136: When Your Cartooning Side Hustle Overtakes Your Day Job: Interview with Adam Walker Cleaveland

As children, many of us dreamed of becoming artists, writers, or photographers. Unfortunately, this creative bent was often lost at school or in front of a computer screen. But what if you could rediscover your passion and unlock a new calling?

136: When Your Cartooning Side Hustle Overtakes Your Day Job: Interview with Adam Walker Cleaveland

This week’s guest on The Portfolio Life, was always drawing as a kid. He took calligraphy classes and even attended a young authors’ conference while writing and illustrating books in elementary school.

However, this all stopped the moment his family got a computer and the Internet. While he dove into web design in high school and college, he became disconnected from tactile art for years into adulthood.

Listen in as Adam Walker Cleveland and I talk about his journey through full-time ministry and how rediscovering a childhood passion for cartooning led to growing an international audience and selling over $63,000 worth of art in one month.

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Show highlights

In this episode, Adam and I discuss:

  • If getting paid for your art rob you of the joy found in making it
  • Hiding in a confessional instead of a cubicle
  • Drawing sketchnotes to go along with sermons as a Presbyterian minister
  • How one Instagram post from an influencer resulted in $5,000 worth of pre-orders overnight for his first product
  • Which services and systems Adam uses to fulfill orders
  • Why adult coloring books have grown so popular
  • The insurmountable challenge of trying to do everything
  • How art is both a business and a calling


  • The life of a solopreneur can be really exhausting.
  • Just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you should start a business.
  • Get help early on. It doesn’t make sense for you to do everything.
  • Sometimes work and play overlap.
  • It’s not uncommon to have one view when you get started and experience a pivot as you gain momentum.


What was your favorite art form as a kid? When was the last time you created something for the joy of it? Share in the comments

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript or scroll down to read it below.

Episode 136

AWC: The freedom that you desire by becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business, you lose that almost as soon as you get it.


[0:00:18.7] JG: Welcome to The Portfolio Life, I’m Jeff Goins and this is a show that helps you pursue work that matters, make a difference with your art and discover your true voice. I’m your host and I want to help you find, develop, and live out your own creative calling so that you too can live a portfolio life.

So let’s get started.


[0:00:37.0] JG: So, I was just reading this blogpost on your blog, Becoming a Solopreneur. In the past year, some stuff has changed for you?

[0:00:43.8] AWC: Yeah.

[0:00:44.4] JG: Tell me about it.

[0:00:45.8] AWC: We moved to Illinois at the north shore for a job that I took at a Presbyterian church up here and it was one of those jobs where everything looks good initially and then there are some things that happen along the way that leads you to believe, “Oh, that’s what they were looking for actually.”

[0:01:06.4] JG: Which sadly seem to happen a lot with churches.

[0:01:09.8] AWC: Oh yeah, it’s not a new story. It’s not a very unique story, but it’s happened, it’s part of mine and so in the midst of being here, I and I just kind of — it was a rough patch both professionally and emotionally and in the midst of all that I kind of got back into art, got back into drawing and that had begun a little bit previously and I know you’ve had Mike Rody on your podcast.

Mike and I have known each other just online for about 10 years, we just met a couple of weeks ago for lunch for the first time. But I got into sketch noting for a lot of the same reasons that Mike did in terms of just like, you know, I was always the guy at conferences, sitting in the front row with my laptop taking copious notes that I never looked at again.

So I got into sketch noting and then probably about six months after moving here to Chicago, I’m a Presbyterian minister so part of the Chicago Presbytery, and the Chicago Presbytery was offering something that is pretty unique. They were offering this clergy self-care grants and so you could apply for a thousand dollars to basically do whatever you wanted just to kind of take care of yourself.

So I ended up getting one of those and deciding that I just wanted to get into drawing more. I took a couple of online classes and then I just bought just a ton of art supplies with the rest of the money and began finding ways to incorporate that into my ministry as working with children and the youth. Eventually one Sunday I was getting ready to do a children’s sermon, a children’s moment in our church and I have always hated those.

I think they’re often just done so poorly in churches and so I wanted to give them something that morning as I was telling them this bible story and so I just kind of quickly drew a picture and photocopied it off, card stock paper, cut them up and then gave them to the kids and so I started doing that whenever I was telling these stories, I would just draw this little kind of simple sketch doodle style illustration to go with it.

I was getting a lot of nice feedback from parents, they were sharing that kids were sticking them up on their refrigerators and they were talking about the stories throughout the week and they really appreciated them and whenever I posted them on Facebook, occasionally somebody would say, “Hey, that’s cool, I’d give you a buck for that.”

So kind of in the midst of all that, I ended up quitting my job last June, spent the summer with a friend kind of doing some coaching, figuring out what to do and we kept coming back to this art and to these children’s moments. I know you’re also familiar with the crew over at Fizzle and upon this coach of mine is recommendation, I joined up with Fizzle, started learning the language of minimum viable product and all this kind of stuff and realized that I had — there was a problem that I was providing a solution for in this illustrations that were making these children’s moments more engaging.

Eventually in September I launched a website, started growing my email list and had that minimum viable product that people were giving me a dollar, $2, $5, for. What I was doing was just creating this illustrations of bible stories for Sunday mornings for pastors and church workers to use. I think I made like $250 bucks just from these dollar, $2 illustrations in a couple of weeks and then I started planning for the fall and what I was going to be doing for advent and Christmas.

And in the midst of all that, just had a lot of good conversations with people along the way, Matthew Paul Turner was someone who reached out to me and was interested in the work that I was doing and talked to some friends and kind of everything sort of blew up in a good way. I think it was first week of November, I had been making this coloring poster designs and then mailing them out to a few folks to kind of just see what they thought and see if their kids liked them and Matthew’s wife, Jessica Turner, she runs the Mom Creative website, she took a picture of her two of her kids coloring this giant coloring poster and posted it on Instagram.

I was at that time, I was doing kind of a part time job with working with kids and I was about an hour and a half away from heading up to starting that shift that afternoon and all of a sudden I started seeing stuff on her Instagram page on this picture and people were just saying, “Where can I get these? I want to buy these now. Where are they?” I was planning on doing, kind of like a limited run of this posters and what I just realized, “Holy crap, I need to capitalize on this now.”

I didn’t have anything planned at that point, set in stone. I quickly, in the span of about an hour and a half, I put some graphics together, signed up on Gumroad, set up a pre-order thing on Gumroad and got some preorder setup for coloring posters and I think by the next morning we were at like $5,000 in preorders for the posters and then…

[0:06:40.8] JG: They’re talking about it, but how did they find out about it? Did you email folks at this point to let them know that preorders were available?

[0:06:51.7] AWC: At this point we were at — I knew early on that this was a niche that was underserved or what because the email list grew rather quickly I mean. I’m not a superstar by any means, but I’ve been very active online and social media. I’ve started blogging in 2003 and I’m only realizing now how much I have not used that to my advantage and not taken advantage of growing that community of people.

It quickly grew so by that point we probably had a thousand on the email list, I was experimenting with some Facebook ads. One kind of took on a life of its own and ended up getting shared like three or 400 times and so it just kind of made the rounds. Anyway, that was just — that was going to be the little added side bonus to the main stuff that I was going to be doing for advent and Christmas and that sort of became the biggest money maker.

So I still put together this resources for churches and then a family resources of coloring sheets and devotionals and advent activities. Anyway, so we did all of that. I had no idea what I was doing, I was working with — I was getting this posters printed at Staples and they were working with me and they were giving me a deal, I didn’t know any better and they were great at the time and the post office lost like 30 of my poster tubes that I shipped out. It was kind of a nightmare but it was also really exciting.

So we kind of finished that first kind of big push with about $30,000 in revenue, which for being like two months in, that was pretty exciting. So we ran another one. We ended up selling about 200 poster sets for Christmas, we did it again for lent and holy week, which is just now kind of ending up, ending this week of course with Easter on Sunday but we sold 400 poster sets during lent and even more of the family devotions and so and church materials.

So it’s continued to grow, we did about $63,000 in revenue in about a month with the lent sales. I mean, it’s been overwhelming, it’s been — I don’t ship with the post office anymore. Nothing against USPS, but things are a little more streamlined for me now. I just found a new printer who is just going to cut my costs a ton and…

[0:09:35.2] JG: You’re still doing all the fulfillments? When you get 400 orders, you’re like rolling those into tubes or something and shipping them?

[0:09:44.1] AWC: Oh god no, thankfully. I tried doing about 25 posters, they’re getting collated and rolled and so staples did all that and my new printer will do all that. Staples has a production center out in Elgin. They were printing collating, rolling, putting in tubes, taping the tubes, putting the tubes in boxes and shipping me the tubes. So for the lack, we got that process down a little better, they shipped them directly to my house.

I got a couple of Task Rabbit people to come over and slap labels on all of them and then had UPS come and just pick them all up in one pick up, which was in the post that I wrote. Or maybe it was a photo that was used in fizzle podcast about kind of part of my story. Which is like me just looking totally frazzled, with this big thing of poster tubes behind me, in front of the post office and they’re like sticking out of this cart in every which way and it was just kind of a disaster but I’ve learned a lot.

[0:10:48.8] JG: Yeah, well that’s how you learn. As you get overwhelmed then you figure out how to do things right and do things wrong. It’s fascinating, this started out like this illustrated children’s moments project right? Now it’s turned into, it sounds to me, like seasonal resources for churches and ministries for families and churches of any age.

[0:11:14.6] AWC: Right and it’s funny, certainly also not an uncommon thing, to have a vision for what you want to start with. Initially, September I was like, “I’m just going to do this illustrations for Sunday morning’s, I’m going to work my way up to like a subscription service for people to sign up for and they can just get them in their email every week and then very quickly, we kind of in January, did a name change from illustrated children’s moments to illustrated children’s ministry and just kind of tried to broadened it beyond just those individual kind of moments that I was initially talking about.

It’s also, I mean, I have churches that are buying them for inter-generational activities, I have college groups, youth groups, I’ve had a few retirement communities who have bought the posters because their residents just love being together and just talking in coloring.

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript or scroll down to continue reading it below.

[0:12:05.3] JG: What do you think it is about this newer, I don’t want to call it a fad, but trend of adult coloring books? What is it about that?

[0:12:15.7] AWC: You’re speaking to the part of me, the voice inside my head that’s saying, “Hey man, this is just a fad, you’re just riding this wave, it’s going to pass and then what are you going to do?” But, you know, it’s interesting, I don’t know what it was that just all of a sudden kind of spurred it on, just kind of really kicked it into high gear. I think there’s a lot of talk about it being very therapeutic and meditative and certainly kind of when I first started creating these patterns and zen tangles and doodles that sort of turned into this coloring sheets, I was not in a great place emotionally and mentally.

And to be able to just sort of turn my brain off and just go like kind of just get into the art and just lose myself in that. I certainly found that to be a very therapeutic thing for myself so I think that’s some component of it. I think too, people just — I’ve seen some book stores and art galleries that are doing like you know, “wine and coloring nights” and people come in together and…

[0:13:23.3] JG: You drink enough wine and you get pretty artistic.

[0:13:25.9] AWC: Yeah, totally. I mean, there’s something about that that just the community that fosters to just — and I think we’re just also just ridiculously busy and stressed to be able to just sit down and, “Okay, I am just going to color this and not really worry about anything else right now, and spend time doing this. I just think it’s a cool thing.

[0:13:49.6] JG: It reminded me of this date night that my wife and I did years ago when we went into one of those drink and paint studios. I don’t know what they’re called, but you bring your own bottle of wine and you can drink and paint. We were painting some, like you had an instructor teaching you how to paint and you were painting replica of some famous painting, it was like a van Gogh go and they were this six ladies there and they were just like, they had like six bottles of wine there I think.

They were just having a good old time and the more wine they drank, the more impressionistic the art became. You could tell, they were just having a blast and there’s something, I think you’re right, like about everybody’s wound so tightly this days and everybody’s so busy and art is this release. It’s this way to make sense of things and just decompress and turn on another part of your brain that’s not necessarily about performance as much as it’s about connecting with whatever you’re doing in the moment.

What’s fascinating about it is this turned into, very quickly, a profitable business for you. I want to talk a little bit more about that but I’d love to go back little bit. You wrote in this blog post in December of 2015, “I’m not a formally trained artist and I didn’t really think people would be too interested in buying my stuff.”

So my question is, was art always something that you were interested in or was it — I mean, I hear you saying “personally, emotionally, things weren’t great” and so this was a form of therapy, form of self-care for you. But was there any sort of — how much was creativity and creative work a part of your life before this?

[0:15:37.5] AWC: Yeah, it’s funny, as I have gone back to think about that. It was always a part of my life growing up. I was visiting my parents last summer and my mom just keeps everything. What I found were, I found these bank stubs, these little bank receipts that she would get from going to the bank from when I was like — from 1983, like when I was three years old and they had little pictures of monkeys drawn on the back and just little random things that I drew.

I was always drawing as a kid, calligraphy classes with my mom. We had all these, I don’t’ know if they still do them, but they were called “young author’s conferences”. I used to write books and illustrate the books in elementary school and I realized that all of that stopped the moment that we got the internet and we got our first computer.

[0:16:28.8] JG: Wow.

[0:16:29.0] AWC: I immediately jumped right in to web design when I was freshman and high school like in ’94, I had my own website. I didn’t want to call it a home page because I thought everybody was calling them like their home page so I called them my house site. Adam B. Cleveland’s house site. Just being totally counter cultural. I had that site up until the time when I first started my blog in 2003.

Of course it had gone through lots of different iterations, but I realized that my — and I got into graphic design and web design and did that throughout seminary to kid of help pay for life. But I realized, I really did just kind of stopped drawing once I kind of got onto the computer. So it’s been interesting. When I first got back into art, there were a couple of weeks in a row where I would come home from work, have dinner, I have a four year old son, we’d get him to bed and then I would just draw.

My laptop stayed in my bag for a couple of weeks in a row like I just didn’t get it out when I was at home, which is totally unlike — my wife and I are, after everything, after the kids were in bed, we were generally sitting on the sofa with our laptops watching TV. That was a shift for me.

[0:17:49.0] JG: Isn’t it amazing what the rhythm of life is like for you now with running a business? I used to think, I had to do that. Like, I couldn’t keep up with everything if I didn’t come home, bring my laptop inside after working eight or nine hours a day at the office and then work two, three, four hours at night after kids went to bed or after dinner or whatever.

I just started leaving my bag in my car. Sometimes I’d leave the laptop at the office and I’d be like, “Well, can’t work tonight because it’s at the office and it’s five minutes away, I’m too lazy to go get it.” Just like not doing that, I’d come back to work the next day and I’d be refreshed and ready and things still got done on time. I had my evenings back, it was a really amazing feeling. I think it’s funny how a lot of us live our lives and how work invades everything.

You did write this thing that I thought was interesting, I want to kind of come to full circle to the present now. You said, “I found that the life of a solopreneur can be really exhausting,” which is true. You’re an illustrator, designer, marketer, administrator, shipper, packer, errand runner, dreamer, financial person, and more.

[0:18:57.6] AWC: Right.

[0:19:00.3] JG: Michael Gerber talks about this in the E-myth how most people who are good at something, the entrepreneurial myth, the E Myth is that you’re good at this therefore you start a business. But what nobody realizes until you started a business is just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that you should necessarily run a business because there’s this whole other skill set managing all these things that you mentioned here that aren’t drawing, you know?

[0:19:23.0] AWC: Yes.

[0:19:24.6] JG: So I’m curious because I had a similar experience where the initial thrill of it was like, “Holy cow this changes my life.” I had a ministry job working at a non-profit and I was making about $30,000 a year, you mentioned that first launch. I had a similar experience where I was like, “Oh I just made what I typically make in a year in a week. This is crazy,” and I thought, “This is too good to be true,” and it was Adam. It was way to be good to be true.

No, I mean there’s all these responsibility that follows that especially if you want to continue running the business and even growing it and in the short term, it’s really exciting. In the long term. There are I think some challenging implications about it and I always find it fascinating when creative people especially start getting rewarded for their creativity and then they start to become business people.

And I am wondering how you’re — you are in the thick of that right now where you’re probably feeling the pressure, you’ve got what now I imagine is a six figure business or more this year and I would guess, I’m not trying to speak this onto you, but there’s going to be more pressure and stress and how are you dealing with that?

[0:20:36.8] AWC: Man, that’s a great question. The funny piece about the money is that it did, as soon as those pre-orders went and I have the Gumroad app on my phone and I just like to watching it.

[0:20:47.9] JG: Oh yeah, it’s addictive.

[0:20:48.6] AWC: Oh it’s so addictive.

[0:20:49.9] JG: I used to lie in bed at night with E Junkie, I was selling a $5 eBook and I was getting three sales a minute and my wife was pregnant and I am trying to pay for this kid that we’re going to have. Every minute I am refreshing my iPhone, it’s lik 10:30 at night, it’s crazy.

[0:21:07.9] AWC: Yeah and the other part for me is, I am getting super excited about this and I tell my wife, Sarah, I was like, “Hey Sarah, check this out. We got this and now we got this,” and eventually she was like, “Okay, that’s great. I’m really happy for you. Why don’t you tell me how much money is actually going to be going into our checking account after your expenses, after taxes.” So even the six figure income is a little misleading sometimes.

Yeah, I think a couple of things come to mind. One I think one of the many entrepreneur podcasts I don’t even remember which one it was now, one of the things that I remember hearing early on was — and I think even you we’d talked about it at some point on one of your shows — but the need to get help early on Because there’s, at least in the beginning, there’s like all of a sudden, “Oh there’s all this money and wow, this money can all be for me if I just do everything myself.” But that’s not fun.

[0:22:05.9] JG: Totally not fun.

[0:22:06.7] AWC: It’s not necessarily doable, depending on how the business scales and all of that. So I think that was one thing that I just knew early on. I needed to — after my first poster run I was like, “There’s no way I’m doing that again by myself and so luckily for me, I knew a young mom at the church that I was working at and just reached out to her and said, “Hey I just need some help with this labels. I need somebody to keep track of the orders that are coming in.”

So we met up at a coffee shop to talk about that and she’s like, “You know, I have a marketing business degree. I could do other things,” and I was like, “Okay, this is awesome let’s talk about this,” and so she now is, I think her official title is Operations Guru but she runs a lot of the customer service email now and working with UPS to figure out shipping details and so she’s doing a lot of the administrative stuff and she’s excited to learn other things as well.

So she’s going to be stepping into doing some social media work with Pinterest especially and figuring out how to best work that into our workflow. So that’s been amazing, to have someone who can just be like, “Hey I can do that, you don’t have to do that.”

[0:23:18.3] JG: It’s a wonderful phrase.

[0:23:20.6] AWC: Oh, it’s so nice. The other thing that I remember, I think it was Corbett Barr, I think it was on a Fizzle Podcast where, and I am not sure the exact terminology but I think he was talking about like your business ecosystem or your operating system that you have as a business and that you need to figure out what that’s going to be even when you’re just existing in the solopreneur world. So, am I going to set up a business culture where I am doing everything and I am working all the time?

Well if that’s the case, then it’s nice that I am not having to deal with some issues that I did working in Parish ministry, but that just means that the freedom that you desire by becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business, you lose that almost as soon as you get it. So that’s been a piece that I have been trying to figure out and so I am able to ask my admin person to take on more stuff now, which is just amazing. I am bringing in additional help in contracting some stuff out. Realizing that I don’t need to do it all and it doesn’t make sense at all for me to do it all. So yeah, I’m definitely still learning a ton.

[0:24:28.2] JG: I think it was Seth Godin in one of his recent books where there was a section called The World’s Worst Boss, and then in that section it was just, “that would be you” and it’s true. You would not work for a boss that treated you the way that you do in terms of, “Man I’m working 12, 14 hours a day not being around my family, doing stuff that isn’t even on my job description”. That’s how we treat ourselves as self-employed entrepreneurs.

I think there’s actually something beneficial about doing that in the early days, because I worked for a very entrepreneurial guy who is really my first job working for him in a ministry, a non-profit and he had this probably at the time $10 million organization and had over a hundred staff people and I just noticed he just delegated everything to the point that I was like, “What do you do?” And I didn’t get it for a while, and then I started going through pictures and seeing him sitting in his garage with 500 envelopes that he was licking and putting stamps on to raise support for the ministry.

That was 25 years ago and so I was like, “Oh okay, yeah you can do whatever you want now because you did all this at one point” there’s something really good about at least to a certain degree knowing how everything in your business works, to some degree. Like, “I did some version of that marketing or fulfillment or whatever and now I’m not doing that because I’m not good at that and you do a better job at it or whatever but I know how that works. I understand the people who are working with me, what they’re having to deal with on some level.” I think that’s really an important process.

[0:26:12.7] AWC: Oh yeah, totally.

[0:26:13.8] JG: It makes you more empathetic. So one of the things that I hear from creative entrepreneurs is they become successful as entrepreneurs that they don’t have any more time to create, what has that been like for you?

[0:26:26.8] AWC: Man, you’re just getting every question that I am dealing with right now.

[0:26:31.0] JG: Well I deal with these things too, Adam, so this is just me. You know, we’re just venting to each other.

[0:26:35.8] AWC: Yeah and that was really one of my big fears as I even just thought about going into this because since art was being such a fun and therapeutic and just an exciting new thing for me, I would go home and every night I was sketching. I had my watercolors out on the kitchen table and my wife didn’t like that but I always tried to clean up. But it was so fun for me, I was like, “Okay if I start doing this to make money, am I going to lose that joy?”

I think about a month ago or so, I did realize that I haven’t done any watercolor stuff in months. It’s been a long time since I just sat down purposefully to make something or to draw something that I didn’t have in the back of my mind but wasn’t going to be used for something in the business. So part of what I have not figured out yet but I’m aware of and want to be working on is to find time to be like, “Hey, I’m just going to make this and I am not even going to sell it. I’m not even going to give it away as a freebie on my email list. I’m just going to make it because I want to make it.”

And sometimes those things do overlap like I just recently got an iPad Pro and so I have been playing around with the pencil and just having some real fun with making some stuff and as I am doing it, I am in the moment. I am just enjoying it. I’m not thinking about the business, but then when I am done, it’s like, “Oh well this could just be a cool coloring sheet that I can just give out as a freebie for something.” It’s done, I enjoyed doing it and now it can serve two purposes. So there’s definitely overlap there but finding the time to really just create just for me that’s hard. That’s hard to do.

[0:28:21.0] JG: Yeah, I love that idea of having projects that are just for you, just for fun. You’re not going to monetize them necessarily, and like you said, this might turn into something but in the moment, this isn’t about business. This is just about making something. It seems really important of the process. I was talking to the author, John Greene, a while back who is this bestselling author, a big YouTube sensation and before he became a writer he was in seminary to become an episcopal priest.

And I asked him about faith and I asked him about ministry and I said, you know, he’s probably one of the bestselling authors alive today. Sold millions of young adult novels, and I said, “Do you think of what you do as ministry now, because you basically left ministry to go pursue this career?” We hear all of these stories. You and I, especially coming from faith traditions, have heard this a lot especially within the confines of religious institutions which is “person leaves successful career to go be a missionary somewhere”.

And that’s sort of lauded as the biggest sacrifice. What’s fascinating for me over the past few years basically doing the opposite is I have heard lots of stories of people doing that where they realized that they weren’t hiding in a cubicle somewhere. They were hiding in a pew, in a confession box. What is that called, a confession box?

[0:29:47.6] AWC: Confession booth.

[0:29:48.7] JG: Booth. The box is for the pets, like when the pets want to confess, they come to the box. But yeah, they were hiding from their calling in ministry. I know that none of this was necessarily by design and you’re still early on into it, I am just curious how you think about the work that you’re doing, it’s a business and in how you think about ministry and what that means to you these days?

Because some people go, “Oh it’s just business and that I am using these funds to do good or whatever, or just make a nice living,” and then other people see their business as their ministry. There’s a ministry component of what you’re doing just in the sense that you’re working with I imagine a lot of ministries or some of your clients and customers. I’m just curious what do you think about that now?

[0:30:33.8] AWC: Yeah, I have served, worked in four different churches and there’s been good experiences and typical church crap in all of them. But I think I’ve always had a sense that I don’t feel like the traditional church pastor who’s going to take a church and stay there for 20 years and baptize and marry and bury people.

Part of it is this feels like I am doing something more along the lines of what I have always envisioned of doing something different. Still connected to ministry, but something a little bit more outside the box, a little more creative. The irony of all of this is that like I have never liked children’s ministry.

[0:31:16.8] JG: And this is what you have done, primarily?

[0:31:19.6] AWC: Well I have primarily done youth ministry, but I was in charge of the children’s ministry at one of the churches that I worked at and I just hated it. I hated coming up with a curriculum, I didn’t really like the kids, I mean some of that has changed now that I actually have my own and I think everybody likes their kid maybe a little more than other people’s kids. But it’s just so ironic that now, I am all in on this thing, which is certainly much broader than children’s ministry.

But like I am going to these children’s ministry conferences and these are my people now whereas they weren’t before and so it’s definitely a business, it definitely feels like a business and I definitely having to do a lot more stuff with money and numbers and figuring out all the details and products and shipping and printing and all of that. But there are times — one of the cool things about coming out with some of the seasonal stuff is that for each of the products that’s come out, we’ve had a hashtag associated with it.

So it was an illustrated advent or hashtag an illustrated lent and I haven’t had to do a whole lot in terms of like, “Hey, don’t forget to use the hashtag and share your pictures.” Like people have just naturally been really pretty active in sharing photos and sharing stories, and so I think for me, when I get on Instagram and search the hashtag or when I am on Facebook and I search and I see these pictures of these little toddlers sitting with older adults around the table coloring.

Or see pictures of kids at home with their families sitting around the table coloring and doing a devotional together during advent, just to know that the impact that I am able to have now is far greater than I did just being a parish minister, which is nothing wrong with that and I enjoyed a lot of aspects of that when I was doing it. But I mean there are people in Ireland and England and Australia and New Zealand and Canada who are using the materials.

I think there was one maybe Utah or Nevada, I have one state where nobody has bought anything yet but other than that, people across the country and churches are using these materials to provide really fun, creative, intergenerational experiences for their faith communities and to know that a significant role of that is really satisfying and it’s helpful. It’s just a great way to know that I may not be serving a church but I am still a pastor and I am still doing ministry.

[0:33:59.4] JG: Yeah, no that is really cool. I think it’s a great story and it’s inspiring to me and I often get questions from people going, “Is it possible to do what you’ve done?” Which I made a similar transition three years ago which feels way longer than everybody hears or that much but people say this like, “Is it possible to build a blog today, or to build an online business doing what you do today?” And you did this months ago, and so I just love the hope of that story and I appreciate you sharing a little bit with me about it.

[0:34:32.9] AWC: Yeah, you bet.


[0:34:40.8] JG: Hey guys, thanks for listening to The Portfolio Life. You can find the show notes for this episode and others at goinswriter.com. If you enjoyed the show, you can leave a review at iTunes so more people can find it and my ego doesn’t die a slow tragic death. I appreciate the time you take to listen to the show. I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, you can find me @jeffgoins. You can also email me at jeff@goinswriter.com with tips, ideas, feedback, compliments on my hair.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I look forward to talking to you in the next episode. Now go build your portfolio.

JG: Everybody’s wound so tightly these days. Everybody is so busy and art is this release. It’s this way to make sense of things and just decompress, and turn in another part of your brain that’s not necessarily about performance as much as it’s about connecting with whatever you’re doing in the moment.

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

3 thoughts on “136: When Your Cartooning Side Hustle Overtakes Your Day Job: Interview with Adam Walker Cleaveland

  1. Great interview. Love your quote, Jeff, about everyone being wound so tight, and the release of art. Also, Adam’s story is inspiring for all of us artists and creatives. Thanks!

  2. Very inspiring, thank you. And thank you for providing the transcript. 🙂 I wouldn’t have stayed around to listen if there wasn’t a transcript and I would have missed out on some real gems.

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