The reality of running an independent magazine
“My journey with earning has been very up and down since graduating five years ago. Alongside BRICKS, I’ve worked full-time, then went freelance, but I’ve struggled massively with earning money from my business. The majority of my work with BRICKS isn’t monetised; I rely on the odd brand partnership to keep it afloat, so the ratio of how much I earn from different income streams varies each month.
Fashion magazines are associated with luxury, so there’s this expectation that your lifestyle automatically comes with a lot of disposable income and designer clothing, when in reality, we’re balancing freelance jobs to make ends meet. I know a few independent magazine publishers who run their magazine alongside working full-time at a mainstream title.
My income is 0% from BRICKS, then I’d say 60% comes from my cleaning job and the remaining 40% is through freelance writing. I’ve been lucky in that I live with my partner, which makes my rent much more affordable, but I’ve never been in a position to save money from my income. I’d love to change that by the end of this year, and to have at least paid off all my overdrafts.
Money highs and lows
I think my toughest financial moments have come when people haven’t stuck to their invoice payment times. I’ve been in some terrible situations when I’ve had to live off £40 in London for almost three weeks because people just don’t pay on time. Now I’ve learnt to send reminders a week before the payment is due, and I’m no longer scared to keep emailing once it’s overdue and they’re ignoring the request. For BRICKS projects, I won’t work on anything unless I get 50% of the payment upfront, to avoid the catastrophe of not being able to pay other people’s invoices.
In contrast, I’d say my highlight with earning as a creative has been when I’ve achieved a healthy balance. This will involve getting the right project fit for job satisfaction, but also getting a healthy budget, so everyone can be paid fairly. My one rule is to never take on work that I can’t learn something from.