Successful Self Employment For Artists and Other Freelancers
Being a business takes a lot of hard work, to put it mildly. Artists generally have
experience in creating beauty, but are usually less than knowledgeable about the world of
business and self-employment. It pays to work hard, to avoid that horrible starving artist
cliche. Who needs to starve? By spending a lot of time building a reputation and trust in
clients, the business will grow all by itself. The trick is to think like a savvy
businessperson, not a fine artist.
First of all, advertising is very important. Without it, nobody knows who you are and
what you have to sell. Learn how to sell, read, and absorb as much marketing knowledge as
possible. The internet is a wealth of information. Focus your study on basic business building
and marketing concepts, and then grow that knowledge by adding more study on it, later.
Join many clubs and organizations. Think like a business not a hobby. Don't go crazy
with fees and big titles. Just get your name out there, and do it as cheaply as possible.
Word travels fast if you're good and have products that people like.
Be realistic. Don't expect to take over the marketing world overnight. Build on your
knowledge. It may take years but that's ok, it's to be expected unless you have an
unlimited marketing budget or an MBA to move ahead quicker.
Be professional. Copyright everything. Keep up with the legal side of everything. It
pays to be professional and expect nothing but professionalism back from others you deal
with. Customers will try to get something for nothing. Don't take it personally but don't
cave in, be firm with what you think your items are worth, document everything and believe
in yourself. Don't let others control your business decisions unless you hire them to do so.
Put out a quality product. That goes without saying. Lousy product, no repeat
customers, and your reputation suffers. Craftsmanship and professionalism. Don't be late
in delivering items, dress appropriately when meeting clients and be businesslike. Sloppy
presentations will put you at a disadvantage. To stand out you must be a class act and so
must your products.
Network, network, network. Attend functions, luncheons, fairs, whatever fits your niche
in the world. Get to know others. Big executives do their networking on golf courses. You
can network yourself anywhere. Keep business cards on hand and pass them out, don't be shy.
Be picky about assignments. Don't accept anything that comes along. This keeps your
standard of work high and uncompromised. It's good to get exposure but don't give your
work away to anyone who asks for it. If you do, you'll be inundated with those who will
tell you "I don't have any money, but I can give you exposure if you just do ___ for me".
Nope. Get exposure on your own. You can bog yourself down with these kinds of projects and
make nothing from it. If you want to donate work then be discriminating about it.
Have a budget and stick to it. Don't get extravagant with spending or you'll end up
broke. The income of a freelance artist can be a windfall of cash one minute, and
absolutely nothing, the next. Work towards more steady income without wild peaks and
valleys. It pays to be sensible with money. Save a little whenever possible, to be used
for strictly business purposes in the future. It takes practise.