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Frustrated with having to spend so many hours of your day at a 9-5 job when all you want to be doing is working on your art? Confused about how to make the jump from working a full-time job into creative entrepreneurship? Wondering if making a living from your creative gifts is even possible to begin with?
Becoming a full-time artist or artistpreneur is definitely possible, provided you establish clear goals for yourself, set up a realistic plan of action depending on your current life situation, and keep working towards your objective, no matter what.
It's possible, and there are lots of amazing artists out there doing what they love for a living.
Is it easy? Not at all.
Will the first few years be tough? Absolutely.
But as long as you stay motivated and focused on your end-goal you will get there.
In today's blog post and YouTube video, I'll be answering three of the most recurrent questions that I was asked during my recent Ask Me Anything event over at www.amafeed.com, which was much more focused on the business side of becoming an artist and how I transitioned from being a full-time employee into creative entrepreneurship.
This blog post and YouTube video are probably the most personal ones to-date and I will be sharing lots of tips and secrets that have allowed me to set the foundations for a successful art business.
It's hard for me to believe that it's been a year since I left my last full-time job! I had been working as an employee for almost ten years after having graduated from university, and it wasn't until around three years ago that the idea of becoming a solopreneur started looking like something I could pursue.
Even though the idea made me extremely nervous and I was very uncertain about what would happen, I decided to take the leap and have been working extra-hard on my art business ever since.
Though I am not making an income I can live off from yet, I have learned A TON throughout this year and I have confidence that I'm slowly (but surely) building a business that will allow me to live life on my own terms.
Aside from finally having time to devote to my personal artistic growth, this year has been full of new and interesting experiences, including meeting people from all over the world whom I share my passion for art with and would have otherwise never met!
Transitioning into Creative Entrepreneurship Questions
During every free minute I had (even during work hours at this point!-woops!), I continued reading articles and watching videos to learn as much as possible from artists that were already successful.
I took mental notes of everything they had to do and how long it actually took them to make a living from their art, as well as many other things.
In regards to the second part of this question, I would say (as cliché as this sounds) I just felt it. I don't think the time is EVER going to be 100% perfect, and you're ALWAYS going to be nervous and feel uncertain when it comes to any big decision in life.
However, I knew I had prepared as much as I possibly could and felt that my time to take action was running out. If I didn't do it then, I would probably be stuck teaching art in a school environment for the rest of my life.
I spent the majority of that last year before leaving my job thinking about all of these ideas I wanted to make happen and anxiously waiting to get home to draw and paint and continue to develop myself artistically.
Even whilst at my job, my mind was already elsewhere!
2. What were the most challenging aspects of transitioning from a 9 to 5 job to a full-time artist? What were the first steps you took when you became your own boss?
I would say that, aside from all the financial preparations I had to make sure to make, it was difficult for me to accept in the beginning that artists ARE business owners.
As a business owner, I would only be actually creating art a certain amount of time and I would have to spend time doing activities that are tedious, boring and downright scary. For an introvert like me, this meant accepting that I would have to constantly push myself out of my comfort zone.
Another thing that was challenging was to create, and stick to, a weekly work schedule. As a solopreneur, there is nobody setting a schedule for me and I don't have to abide by anyone's timeframes (unless I'm working on a specific client project or commission-but even in these cases I have a say in the matter).
This may sound like a dream, but anyone that has been doing it for a while can tell you that it requires a HUGE amount of discipline and commitment. If you don't get up and check off those things you have to get done that day to move your business forward, you're backpedalling (at least this is the case in the beginning).
Throughout the months, my daily schedules have shifted around a bit as my priorities change and I discover at what points in the day I'm most creative. Nonetheless, I make sure to set my alarm to get up early, and stay as focused as possible throughout the working hours I have set for myself, every-single-day.
Another essential thing I did once I left my job was give serious thought to what I wanted my life to look like in five years and what kind of business I wanted to work towards.
There are SO many directions that an art business can go in, and it's very important to think about what YOU want, so that you can then set those strategies and commit to them. If we don't know what we want, we're never going to get anywhere.
And yes, goals shift and new ideas pop up, but you have to MOVE in order for things to happen!
Check out my blog post titled Time Management for Artists: My Secrets for Staying Consistently Productive to learn more about my short-term and long-term goal setting method, as well as how I schedule my days to keep my business moving forward consistently.
This blog post has a free goal planner and time-blocking worksheets so you can make sure you're moving forward yourself!
Lastly, but just as important as the previous points, I made sure to make self-care a priority. As a solopreneur, if I'm not well, my business is going to suffer. Especially in the beginning, it's essential to show up and be ready and able to put in the work.
3. Do you have any regrets? Do you wish you had left your full-time earlier?
In the beginning I kind of did. Especially because I was already over thirty and I felt drowned in a sea of amazingly talented artists that were a lot younger than I was. I felt that I would have to push myself to the max on top of everything I already had to do to start building a business just to catch up.
However, over time, I have come to accept and enjoy the phase I'm in. I also came to the realization that everything happens for a reason and I was exactly where I had to be.
Also, I think I had to go through those job experiences and the growth they provided so I would be able to do what I'm doing now.
I don't see those years as wasted time, by any means, and am incredibly thankful for those experiences that allowed me to grow at both personal and professional levels. They allowed me to prepare financially and mentally to be able to do what I'm doing now, building up my dream career.
5 Tips to Achieve Success as an Artist
1. Set up multiple streams of income for yourself.
Stay generous and never underestimate the connections you can make with people that are either directly or indirectly related to your end goal.
2. Continuously learn from other artists that are already successful.
3. Stay adaptable and flexible.
Try to find a middle ground between what you like doing and what your audience actually wants. Adapt to do more of what's working.
4. Accept that you are a business.
Learn about marketing, accounting, inventory, and do not be afraid to put yourself and your work out there. Remember that it's as much about your artwork as it is about yourself.
Always stay professional and courteous, both online and off. Build up a solid and reliable reputation.
5. Stay inspired and motivated, no matter what.
It's highly likely that you're going to have to work a full-time job, but stay thankful and take these experiences as learning opportunities to grow at both personal and professional levels so that you can use these skills to set up a successful art business later on.
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