Anyone can tell you that I've always had a strange relationship with money.
When I was a little girl, I saw money as the only way to get the cool toys the other kids had. Later on, I learned to use money as a bargaining chip for all of my favorite things, and whenever we were short, I got to lose my favorite magazines, books, and notebooks. Finally, when I became a young woman, I started seeing money as the enemy...
You know, the way an artist would see it as a HINDRANCE to everything that's worth something - beauty, art, living the life of your dreams, et cetera.
Unfortunately, this misguided attitude has remained to this day in some capacity, even though I now run an online business and money's pretty much the point. And even though most experts would tell me to consult a money coach, I know there are rebels out there who also have a complicated relationship with money, who can relate to my current dilemma, and who KNOW they can think of alternative ways to live and be happy.
Live and be happy without money?! This is surely the talk of a crazy woman...
Actually, if there was ever a time to invent your own rules and do anything you want with your life, it's TODAY. With the help of the Internet and some ingenuity, you can be a rebel who exchanges their services and products for things way cooler than money.
Just ask yourself, What do you want out of life in order to be happy?
Is it to create without having to worry about promoting? Is it to travel without worrying about expenses? Is it to help people? Is it to have a good meal? Is it to connect?
Figure out what YOU need - forget what the experts say - and make it happen.
Nothing is that easy, of course, you's have to show up, do the work, and EARN your alternative life, but when it does happen, you'll feel like you're a superhero - or an outlaw - who has bypassed the rules of society and is not FREE from convention.
Do you want such a life? There are so many examples of this actually working.
Below are some genius projects that involve rebels offering their services in exchange for things much cooler than money. From poets to photographers to startup advisors, anyone can live an alternative life and have an alternative business nowadays, including YOU.
Once you're done, think about what you're really good at, what people would pay you for, and see if you can exchange it for something 'cooler than money.'
1. Shantanu Starick gave his photography for travel.
This is my absolute favorite "rebel project" because it tackles my question:
Is there a way to lead the life I want without having to deal with money?
Yes, there is! You can actually exchange your skills for the thing you want the most. In Shantanu's case it was traveling. He wanted to see the world, so he announced the Pixel Trade project, during which he would exchange his photography for food and shelter. His transport and everything else would also be covered, so he spent 2 years without money! He made no money, he spent no money, and he's talked about it on 99u.
By doing a TON of photo shoots all over the world, he not only got to see the world and meet some amazing creatives, but he also got to improve his skill. His photographs went from uh-huh to oh-WOW, as you will notice on the project's website.
He had stories to tell and photos to show, and now he's giving talks!
If this is something you would LOVE to do, just do it. There's no excuse not to try. And if you want some variation of that, just think of your own unique project. What do you want to get out of your next year? What are you willing to exchange for it?
Let me know in the comments! (:
P.S. I'm working on my own coach-surfing project for 2017 where I exchange my coaching services for food and shelter so I can travel across Europe (for starters). If you'd like to "host" me, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can't wait!
2. Lauren Hom gave her lettering for lunch.
Nobody starts off being perfect. We all scramble and fall on our faces at the start. That is why Lauren Hom figured out that she needed some practice before she launched her lettering business. And she came up with her project Will Letter for Lunch -
Trading her lettering services in exchange for free lunch!
Some of us are so hungry and eager when we start that we're willing to work for nothing, even less than nothing because we need to cover transport and other expenses ourselves. At the extreme, this eagerness can be viewed as insecurity, which can lead to exploitation. Never show the world you don't value your work. You have to ask for something in return. You may think your lack of experience or testimonials is a hindrance, but actually, a lot of businesses are willing to pay for your refreshing new perspective and your passion.
Nevertheless, if you're shy to ask for money, ask for a meal. Or a product you've wanted to buy, but can't afford. Or a present for a friend. Or concert tickets. Or a HUG!
It's a fair exchange, trust me, anything you do is priceless. (:
Now, think of what you can do for your local businesses or the online businesses you admire, and then figure out some kind of fair exchange. Most people are willing to barter, especially if they need what you offer. You just have to offer it.
3. Jason Zook gave his future for FREEDOM.
However, it's important to note his motivation for that project. One day he thought, Wouldn't it be great to create year-round and not worry about launching and promoting? Think about it, that's what we do ALL THE TIME. And it's almost never what we want to be doing with our time, especially when you're a creative rebel who hates selling. But we're stuck with it because there's no other way to SUSTAIN our dream life... or is there?
Jason asked the question in all of our heads, and Buy My Future answered it:
What Jason actually got from this project is FREEDOM. He sold his future for the freedom to create year-round and worry about selling much less than he did before. And this is not the first time Jason pulled off something like this. He'd already done I Wear Your T-Shirt (wearing tshirts for a living) and Buy My Last Name, so he's practically a natural.
Which doesn't mean that he didn't have trouble along the way or that it got easier. It just means that he gave himself permission to go big, got comfortable with risk, and kept going - and growing - no matter what. That's what it takes to break free from convention.
Are you tired of launching and promoting all the time? Ask yourself:
What can I do that will eliminate the need for year-round promotion? What can I launch once that will cover all those other times? Is this really what I want?
Let me know what you came up with the comments! (:
P.S. I also recently asked myself these questions and my answer was loud and clear - launching The Creative Rebel Academy once or twice every year would allow me to spend the rest of my time doing what I love - creating, curating, and connecting.
4. Kevin Dewalt gave his expertise for testimonials.
Kevin Dewalt is an entrepreneur, business advisor, and investor, who knows what it takes to "make it" in the shark tank where every decision makes you or breaks you, a.k.a. the startup world. However, being in that competitive environment, he thrives by: a) traveling around the world and consulting in person and b) helping people for FREE. Whaat?!
That's right, he believes that giving your expertise for free has a gigantic return.
But not in the way all creatives hate - working for "exposure"or back-links or whatever empty promises they give us. (Read my article on the matter.) I'm talking about exchanging your expertise for TESTIMONIALS. In a way, a lot of consultants and coaches do this already by offering 30 minute free sessions or whatever on their website.
However, Kevin took this up a notch and created So Helpful - the tool that will schedule your calls and collect those testimonials. If you look at his page, he probably has hundreds if not thousands of gushing testimonials. That's because he gives all the value he can give in those 30 "free minutes" and he even does his homework on you beforehand!
Now that's value! In a world where everyone's fighting to get ahead with media and money, Kevin is building upon the strongest building blocks of the business world.
Is your business built upon these blocks? If not, check out So Helpful.
5. Jeremy M. Brownlowe (the Typewriter Troubadour) exchanged his poetry for company.
This is where I outright break the rules I set at the beginning of this article.
The title says 'these 5 rebels exchanged their services for things cooler than money' but Jeremy M. Brownlowe is a poet for hire and he absolutely charges money for his poems. However, I couldn't deprive you of his cool story, so let's be rule breakers. As always.
In his story of how he became the Typewriter Troubadour, Jeremy says:
I was surprised when the majority of people wanted to connect. They seemed to need a space to have their troubles heard. Perhaps I - the poet - had the medicine their soul craved in order to heal. We wouldn't know until after they gave me a chance and the words rattled from my fingers.
These sorts of interactions diffused the inevitable loneliness I experienced as a lone traveler driving from place to place searching for my own sense of connection to myself and the country around me.
While Jeremy was busking out poems on the road, other creatives have been busting out their typewriters and taking to the streets, even if it meant their hometown parks, like the Roving Typist, who's known for giving stories to strangers. There's a lot of romance and beauty in this practice, even though it's sometimes associated with being a hipster. Whatever, as creatives, we need to be reminded of the past from time to time.
The past of noisy typewriters, busking on the street, and actual human connection.
You are freer than you'll ever know. At any time you can take your belongings and take to the road. Or you can live in a van and travel the world. If we learned anything from all five rebels, it's that your life can be what you want it to be.
No limits. No expectations. And definitely no rules.
What will your next rebel adventure be?