Hat attack – or how to hire yourself

Categories Blog, business, Succeed online

Face facts, my little cupcakes, you are not good at everything.

I know, I know, your mother told you that you could do anything you wanted in life. She did not, however, tell you that you could do everything. And if she did, she was wrong.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Casey Serin

Creative people have a bizarre tendency – probably born from the Starving Artist Mindset – to believe that they can do everything. Sadly, it just ain’t so.

Can you have a stab at it? Yes, probably. Will it be any good? Debatable. In truth, other people can often do things better than you and in far less time.

For example, whenever possible I outsource my graphics. I can kind of do graphics but I suck at them: it takes forever and makes me all stabby. Nasty, tricksy graphics, we hates them, Precious.

So I will budget like crazy to hire my wonderful graphics person, Lisa Valuyskaya. Lisa does in a couple of hours what it would take me days of hysterical sobbing to achieve. Ha, who am I kidding? Even with the sobbing, my efforts are pitiful compared to hers. Know why? Because she’s a professional graphic designer and I am not.

Help, help, I have no money

It’s sucky – you’d love to hire someone but your kids/pets/landlord need to eat. It’s just not an option.

In that situation, there are several choices:
Go without
Find a creative work-around
Outsource those tasks to parts of yourself

The first three are pretty self-explanatory but what about that last one? Outsourcing to yourself? What the hell?

OK, here’s what it means. When I have a task that I dislike and I can’t afford to hire someone, I try to find an aspect of myself that can deal and then I delegate to that sub-personality.

For example, my Inner Businesswoman is now responsible for financial decisions. I find asking for money difficult, so she does that bit. She overrides my Volunteer Junkie who likes to say things like, ‘oh hey, we could just barter instead’. My Inner Businesswoman is in charge of the bottom line and she reminds my Volunteer Junkie that there are bills to pay and the Inland Revenue does not accept vegetables and eggs, no matter how happy the chickens are.

Right now my Inner Businesswoman is very cross about the state of my book-keeping and is threatening to hire an Inner Accountant.

Another example. I have been struggling with newsletters but I was brushing my teeth the other day when to my surprise, an inner Girl Reporter suddenly turned up. She’s keen as mustard and doesn’t need to be paid because apparently she’s an intern. I hope she likes typing.

Hmm, this could be getting a leetle bit out of hand…

It does work though. Marketing making you cringe? Create your own PR person. Having trouble standing up for yourself? Oh honey, your Inner Diva has that one covered. Need help with the filing? Just access your Inner Secretary

Stock photo of Joan from Mad Men

And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re male, you can still imagine yourself as Joan from Mad Men. You’ve probably got better legs for stockings anyway.

Just don’t blame me if tidying up the studio requires an Inner Archaeologist.

A Caveat

This only works if you can access a part of yourself that is vaguely competent.

My Inner Graphic Designer is clearly an eight year old child who’s prone to temper tantrums and doesn’t understand what’s wrong with Comics Sans. If your Inner Accountant seems like the kind of guy who’s going to run off to Bermuda with your money, you should definitely hire a real one or find a more competent friend you can barter skills with.

Get a hat. Get lots of hats

‘Wearing several different hats’ is a critically important skill for any self-employed person.

I have taken this to its logical conclusion and frequently wear my sequin tiara when I’m working on business stuff. Apparently my Inner Businesswoman is a bit of a princess. But because I do it often, putting on the tiara now sends my brain the message, ‘hey, we’re doing business stuff now’. I’m thinking of expanding this: I’d like a writing hat and an art hat to add to my business tiara.

Dammit, I heard that. No, my art hat will NOT be a beret!

Given the choice between sticking their toe in a blender and having to market themselves, many creative people would have to sit down and think about it.

I understand. It’s cringe-worthy, embarrassing and gruelling putting your delicate, precious, creative endeavours out there.

In my experience, anything that helps you stand slightly apart from your creative work helps immensely. It could be silly hats, a public persona, a pseudonym or parts of yourself temporarily taking charge. Start thinking of yourself as a one-person publishing company instead of just a writer. Hell, delegate to your cuddly toys or draw paper doll alter-egos if it helps. You could even ask the cat to take charge. Actually, no, don’t do that, most cats have no work ethic and they’ll screw things up just to mess with you.

Now excuse me, I have to go, my Inner Businesswoman is tapping her foot, apparently time is money or some such shit…

I am an artist & purveyor of obsessive projects based in Hebden Bridge, England. My work involves the accretion of large numbers of small objects - pins in fabric, knots in string or hundreds of envelopes - to make sculptures that deal with fragility, loss, repetition, obsession and time.

30 thoughts on “Hat attack – or how to hire yourself

  1. I especially love the point raised that artists can’t do everything. I have been mentally formulating a post about bastardization for awhile now. This totally inspires me to consider it further. Rock on Kirsty! Cheers from germany, tj


    Kirsty Reply:

    @TJ, Thanks for commenting, TJ, glad you enjoyed it – I look forward to reading your post.


  2. Kirsty, this is the first time I’ve read your blog, and I love it! I got here thought a link by FASO shared links on Twitter.

    I think my inner business woman needs to hire an accountant. My inner-accountant is apparently only 5 years old and is math phobic. I so identified with this post. You’re a gifted writer.


  3. @Lori Woodward, I’m maths phobic too, Lori. I was talking to Colin Beveridge yesterday – he appears earlier in the comments of this post and just happens to be a maths tutor – about how I transpose numbers a lot and he was suggesting creating ‘story anchors’ for remembering sequences of numbers.


    Lori Woodward Reply:

    @Kirsty, I remember numbers better if they have dollar signs and decimals. For some strange reason, if it’s money, I can remember it.

    most artists I know don’t like math (except they do like Geometry – it’s more visual).


    Colin Beveridge Reply:

    @Lori Woodward, play to your strengths! If it works better for you to think of currency and shapes, it’s totally fine to work that way. In fact, that’s how I normally teach arithmetic, especially division – by breaking the numbers up into banknotes and sharing them out.

    Let me know if I can do anything to help :o)


  4. Great stuff here!

    when you said “art hat” I didn’t think of a beret, I thought of some kind of deconstructed top hat in crazy colors!


    Kirsty Reply:

    @Andy Dolph, Hi Andy, thanks for commenting. I was wondering last night about a crown or perhaps a bohemian looking turban with lots of diamante and peacock feathers.


    Cindy Morefield Reply:

    @Kirsty, Oh the turban sounds awesome!


  5. LOVE the hats idea. So going to do that…and I would never let my cats run my business. I can imagine the chaos that would ensue!. But on a serious note the BEST thing I have ever done business wise was hire a real life accountant. Saves SO much stress. I know my inner accountant would cock that up BIG STYLE ;-)


    Kirsty Reply:

    @Helen Aldous, Hi Helen, thanks for commenting. A real accountant is top of my delegation list – the minute I can afford to, I’m hiring one.


  6. I love this post, Kirsty! I already have an inner Board of Directors, but hadn’t thought to delgate to them or hire them. Duh! Some of them will volunteer, but others will definitely want compensation. :) OK, off to find out who’s at least semi-competent with grant paperwork …


    Kirsty Reply:

    @Cindy Morefield, Thanks for commenting Cindy. I love the idea of an inner Board of Directors.


  7. Very clever!

    “Experts” are always telling people with ADHD to delegate, but many cannot afford it.

    This is one solution, or at least some good medicine: humor.


    Kirsty Reply:

    @Gina Pera, Hi Gina, thanks for commenting. Although I’ve not been tested, I suspect that I do have ADD (my family call me ADD Girl!) & I think this kind of solution might appeal to other ADD people because it is quirky & a bit different, which makes it easier to remember.


  8. OMG what a great post, Kirsty!

    I think your Inner Businesswoman and my Inner Businesswoman need to sit down together for a power lunch.

    Meanwhile, my Inner Organizing Whiz has gone on strike, so I should think of hiring an Inner Archaeologist…


    Kirsty Reply:

    @Melissa Dinwiddie, I would so love that Melissa – we must get together on Skype again soon after the madness of Customer Love is past.


  9. My first time here since Scoutie Girl pointed me your way and I love this post. I knew I would like you :-) Same story with the probably ADD and I likewise identified inner selves quite a while ago, but more for amusement. I love the idea of giving them jobs! Today I will identify my inner Tech supporter. Like several above I am quite sure I don’t have an inner accountant, but then I have no money to count yet :-)


    Kirsty Reply:

    @Gwyn, Thanks for commenting, Gwen, it’s lovely to see you over here. Sounds like we’re all lacking in Inner Accountants :-)


  10. Enter text right here!irsKirsty I liked the abv article a lot. I have a problem selling my own product ie my art so this resonated with me . I liked your idea of separting yourself from being an artist when you see-that makes alot of sense.Thanks so much.

    sandy sheyy


  11. Great post, Kirtsy. And loving the voice! I'm going out now to shop for hats. Just love the image of you working in a tiara. Might have to steal that one.

    Best of luck to you in all your biz adventures, and then some.

    PS I can't do graphics either. Maybe we should share someone?


  12. Great article!!!! It's so true we have to wear so many hats and it's nice to hear that we don't have to actually be able to do everything… I am going to give myself permission to surrender to some of the daunting thoughts that I have to do everything


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