What, Exactly, Does Tori *DO*? Probably Not What You Think.

Jul 27

That’s a question I’ve heard all of my life.

I heard it most recently during an interview with The Word Chef, Tea Silvestre , while we talked about my award-winning branding. Not one, but two of her people asked exactly what I do—and as usual,  I stumbled out a vague answer — “It’s in flux!”

Seriously, I felt a bit embarrassed that my branding (while admittedly beautiful & effective) *still* doesn’t make what I actually do very clear.

That’s because what I do really *isn’t* very clear, much less concrete. Since I launched the Circus, the market has shifted and changed, and my direction has shifted and changed.  Most of the past year has been focused on developing the Quirkipreneurs concept and website – a project that has shifted me into a role of community builder and entrepreneur, and will hopefully lead to a lovely, clear answer to “What does Tori do?” very soon.

But I know a lot of you want to know just how I earn my moolah (Since it’s rather obviously NOT through the products & consulting I’ve never gotten around to offering ‘round the Circus.)

Ready? Ok!

Over the past 3 years or so, I’ve been a paid blogger & a book editor. I’ve produced illustrations for web pages, skinned themes, done some fairly complex site development, and done work as a general WordPress maintenance monkey. I’ve completed commissions for both fine art and business/web illustrations, designed client logos & letterheads, and done some paid coaching/consulting work.

I don’t advertise those services, because I mostly work with a few long-established clients & contacts, keeping the stress as low as possible and leaving free time to work on my own projects and interests.  In other words, I’m not often actively looking for work.

That’s because I have a spouse with a decent job, who doesn’t mind my fluctuating income and work habits. So I have the luxury of time to fully testing my ideas, concepts and projects before letting them see the light of day.

Much of the time? Those projects fail their tests.

Sometimes they just don’t grab attention in their market. Other times, they turn out too time consuming/expensive/unprofitable, or the competition was ahead of me, or I discover it’s just not something I wanted to do over, and over.

I may not have the advantage of big funding for product testing, the way the major corporations do, but I do have the advantage of time, and I have the ability to be wrong.

Which brings me to a bit of rambling advice I’d like to share.

I know a lot of you don’t feel you have the luxury of either time or money to spend on potentially failed products and offers.  But motivational platitudes about failure not being an option aside? Failure really is a part of being in business, and doubly so with ground-breaking, entrepreneurial, and creative businesses.

Our ideas? Some of them will flop. Many just won’t work. Others will fizzle. Some with flame out spectacularly, so brightly that they’ll light up the sky and we want to hide because we’re sure that *everyone* knows about it, and is tsk, tsking.

But part of our job as a whatever-preneurs is to manage those failures so that they don’t take us down with them, either financially or psychologically.

Let me repeat that, in fancy letters so you remember:

Part of our job as a whatever-preneurs is to manage our failures.

“Managing our failures” may mean kicking the dust off our feet and moving on to the next promising project. It may mean getting (or even better, keeping) a day job. That may mean taking on odd-jobs on a freelance basis. It may mean accepting (or begging for) help from family & friends to get through the rough spots. It almost certainly means doing some serious work on our own mental health & well-being. And it probably requires some extra-lean business & personal budgeting until we’re sure our projects will be able to pay for themselves.

Running a creative or entrepreneurial business with a big dream is as risky, difficult and unlikely as running off to Hollywood to become an actress, taking three years off to write the Great American Novel, or deciding to become a rock star. The odds are against that huge breakthrough success;  that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!

But even if you don’t reach that big dream, it *is* very possible to earn a nice living as a creative business owner & entrepreneur, just like it’s possible to earn a respectable living as an actor, writer, or musician – it just takes managing the risks, and learning how to take the failures in stride, and being able to accept both success & failures in whatever doses they come to you in.

So that’s what I do. I dream.

And I manage the risks of the dream.  I take the failures and the successes in stride. I take on day jobs. I move forward, on to the next project & experiment, to see where it leads.

Yes, maybe I’m lucky to have a supportive spouse who pays most of the bills?

*You* don’t need to be lucky.

You have yourself, and your brain, and your gifts, your talents and your own resources.  You can manage the risks, and balance them with your dreams, if you try.

I know it’s not easy. But you’re up to the task.

I know you are.

If you want to be, that is.

And if you need some help processing any of this, or just flat out disagree with my premise, just let me know and we’ll talk about it in the comments.

P.S. What does Tori do? A lot of free-lance creative web stuff, both large and small. She’s probably not taking on new clients right now, but you can always ask!

It's Another Flourish!


  1. That was a fun read, Ms. T. Thanks for clearing up the confusion! We love you even if you’re not taking new clients.

    • Tori Deaux /

      Glad you enjoyed it, Ms. T2! It’s good to be loved 😉

  2. Ooooh, a post! And a good one, too 🙂

    I’m glad you keep yourself busy and I’m happy you have those steady clients. Thank you for acknowledging that a day-job is sometimes (often) part of being a quirkpreneur–I mean, *I* know it because I’m living it, but so many people consider that being not fully committed to your own work I always like to start the wave when someone speaks the truth 🙂

    And again, I’ll quote Meet the Robinsons: “From failure you learn! From success? Not so much”

    • Tori Deaux /

      I was thinking of you as I wrote part of this, Scraps 🙂

      I remember when my folks (and for that matter, my then-future-father-in-law)ran their own businesses. I also remember my stepdad frequently taking on outside contract work in his old “cubicle” field to make ends meet. And my then-future-other in law continued to work at HER “cubicle” job for the same reason.

      No one would have ever dreamed that meant they weren’t “fully committed” to their businesses! I think that may be an internet marketing spawned idea.

      I’ve got to track down a copy of “Meet The Robinsons!”… I love that quote.

  3. That was so good I had to read it twice, through misty eyes and a lump in my throat. I needed that pep talk. Thanks. I might even have to read it weekly for a few weeks.

  4. Thanks Tori, I needed the pep talk too! A welcome reality check it is.

  5. Tori Deaux /

    @Christy & @Susan… you’re welcome, and I’m glad I could say the right thing at the right time! *rattles her pep-talk pompoms*

  6. Marie A /

    I can’t sum up what I do either, although for somewhat different reasons.

    You are so right about failure. I’m trying to set forth on the high wire and be OK with falling (but I’m not going to try crossing Niagara Falls any time soon–figuratively, not literally, ha!).

    Nevertheless, you are fabulous, failing or not!

  7. Yeeeees. Failure is not only an option, it’s a requirement. I was surprised at myself how well I took the spectacular failure of my First Big Thing back in the spring; I took it totally in stride and learned from it and moved forward. I’ve flopped a lot of stuff in my mere year of biz, and it’s a testament to how much I’ve grown in that time that I don’t throw a hissy every time something doesn’t work. Learning is important!

    (Also – I’ll admit to being curious about what Tori Do(es). Thanks for the answer!)