Join me in New Orleans on October 26th and 27th for a two-day exploration of what it means to be a working artist. How can we do our real work and make a living at the same time?

I attended a workshop in Dublin a couple of months ago and happened to bump into two of my oldest friends from home in the hotel lobby. I was on my way to dinner with some clients and they were on their way to a concert. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years so we agreed to meet in the hotel bar at the end of the night for a quick catch up.

“Join me in New Orleans October 26th-27th”

After we returned from dinner my long-time client and friend, Yann decided to stick around for a drink too. My old pals, Aidan and Mark straggled into the hotel a bit worse for wear and engaged in the same line of good natured antagonisation I’ve been familiar with since my youth. I turned to Yann and said, “I feel like I’m taking a client on a night out when I was 18.”

Aidan and I have been friends since I was 14 or 15. “We’re like family,” he told Yann, as the night porter brought another round of pints. “We actually are almost family,” I added. “His step-siblings are my cousins.” “Aye, but we’re closer than that makes it sound,” Aidan clarified. It’s true, he’s like family to me. We’ve been in and out of each other’s lives over the past 20 years or so, but through my teenage years he was there for many of my pivotal moments.

Glastonbury 2000

He was there at Glastonbury 2000. I had just turned 16 and couldn’t quite believe that my parents had allowed me to board a bus in Belfast after midnight with a couple of friends and a lot of drunk men to make the journey across the Irish Sea to Glastonbury. During the Troubles very few bands included Northern Ireland, let alone Derry, on their touring schedules. So at age 16 I had probably only been to three gigs, one of which was to see Aidan’s band play at an under-age alcohol-free venue in Derry.

“I only ever played my guitar in my bedroom or at friends’ houses”

Aidan and I shared a passion for music. After sneaking loans of my eldest brother’s guitar to learn to play, I finally got my own brand-new blue Yamaha acoustic guitar for my 16th birthday. It was my pride and joy but while Aidan was in a couple of bands, I only ever played my guitar in my bedroom or at friends’ houses.

Safe to say that both our tiny minds were blown when we saw David Bowie perform his iconic set at Glastonbury that year. My enduring memory of that festival was standing in line for the long drop toilet at the end of the Saturday night performances, having belted out every word I knew amidst a crowd of a hundred thousand people or more, and feeling every single cell in my body buzzing. As ever, I was stone cold sober, and I had never been more alive. I had no idea what I would do with my life at this point, but I remember thinking, “I want to make people feel like this.”

I was telling friends about this first festival experience earlier this summer and my younger brother interrupted to marvel, “How were you allowed to go?” Our parents were pretty strict when we were growing up. I lost count of the things I wasn’t allowed to do that other people’s parents didn’t seem to bat an eyelid at. So of course, my brother couldn’t compute how they let me go on this adventure at such a tender age. “I think they knew how much I wanted it,” I replied. I think they knew I needed it.

Dublin 2022

“Where was this Megan when we were young?”

At some point in between the night porter asking us to keep the noise down, Aidan started talking about my writing and saying some kind things. He reads everything I post, he said. He regularly broke off to speak directly to Yann, informing him of what I was like as a teenager.

I could tell he was trying to reconcile what he sees of me in my writing and what he saw of me then. I was always a side-kick in my youth, never the main character, and I didn’t have much to say for myself. The only thing I did in public was pass exams. Eventually Aidan came right out and asked, “Where was this Megan when we were young?”

Chicago 2015

It was late spring 2015 when I was walking laps of a hotel parking lot in Chicago with my friend, Peter. An accomplished musician and composer, Peter was considering starting a business around his work. I was at a stage where my business was finally beginning to take off but I felt increasingly out of sync with it. If he had come to me for encouragement he had perhaps not gotten me on the best day. I don’t know how helpful that conversation was to him; all I remember is plunging into my own existential crisis. “I’m not sure I even care about business at all,” I told him.

“I was desperately trying to figure out where these two worlds met”

It had been years since I had touched a guitar but I was surrounded by musicians and artists. I had married my sound artist husband a few years earlier and I watched as other artist friends developed their bodies of work. I felt as though I was peering in from the other side of an abyss.

I still had the desire to make work that made people feel something. I had started writing alongside my business but I didn’t know how to turn that into paid work. I was desperately trying to figure out where these two worlds met. And whether I could move from the business side of the fence to the artist side, because I couldn’t shake the sense that that’s where I really belonged.

I spent a long time standing in this space between the business world and the art paradigm. I wondered if it would actually be possible to make money from my real work. I worried that if I left my web design business behind I might never replace that income.

Shutting Off the Voices

I don’t know when I first started thinking of myself as an artist but I eventually did find clarity around how to think about my work and I left the traditional notions of the business world behind. Initially I found it necessary to block out the voices of the business paradigm that I carried around in my head. The voices that would ask, “But how are you going to make money?” “Who is going to pay for that?” “What’s your target market with this?”

“Going deeper and deeper into the work only I can do”

Those voices were so loud and well developed in me I had to shut them off entirely as often as I could. In time my work developed, I began to put it out into the world, and I started to find confidence in taking an artistic approach.

I worried less and less about the question “What will generate a profit?” and more and more about the question “What’s worth doing even if it fails?” It took all my energy to focus on preventing the old gremlins from stifling my creative instincts. I tried to stay laser focused on going deeper and deeper into the work only I can do.

It took time before I was able to monetise my real work, and then even after I began to make money from it, I was still buoyed by income from other sources.

Mid-Pandemic Realisations

In late 2021 I had two realisations that shifted things for me. Late September 2020 marked the point in time when I had been living in London longer than I had ever lived in Derry. I had been waiting for this moment to come for years. I had long anticipated some kind of identity crisis around it all. In the end when the moment came, I barely noticed. We were six months into the pandemic and I had a six month old baby to distract me.

“It was about finally being able to define my life for myself”

A year and a bit later though, I was walking home from a therapy session when something fell into place. Reaching the point where I had lived away from the place that had formed me for the same length of time as I had lived in it, was nothing to do with my identity.

It was about being able to separate myself from the old systems and old meta-narratives that had been in the water, and finally being able to define my life for myself.

A few weeks later I had another realisation. I looked around and realised that all the outgoings in my life – all my business costs and expenses, the mortgage, nursery fees – the whole shebang was paid for with money earned from my real work. After spending so much time through the years worrying whether it would actually be possible to support myself doing the work I felt compelled to do, somewhere along the line, without me consciously realising what was happening, all the other sources of income fell away until this day when I realised that my business and I were being supported solely by my real work.

In the wake of this realisation I found myself returning to the idea of money from a different perspective. These days I’m interested in defining exactly the role it plays in the art paradigm.

Poetic Pause

“I intentionally took some time to listen to where my work wanted to go next”

I indulged myself in a ‘poetic pause’ in my work for six weeks or so at the end of this past spring. I tended to my regular consulting clients but outside of that, I intentionally took some time to listen to where my curiosity and my work wanted to go next. For many reasons I had the clear sense of being at the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

Throughout that pause I couldn’t get away from the term Working Artist. I didn’t grow up with any models of what a working artist looks like and I feel that, in many ways, the journey I’ve been on for the past seven or eight years has been about figuring out how to become just that.

All that time I spent standing between the traditional business paradigm and the art paradigm I was stuck between the narrative of the starving artist and the money-addicted businessperson. They are two sides of the same coin, both born out of the traditional business paradigm.

Working Artist = Thriving Artist

As I thought about the term Working Artist, I began to define exactly what that means to me. It isn’t just someone who is making their art or being a ‘successful’ artist. For me a Working Artist is a thriving artist. Thriving is about much more than income or money; it’s about creative fulfilment, richness of work and life, a sense of aliveness and connectedness, as well as the income necessary to support such a creative life.

“For me a Working Artist is a thriving artist”

I’m now realising that I’ve lived outside of the traditional business world and all of it’s overarching narratives for long enough that I have mostly shaken them out of my body.

I am able to return to thoughts and questions about money from firm ground. I am no longer unwittingly and unconsciously swept up into a story about money that was handed down to me. Artistry and money are no longer seemingly conflicting poles within me.

And so now I am able to go deeper into the work only I can do and think about money at the same time. It can be incorporated into the creative process. If I own it rather than it owning me, I can use it to enrich the body of work just like any other creative tool, material or constraint.

We are so often misled into thinking that business and art or money and real work must be considered separately. People will often tell me about the project that brings them alive before I see the light in their eyes dim as they say, “But, you know, I need to think about the business angle here,” or “But, I should be sensible and figure out the strategy behind what I’m doing,” or “This is all great and all but I have to work out how to make some money with it at some point.”

The question of money should not be the hand that snuffs out the light of your real work. It can be different. There is a way to unashamedly do your real work and thrive.

“There are No Jobs in Derry”

In the second episode of the sitcom Derry Girls, when one of the girls suggests they get jobs to raise money to go on the French trip another replies, “There are no jobs in Derry. That’s all you ever hear anybody say.”

“My business is there to serve my creativity and my real work”

Anyone in my family who had a passion for music, photography or poetry did it as a hobby on the side. My whole life the family has been supported by small business.

Both of my grandfathers ran their own businesses, and my dad started his business a few years before I was born. This is a common story in Derry. My mum was once talking to my husband about my grandfathers both being businessmen when my father interjected to point out the difference between the idea of a middle-class businessman and the reality of their fathers. “They had to make jobs for themselves because there were no jobs for them.”

I realise now I’ve ended up doing the same thing but for different reasons. Some people can make their art within someone else’s organisation, I’m sure that’s true. But it doesn’t seem to be true for me. My business is there to serve my creativity and my real work. This is the gift having my own business offers me.

Now I understand why I’m engaged with business I can come at it in a way that supports my work rather than following existing stories about what a business should be and what a business owner should aspire to.

It’s Not About Other People

Earlier this summer I walked into the living room to find my five-year-old daughter hunched over my blue acoustic guitar. “I’m playing dad’s guitar!” she announced. “That’s my guitar,” I told her. “No, it’s not. It’s Dad’s,” she insisted. He’s the only one she’s ever seen do anything with it.

“It’s about enabling myself to feel fully alive”

The calluses on my fingertips have long since softened and I never did form a band, but I have realised a couple of things since that night in 2000 when I declared to myself that I wanted to make people feel the way I felt watching my favourite bands in a field with a hundred thousand people.

I have learned that, while often a side effect of my work, it’s not really about making other people feel that buzz of aliveness. It’s about enabling myself to feel that alive on a consistent basis. That’s what our real work is for, first and foremost.

A few weeks ago, I spent a Friday night at the pub with two friends. It was a work meeting about a project we’re creating together. The topic is something that is very alive for me right now. We talked about our work and our ideas for the experience we are designing. Over the course of the evening the shape of something new emerged as we found the natural harmony between each of our bodies of work. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a band, but this feels pretty close.

Living a Creative Life

I have never been clearer that I am not so much interested in creating a successful business as I am in living a creative life and being well supported and thriving in it. Business is a part of that but I come at it from a very different angle than I used to.

At this stage in my work I’m interested in helping people become Working Artists, which means, doing the work that only you can do, creating a rich body of work, with a sense of aliveness and connectedness in your work, and with the income necessary to support such a creative life. If that sounds like something you’re interested in I’d love to have you join me in New Orleans in October.

Working Artist Live Event, New Orleans, October 26 to 27

Join me around the table in New Orleans while I share everything I know about what it means to be a working artist

At October’s two-day event in New Orleans I’m going to be exploring everything I know about what it means to be a Working Artist. We’ll be going deep on the question “How can we do our real work and make a living at the same time?”

We’ll spend two days diving into this question and more. As ever at my events, the group will be small enough that we’ll have time to get to know who is in the room and explore the specifics of your work and the challenges you are facing. This won’t just be about coming and listening to some interesting ideas; I’ll be supporting you to apply what we’re talking about to your own work and business. We’ll talk about how you sustain yourself so that you can sustain your work. You’ll leave with concrete things you can apply in your own work and life to move ever in the direction of the thriving, creatively fulfilled and fully expressed human you were born to be.

Some of What We’ll Explore Together in New Orleans:

  • What it means to be a working artist
  • What working artists do
  • Money and art metanarratives: Identifying the stories that are unconsciously controlling your relationship to your work and money
  • The role of rhythms and cycles in the life of a working artist
  • The role of money in the art paradigm
  • The path to uncovering your deepest work
  • Discovering the way to build your body of work that is unique to you
  • The paradox at the heart of being financially and creatively supported by your real work
  • How to think like a working artist
  • Why many working artists don’t get paid directly for their work and what they get paid for instead
  • Different ways that working artists I know approach their work and get paid
  • How the money-addicted businessperson and the starving artist are two sides of the same coin and how to step out of that paradigm entirely
  • What people are really paying for when they engage with anyone who is taking an artistic approach to their work
  • Why “how will I get paid for this?” is not an applicable question in the art paradigm and what question we should be focused on instead
  • The psychic link between creative collaboration and being a working artist
  • What it looks like to take an artistic approach to sales and marketing

The Format


We will gather in New Orleans on October 26th and 27th for two focused days of teaching, group discussion and writing exercises. Our meeting venue is a space for creatives in the Arts District of New Orleans. We begin at 9am both days. On Wednesday 26th we’ll have lunch together and also dinner together in the evening. On Thursday 27th we’ll have lunch together and wrap up for the day at 5.30pm.


Four weeks after the event you’ll get a 30-minute private call with me to debrief, solidify your insights and address any questions or challenges that may arise as you go back into your world and work. Some aha moments are immediate and will strike you in New Orleans but there will also be others that reveal themselves slowly in the days and weeks that follow. This debrief call is a space for those insights to become clear and crystallised in your conscious mind, as well as an opportunity to ask practical questions about your work, business or anything else you’re tackling.

Come to New Orleans, Live a Creative Life

As I was turning thirty I thought I had figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I thought running my own web design and marketing agency was it for me, and my goal was to make that business as successful as possible. I’m now not far off forty and spending the past few years figuring out some more of my shit and watching my peers jostle for position I realised my focus has changed drastically. Now, what I want more than anything is to live a creative life. I still have a business, obviously, but the purpose of my business efforts is to get my work out there and support me financially so that I can have the ability to follow the spark of aliveness in my work.

What better place to follow the spark of aliveness in your work than New Orleans? I haven’t been before but I know enough about it to know it’s one of the most alive places on earth. I haven’t done an event in the US since 2019 and I’m very excited to take a deep dive into what it means to be a working artist in the rich surrounds of New Orleans.

I’d love to have you join me on October 26th – 27th in New Orleans. Book your place today!

Join me for the Working Artist Live Event on October 26th and 27th 2022

The two-day event takes place in the Warehouse/Arts District, New Orleans. Lunch, snacks and beverages throughout both days are included, as is dinner on the evening of the 26th.

Tickets: $1995 (or three monthly payments of $665)

(Feel free to email me on hello@meganmacedo.com if you have any questions)

“I don’t think the marketing world really has a name for what Megan does. Maybe it will in a few years.– Perry Marshall, author of 80/20 Sales & Marketing

Working with Megan at Tell Your Story in NY was a life-changing experience. I was excited to be doing this, and honestly, more than a little nervous. Going up to NY on the airplane I kept thinking "Why did I want to do this? What if my story is just not that interesting?" I was very relieved that my turn in the Hot Seat would be on Day 2, so I could spend the first day observing and learning.

As soon as we began, Megan instantly put the entire group at ease. She created a safe space for story telling, sharing, and questioning, and out of that safe space, we all began weaving common narratives of desire for community, connection and sharing our gifts with the world. One of things I found most fascinating was that while the details of the stories changed from one person to another, the common themes were so often exactly the same.

Megan's trademarked format of 14 Elements in 4 Acts is quite remarkable in helping people to organize their thoughts and discover the "meat" of their own stories. Again and again I watched her work her magic with other participants on that first day. By the time my turn came on Day 2, I felt comfortable, safe and ready to explore my own story. I had a good sense of what my story was about, but I don't think I could have found a way to make sense of it the way Megan is able to do. She is a true master of getting to the heart of what matters in each person's life.

If you have the opportunity to work with Megan, take it. You won't regret a minute of it - from the pre-call to the follow-up call. I'm still learning and I look forward to exploring this format for future writings and blog posts.

Robbin Marcus Alexander Technique of Decatur GA/Marcus Music Studio Georgia, USA

Join me for the Working Artist Live Event on October 26th and 27th 2022

The two-day event takes place in the Warehouse/Arts District, New Orleans. Lunch, snacks and beverages throughout both days are included, as is dinner on the evening of the 26th.

Tickets: $1995 (or three monthly payments of $665)

Photography by Shaun Heaney and Megan Macedo