As 2014 comes to an end, I have to say that for the first time, I feel like I know exactly what I want to accomplish for the New Year. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve meandered in and out of the freelance/Illustration world for a few years. But part of the reason why I think I’ve never grown as much as I would like in the art business is because I’ve never had a solid business plan. Crazy, I know. The younger, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants me felt that it wasn’t really necessary to have a plan. I mean, real, TRUE artists just don’t need that type of structure. We’re REBELS. Turns out that we do. Real WORKING artists don’t just see art as their passion, but they have to see it as a business in order to make money. The biggest thing I learned from working in corporate America is that you have to have a plan for where you want grow, and what you have to do in order to grow. So with that said, here’s the basics of my business goals for 2015:
Market, Market, Market!
Any working artist will tell you they spend most of their time marketing themselves in order to get jobs. More than actually creating work. It makes sense, because really how else are you going to make money? My goal is to not only market myself digitally (via craigslist, freelance websites, etc), but go the grassroots route as well. Leaving my postcards and business cards in different venues, talking to other business owners, and doing face to face contact. I can’t always hide behind a computer screen or easel.
Create, Create, Create!
During the time I’m not marketing, I need to be creating. Not only to keep my passions up, but to continuously add to my Etsy store, which determines my place on the site (more on that in a minute). Selling my original artwork and prints is critical in order to make money. So I need to continue to pump out new material in order to have a large variety to sell.
Increase My Etsy Activity.
I love Etsy. I really, really do. I am all about the handmade, and I think is a wonderful marketplace for artisans, vintage sellers, and creative people to commune with each other while making money. For me personally, it’s so much easier than selling on my website, which just serves at a portfolio and “where else to find me” hub. Etsy does all of the grunt work, all I do is price and list for a tiny fee. Great for a non-techie like myself. But clearly, there is a LOT of competition on Etsy. Tons of artists sell their work there, and where you land on the site’s search engine depends on how often you post listings. So in order for me to stay at the top of the list, I have to constantly list new work. It’s going to be time consuming, but totally worth the effort. Staying close to the top will drive in more sales, and will keep me on my toes creatively.
Establish Business on the Legal Level.
Learning how to protect myself and my work legally. Establishing an LLC. Getting a better understanding of accounting, invoicing and contracting. Tax forms and 1099s. These are all things I’ve never thought about in the past, but I need to do in order to establish myself as a true business, if it is something that I want to do on a full time basis.
Make a Daily Schedule and Stick to It.
People think working from home is easy. While it is convenient, it takes a LOT of discipline to actually GET work done. You can get distracted by other things, and before you know it, the whole day has slipped by (today has been one of those days). Add in a rambunctious three year old to the mix and priorities can get pretty jumbled. I enjoy making my own schedule, but one thing I need to improve on is sticking to something specific. It involves continuing to get up early, focusing on completing one task at a time to complete it, rather than multitasking and not finishing anything, and utilizing the time I have alone (AJ goes to daycare twice a week). I also need to scale back on social media, which can be a huge time suck, and brings me to my next goal…
Scale Back on Social Media.
Social media is great in the sense that it allows clients a peek inside of my world, WIPs, and keep them updated on my journey. But while great with connecting with clients and fans, is surprisingly ineffective in actually gaining work. I’ve heard this from other artists as well. And like I said, it can be a time suck. The few minutes to scroll through timelines and feeds can add up quickly. So I’ve been stepping away from Instagram and Facebook and posting less. I’d never disconnect completely, but there are better, more productive ways to spend my time.
Monetizing and Writing More Often My Blog .
I don’t really considering blogging as a form of social media, but more as an outlet to explain and showcase what’s going on in my life, artistically and otherwise. I see it as a direct connect to clients and fans, and a way to express myself in words. I’m not much of a photographer, so places like Instagram are cool but not really conducive to what I want to express. I enjoy writing though, when I sit down and really focus on it. So I promise to write more often, at least once a week (I’ve done pretty good this month, if I do say so myself). I’ve also been looking into monetizing my blog, as in earn some money from it. I would never, EVER charge anyone to read my blog, but there are ways to earn small amounts of money from the readership. There are ad-clicks, sponsored posts, advertising, etc. These are some of the ways that full time bloggers make their money, and if you really work at it, it’s a very sweet deal. I am not looking for blogging to be my main moneymaker, but extra cash in order to pay seller’s fees, buy supplies, etc would be helpful.
Getting to Know My Art Community.
I am fortunate enough to live in an area that has a large creative community and a great appreciation of the arts. There are a lot of galleries, art centers, workshops and viewing spaces within 10 minutes of my home. I want to venture out and learn more about the local artists, put down some roots, and build a name for myself in my area.
Expanding My Creative Brand.
There are so many creative things, beyond painting and drawing, I want to try out. Knitting, crocheting, repurposing furniture, sewing, soap making, floral arrangement, gourmet cooking, jewelry making…the list goes on and on. I also want to write and illustrate at least one children’s book, graphic novel, and webcomic series, license my artwork, and teach arts and crafts workshops to kids and adults. My ultimate goal is to build a creative brand. I want Mama Craftista to be an umbrella company for many ventures. Not quite a lifestyle brand, but not just an art brand. I’d like to fall somewhere in the middle.
Always Make Time for Family.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, my goal, above all, is to be there for my son, particularly during these oh-so-fleeting child years. It’s the reason why succeeding in this career path is so important to me. To stay out of a stuffy, rectangular office, make my own schedule, and why I am working so hard to make it happen. Because of that, when I am not working, I need to be present. That means not checking emails, sneaking in sketching or writing, etc. What’s the point of spending the majority of my time with him if I’m constantly distracted while I’m with him? I don’t want to fall into the “workaholic” trap and constantly sacrifice my family time for my career. I truly believe that a balance is possible, and if I am controlling the reigns, I fully believe that I can achieve it.
There are several small things I want to accomplish as well, but this is the jist of the larger things. I plan on revisiting this post a year from now and check off what I have accomplished. Here’s to a great holiday, a productive rest of the month, and progressive new year!