OPINION Michael Nobbs

NWR Issue 99

Michael Nobbs on Making a Living Online as an Artist

I’m sitting in my garden, about to pour a cup of tea, and then am planning to (maybe!) do a little work. I’m very lucky, today my garden is acting as my office/studio, yesterday my bed performed the same function. On another day I might well be setting up shop in a corner of Aberystwyth Arts Centre or a café in town.

My ‘job’ is one I’ve created myself. I describe myself as an artist, blogger and tea drinker (I’m best at the tea drinking part). I draw things and write about my life online. Over the years I’ve created what the blogging gurus would call a ‘niche’, and earn a growing income from my online activities.

Life hasn’t always been so good. Back at the end of the 1990s my bed was more of a prison than the base for my portable studio (though even then you’d probably have caught me sipping tea). I was exhausted. Most of the 1990s had been spent attempting to build a career as a writer and a publisher, but illness had constantly knocked me over. Eventually, in 1997, I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and life ground to a halt.

Over the following decade and a half I began to rebuild a life, one that was based around staying aware of my physical limits, but also one that allowed me to realise many of my creative dreams. I was more than helped on my way by what in the early noughties was still a relatively new phenomenon, blogging.

Blogging has been good to me. Very good. In 2004, I began to write short illustrated blog posts about my struggles with illness. After a couple of blog posts someone asked if they could buy the drawing that illustrated the post. Suddenly I saw the possibility of creating an income from working online. It took a few more years, but by 2008 I began to think of blogging as my job, the way I put the tea in my tea caddy...

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