What It's Really Like to Run a Creative Business
Being a full-time artist and entrepreneur often sounds more glamorous than it really is. Most people, maybe you too, think that being a full-time artist means you're creating all the time, spending hours of leisure time in the studio, and romanticize what it actually takes to make a living from your art practice. There are many perks to creative entrepreneurship (i.e. making our own schedule), but there is also a lot of hard work.
Running an art business requires time management and prioritizing certain tasks over others. Your focus will shift with the seasons of your business and even with your own cycle of motivation and inspiration. [Think holiday seasons or art festival season or kids home for the summer, etc.]
To be a full-time artist, you definitely have to love what you do, because you WILL spend a lot of time creating. If your goal is to make a living or you have certain financial goals, then selling must be a priority, as well as creating work that your audience responds to. It is very important for you to understand what keeps you motivated and inspired to create your best work. You will hit slumps or feel unbalanced at times and that is perfectly normal, but when you're running a business, you have to work through those tough times...sometimes that's mental work and sometimes that is creating even when you don't feel like it [or giving yourself a break when your body is asking for it].
You will spend more time than you expect on 'admin' tasks, such as email, social media marketing, website, communicating with clients, photographing your work, inventory, packing and shipping, tracking your finances, applying for and promoting events, and any number of other things that are required of you to sustain a business. This also includes finishing and framing your work - my suggestion...give yourself triple the amount of time you think you need to tackle this task, especially if you have a collection of works to finish.
My biggest tip for succeeding as a business owner is to schedule your time in a way that honors your best work flows and to be flexible with yourself (or not, if you work better with rigidity). Be open to changing how you do things to better accommodate your own needs or the needs of your family. Set goals and priorities. Use a planner or task managing software or sticky notes (whatever works for you) to track tasks and manage important information.
Here are a few examples of what my days look like depending on the season...
> Regular schedule - no big events to prep for
Review planner, which includes planned social media posts, important tasks designated for the day, deadlines, meetings, etc.
Check email, but I often don't respond to anything immediately
Work on a scratchboard for several hours
Post on social media and Pinterest
Work on scratchboard for a while longer
[There is a good balance of doing the creative work and managing the business during these times.]
> Prepping for art festivals
(Have all social media posts scheduled ahead of time and blog posts written a few weeks out)
Work on scratchboards for 8 hours
Spray and frame artwork
Do inventory on reproduction prints
[There is a much greater focus on making the work that needs to be sold at the event and any admin tasks are directly related to show prep...I often get very bad at responding to emails during these times.]
> Commission season (Sept to Dec)
Track all important information related to commission requests
Send invoices and track finances
Work on commission scratchboard
Promote commissions on social media
[My focus shifts entirely to communicating with clients, promoting my commission work, and tracking all related information...as well as working on the commissions.]
Things are always changing and no day will be exactly like the next. That is the best part of being an artist and creative business owner...you get to shape your schedule and life around your own priorities. Be prepared to work hard, but also allow yourself time to rest, relax, and refresh so you can continue to do what you love!
For more information about getting organized and setting yourself up for success in your business, head over to this blog post.
Grab my FREE Business Framework PDF download to get your art business started today!
Find your joy!