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Supercharge Your Creativity with Your Own Personal Genius Grant

Updated: Feb 13

Crystal and golden kingdom against an abstract morning garden
Morning, from the Crystal Kingdoms Series

Every year The MacArthur Fellows Program awards a few creative thinkers in the arts and sciences 800,000 dollars—160K a year for five years out of the blue, no strings attached.


The foundation was developed by John MacArthur, an insurance man and real estate tycoon who made it big during the post WWII boon. The MacArthur Award, dubbed by the media as the Genius Grant, was influenced by a report called, On Venture Research by Dr. George Burch.


George believed that self-directed people who showed unusual creative promise would contribute most to society if they didn’t have to worry about money and if they had plenty of time to be alone and think. He also believed that recipients should be free from the distractions of grant applications, reviewing committees, and performance pressures.


Imagine how financial freedom with no strings attached would impact your creative process.


George was really onto something.


Some artists and writers already enjoy this lifestyle and have achieved financial and creative freedom through successfully marketing their own work.  But speaking as a marketing communications corporate refugee, many artists and writers are still sacrificing their dreams to the cold, hard realities of making a living.


The good news is, writers and artists who want to create art for the sake of art can find ways to supplement their income without becoming a wage slave. What if you could award yourself your own personal genius grant that freed you to create and explore new ideas without worry or distraction? What would you do with an extra 160K a year?

Real Artists Don’t Starve

For many of us, money is a complex subject fraught with conflicting emotions. And it’s no wonder. Other than sex and food, there are few things in our culture that present us with more mixed signals. To complicate matters, too many creatives have bought into the myth of the starving artist. To quote Hugh MacLeod, cartoonist, and author of the manifesto, How to Be Creative, “Real artists don’t starve.”


It’s helpful to draft your own personal code of ethics around money and the marketplace. That said, here are a couple thoughts on how to develop multiple streams of income to give you the time and creative freedom to work on your chosen art.

5 Ways to Create Your Own Personal Genius Grant


Become an Airbnb Host

I live in Santa Cruz, California recently named the most expensive rental market in the nation. I can attest to this. I rent a humble three-bedroom house a block from the beach. Key word, humble. Looking at it from the outside, no one in their right mind would ever suspect it’s a “Guest Favorite, one of the most loved homes on Airbnb.”


Start with the Art

Never underestimate the power of original art, plenty of lush plants and a bit of creative decorating. Inside, my humble home is vibrant with a warm and inviting energy. Not only did Airbnb cover the lion’s share of my living expenses for an entire year, but it also exposed my art to people from all over the world. In addition to gaining some wonderful art collectors, I’ve made some wonderful friends.  

High-Quality Affiliate Programs

There are a lot of useless products out there, so I want to stress the words high-quality. When you sign up to become an affiliate, you’re sent a cookie enabled link from the vendor like this one: Sign up to be an Airbnb host and get a $40.00 credit! Every time you refer a customer to a site that results in a sale, you get a commission.


Copy Writing

Not to be confused with content writing, direct response copy writing is designed to elicit an immediate action from the reader (or listener or viewer). Part art and part science, top copy writers can earn tens of thousands of dollars for one rain making funnel or sales letter. If you believe in the client and the product you’re representing, this can be an excellent part time income for a writer willing to study the craft.

Create Your Own Information Product

By creating your own information product, you not only leverage your efforts you can also create your own affiliate program. Self-managed teams and multiple streams of distribution are attractive to any entrepreneur. By enlisting affiliates, you get both.

Don’t Forget the Stock Market for Passive Growth

I’m not about to give investing advice, but there are plenty of people who will like these guys.

I will say, diversification is your friend. My strategy has been to take the long view and put the lion’s share into a broad based no load mutual fund. From there, I dedicate a portion for more speculative (read riskier) bio and tech stocks with a high potential upside.


Supercharge Your Creativity with Your Own Personal Genius Grant

These are just a few ideas for creating your own personal genius grant. To get creative, put a muzzle on your inner critic and task yourself with coming up with 100 ideas to generate income and supercharge your creativity.





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