3 Tips for Creatives who Have Day Jobs

Creatives with Day Jobs by Joce Jocelyn Harper

If you identify as a creative or aspiring entrepreneur, I am right there with you. There are many of us living the dream, making money creating art, film, music, or even being creative within a business venture.

Then there are the rest of us who have ideas and day dreams, but still work a regular day job to pay the bills. Fun right? Not always. Especially if you find yourself too tired after work to get your creative projects started. Or like me, find yourself barely making enough to support yourself, let alone pour money into a new idea.  

In this post we will address 3 ways to develop your creative/entrepreneurial ideas while having a day job.

1.     The 9-5, 5-9 Mentality

2.     Finding Local Resources

3.     Connecting with a Tribe


It can be easy to feel defeated by the thought that if you spend time writing that novel, or creating that business plan it will be a waste of time.

 I became a victim of the “living to work” mentality, where I spent hours on Indeed and Craigslist looking for higher paying jobs that were close. I was just obsessed with making ends meet and not going broke. #Adulting took its toll on my creativity. I stopped writing screenplays, I got rid of Photoshop, I didn’t even own a camera for years after graduating with a film production degree. I did not see how it would help.

 It made matters worse that people whose opinion I valued were very “stability first” rather than “passion first”.

 Flash forward past those dark times and I am finally getting my creative juices flowing again! I have completed a couple of episodes for a show I have been thinking about for 3 years. Even more, I found a graphic artist who is willing to animate the series for a potential graphic novel or comic book! Additionally, I am focused in on a business idea that has just been a joy to work on. I spent 16 hours straight working on the idea once, and felt like I could do it all over again. That is the passion I have been missing. When this idea comes to life, I know I will enjoy the hard days as well as the great days, because as Gary Vaynerchuck says, you have to enjoy the PROCESS.


With that being said I want to share Jobs by Joce’s 3 ways to develop your creative ideas while holding down a day job.


Personal Blog Jobs by Joce Jocelyn Harper

The 9-5, 5-9 Mentality

This concept is not new, but it’s even more realistic thanks to the internet. I once read a tweet that said: If you go home after work, and don’t work on your dreams, you aren’t passionate. This hit me kind of hard. I love to make excuses. Or LOVED to. Past tense now. All day long we can say: I don’t have time. My idea isn’t good enough. I’d rather watch TV. These are excuses. You have the time after work, but you may not be using it in the most productive way.

The average day job in the US is 9am to 5pm, plus commute time. Gary Vaynerchuck (whom I will mention often) asks this: What are you doing from 5pm to 9am, besides 7-8 hours of sleep? This leaves about 7 or 8 hours of time to use as efficiently as possible to create a life you love.

What is taking up so much of your time after work that you cannot make baby steps towards completing that screenplay or recording a video for your new Youtube channel? If you take inventory of the things you do after work (social media browsing, cooking, napping, hanging with friends, taking care of the kids, etc) you will be able to see if there are some time wasters you can cut out. By no means should you ignore your priority of family or health, but other than that see where you can fit in some progress.

 Really, we have several hours after work, before sleep to make a couple of steps towards an idea. Take an hour to create a business plan. Take 45 minutes to come up with the title for your next book. Take 20 minutes to set up your old art easel. Then take another step tomorrow. Having a day job is usually necessary, unless you are very certain you’re ready to move towards a creative/entrepreneurial path. In this case consider finding more flexible jobs.

I personally because a substitute teacher because then I make my own schedule. I pick up enough jobs to pay the bills, and that is all! I could work every day if I wanted to but, I have graduate school courses and my business to develop. I made my business a priority. It definitely came with some sacrifices (stability, benefits, etc) but I know that I cannot work a 9-5 forever, so I figured I would stop now. To get where you want to go, you might have to get uncomfortable first.  

Finding Local Resources

For those of us who dream bigger than our wallet, money can become a huge obstacle in pursuing our dreams. At least, a mental obstacle. Because there are several ways to make progress without a dollar to your name. Resources can be anything from a book that gets your mind in the right place, to free business model layouts. Check these out


Canvanizer: https://canvanizer.com

I learned about the Business Model Canvas at an Innovation Weekend I attended a couple of weeks ago. It is an excellent way to get your idea out of your brain and onto a screen or paper. This is part of visualization and manifestation of your dreams. It is also vital to test to the viability of your business idea. Check it out and send me a copy if you’d like! I would love to hear your ideas.

Audible: https://www.audible.com

This app is changing the game. I have not read for pleasure since undergrad. When my boyfriend sent me a book that I could listen to during my commutes, I was stoked! Audible is not free, but you do get a free trial. I suggest downloading Crushing It by Gary Vee to begin! Especially for those who want to succeed in social media and online business. But it is for all entrepreneurs and out of the box thinkers.

Small Business Association: https://www.sba.gov/

The SBA is where I created my first ever business plan for free. They are government owned and offer helpful tips about where to begin in your small business. The SBA also can show you free local events near you, to learn about everything from business taxes to how to grow you business.

Connecting with a Tribe

This is HUGE huge huge. Loud voices from folks who never pursued their own dreams can sometimes sneak into your head and try to hold you down. Time to block those voices out. Your coworkers who can’t imagine working elsewhere – block them out.

Your parents who are afraid for you, so they discourage creative/risky paths – block them out.


Use online forums to chat with people who have grown businesses themselves. I use Instagram hashtags for #entrepeneur #travellover #femalefounder and more to find pages of people who think like me. Sometimes just knowing they exist is encouragement enough.


If I need more, I might send them a message and ask them about their experience owning a business or trying to. Just that connection alone is uplifting.


I also keep an ear out in social settings for people who “get my soul” and speak about women in business, location independence, digital nomad lifestyles, moving abroad and more. I may spark up a conversation about them and organically make a new friend!


Overall, those of us with day jobs must be very intentional about how we use our time. Set a 3-month goal and start using your free time to reach it. I look forward to seeing what you create!

Sieze Eternity,

Jocelyn Harper