Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you look around and start to compare yourself to others — their art or their business success?
You start to think that no one will every want what you have.
And, then you start to believe the one or two people who have ever commented negatively on your work.
And, then the spiral starts. Really, who are you to do this anyway?
How often do you reward yourself for your work?
If you are like many creative entrepreneurs I know, it’s not very often. Sure you accomplish the items on your to-do list, you make progress towards your goals, and you may feel proud about what you are doing. Then, it’s on to the next thing on the list, the next goal.
Many of my clients take part in what I call a Success and Strategies Summit on a weekly basis. For years, I had been taking time to look at what I accomplished and plan ahead on a weekly basis. It made a difference in how much I was accomplishing and the confidence level I had.
When I started working with private clients and ICAP members, I shared this more formal practice with them. They began to see how important this review was in their own lives and businesses.
A big part of this Summit is celebrating your successes. Did I mention how often we are on to the next thing and don’t do this?
Periodically I offer a complementary webinar titled “5 Smart Ways to Make Money Now in Your Creative Arts Business.”
Before I delve into the five strategies, I spend some time talking about your mindset and knowing your value. From my experience working with creative entrepreneurs, I often find they struggle with determining a value for their work and then charging for it.
Here are some tips for dealing with your worth:
Are you challenged by what to charge for your services?
Many creatives are in this same place. You tend to undercharge because you don’t know what to charge. You look at what others are charging and figure it must be right.
Do you ever wonder how that person came up with her price? She probably did what you did: looked around at what others were charging and figured it was right.
Take the time to go back and determine how long it takes you to accomplish your work. Consider what your expenses are – overhead, taxes, materials, etc. Then determine what you need to make on an hourly basis to meet your expenses and make a profit.
Only then will you know if your price is right.
As I watched the Final Four Tournament on Saturday, I was thinking about what basketball and the professional creative arts have something in common. Is it any surprise my mind would go to art when I’m watching sports?
This is the obvious. These kids love basketball, and for them it is their art. What you pay attention to grows.
Just as the college athletes pay attention to basketball and their skills and love of the game increase, your skill level in your art increases with increased attention. Your knowledge and love of the art grows as you look at more art, go to more galleries, take more classes. And, your skill level at marketing, and your passion at marketing, also increases proportionately to the effort you put into it.
How much effort are you putting into growing your business?
How often do you wear your CFO hat?
You know, the one where you look at the numbers. I realize that lots of creative types do not want to look at numbers.
After all, what could be creative about numbers? They are straightforward, no shades of gray here.
True, the numbers in and of themselves are not creative.
What is creative is what you get to do as a result of looking at them.
You can create new designs or new classes. You can bring on an apprentice to help you. You can look for new markets for your art. You can look at ways to expand and make a bigger impact.
The problem is that you have to know what the state of your business really is.
And the only way to do that is to look at your numbers.
Often I have conversations with clients around a recurring theme — pricing and value.
One recent conversation was with Catherine who was creating a new online teaching course, and she was struggling with what to charge people. I thought her price was really low, and I asked why.
She told me that she just knew not all her customers could afford to take the class and she really wanted everyone to have that opportunity.
I asked how she knew that they could not afford the class. She wasn’t able to answer that question. It was just her gut instinct.
When we dug further with the question, it was really that she would not have paid that amount.
Have you looked at the calendar and wondered how you can possibly do all you have scheduled? I used to feel that way until I made a simple discovery.
Time blocking is a method of allocating or pre-assigning time for specific activities throughout your day. It helps me keep my day and life more balanced. I accomplish more because I have structure to my day, I can focus on a specific task with a high value, and I am able to manage interruptions. I am the one in charge of my day. Here’s how to do this.
Someone recently shared in our Members’ Studio that she was trying to tackle too many tasks in one day. She added that she tended to overestimate her available time. That meant she was moving uncompleted tasks from one day into the next day’s list. The end result was making new lists and wasting time and energy. She was not alone with this confession, confusion, and remorse.
I refer to this as the “Smorgasbord Syndrome.”
As a child, I can remember my parents saying that my eyes were bigger than my stomach when we had big family celebrations. I didn’t want to miss out on anything that might be good. And, of course, even though I probably left little room for dessert, I didn’t want to miss out on any of those, so I added more to my plate when dessert rolled around. You can guess that I probably had my share of stomach aches.
It’s easy to see how this approach translates into your life and business.
You think you have more time to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. You keep saying, “yes, pile more on my plate.” Whether you say that to someone who asks you to do something or just to yourself, the end result is the same. Your life and/or business plate is overflowing.
Last week a post popped up in my Facebook feed that dealt with copyright.
A textile artist discovered that her original work had “inspired” someone to create a nearly identical piece of art. The copier thought that if she gave credit to the art’s originator at some point, it was okay. She did credit the original artist in a blog post. She also thought it was okay to enter her work into a contest. Well it’s not okay in either instance.
Late last year one of my pattern design clients shared that someone had created a nearly identical quilt to hers and was selling patterns. Again, the copier was inspired and didn’t see the harm in what she was doing.
In both these cases, the copiers infringed on copyright. They didn’t have the rights to make a copy. In neither case did the infringer even ask permission.
Unfortunately this topic comes up on a regular basis.