Carrie Brummer was the first person I met when I arrived at the Alive in Berlin conference back in May, and I knew right away that I wanted to interview her. Having always had a ‘conventional’ career as an art teacher, and the regimented schedule that comes with effectively staying on at school into adulthood, she has recently broken free and created a new life as an entrepreneur. In order to make this life possible, she’s using the tools and techniques that you read all about when you’re learning how to make money online: creating great content, offering free webinars, building email lists… I was eager to hear more about how she was successfully building her new online business.
Beyond the marketing tools, though, Carrie’s story is another great example of following your heart and creating the life you dream of – while being realistic and recognising that there’s no magic pill and it will require hard work. Read on to find out what made her take the leap and how she got the support she needed…
How to be a creative coach
Carrie always knew of her love for the arts but fell into the world of entrepreneurship just two years ago. As an arts educator in school systems for nearly ten years she loved helping people access their creative interests; but a small voice inside began to speak up, telling her to think bigger, to help even more people. That’s when Artist Strong was born: Carrie took her teaching to the internet to reach a larger audience and help them realise that being creative is valuable, and necessary, for our health and happiness.
1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?
I remember sitting in my classroom one day planning for my next class; I felt I wasn’t doing enough or reaching enough people. I came across a few bloggers who made me realise that the internet was an amazing opportunity for me to share my mission and message with others and I began blogging pretty much straight away. It was around three or four years after that when I moved Artist Think from personal blog to business platform.
2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?
I didn’t know how to make money doing what I loved to do online, and I was fearful of losing the security of my steady paycheck. So I continued to work and even took a promotion at my school, thinking a leadership position would be another opportunity to impact my community and help promote positive change.
The stress of that role took quite a toll on my body and I grew really sick. I would literally go to work and then return home to lie on my couch until bed; I had no energy and was put on all kinds of medication. I realised that as much as I wanted the new role to be ‘it’, something that made me that sick couldn’t be my true passion or calling.
3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?
I wouldn’t be where I am right now without my husband. It was circumstance along with my husband’s support and encouragement that let me choose Artist Think as my full-time focus and passion.
I had been sitting in my office with my teammate and colleague dealing with something incredibly difficult within our school community when both of us just shook our heads. He was new to leadership as well and we both wondered what we had got ourselves into. I said to him, “Some days I just wish it was taken out of my hands.”
No joke, within an hour or so of that conversation I received a phone call from my hubby: he had been offered a job transfer to Muscat, Oman. When we moved for his job, I left mine and signed up for B-School with Marie Forleo to learn just exactly how to start and run my business.
4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?
The flexibility!!! I’ve been in school systems since I was a student myself, I went straight into teaching from college. That means I had an entire school year mapped out for me 12 months in advance for nearly 30 years! Yes, you get more holiday than other professions, but you have no flexibility in your daily or yearly schedule. Now I can go to yoga in the morning and work at night if that’s what works for me. I love it.
5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?
Follow your heart. Listen to that inner guide (NOT the critic) inside you telling you what to do.
Have a Plan A, B and C!
Realise when you start something new you that you are starting at the bottom of the food chain and have to work your way up. If you aren’t willing to do the work, you probably shouldn’t make the change. I am often working and when I’m not working, I’m thinking about work. But I love it – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. That’s when you know you are following your passion.
Carrie created Artist Think to help people embrace their creative interests, whether they are a working artist, a hobbyist, or someone who has never had an art class. Find out more on her website.