As creatives, it’s safe to say that a lot of our focus gets stuck on the artist side, and understandably so.
Making sure the “vibes” are copesetic to our creative process, tirelessly working to get people to see our art in the way we intended, fighting for the value of our work, etc. The stress of an artist’s life is undoubtedly valid.
In result, however, artists have become passive on the business side of their dreams.
There’s the photographer who doesn’t hashtag their pics on IG and the business owner without a website. There’s the rapper who uploads their raps on YouTube but otherwise has songs unavailable on all other digital platforms. It’s your basic entrepreneur looking to reach people, but with no Twitter.
Creatives often times get so caught up in creating that they fail to implement some kind of strategy to follow behind it.
They are just hoping clients will find them, hoping they’ll get enough work, depending on that same client to pay on time, and hoping the checks will add up at the end of the month so all the bills get paid.
But this is in fact not how it works and it’s why there are so many creatives oozing with talent who have burnt themselves out. It’s because they failed to reach their audience and that has everything to do with business.
Luckily for artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs, it’s all the same. We are now living in an era where the digital landscape has made it more attainable to build a brand than ever.
Determining your career path is more than just following your passions and skills. It’s about being adaptive in this digital age and understanding what skills and jobs are in high-demand, and which are facing potential extinction.
When we find the cross-section between the two is when we really start winning. Here are easy business tips anyone can adapt to begin taking their art to the next level.
Have a planned destination
There is not one successful business today that, if you looked closely at their inner workings, wouldn’t have an objective laid out in front of them. Destiny begets purpose, so without a planned destination, you’d really have to ask yourself what are you doing.
So many artists create just to create. They don’t have much of an objective — they just go as the feel — and they don’t have a goal in mind. They just go.
While this method may work for some and has worked for others in the past, it is almost career suicide for anyone with aspirations of taking their art further than a hobby.
If you want your art to pay your bills, act like you want your art to pay your bills.
Like a business, creatives must have realistic benchmarks if they want to monitor their progress and attempt to scale upwards.
Sitting down and writing potential vendors, editors pitching ideas to writers, or project deadlines are all important to making yourself productive but also put you in the midset of a business — which is of the mindset to get things done.
While we always want our work to be as organic as possible, supply and demand are as rudimentary as it gets to the world of business. When our work eventually is called for, we must be ready to produce.
When we start thinking in terms of a business we’ll learn that we need to plot out where we see ourselves to ensure that we are on track to get there.
Be objective about your work
As creatives, it’s easy to become attached to our work. It’s a process to create it and it almost always feels personal when it’s done. So, when it comes time to possibly selling our work, we let our emotions get the best of us. This is a big no-no.
The second key to being a business is being objective about your work.
Stop thinking everyone deserves to partner with you and that your final product cannot be altered or changed. When it comes to a potential buyer, it’s all about what they want — not what you created.
You can’t force a client to value your work the way you do. That is why our job is not always to get them to value our work the way we do. At the end of the day, it’s about the sale and making a customer happy.
The same thing goes getting “what you’re worth” or “what you deserve” — there’s nothing objective that. The value itself is both subjective and subject to change. What has value to you may have less or more value to a client
When we’ve reached the level where we have the luxury of picking our clientele that we can have such demands. Until then, we should see it as a business.
Know the difference between spending vs investing
When you’re an artist, your personal money is your professional money. A lot of times we get what we want versus what we need convoluted but in reality, all of our money is factored into out art.
When we as individuals buy something, it’s just spending. Even if you spend your personal money as an investment — whether that’s for your relaxation, bliss or your children’s education — you’re not seeking a “return” on that investment, just as it is in business.
In contrast, when a business spends money, there is always an expected return. Purchases are always made with the intention of making more money; the price paid is not as important as the return on the investment (ROI). Ideally, the greater the investment, the greater the potential return on investment.
We have to look at the money we spend, have an idea of what’s going where, then track it accordingly.
If you’re spending more money personally than you are as a business, then you’re not moving like a brand. If you are spending for your business and not receiving a return on interest, then you’re not moving like a brand. If you don’t know what you’re spending money on at all, then you just have no idea what you’re doing.
If you want to be more than a part-time, weekend artist, then you have to start thinking bigger. And when you think bigger you must move bigger.
On paper, a business may sound counterintuitive to everything you know as creative, but if you have dreams of being a creator that shifts culture, you must think of yourself as a brand, and with these steps aforementioned you can do just that.