Sunday 11 July 2021

When Will You Get A Real Job?, Elin Petronella

Photograph reproduced with permission of
Elin Petronella
When Elin Petronella met Charles Henry in 2016 it was the start of a beautiful love story, but also of an inspirational creative journey. Elin was studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics while Charles had been working as a photographer after completing a degree at the Beaux-Arts de Paris. Elin introduced him to the joy of embroidery and he encouraged her to try new styles and take her creativity seriously. Before long they were winding up their lives in Paris, gaining a significant following on Instagram, and travelling around Europe, creating as they went. When Will You Get A Real Job? Is a case study of their first year as creative entrepreneurs.

A central message of the book is that the most important thing is to keep creating. Creativity is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. Elin writes of how committing one hundred percent to your art, of not having a back-up job, forces you to focus and keep working hard. The idea of being busy being busy is a useful one to think about - are the tasks you are spending most of your time on really that valuable? Yes, social media presence is important, but when it takes more time than creating, something has gone awry. Similarly, it is easy to fall into endless preparation work - there comes a time when you just have to get on with the doing.

Elin writes with great honesty of the dilemmas they faced and the difficult decisions they sometimes had to make. They were very much learning as they went, and they were offered some seemingly big opportunities early on that they turned down in order to maintain artistic control and reinforce the value they place on their own work. On setting your prices and not working for free, her wise advice is  ‘…if you don’t value your time, then why would someone else…?’ Despite this, she writes of their struggles to start with, finding it uncomfortable to ask people for money, yet soon found that they had a group of fans who were more than willing to pay for their designs and courses. It’s easy to read with a little voice in your head telling you that your work isn’t as good, that you don’t have the skill they do, but Elin shows that self-doubt is a common plague on creatives.

She writes about the decision making process, and times when they had to reconsider actions when they realised it wouldn’t serve their aim. She offers practical advice such as the importance of people seeing your work more than once, that people need to see something seven times to really remember it, so for everyone constantly struggling under the pressure to put new content out there, this is a gentle reminder that it is not only okay, but beneficial, to repost your work. She points the reader to secondary sources they found useful in learning about business and marketing, and gives good advice on how to choose what to focus on by thinking about what your aims are.

I picked this book up expecting to find it interesting but was surprised to discover that it was incredibly hard to put down, it will leave you eager to find out what the next chapter has to offer. I closed the book feeling inspired to put my all into my own creative endeavours. Elin perfectly balances personal memoir and practical advice in a way that is bound to leave you fired up and ready for action. I would highly recommend this book for all creative entrepreneurs starting out.

The ebook can be downloaded from the Charles and Elin Academy.

Check out their work over on Instagram and @_charleshenry_

Their YouTube channel is full of process videos, handy tips, and inspiration.

Their podcast, albeit discontinued, has some interesting episodes and interviews with other creative entrepreneurs, as well as some sweet insights into their lives that will make you fall for them as a couple. 


  1. Some really good advice here Elin! I really should re-post some of my blog posts again. Especially from when I first started out, as I feel like some might get lost with all the other posts on there. Good on you for biting the bullet and starting your own business. It's a scary but awesome thing to do :)