7 Steps for Artists to Become Entrepreneurs

For many, being an artist is about creativity and self-expression. Some pursue artistic endeavors in their free time but maintain a full-time job. What if you wanted to pursue a full-time career as an artist? The standard nine to five isn’t a good fit for everyone. How can artists make a living from their creativity? To do this, you have to start thinking of your creativity as a business. You have to think like a business professional or entrepreneur. You have to look at your creative work like a startup business.

Build a Brand

In this case, the individual artist is the brand and you have to develop a professional/business brand as well as a personal brand. What’s the difference? The professional brand is the business you work for, in this case the artist and your creative work. The personal brand is you as a person. How you interact with friends and family or other public situations can affect future business dealings. A brand is built through trust. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a person, product, or service. It’s not what you think it is; it’s what they think it is. They being your audience.

Find Your Target Audience

When you create something; be it poetry, fiction, choreography, films, music, comedy, magic, you have someone in mind for which you created the work. Sometimes you created it for anyone and everyone. It’s too broad to target everyone. To find your target market, you have to narrow it down and be specific. Find the 1% of your audience. Pick a specific age group, gender, race, ethnicity, and local area in your city. If you have half a million people in your city, shrink your target market until you have about 5,000. Focus on them to build your brand.

Establish Your Value

When people start approaching you as potential customers, how much should you charge for your work? You have to consider how much time you spent creating your work. You also have to consider how much money you spent on materials to create that work. Decide on an hourly rate and stay consistent. Your time is valuable. How often do you offer free services? You should limit how often you work for free. If you give too much away, no one will offer to pay you down the road, but try to have one or two pro bono projects each year.

Customer Service is Still Important

If you’ve never worked in retail or the service industry, you’ll want to learn about customer service. This doesn’t mean the customer is always right. This means, no matter how angry they get with you, continue to be polite, respectful, and professional. Also remember, as an artist, you don’t have a manager to send difficult customers to. You have to deal with the problem. If someone is being rude or disrespectful to you, that doesn’t give you the right to be rude in return, but that doesn’t mean you have to work with them. Make it clear rude behavior will not be tolerated.

Organize and Prioritize

Running a small business can be time consuming and stressful. Keeping things organized and prioritizing your tasks will help eliminate some stress. Use the Pareto Principle. 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production if you spend your time, energy, money, and personnel on the top 20 percent of your priorities. Split your tasks into four categories.

  • High Importance/High Urgency – Things to do NOW
  • High Importance/Low Urgency – Set deadlines and do these things when you can
  • Low Importance/High Urgency – Find quick ways to get work done or delegate to others.
  • Low Importance/Low Urgency – Busy work like filing. Delegate or don’t do it at all.

Staying organized will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do.

You Have to Spend Money to Make Money

The most successful novels, products, and services have a strong marketing plan. The best and fastest way to reach more people about you is to pay for marketing and advertising. You have to spend money to print business cards and fliers, to enter contests, for booths at trade shows and events, and to buy materials to continue making your art. Calculate your startup costs and include a marketing budget. Don’t spend any money on marketing until you have a solid marketing plan. Plan a budget for three years into the future before you decide to quit your day job.

Be Patient

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Babies don’t learn how to walk on the first try, they stumble a bit. No one starts at their first job then gets promoted to management the next day. Prepare for setbacks and struggles. Prepare to fail several times before you succeed. The important thing is to never give up. If you have to take several steps back and it feels like all is lost, just keep working on the next step even if it’s a step you’ve already done. When people say success comes from hard work, they mean you have to struggle and fail before success comes your way. Never give up and never surrender.

The life of artists and entrepreneurs aren’t easy and when you combine them, it’s a totally different kind of headache. Only pursue this world if you truly have a passion for what you do and what you want to do. Come back to our website to find more information about branding and marketing as well as managing the small business of you.

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