So you’re ready to truly shine as an arts professional!
You want to tick the boxes on any or all of the following –
✅ make more money
✅ reach more people
✅ create more
✅ raise your profile
✅ change the world with your creative offerings
✅ stand out in an industry teeming with talent
✅ create with heart and authenticity
✅ shift from hobby to business
✅ thrive in the arts
Whether you’ve been at this while or are just starting out, it’s time to take a look at each step of your business fundamentals. Perhaps you don’t know where to start, get overwhelmed by the business of being a creative, don’t see yourself as the entrepreneurial type or would just like a little extra guidance. This article is your road map through the process. By the end you will have a much clearer idea of exactly what you need to do to take your creative business to the next level.
I’ve kicked off each step with a few questions to help you work out if it’s a likely problem area for your creative business or if you are ready to move on to the next concept. The handy printable workbook below has been designed especially for creative businesses and will make the job even easier! Just enter your details to get your PDF copy totally FREE.
Step 1 – Get Your Whole Creative Life Vision Crystal Clear
- Do you find yourself pulled in many directions, saying yes to almost all opportunities that come your way and/or sometimes (often?!) feel off course?
- Are you unclear about where you want to go EXACTLY, in a week, month, year or even for this lifetime?
- Are you often unmotivated or burnt out?
- Do you struggle to articulate your holistic, creative life vision?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then chances are you haven’t totally nailed your heartfelt vision and the why of what you do creatively.
For me vision is the number 1 most important business ingredient to get right. Clear vision helps you stay on track and meet your life and creative goals. A life and business driven by heartfelt vision is more creatively satisfying and ultimately more likely to lead to success. Remember what defines success is personal to you. So whether it’s to reach more people, make more cash or simply create for the sake of it, your vision will help you stay on track to your version of success.
In a nutshell – Sum up the essence of what you do.
Step 2 – Write A Juicy Mission Statement
- If someone asks you what you do as a creator do you struggle to jump right back and explain it to them with crystal clarity?
- Are you unclear on exactly who the market is for your creative work?
- Is the list of creative products you have available unfocussed, inconsistent or non existent?
Yes? You need a cracking mission statement.
This sounds pretty high scale and corporate for creatives, but it isn’t. This is just WHAT you do, HOW you do it and WHO you do it for. Written in a really juicy way it will communicate to customers, fans, even friends the essence of what your business is all about.
In a nutshell – Clarify exactly what your creative product is all about.
Step 3 – Check Out What Other People Are Doing
- Are you confused about where you fit in the overall arts world?
- Is your customer profile a bit fuzzy (what customer profile?!)?
- Do you struggle to price your work or find customers who love what you do and are willing to pay accordingly?
If you turned up some yes answers here, then you probably haven’t done the market research you need to fully understand your customer, price your work or make sales.
Explore what other people are doing in your little corner of the market. This process is about getting ideas, making sure that you’re working in the best possible way and getting inspiration. Have fun on Google.
In a nutshell – Get to know your marketplace.
Step 4 – List All of Those Operational Needs
- Are you keen to create more but don’t have the tools of the trade to make it happen?
- Do you turn down opportunities because your cash flow is lacking or you are missing essential equipment?
- Is your product slapdash, sub standard quality or a struggle to produce professionally?
Don’t let daily practicalities let you down. If you said yes to any of these questions, it’s time to get nuts and bolts practical.
Make sure that you’ve got the equipment and resources you need sorted. Get across what (equipment and cash) you need to get going and keep going. Set yourself up so that you can create your best and put out there in the world that special creative something that you’re here to share.
In a nutshell – Sort out your stuff.
Step 5 – Get All Your Legal Ducks in a Row
- Are you working based on handshakes and faith?
- If something goes wrong are you in the hole as far as insurance goes?
- Have you been screwed over by partners, agents, sales outlets or could you be without much effort on their part?
These are the kinds of issues that come up in the arts and can really sink a creative business if you haven’t done your legal legwork.
Make sure that you’ve got the legal documents you need sorted. Organise any insurances, permits, copyright permission and other legal requirements that are related to your creative business. Check you are legally across your business and you’re doing a professional job without treading on anyone’s toes legally or lining yourself up for trouble.
In a nutshell – Make sure you are legal.
(Disclaimer (see legal talk!) – This means get specialized, professional legal advice from a legal practitioner – I can give you ideas to think about but I’m not a lawyer and this is not a substitute for using one! Check out organisations like ArtsLaw)
Step 6 – Count Your Pennies and Know Your Costs
- Are you unsure how much it actually costs to produce your creative work?
- When it comes to budgets is your head firmly in the sand?
- Is profit, loss and cash flow low on your priorities, yet making ends meet feels a constant struggle?
If money is an issue for you, whether that be making more of it or managing what you have better, then it’s time to do your sums.
With the starving artist archetype prevailing, money talk is a really sticky issue in the arts. Don’t be afraid of being real about money. Just get to understand how much money you need, how much money you have, and how you’re going to go about getting the money that you need to live your best creative life.
In a nutshell – Understand your cashflow.
Step 7 – Answer Those Big Money Questions
- Is money a dirty word when it comes to your creativity?
- Do you find yourself fitting into the starving artist mould, big on ideas and creativity and short on cash?
- Have you bought into the story that you need to quit your day job to legitimize the value of your creativity, leaving you failing to pay the bills or trapped in work you hate and failing to create?
If you have issues around your art and money, it’s time to have the big money conversation with yourself.
As creators, we’re often trapped in some unhelpful money myths (starving artists and day jobs just to name a couple). Taking some time to focus on getting real about money can help you to reclaim your stories around money and being a creative. How much money do you need to live? How do you feel about day jobs? How do you feel about your hourly rate? Just be really real with money.
In a nutshell – Explore your relationship with money
Step 8 – Sort Out Your Branding
- Are you inconsistent in the way you present your work, yourself and your online presence?
- Is your visual story telling conflicting, unclear and unaligned with your core creative vision?
- Are your website, social media and promotional materials lackluster at best, ugly and emotionally disconnected at worst?
Your brand image helps you communicate your core message and values and make you stand out from the crowd, if yours doesn’t do that it’s time to review and revamp.
What’s the essence of your brand? Check in with your vision and mission statement. Now reflect that message in the way you communicate with your customers. Work out your logos, color pallete, website template and how you’re going to present yourself to the world.
In a nutshell – Define your image
Step 9 – Create a Marketing Plan
- Are you confused about how to get more people buying, engaging with or enjoying your creative work?
- Do you spend money on flyers, Facebook ads, shwanky websites but don’t see an improvement in your profit, fan base or reach?
- Is your marketing strategy more like a marketing blind leap, without clarity around who you should be targeting or how to find them?
Having a well thought out strategy for reaching your ideal market is a must have and art to itself. If you haven’t made a plan for your marketing then its time to start.
Who is it that’s interested in your creative special something? Who is it that’s going to buy from you, watch you, come and engage with your creativity? Do a little bit of research and define who it is you want to reach with your creative something. Then take that a step further and make a plan for how you’re going to let them know all about what you do.
In a nutshell – Let the right people know about you.
Step 10 – Start Building Your Online Universe
- Does social media feel like a giant mountain of overwhelm best left unclimbed?
- Is your website hard to use, find with Google or perhaps even non existent?
- When it comes to SEO, your email list and all things online are you floundering?
In order to present yourself professionally as a creative, having a solid online presence is no longer optional. So if you have been putting off getting web savvy it’s time to turn that around.
Get yourself a great website, register your domain, create your email account and get sorted with social media. Find out which platforms are best for your business and most appealing for your market. Make sure your online profile is well integrated.
In a nutshell – Sort out your web presence.
Getting the business side of your creativity sorted doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive, uninspiring or too hard for creative people. In fact done right it is smooth and systematic, motivates you to live your best creative life and frees up more time for the aspects you love about being a creator!
Download your FREE workbook and go step by step through this article to make sure you’re kicking all your business goals.
Upcoming Event – Left of Centre – Creative Life and Arts Business Intensive – November 19 + 20 – South Golden Beach, North NSW
The stARTup e-course is a step by step business solution especially tailored to the arts and artists! At only US$247 it packs enormous value.
Full of easy to digest tools, tips and hacks it is the support solution for your thriving creative business.