“Creatives lack business skills.”
How many times have you heard that? Or a variation on it? Maybe you’re creative, an artist, a craftsman, and you heard that and become discouraged. Well, I have good news: it’s wrong.
Artists can be business savvy, and can absolutely win in that world. But it’s understandable that many artists find the typical business advice, usually geared towards entrepreneurs, bosses, leaders and nine-to-fivers, not applicable or confusing. Maybe you’re having trouble figuring out how you work in that world.
To build up your business as an artist, you need to shift your daily output and reconfigure your week.
Sound like a lot? It’s actually pretty simple.
However, before we get deep into it, we need to determine what “one day’s output” is for you. I can’t speak to one artist individually, because when you work in that world, your daily output is very different from anyone else’s. Whether you’re a painter or photographer, the time it takes to create one piece changes so much between artists. So to explore this issue I am writing about, you first need to decide for yourself what one day of work looks like.
Ask yourself: What is the bare minimum amount I need to create every day to keep myself going? Then, stick to that amount. Only make that many pieces, and dedicate the rest of the time, the time you might have spent pushing yourself to make four or five extra things, to developing your business and personal brand.
For example: maybe you decide to make seven pieces in a year instead of thirteen. If you can live off of that (because that is the most important thing) the time you would have spent making the last six could be focused on sharpening your business skills, or really anything else you want to have time for. Maybe you can only afford to make one less piece a year. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but all those small chunks of time will absolutely add up. By the end of the year, you will be grateful for having allocated even twenty minutes a day.
Building a brand as an artist is tremendously important. While some may disagree, you cannot ignore the power that social media holds for artists, especially with it being such a visual industry. Where do I recommend you put your energy? Pinterest. Instagram. These are the platforms that truly value creativity and put the art first. Twitter is important too, and you know I’m all about Facebook. Write a Medium post. Create content. You should work through all of these things eventually, but Pinterest and Instagram are a great start. Be smart and know the world we are in.
Bonus tip: it may even be helpful to hit up some podcasts or YouTube shows you know and admire. If you don’t know any, take the time to look and learn. Networking digitally is just as important (and way more scalable) than networking in-person. Getting a short interview or even a spot on one of them could mean a sale. And hey, I said sale. There is no guarantee that one interview is going to lead you to that huge buyer who wants twenty of your pieces. But guess what? The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you create for that to happen. It’s simple probabilities.
The more noise you create on social media, the more demand you create for yourself. The more demand, the higher your prices can be. We all know that. Use social media to your advantage. Carve out that time. Listen: as you move along, it may even become more cost effective for you to bring someone in to run all that for you. Maybe you’re already there now. Evaluate.
The bottom line is this: if you’re not building up your equity, you’re going to be stuck making hundred dollar pieces when you could be making million dollar pieces.