Earlier this year, Make: published Maker Pro, a compilation of short personal stories of makers who are now able to live fully or almost fully from their passion.
The book was edited by John Baichtal, one of the most prolific author at Make Magazine. He nicely agreed to share his impressions with MakingSociety on some of the main ideas from the book.
“Our nations have tons of cubicle jobs that sap away our making instinct, and the movement is a response to that life. We still want to do things with our hands even if our main occupation is to sit at a computer.” John Baichtal
I downloaded and read the book in 3 hours straight the other day. It’s an easy read and an exciting one.
Each story is inspiring in its own way with makers such as Mitch Altman, bunnie Huang, Akiba, Eri Gentry, Adam Wolf or Jimmy DiResta sharing their personal approach on how they are able to live from their makers activities.
Four key ideas struck me.
Diversify Revenue Streams
” You have to diversify, unless you have one really amazing idea you can live on. I’ve tried my hand at kit-making, self-publishing, video-making, editing, as well as trying out different writing genres.” John Baichtal
Just like John, almost all makers in the book emphasize how they don’t rely on one unique revenue stream to be financially stable. In fact, they tend to juggle with a pretty big number of activities. It made me feel less crazy!
Professional making activities described in the book range from being a contractor part or full-time to selling products, kits or homemade creations. Every maker describes his own personal revenue balance.
“There is an inherent rebuttal of consumerism in the maker world. You build or fix; buying something new is almost a defeat. Anything that gives you relief from overhead expenses helps you do more making and learning.” John Baichtal
Many makers choose to live in locations that are less of a burden on the wallet. Moving out of big cities usually also comes with more space, a garden, and more opportunities to make things. Instead of working full-time to be able to buy furniture and replace appliances, makers pro prefer to quit and use their free time to build and repair by themselves.
Akiba, co-founder of Tokyo Hackerspace, moved from expensive Tokyo to a farm outside the city where he can now invite hackers over and work on bigger projects.
Frugality doesn’t mean lacking resources. It means simplify your life and buy more responsibly, at businesses you support.
On this topic, I also recommend the chapter one “The Art of Unemployement”.
“We could all stand to learn more about money. Running a business is difficult and requires a different skill set than many makers have developed in the workshop. At the very least hire a small business accountant!” John Baichtal
Makers pro make for a living. In many cases, this goes with working for clients or selling your own products. Even if money is not the topic that keep makers excited at night, it’s one that need to be learned. The book features a bunch of concrete examples on the business side of makers company.
Adam Wolf, for example, shares an incredible journey scaling his open source hardware kits company Wayne and Layne with the help of his friends and family.
“For me, what sets the maker movement apart from traditional occupations is the tenet of sharing. Whatever you do, whatever you learn, share it so others can do the same. This can complicate making money sometimes, but the movement wouldn’t exist if everyone kept their ideas to themselves.” John Baichtal
Makers pro share as much as occasional makers, and sometimes more. Sharing is what allows this lifestyle to exist. Ideas, techniques, friendship, free thinking and living… sharing is what makes makers turn pro.
Maker Pro is available on Amazon for a little less than $16.
And you, do you live from your makers activities? I’d love to know your story in the comments.