Starving Artist?

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED – October 29, 2010]

Don’t you just love that saying? “Starving artist“?

I don’t.

To me, it implies you can’t make a living from a creative or crafty skill. But you can.

The only “starving artists” I know are the ones trying to live off talent alone.

To make a living off your craft, you need a plan.

Just to scare my creative readers a bit, I’ll throw in a word that seems to be kryptonite in the creative community.

You need a BUSINESS plan.

Wait! Stop! Before you freak out and hit the “back” button in your browser or try to leave my site by googling “Vampire Diaries” in your search bar, stop for a minute and consider what I’m saying.

If you want a creative business, one that actually MAKES you money, you NEED to make a plan!

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t put it off any longer. Start somewhere! Start right now! Let me help!

Here are 3 simple steps to making a starter business plan for your creative brand!

Step 1. Write down where you want your business to be in yearly intervals. Be specific. “I want to be rich in 3 years.” won’t cut it.

Separate your goals into three goal categories: monetary-based, structure/product-based, people/reach-based. You need to do this for the next 2-5 years. Seem daunting? Do it anyway. If you want a business, you gotta think long term.

For example, a new decorative baker (I have bakers on my mind this morning*grin*) might have the following goals broken up by category:

–Monetary goal: “In three years, I want to have $3000 in profit from my business every month;”

–Structure/product goal: “In two years, I want to expand my services to include pre-packaged, organic cookies;”

–People/reach goal: “In one year, I want to have 200 loyal customers, fans, friends or followers.”

Why should you break it down this way?

At their essence, these are the most essential parts of business:

money – without it, well, you’re just a starving artist.

product– what are you offering? How can you improve it? How can you better meet the needs of the market?

people– if people don’t know about your business, you don’t have one. See starving artist reference.


Step 2. Put your goals on a calendar and work backward to today, by breaking down your goals into smaller steps. Break them down into three-month interval goals. You’ll also need to consider how your goals relate to each other. At this point you may discover that you’ll need to increase your timeline or increase your productivity in order to reach some goals. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments.

For example: Our lovely decorative baker realizes that in order to reach that $3000 per month, she needs to sell X amount of products to Y amount of people, which means she’ll probably need to reach Y-cubed amount of people. And right now, she’s just starting out.

Seem overwhelming? It is! And that’s fine. This is why it’s important to break your goals down into measurable, yummy, little, bite-sized portions so you can easily digest them.

You can do it!

Our decorative baker can too! She determines that for the next three years, she needs to solidly connect with 20 people a month to tell them about her business, while actively seeking to maintain previous relationships she nurtured.

How does she do this? Well, my dears, you’re getting ahead of me.

Step 3. For each 3 month goal make daily, weekly and monthly actionable steps. Break down ways to actually reach your goals! Really, break them into tasks you can accomplish.

For example:  our hard-working, ambitious baker decides that in order to produce 20 “solid” contacts a month, she’ll need to reach a lot more than that.

She makes the following actionable steps:

-Connect with five people/businesses every day via three  separate social networking streams. (that’s 15 connections a day)

-Send a hard-copy information packet to 10 businesses a week about company specials and catering. (Our little baker knows if a few employers put her information in a break room or pass it along to their employees, she may gain extra customers, even if the company itself does not buy.)

-Contact five complimentary businesses a month to build relationships (Our brainstorming baker figures if she can connect with a wedding planner or independent grocery store, she could build relationships with their client base.)

-Outside of regular business operations, our baker plans to talk to seven additional people a week about her business.

Everyone’s favorite baker also has a website that she updates regularly with pictures of her work and information about her business. She also encourages everyone she speaks or connects with to sign up for her email newsletter, which she decides to send out every two weeks with specialized content and updates on her products. This allows her to update people she’s met in the past on what she’s doing- and, in a way, she’s still nurturing those relationships.

Did you write all of this down? You should have. I’m a firm believer that writing down plans and goals is the fastest way to accomplishing them.

Once you’re done with these steps, you’ll have an actionable roadmap away from being a starving artist and toward a sustainable business.

Remember, this is just a start. Your business plan should be a living document that you reference frequently and update as needed.

@TiviJones for @CreativityLoft

[photo “”Starving Artist?” by capt.taco]