When you’re selling your skills it can be hard to stay true to who you are. You have to do all the things, and convince the people that you’re worth supporting, and sometimes it feels like you’re selling your soul! So we asked Belle Lockerby, to come run a workshop for the cubefam about how the hell can you make money as an artist, without selling your soul! And kindly, she wrote a blog post for the rest of you to enjoy!
SELLING YOUR SKILLS & KEEPING YOUR SOUL
Ways to make money as an artist
With Belle Lockerby
After my attempt to draw a chalk elephant when I was around five (which quietly I thought looked like the real deal, complete with flappy ears and tusks), my brilliant creative mother counselled that perhaps I should stay with stick people, and not show off my “talent”.
A different creative path was established based on that message and belief
I developed a love of words, stories, poetry and transformation. Loves that are now foundational to my business & who I serve.
Yet, messaging in high school that “you can’t make money as a writer” or “why be the flight attendant when you could be the pilot” once again challenged my path and the recommendation of studying something else saw well meaning adults in my life prevail.
At certain points it would be fair to say that I got things mixed up – maybe sold some of my soul, maybe kept some of my skills.
I figured out a way to start bringing my creativity to life in business.
Working in corporate involved more “thinking and writing creatively” to look at what could be done with what resources and skills we had, who our customer was, and how we would reach them.
Eventually, I broke away from corporate, selling my skills and keeping my soul in a way that helped me reach the people I wanted to reach as a business owner and transformation coach.
A few years ago, I ran a program called “Artpreneur”. Brilliant creatives needing to connect their work and value with customers.
Which leads me to sharing both my experience and insights with you, right here to help you make money in a way that works for you.
1. What is the goal behind your creativity?
The reason I ask this question, is it can be really important to the intention behind any creation or creative service that is offered.
If you are creating for your own well being and joy, your artistic endeavours are for you, and your primary income stream may come from elsewhere. If someone loves your creativity and buys it, that is a bonus.
If you are creating with the goal to sell your skills, your artistic endeavours are for your customers. How you price, and who you sell to take priority to meet this goal.
If you are creating with the goal to sell AND enjoy who you are selling to and what you are selling, this is the sweet spot. This also takes that extra part of exploring how you are achieving this goal, which leads into the next point.
2. Where do you see your art finding its home?
Sometimes, our customer is within our local community. Sometimes, our customer is located on the other side of the world. One of the artists I worked with had more success in Japan than she did locally.
Whether you are a service based creative, or a product based creative, it’s really important to think about who and where your customer is.
- What kind of space will your art occupy?
- Do you see it in a large corporate space owned by a company with values that align to your own?
- Do you see it as belonging to someone who has a minimalist or maximalist style?
- Do you see it being purchased by an art dealer?
Wherever you see your art living and breathing upon completion, think about the personality of the purchaser, where they are and how you will reach them.
And importantly, do they have capacity to pay.
3. Have you explored your pricing process in line with your market?
My background in change and offer development allowed me to ask artists some important pricing questions when it came to valuing their skills.
- What are the costs of materials?
- How much time is invested in creating a piece?
- Where are you selling, and what is happening in the space you are selling?
Or, for photographers or writers…what does your process look like start to finish, including editing (ooh, the editing).
These questions are often big realisations for creatives.
A group who belonged to a Contemporary Art Space took their insights and changed tact, creating opportunities for customers to buy entry level pieces that actually made them a profit.
The result? The gallery and the artists made more money in 10 days than they had the entire 10 weeks of the program the prior year. You can access the pricing tool inside “how to launch your creative business online”
4. What is your mindset around making money as an artist?
As an individual, remember you are not Kmart. I say this because one of the common phrases I hear is “I want to be affordable” “How am I going to compete with large retail chains?”
Being affordable is honorable, and sometimes we have underlying stories about money. It’s important to explore where these thoughts come from, and whether they are the right ones to help you reach your goals financially and creatively.
Consider your available resources, your connections, your ideal customer, and your value proposition.
If money feels uncomfortable for whatever reason, or you feel like you are “selling out” by honoring your value with a price, consider a term that one of my coaches likes.
What’s the legacy that you want your creativity to generate?
5. Get creative with your cash making options
After exploring her values, and what the purpose was behind her art, Delys, who paints Mandalas shifted from selling to teaching in small courses, allowing her to generate $500 profit in an hour compared to losing money attempting to sell at a local arts market.
Paint parties were a trend that had started in the US on slower nights in restaurants and cafes, allowing an artist to lead participants through a technique, and get to know the artist.
Another artist took her acrylic and oil paintings, creating homewares and clothing by using on demand companies like spoonflower and redbubble, while another created prints as an entry level way for people to get to know their art.
Thanks to digital opportunities, there are ways for creatives to reach new customers and honor your skills. It all comes down to choice, and knowing what can be done, and what aligns with your goals and values.
PS. I cover ways to 10x your income with 5 tweaks in this free resource if you’d like the full process to explore.
6. How are people finding you?
Whether the art you make has a calming noise on the senses, or it brings about more of an energetic pop of life in a space, it is really important to make some noise (or get someone to help you) about who you are and what you do.
If the introverted side of you just had a little freak out, it’s ok.
You can focus on sharing your process, or story telling without showing your face, and choose one social media platform to focus on – ideally where the future owners of your art are hanging out while you build your confidence and audience.
If you have a website, good old SEO comes into play, so thinking like your potential customer becomes important, including how you write about your products and their image descriptions online.
Embrace your creative soul with courage
Whether it is in the form of making, writing, or thinking, creativity is such an amazing gift. I believe we have the opportunity to share & be paid for who we are in a way that honours our skills, and our souls with a little courage, consistency & connection.
This was a guest post by Perth based Transformation coach & Bestselling author of Awkward is the New Brave, Belle Lockerby, a terrible crafter & average surfer (ask her kids). Ask creative women from Belle’s programs & they will say they reclaimed their confidence, built better boundaries and pivoted passions into products to take advantage of the online space because Belle is awesome at creative strategy for offer design, removing tech overwhelm, self doubt