Your art changes and grows with each year that goes by. You learn new things and try new techniques. Running a business works the same way. Whether this is your first year as a creative entrepreneur or your tenth, there are always new things to learn and new strategies to try.
This is the year you take your career to the next level, and these six strategies will help to get you there.
Creative entrepreneurs sell art. We sell creation and imagination. We give people a new way to view the world around them. We can’t do that when we’re worried about trying to fit in or fit what we think an artist, or an entrepreneur, is supposed to be. Much like being an artist, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to running a business. Figure out what feels right to you, and then disregard the rest.
Build Relationships, Not a Client List
Whether you’re selling tickets or selling your services as a creative professional, one of the most common traps to fall into is stop seeing people and start seeing sales. The year, it’s time to put your emphasis on relationship marketing. Get to know the people who are supporting you. Get involved in your local arts scene. Go out and build relationships with other artists, businesses, and art supporters, both in your community and beyond.
I give this advice to small business owners on a weekly basis. There are a growing number people who are only using their cell phones to access the internet, and many more beyond that who use their mobile devices more often than a laptop or computer. When you’re trying to reach your audience, you need to remember that people are more likely to see your updates if they can access them from their phones. Social media and email work best for this purpose, so make sure you’re using both in your marketing strategy.
Embrace Content Creation
Maybe you blog. Maybe you share pictures on Instagram. Whatever you do to put your ideas and work out there, keep at it. Content is more than the words on your website; it includes videos, pictures, graphics, and anything else you use to share your work. If you’re not a writer, and even if you are, share visual content. It’s one of the best ways to showcase what makes you unique.
You can read all of the small business, marketing, or even arts-based blog posts and articles in the world, or you can attend every conference in your area, and you’ll learn a lot of great techniques for getting the most from your career as a creative entrepreneur, but not everything you learn will be right for your audience. Try things out, see what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Being a creative entrepreneur is hard, but it’s also rewarding. If you’re making money with your art, even if it’s not much, you’re living a life that most people only ever dream of doing. Even on a bad day, keep your attitude of gratitude in place.
Above all else, let this be the year that you take the next step in your artistic career, whatever that means for you. Taking chances is scary, but regret is worse. 2016 is stretching out before you, full of potential and exciting new opportunities.