February 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
One of the biggest decisions you will make as a creative entrepreneur is who to surround yourself with that will be beneficial to your company. More so, beneficial to your vision. It’s important to remember that we can’t do this in isolation; we need the support of one another to continue moving forward. Whether or not that means you need someone there to help you and get paid for it–rather than a community either virtual or “live”–is another thing entirely.
Firstly, you have to process what it is YOU do, what you see yourself doing every day, and how that fits in your vision. Without this being answered, you’re simply wearing every hat and you like it that way. If that’s you, cool. If it’s overload for you, perhaps it’s time to slim down your workload by doing one of two things: getting an assistant or minimizing your focus until you can add more to your workload later on. Both are viable options.
Secondly, you have to create an idea of what you would like an assistant to do, keeping in mind a few questions:
1. What aspects do I dread and need help with?
2. Can those be fulfilled with an assistant?
3. Am I willing to let go of some of my workload and delegate?
4. Is this just too many hours for my company or do I simply need a way to get more done (personal vs. virtual assisting…more on that in a later post)?
5. Can I afford it?
Before you jump to the answer of number five–ofttimes the end all, be all for many of us–work through the first four to wrap your head around what you need. Getting your needs met in business and otherwise is always important. It sometimes just takes a bit of guidance to see that you do have options to make that happen.
Lastly, once you’ve done the footwork for one through five, you get to do the fun part. Okay, at least I think it’s the fun part. Perhaps here is where you contact me and we work through it together. Before you start posting crazy, long-arse ads on Craig’s List with your laundry list of requirements and pay rate–$8/hour in So Cal is only going to get you what you paid for–you have to create a system for that assistant to follow.
If you just cringed, email me.
It’s really not all that bad and once you see how simple it is to set-up a system–a fancy way of putting “a list of to-do’s”–you’ll see how you can save countless hours of explaining, correction, and heart-ache. So until we have a way to download what we are thinking to another human being, this is what you have to do. All before you even think of hiring someone.
How did I learn this? Well, when I pin-pointed what I loved to do during my Junior year of college it was just that, creating systems. I realized many people just started projects, groups, businesses, etc. without having something written down first. No mission, vision, goal, focus, nothing. So I started by helping a non-profit, then a band, then a coffee shop, and a church. And I kept going. I would write down what they were doing, where they were going, and what that looked like in Guide form and, man, did it feel good.
Since then, I’ve helped others create Guide’s and systems countless times. It’s amazing how you can always trace the issue back to not having something written because it’s so easy to loose focus and get spread too thin. Finding an assistant should be no different. It is not their job to help you discover your expectations of them, it is your job to know what you need, have that written down, and find a good fit for those specific obligations. You can do this. And you don’t have to do it alone.
Jenn O’Brien offers creative consulting to both firms and individuals. She would love to help you discover your needs, become a more focused creative entrepreneur, and create a Guide for your company. Do you think you need to hire an assistant? Email her today.
Photo: My Assistant.
January 23, 2012 § Leave a Comment
If you’ve ever had a desire to do your own thing, be your own CEO, and use your creativity–in any capacity–to provide for yourself, you’re an entrepreneur at heart. I think many of us are more so than we realize or give ourselves credit for. On top of that, we’re actually capable of doing what we love and making a living simultaneously.
If the idea of being freelance and/or owning your own company excites and scares you, this is for you.
Creative Consulting is what I’m passionate about. I love helping others like you define what you want, want you need, and what that looks like in the real world. It’s as simple as that. As a consultant, I can help you move forward in whatever capacity you desire regardless of what stage in your creative entrepreneurship you’re at.
That is, whether you are thinking about doing what you love, just starting, or down the road quite a ways. There’s always room for guidance. And there’s certainly always room for growth. No matter who you are, I can help you in both areas via email, phone, and in person, if you prefer.
What are some areas that I can help you with?
• Zoning in on your creative focus to give you more freedom and satisfaction
• Brainstorming marketing ideas that are applicable today
• Deciding whether or not you need an assistant and helping you find a good fit
• Setting realistic goals for this year and the future
• Creating and developing a system in the form of a Guide, Business, or Marketing plan
• Getting your budget/finances in order to reduce overhead and get going
• Organizing your office space to improve and promote zen
• Writing and/or editing web content to be more concise and reflect what you do
• And much more!
The skies the limit! If you can think it, I can help you. Consultation is like mentoring and about working towards the same goal to make it come to fruition in the manner of which you desire.
What’s the cost to you? In as little as five sessions, I can assist you in 1) starting your company/freelance work, 2) improve your overall business or 3) increase your marketing for just $500. Or we can set-up a mutually beneficial trade. One of my favorite things to do! Email me today and check out the “Consulting” tab for more info.
Photo: “Whaaaaaat? You’d do that for me?!?”
March 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
If you’ve read Part I, you know that having an online presence is absolutely imperative as a freelancer. Whether you’re searching for full-time jobs in at a brick-and-mortar company or most of your work is done in the virtual realm, you must have a blog, website, flickr account, or the like to show off your work. Most positions won’t even accept your application, resume, and cover letter without a URL (your online address that starts with http://). The following will help you get started in the right direction.
A blog can be very beneficial to you if you just want a place to store your work for free. Especially if you’re a writer, you can gain more credibility by having a blog and by posting your written work on it. You can post music and graphics to your blog as well, so if your creativity has anything to do with music, graphics, or photography, you’re in luck. You can even create video (vlogs, instead of blogs) and slide show feeds that can be easily viewed.
Blogger.com and wordpress.com are the most popular and accepted blogging sites. Tumblr is a newer blog site on the scene that is breaking in the artistic realm for it’s snazzy design and easy-to-use-ability. There are also blog spots that are geared towards more industry specific areas. Blogs can also improve your search-ability on sites like Google and Yahoo!, which can increase your client traffic. So even if you have a website, it’s a great idea to put your “thoughts” on a blog…putting your most recent discoveries and projects is also a great way to gain expertise points in your field. Connecting that blog to your website then streamlines your online presence.
Whether you’re just a DBA (doing business as) or you’re a full-fledged LLC, having a website is a great way to get more clients. First, you have to purchase your chosen web domain name online. The most inexpensive sites to date are godaddy.com (which is PC & Mac compatible) and 1and1.com (which is only PC compatible). They cost about $6.99 per year for a domain name more or less, depending on the extension you choose (.com, .biz, .org, .info, etc.). They also have website builder’s online, which you can place music, video, photo’s, slide shows, and much more on. There’s usually a yearly or monthly fee for web hosting (placing your actual website online) no matter what website builder you choose to use and whether or not you build it yourself or have someone else build it for you. Here’s the solution I’ve come up with:
I currently use WordPress for both my website and my blog, since I don’t have much use for a full-fledged website yet. Although I purchased my domain through godaddy.com, I changed my blog address path (jennylvoe.wordpress.com) to my domain (jennylvoe.com) for $9.95/year. I think it sounds more professional than using the WordPress address. Plus, when I’m ready for a site, I can hire a web designer to create what I want using CSS (a script that can be read by WordPress) and I’ll be able to edit it when I need to without needing a web designer on a consistent basis to make on-going little changes (ie post new blogs, upload new songs, add newer content). It might cost more upfront for the site design (say $3000 or so), but it’ll be easier to edit myself through WordPress.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to have a website available. Even if it doesn’t have a Flash introduction, that’s okay. What you need is the online presence. Keep it simple and up-to-date (no nineties templates, please!) and it will get the job done. You’ll have more clients and a greater flow of traffic if you can give them an address starting with http:// and not just a card with your e-mail and phone number. You can also create a flickr, shutterfly, or tumblr account for website examples or templates, graphics, logos, adverts, photos, videos and much more. Sites like these can enable your customers to view your work easily and even create a host of other items on one website (that you will get paid for).
If you missed it, you must be online. You must be searchable. You must have an online presence. If your clients can type in your name after you’ve given them your business card or they’ve received an e-mail from you and your website is the top hit, your credibility will go up insurmountably. And I can guarantee that your project list will go up insurmountably as well. And increased projects=increase creativity.
(This post is part of Monday Madness: Creative Consulting Tips and Tricks of the Trade. Sign up for the RSS feed to never miss a post!)
March 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Creative minds think alike…not many want to be organized, let alone put a time limit on the work that they do. Who would want to? If you’re going to use your creativity for your business though, it’s absolutely imperative that you do. Follow these simple guidelines to help you get organized and get your business rolling for the amount you deserve.
So, how long will it take you?
First, time yourself. The easiest way to know how long it takes you to do finish projects is to keep a log of it. If you’re a writer, time how long it takes you to complete a page. Look at the work count and divide it by your time. That’s how long it takes you per word and clients want to know that. If you’re a graphic designer, start your timer when you open your program. Include any time you took to draw up a rough draft. Stop the timer when you save it in the appropriate file.
Secondly, when you first start out, it will probably take you longer than you think for your first ten or so projects. You’ll forget to include the time it takes for admin, marketing, and the rest of life that’s difficult to substantiate. The best thing to do is 1) count how many projects you have or would like to have, 2) estimate how long you work on them each a day, 3) add up how many hours it will take for you to complete the project, and 4) divide that time by the amount of days you work.
On that note, keep your schedule up-to-date. Always know exactly how much you’ve completed on a project, how much you need to finish, and an estimate of when you’re done. Fill in personal time and don’t ever erase it. You’ll wear yourself out quickly if you work 24/7 and don’t take time for yourself and your social life.
And lastly, add up the amount of time you need for each project and add on at least 5 hours. Your clients will be pleasantly surprised when it’s finished more quickly. They’ll keep coming back to you for more.
Knowing how long it will take you and when you expect to be completed are good to know, but they are not the same thing. As a web designer, it may take you 20 billable hours to complete a 5 page website that you also have to write content for. That’s not including all the time it will take you to write and/or call your client. Research the industry and company. Or prepare anything you need for the actual site, like graphics and content. For example, if you told the client on Monday it would take you 20 hours and you would have it ready by Thursday, they would be expecting it by Thursday. Yet, your program crashes. They’re not getting back to you about who’s info they want to have on the contact page. And you can’t get their ISO to upload the site on Thursday morning as promised. You’ll end up looking bad. And that’s not good business for you.
On the other hand, if you took the time before hand to calculate the 20 billable hours and then estimated that you would spend four hours a day on this project because it’s your biggest project thus far, you would discover that if you started Monday it would take you until Friday to complete it. Always add three to five business days to your projects. Telling them you’ll have it up and running by next Friday is very reasonable. Having it by Wednesday makes you a commodity. And they’ll keep coming back for more. Especially when you bill them 1) by the hour and they see how much time you put into their “20 hour project” or 2) by the project and they see that you put two weeks of work into “their project” and you were so inexpensive. Either way, you calculated by the hour and billed them the same. It helps organize your records and makes increasing your pay rate, and thus your worth, a lot easier than by doing things per project.
So, when will it be completed?
• Calculate billable hours and spread it out over each day.
• Decide on the project’s level of importance before you figure out your completion date.
• Add three to five business days for life to happen in-between.
• Contact the client with the estimation ASAP…they’ll be so happy when they receive it sooner than later.
There’s always more ways you can organize your business. Being creative, it’s a bit harder to do than most. Some brilliant minds just don’t flow that way. So if you’ve started a business for yourself and you want to make a profit off of your creativity, you have to be organized if you want a good reputation and return customers…and referrals! The better your work, the better you communicate, and, naturally, the better you organize yourself, the more you will hear from your clients community of business connections. You’ll be on your way to a brighter day if you start by organizing your work.
(This post is part of Monday Madness: Creative Consulting Tips and Tricks of the Trade. Sign up for the RSS feed to never miss a post!)
March 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Ask Jenny: This weekly post features questions from you guys. If you have a question about any thing creative business related, ask away! Shoot me an email, message me on Facebook, whatever you’d like. I’m here for you guys.
It’s so important to value what you do creatively. Some people don’t get that. I hear it a lot from friends. Doing charity work is one thing. Doing per diem to get the job is another. And friends asking you to bend over backwards is a whole different discussion in itself. What do you do when your friends or family ask you to do things for them for free with nothing in return (trade or trade plus pay is also another option)? Read on to find out.
Q: So, I think the question all freelance artists have to grapple with at some times is: What do you do when your friends ask you to do work for them at a discounted price? I’ve been having trouble with this a lot lately as my friend Steve has been asking me to do a bunch of things for him. I painted the bathroom at his work for $200 when any self-respecting artist would have gotten $1000 or $1200 for it! Now he’s asked me to design a t-shirt for him, and I told him that $30/hour IS a discounted price, but he still wants me to do it for less.
Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this?
A: Yeah. I have a few. Here’s what you could say.
A) Sure! I’d love to. Here’s my contract. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer if it’s breached.
B) I worked really hard to get where I’m at, so discounting it more isn’t an option. Would you work for a third of what you’d normally charge?
C) I can do it for $25/hr plus 5% of sales paid to me monthly.
D) You’re abusing our friendship and it’s not getting you anywhere except on my bad side.
The dilemma with right now (and with certain people and companies) is they use circumstances to make excuses. The economy, our friendship, the experience, the work, the addition to your portfolio, etc. None of these are appropriate. All of these are abuse. As an artist, you don’t have to take the abuse. It might mean “less work”, but it’s also less heartache.
People and companies that START OUT by asking you to bend over backwards won’t stop there. That’s only the beginning. Once you’re in the door everything WILL NOT be roses and sunshine, but quite the opposite.
They will ask for more work. More cheap labor. More changes. More “stuff that should be easy” (that’s my favorite). It’s never ending. It doesn’t get better. It’s always abusive.
This can be a hard thing to grapple with when you really what work. Or when the person is super consistent (aka a pain in the arse). They’re like an abusive boyfriend that makes it feel like it’s you’re fault. You’re the crazy one. You should change your perspective. You should do it. You shouldn’t be this way or that. Not cool.
So on that note my answer would be: Don’t work for these kinds of people. You want to work with the people that see such high value of your work that they’ll pay what you ask and then some. The people that are so grateful, they buy you lunch, tell their friends, share it on social networks, get you more gigs, and love you till the end of time. Just like you’d want in a significant other.
Some friends or family members just aren’t good people to work with. If they’re unhealthy in other areas of their life, there’s a good chance this is no different. Some people just can’t see boundaries. And you trying to guide their way isn’t going to work. You have to do what your gut tells you regardless of who the person or company is. Remember: if you’re doing a job you knew you shouldn’t have taken in the first place, you won’t leave room when the “right” project comes along.
March 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
If you’re like most creative minds, you probably never feel like you have enough work. A very small few have enough work to be able to bill about 35-40 hours per week. Wouldn’t that be nice? There are hundreds of ways out there though that you can more freelance work. All you have to do is calculate the searching into your daily calendar to-do’s and follow these easy tips: Get connected in your community, talk to who you know and research online. Check out the previous blog “Connecting”, if you haven’t already, and read on for more online ideas.
Nowadays, it’s easy to get stuck doing one thing: searching online. It’s fast. It’s easy. Yet it’s not as profitable as we’d like it to be. Sites like Craig’s List, Monster, Jobs.com, and even those geared towards your creative profession are great, but they can be the hardest places to find freelance work because:
1. You and over a billion other people are online. With other freelancers using freelance.com and others, people are willing to work for practically nothing to get a job. That’s a lot of competition.
2. You get time sucked by not having a specific amount of time you’ll spend online. Hours can be wasted sitting in front of your computer getting discouraged.
3. You get washed out by the crowd. If you use Etsy or eBay to market your tangible creative goods, it’s easy to get lost amidst the rest of um. The same goes for those offering a service. People will often try to find the cheapest solution rather than the best.
So what can you do to avoid these pitfalls that seem never ending? Don’t get discouraged. You’re the only you out there, regardless of how often you go online and how many others are out there. The best thing you can do to remind yourself of this is to make connections online and use it for networking. Be wary of using sites where people you don’t know are searching for a cheap means to fulfill their needs (like Craig’s List). This isn’t the same as using credible sites you pay for like theknot.com or weddingwire.com because you’re a phenomenal florist (have a question about a site? Need advice on what’s reputable or not? Ask Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post the answers).
If you have a hard time staying focused when you get online, make a game plan that you use every time before you start your search. For example, spend 15 minutes on social networking, 30 minutes on job hunting (which includes posting on sites and marketing yourself, not just replying to posts), and 15 minutes on updating your own site/store/etc. Time your hour and watch yourself get more done. You could even do this once in the morning and once at night. Have emails to reply to and contracts/estimates to create? Keep your computer time to a minimum and only give yourself a specific amount so you don’t end up wasting more of the day than you’d hoped.
Considering there are so many others out there, there are a few things you can do to stay in the forefront of your profession. Market yourself on social networks, ask your friends to tell their friends to “like” you. Advertise your site on other people’s blogs via google adWords or specifically asking to be a sponsor. If you are offering a product using Etsy or eBay and so on, post and re-post! Deleting and reposting your products on a daily basis and having a large set of specific search keywords will put you at the top of the search list and therefore get you more views, more hits, more likes, more favorites, and, of course, more sales!
As you can tell, there are bad ways to use the Internet and their are good ways that will benefit you in the long run. Following the easy steps above will help you make the most of your time, especially if that time is limited.
(This post is part of Monday Madness: Creative Consulting Tips and Tricks of the Trade. Sign up for the RSS feed to never miss a post!)
February 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Whether you’ve been doing freelance creative work for a while now or you’ve just started, it’s important to know what your work is worth and gauge accordingly. If you charge too little, many won’t take you seriously (no one wants to hire an amateur). Yet if you charge too much, your clients will either 1) never hire you or 2) never hire you again. You may think that figuring out what to charge is complete arbitrary, but that’s not so. Every market and industry has rates, you just need to figure out where you fit and weigh the costs. You need to know your industry, decide on your level of expertise & experience, and charge per hour accordingly.
Each industry has a rate that they work within. Across the board in US, most graphic designers make around $22 an hour working full-time for a single organization. Writers receive $24 per hour as an author (based on 5-9 years of experience). The average web designer also pulls in $24 per hour. And professional musicians and singers? About $25 per hour for 1-4 years of experience (more when you’re younger and have a longer career ahead of you). (Note: All stats taken from Payscale.com and Salary.com, both are usually fairly realistic and offer research on a wide range of industries.) You also have to take into consideration the population of the city or town you live in. Cities that have a higher income per capita and/or cost of living will often have higher pay scales. You can find the average of the US or any other country by typing in “average pay fill-in-the-blank-with-your-
work.” Using a website that can give you the average for the area that you live in will give you a place to start. To start. And the reason I say “start” is just because a nine to fiver makes that much, doesn’t mean you have to. Remember: the goal is for you to be your creative self without the restrictions of having a job. If you prefer to charge hourly, instead of per project, doubling the average for freelance is, well, average. But an hourly rate isn’t the only factor.
The level of expertise and experience vary from person to person. Expertise relates to how well you know your line of work. It measures you as an amateur or an expert…or somewhere in between the grid. The more education you have and the more you’ve applied it, the more expertise you’ve acquired. Let’s say hypothetically speaking, you went to school and received a degree in your field, you have two or four years of expertise. Yet, if during school you also interned, worked in your field, or did freelance project, that is also additional time. For example, if you worked as an assistant to a graphic designer during your second year as an intern and that got hired the year after, that’s two more years. If during your Senior year, you worked freelance on a myriad of projects, that’s an additional year. Thus you have a total of 7 years of expertise and deserve that type of pay.
The same goes for experience. You can add up your years in the same way. Yes, school does get included. If you’re trying to get a full-time position though, they will often not include your schooling and consider you a “recent grad”, which equals lower pay. Freelance work is different. If you can use all of your work (whether you’ve been to school or not) and show it off online to gain more clients, then it definitely counts and benefits you. In the end, experience in your field must be added into the equation of your hourly worth. So for each year you can add about 5% more to the average.
Lastly if you’re freelancing, you can estimate that about 50% of your time will be spent on administrative and marketing tasks. Simply put, administrative tasks keep you organized through e-mails, phone calls, billing, and so on. Marketing aspects keep your website updated, your Google Adsense hits high, social networking existent and consistent, and your potential and past clients well-informed. You can expect to take half of your day doing these types of tasks. That is, any task that doesn’t cause you to work on your current project(s). Because of this, your pay rate should be at least twice as much as the above averages. That means, you should charge $50 an hour to create that small businesses website if you’re a web designer. But how do you calculate your project hours so you can bill the appropriate amount? That’ll be Part II.
February 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I can’t be the only one that feels that organizing one’s daily life is the hardest part. Ever since I can remember I’ve been a huge fan of organizing. I love to organize files, drawers, cupboards, thoughts, you name it, I’m there. When I was five, I would organize my toys. When I was eight, I would organize the pantry. When I was eleven, I would organize my dad’s work-related receipts. And by the time I got to college, I had organizing down pat. I could organize my homework, classes, work, and social life like no tomorrow.
Some don’t share the same zest with organizing as I do. I think I could even be a professional Organizer if I really wanted to. Definitely after I organized my ex-bosses 1700 square foot office that hadn’t been touched since 1996. It took me three weeks (whilst answering phones, putting clients’ individual taxes together, and doing other administrative tasks). But I did it. I think that’s what draws me to consulting, I feel like I’m helping people organize their lives.
That being said, I’ve noticed over the years, creative people often have the hardest time organizing themselves. Figuring out how to get your schedule organized and which project is the most pertinent will really help you see and track your progress (for lack of a better word). That’s Part I. Part II will go over how to estimate how long a project will take you and when you can expect to be completed. If you want to get organized to the max, be sure to come back and read Part II.
This post is obviously all relative to where you’re currently at. Some of you are trying to figure out what you want to do creatively, while others have been doing what they love for a while now and just need some organization. Trust me, we all do. The first groundwork that you’ll want to lay is your daily schedule, even if it be loose at best. I helped Trever with his when he stopped working a 9-5 back in October. He kept saying, “I can’t figure out how to get all this stuff done. I wish I had a schedule!” (If you need a more personal approach, contact me regarding one-on-one consulting at email@example.com!)
It’s fairly simple. Here’s an example of a full-time creative freelance work day:
9:00am Wake-up, eat brekky, and walk the dog
10:30am Do social networking/blogging
Noon Eat lunch/Make phone calls
2:00pm Do administrative/marketing tasks
4:00pm Run errands
6:00pm Eat dinner/network/schmooze
8:00pmish till midnight etc. Start creating!!!
It may seem silly, but breaking up your day so simplistically and even setting alarms so you don’t forget what comes next (like eating!) can help you simplify and really see where you’re going. It’ll also help you actually get things done. Because if you’re not setting out time to eat, market yourself, be with other humans, and create, something is going to falter and take the brunt of it all. Never a good thing.
If you’re still working that nine to five (whatever your hours may be), the best way to chip away at your creative process is to make time for it. Whether it’s two hours every night or on the weekends, do it! You’ll only work on it if you actually commit to putting it on your schedule. Once you do this, you can use a system of trial and error to figure out when the best time for you is. The above schedule is obviously for that artsy night owl. But you might write your best works in the am. Whatever it is, figure it out and schedule it in. Even if it amounts to getting used to living off of less sleep, the results from the creative output are tenfold in satisfaction.
If you are client-less at the moment (and not for long), you should seek out projects and goals that will help you get started and use the same client-importance timeline below as if those projects were paying clients (money should never be the #1 deciding factor).
When I ask a fellow artist how they decide what project they put the most work into or what they usually finish first, their response is usually whichever pays the most. In our social networking world though, that’s not what will help you to get your name out there. And your name is what you want to develop (whether it’s a pen name, your original name, your website, or anything else you go by). Even if you finish a few awesome projects and they take you forever, yet you don’t have a blog, a book, a website, or anything else to draw in your target market (the specific market segment, separated by age, geography, industry, gender, socio-economic status and so on, whomever you market your work to), no one will know who you are and your reputation will not be being built.
Let’s pretend that you have four clients to do work for. Organizing each client/project will be the most important factor in what you start with. Although the following list of bullet points is inconclusive and albeit relative, take time to figure out what is important to you. This is roughly what I go by:
• Who hired you first. The client that asked for a project to be completed should be the first to be completed, no matter who they are and regardless of pay.
• Who needs it first. If you have some clients who are more flexible on time, complete the projects that have the closest deadline.
• Who is communicating. Some clients have a more difficult time expressing their creative wants and needs. That’s normal. It’s important for you to have a list of questions to ask that will help you get started on their project, but if you get stuck and they’re not communicating, contact them every 48-72 hours and move immediately to the next project until they reply.
• Who can get you ahead. This should be the fourth thing on your list, not the first. If they hired you at the same time, need it at the same time, and are all communicating, choose the project that will stretch you and grow your rep.
And that’s the short list, but it will help you to get started towards some type of organization of your current projects. To run your business well, you have to be able to give your clients an estimate of how long it will take you to create what they need. Knowing how quickly you work is pertinent.
Also, communicating with your client how much time needs to be taken for their project is primary. You must send them a guesstimate of your date and time of completion as well as an estimated invoice for your work. Without this, you and your client are working blindly together. You don’t want either of you to be surprised by the outcome. These few steps will help you get more organized and use your creativity even more for your own profit, but if you don’t know how long it actually takes you be sure to read Part II for some simple tips.
January 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In our modern day and age of social networking, it’s easy to just stop there. Although it’s important to find people you can connect with on a daily/weekly basis. Whether you’re still living in your hometown or you just moved here, connecting with your community can always help you get your foot in the door. If an actor wanted to learn more about acting and build up their resume at the same time, they would join the local community theatre, sign up for classes, and practice, practice, practice! It should be no different for you. Signing up with a local guild or club related to your creative niche is one of the most beneficial things you can do.
Even if you go to the meetings just to find out who your competitors are and, therefore, know the niche’s that are already taken and the best to stay away from. Signing up with an online guild is sometimes helpful when you’re looking for work and you want credibility, but it’s more important to be a part of a community that is close enough for you to meet with on a regular basis and share your work with. Especially those that often display their work within the community.
You can find out about community guilds from local magazines, community websites, and often mom & pop coffee shops in your area. Meetup.com and Yahoo! Groups are also great places to start by finding people interested in similar creative ventures. It may cost a small chunk or even just a donation to be a part of, but it is well worth it. If you’re the religious type and attend church, join the team that supports your creativity. If you’re a student or close to a college/community college, support the school by using your creativity to develop on-campus projects. if you’re a social butterfly, start one of your own and advertise in the local printed avenues and in local online resources. You can do so much just within your community to grow your business before you ever have to go virtual.
With your local community:
• Join a guild or a club that relates to your creative business
• Go to monthly meetings and display your work at local events (if they don’t have them with your guild or club, suggest them)
• Volunteer your work at church/synagogue/etc., local schools, or just in the community
• Start your own community
Being involved in your community will not only help you grow your business, it will help you have opportunities to serve as well. As funny as it may sound, giving of yourself and offering your talents to others has serious emotional, physical, and mental benefits. Connecting with like-minds can also help your work to grow. The more you see of those in your field, the more you will have a desire to improve. Improving is always a good thing…and can never hurt your pocket either. Connect with your local community and watch the results grow. Results that are more than just numbers.
January 24, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The world of creative minds is a beautiful thing. Most of us who are creative have gone to school to sharpen our skills, even continuing on to graduate and doctoral programs. Some of us were even born with a shear knack of creativity. All of us, regardless of the template we use to “show off” our skills, are creative. This article is for you. The creative thinker. If you can’t help but want to create music, art, or writing, than you’ve found your home.
One thing is for sure, using your creativity to work for you is one of the most difficult things a creative mind can do. If you’re a studio artist, graphic designer, web creator, vocalist, photographer, videographer, writer…anything in the creative realm, you might find it hard to focus that energy on the marketing and networking of your talent to build a profitable freelance or contract business. Honestly, who wants to be stuck doing the administrative tasks and marketing research when you could be working on your next project and building your portfolio?
Good question. Realistically speaking, about 40-50% of your time as a creator will be spent doing the not-so-fun tasks (especially if your creative work is not a 9-5 position). The problem that occurs most often though is that the skills to do the business side are not there. And that can end up in catastrophe. This blog is for those who missed out on the how-to’s of building their creative business. We’re all entrepreneur’s at heart. Sometimes we just need a bit of a push in the right direction.
So before we begin, you must consider who you’re being creative for. I know, I know. It sounds simple. It’s sounds easy. But it’s the most important thing you can do on a daily basis. And it must be done continually. For those who have just begun taking freelance positions in a creative field or are looking for a full-time position, this is for you. For those who have been doing this for three, eight, or even twenty-two years, this is for you as well. If you get your creative focus on at the beginning of your day (no matter what time it starts in your world), you will see a vast improvement in your productivity, creativity, and life. Just get focused, before you begin.