When I was in England recently, I had a Thriver meetup – and 5 wonderful makers (who also happen to be Thriver Circle members) came along. We spent 2 hours talking all things creative business!
In the first part of the session, each maker had 15 minutes to ask questions about their business. In the second session, I opened the floor to general handmade biz questions.
I did record everything, but alas, half of the first session didn’t save (darn technology!) so today I’m sharing with you that second session – the open Q&A.
We cover some important topics – from pricing to finding and marketing to your ideal customer, to collaboration and SEO. We packed a lot in this short session!
Enjoy, and a huge thanks to my guests for not only coming along and being awesome, but being willing for me to share this with the world via the podcast. Their names and details are below – do check them out!
Do you ever feel like you will never make any money from your art/craft… or, even worse, that you don’t really deserve to?
That it is somehow noble or the ‘right thing’ to not charge for what you create? That taking money for it will somehow devalue it?
You might be suffering from the myth of the ‘starving artist’. This idea that you can never make money from art, and that, in fact, there is something ‘bad’ about doing so.
In this episode, I chat with Kerstin Pressler, and we discuss this very myth – and why both of us are vehemently against it. Furthermore, we discuss ways that you CAN make money from your art or creative pursuits – right from the get-go. You don’t need to suffer for the sake of your art for years until you start making money from it!
Quotes & Highlights:
Kerstin Pressler is a fine artist living in Europe between Germany and the Netherlands.
A savvy businesswoman from the get-go Kerstin also runs ‘The Biz School for Creatives.
The Biz School for Creatives gives creative and makers the tools to make their art into a thriving business.
“I knew I didn’t want to struggle, so I needed to figure it out- I want to paint and create things, but I also knew that I needed to make money”- Kerstin Pressler
Kerstin started to figure out how to run a business while she was in art school, and as she kept learning she started to teach other students what she had learnt.
For the first few years, you can expect to spend 80 to 90 percent of your time working on the business side.
“It can be a choice- you don’t need to make a living from your art, but you need to accept that you will need to have a job, because you still need to eat!”- Kerstin
The starving artist myth: If you want to be a successful artist, you need to endure a long period of struggle in which you make little money because you’re so dedicated to your art and that is all that matters.
One way in which Kerstin supported herself was by being open to other revenue streams- teaching, smaller businesses and using social media (to name a few).
“You don’t just need to finance your business- you need to finance your life, make sure your prices reflect this!”- Kerstin
Write down your price and see what the hourly rate is- you might find that for some pieces (especially those that are time consuming) that you are working under the minimum wage.
As artists sometimes we don’t charge what our work is worth because we are either being told that we, and our work is not good enough, or more commonly because you don’t have the confidence.
Think of two numbers (you’ll need to do the maths!)
In one year, how much money do I actually need to pay all my bills, including putting away savings, to survive?- this is your minimum.
How much would I need to be able to pay for all of the above, but be able to do things I want to do, for example: go on a holiday, buy new clothes- this number is your goal.
“Being a perfectionist is dangerous because it just means you never start, or never make a move because you’re so afraid of making a mistake”- Jess
“If you wait until everything is perfect-it will never happen!”- Kerstin
There will always be a struggle, you just need to be confident that you can get through it.
Surround yourself with other creative and entrepreneurs that walk in similar shoes- people you can share the journey with who understand and don’t judge you.
“A doctor doesn’t need to explain himself, so (as an artist) why do I need to explain myself”- Kerstin
If you just commit to doing a lot of something, you’ll figure it out, simply because you have to.
Developing systems allows you to be able to hand that work off to someone giving you time to be creative.
You need to be willing to invest in order to grow.
After finding there was a lack of retail outlets in Northern Tasmania that suited my weaving and the high quality work of some other local makers, I decided to create one.
This required start-up funds that I just didn’t have. But with the generosity of local, interstate, and international supporters I managed to raise my goal in just 30 days.
I believe my supporters also saw the benefit of supporting local artists and artisans, and they put their faith in me to make it happen!
So, after running a successful crowdfunding campaign I have been asked this question many times: when is it a good idea to crowdfund your creative business idea?
And how do you go about doing it right?
Have a clear goal and reason for crowd funding.
As a creative I know what it is like to wonder at the idea of some extra cash floating around to help you on your creative journey. I have imagined the materials I could purchase, the equipment additions and the studio changes to make it more comfortable and functional. And yes, this would be wonderful!
But without a clear goal it is highly unlikely that your future investors will feel that same passion and need as you do. There has to be a visible end goal to what you want to achieve.
So, rather than seeing crowd funding as a way to continue living the creative life you always dreamed of, you need to use it as a way of leveraging your business in ways that you didn’t think were possible.
People will believe in your cause if you do.
Potential investors need to see confidence in your proposal. No one wants to part with their cash for a ‘maybe’ or a ‘hopefully’.
Get someone to proof read your proposal. How do they feel about it? Does it bring up a feeling of involvement or emotion? You need to really tell a story. A positive one full of confidence and passion for what you want to achieve. There is no rushing it.
No pain no gain.
This old chestnut is completely true in this situation. It takes days to write a proposal that you are happy with, and once you click submit there will generally be an approval process.
Even when you get through all of this and once you hit the button to make your campaign live there are a million different feelings you will have the whole way through the campaign. Feelings of excitement, hope, self-doubt and anxiety just to name a few. You will feel like you are spamming your friends and family. You will worry that it won’t succeed.
The only advice I can give is to let these feeling happen but only act upon the positive ones. Keeping a ‘fake it until you make it’ view while the campaign is running will help instil that confidence you need to gain your funding.
What about rewards?
There are not many people out there that will just donate without hoping for something in return. Of course there will be people that do, and you need to make sure you thank them immensely!
You need to ensure that you can give rewards that will be appreciated (as well as ones you have time to complete!) along with a huge feeling that what they have contributed is so much more than a few dollars.
They have helped you branch out and reach higher in your creative career and you need to make sure they know this. Once people feel invested in your project you can only succeed.
So what if you don’t reach your goal?
What if the funding doesn’t happen? Ideally, you need to set your goal to be something you would like to do regardless of the funding.
If you truly believe in it then you need to keep working towards it. Without the funding smaller steps will usually need to be taken. What you need to remember is that through all your marketing of the campaign you have garnered so much support and awareness for what you do that you have already unknowingly taken a huge step in the right direction.
You never know who will read your story, who will discover you and the doors that can open through this.
And of course, just try and try again. Don’t give up and throw away all that hard work. Re-work the idea, the budget and the rewards. Talk to people you trust and people you know who will be honest.
Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back and for what you have achieved and then give it another red hot go.