How do artists make it in the world these days? At some point turning your art into income becomes a compelling dream. Imagine living the famous quote: Do what you love and never work a day in your life. This quote is believed to come from Confucius, but its origin remains in doubt. Still it is a troublesome idea with serious consequences. It seems to be the modern malaise. Almost everyone is unhappy with their work and they want to follow a passion career.
If so many people are supposedly unhappy with their careers then what would they rather be doing? The next question usually does along the lines of: " What do you love doing?" The answer then becomes the passion career you should be following. Sadly this is bad advice. Hobbies are not careers. Fun activities do not turn into careers merely on a whim. There is a reason our passions are so much fun. It is because they are not our work.
When you change your hobby or other passion into an income making activity it becomes a business. This involves work, marketing and pressure. Sleepless nights and cashflow demands. Are you ready for these things? If you are and the idea of working for yourself is driving you onwards then perhaps you need to take it to the next step. This does not mean quitting your regular job yet. Very often it means working at you passion career in your spare time. Testing whether people will pay you for your work. Then saving like crazy from your regular job. Keep this up until you are ready to launch your own business. It could take six months or a few years. The bigger cushion you have the better. It will get tough.
Get the business right first. I am impatient by nature. Especially when it involves entrepreneurship and launching new ideas. I love the creativity involved. The possible outcome. The thrill of the sale. The business part quickly gets stale. This is a typical entrepreneurship cycle. But I can assure you that entrepreneurs know the importance of business basics. If you do not have these in place no amount of marketing will pull you out of trouble. A business must make a profit and be sustainable over the long term.
Research is critical. Having a written strategy for reaching your ideal audience is vital. Talking to your audience and giving them what they need is the life of your business. This is where your content marketing strategy plays it's part. Content marketing is how you build up a relationship with your audience. How you become trusted as an expert who can deliver the goods. This is where your business becomes a living thing that can sustain you. It is not social media and it also takes time to grow.
One of the reasons that I wrote a book about content marketing is to show creatives that they can take responsibility for their own careers. That it is possible to make a career from the arts. It is not easy. But it can be done through persistence. What you need to know is that work is hard, but it can fill you with a sense of purpose. It is the lack of purpose in regular jobs that is the killer. We all need a sense of purpose. Money is not enough on its own. If you love what you do enough to work hard at it. Plus you can end the day feeling that you have made a contribution to the world then you will feel a sense of purpose. If this is missing then you may need to look elsewhere.
Many people are missing this sense of purpose in their lives. Not necessarily changing career. If the latter is necessary then I hope this article has brought some perspective to the process. It can be done, but a transition plan is necessary. Then business and marketing knowledge must become part of the process.
If you are interested in learning more about building your creative business strategy take a listen to my podcast as well. I cover more topics there about marketing your business.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa