also get useful feedback, if you’re strong enough…

Getting your work featured in print, on the radio, or TV can be a game-changer. But it takes a lot of persistence.

Stacks of magazines.
Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

You have products or a service to sell.

A shop, an event, a course you want to draw attention to. Or you’re a musician, artist, writer, or other creative trying to grow your audience. A mention in the media can change everything.

So you’ve tried. You’ve sent out press releases. You’ve approached newspapers and magazines, even individual journalists. No one seems interested. So let me tell you how it feels from the other side.

I’ve been the editor of an influential monthly magazine in the UK and on the weekly magazine of one of the UK’s big Sunday newspapers. …

How Kevin Kelly’s theory gives hope to all independent creators

People at a concert
All you need is 1,000 fans to make a good living from your work. Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

“To be a successful creator, you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur or inventor, you need only thousands of true fans.” — Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is the founding editor of Wired magazine, a pioneer from the early days of the internet. He’s always worth listening to, but his 1,000 true fans theory is particularly potent for independent creators. If you’re feeling stuck, like you’ll never make a good living from…

We all know this. So why is it so hard to unplug?

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

A fuse tripped in the house.

My faithful iMac switched off as a result, and it wouldn’t turn back on again. I’d been struggling for nearly a week to write a magazine feature, but it just wouldn’t come right, no matter how many hours I put in. And now this! Already tired and tetchy, I felt nothing was going my way.

After hours of fiddling…

You don’t have to be lonely. Here’s how to get more connected.

Working from home doesn’t have to mean being alone, all the time. Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

One of the things I love about self-employment: having long stretches of time alone to get into flow with my work without interruptions, pointless meetings, small talk and office politics. After years of struggling to concentrate in open-plan newspaper and magazine offices, freelance life is bliss. Most of the time. But no matter how productive you are, working from home, it can be lonely.

Even introverts don’t want to spend all of our days in splendid isolation. Now that many of us are coming out of our lockdown bubbles and either working from home permanently or settling into new hybrid…

You might prefer Nelson Mandela, Taylor Swift, Tim Ferriss or Oprah. Choose your celebrity guide. And borrow their courage.

Madonna in the 1985 film, Desperately Seeking Susan

In the 1980s, Madonna was my mentor.

I was a fledgling journalist and editor, shy and lacking confidence. But whenever I felt stuck and unsure what to do next, I asked a simple question: what would Madonna do? It guided me through many awkward situations in my working life, and allowed me to borrow some of her courage when I had none of my own.

There are many Madonnas, of course. The one I turned to for advice was the character she played in Susan Seidelman’s 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan. I was self-conscious in my early 20s, still battling with a slight stammer that sometimes made…

How I stopped polishing, and started publishing.

Photograph from Dreamstime | 181849227

My name is Sheryl, and I’m a perfectionist.

I was a magazine editor, for large parts of my working life. It’s a job where content is key, ideas your currency. You only get one chance a month to impress your readers, so you want to make the best issue possible.

But once the words and pictures are on the page, it’s all about the detail. The headlines and captions, spelling and grammar, the paragraph breaks, typography and the turn arrows. It’s easy to become obsessive. And I did.

(Though the perfectionist in me wants to be honest and say you wouldn’t believe this, from my output. …

Sheryl Garratt

Writer; editor; coach, supporting creatives to step up and do their best work — and get paid for it! Find me at www.thecreativelife.net

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store