How many hats are you wearing as an Artist? What does it really look like? If you have no time to breathe, your family or friends can’t remember what you actually look like, your stress is building and your creativity is waning because of all that you have to do, then it is probably because you are trying to wear too many hats (many of which don’t even fit you)!
The dilemma is that there really is a lot to be done, particularly if you are an Artrepreneur. Just like any entrepreneur it all sounds so doable when we first start. You will just make Art and sell it right? Sounds easy peasy. But being a professional Artist who wants to make money from your creativity and your work is packed with soooooo many tasks that it can become overwhelming very quickly.
As an Artrepreneur You need to be a specialist or expert at a multitude of things including but not limited to: Management, Sales, Marketing, Branding, Record Keeping/Tracking, Photography, Writing, Communicating, Web Development and Maintenance, Graphics , Packaging, Research, Time Management, Finances / Bookkeeping / Accounting, Planning & Strategy, Public Speaking, Social Media, Managing Supplies / Materials, Logistics, Educating People, Legal Work, Event Staging and Production, and Administrative Tasks.
OOOOOOOO, and you also need to keep your space/Studio clean and replace the toilet paper in your spare time. AND, this is only for your business so those other millions of other things you need to do for your actual life (like laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, taking care of the pets or children, etc.) isn’t even included in this list.
This might make you tired just reading the list of hats you need to wear, but if you get real, these are just the general titles of the functions that go in in your business. To make it all worse, each of these functions have a large multitude of individual tasks included under it.
How can you get it all done??????? Well, here is the truth …. YOU CAN’T. 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week … it just isn’t all going to get done. Face it!! But it all needs to be done doesn’t it? So what is the solution? For those of you who have followed me you will know that I am in love with Structure and creating Balance. (see my blog post on Balancing Art and Life and You for example).
A ton of our time problems can be resolved by setting intentions, laying out plans and structuring our time. Many of us resist that, however, it is one of the doors out of the burnt-out-Artist room. A lack of Structure leads to a lack of Balance, Peace of Mind and Consistent Results. Even worse, for us Artists, it leads to no mental, emotional or spiritual mindset to even create with.
Unfortunately, even if you become ultra-structured there comes a point where there is still more to do than there are hours in a day/week/month/year. Then what? THEN YOU NEED HELP!!! One of the biggest barriers I think entrepreneurs have – and Artrepreneurs are no exception – is knowing when it is time to start out-sourcing and delegating things to others. Even when we might know it is time …. the next screaming thoughts in our head are usually about the fact that we don’t think we can’t afford to get help.
Unfortunately, when your business can’t grow because you can’t do any more and you have no time for the people in your life and you are cutting out the things you need to do for your well-being (like sleep) and your creativity is suffering then it IS time! As a matter of a fact … you will have reached the point where not only do you need to bring some people on board but you actually can’t afford to NOT get some help. You are now limiting your business growth AND your Creative and Artistic growth.
I understand … it is not like you have extra money sitting around to pay others … but soon, if you do not get creative about that and take some risks, your Art Business, Your Art and your Life will not only stop growing but they will start regressing.
Consider that nothing ever really stands still … it is an illusion … we are either expanding or we are contracting at any point in time. And once we start contracting we begin undoing all the work we have done to get where we are. Then it either crashes and burns and we give up or it takes relentless efforts to build momentum again (and it was hard enough the first time).
How long can things not get done before there is a deadly ripple effect? How long before important things start falling through the cracks? How many opportunities are you turning down or missing altogether because you do not have the time to find out about them let alone take advantage of them? How long can you be stressed out and work endless hours for endless days without your health being impacted? How much longer can your creativity suffer from not having committed time to just be? How long will the people in your life tolerate your absence? HINT: Answer to all the above: Not too long!
So what is the first step? Take out a sheet of paper (or a document or a spreadsheet) and break down and list all the functions that need to be handled in your Art business into functional categories first. Allow yourself to think through an average day/week/month and list out everything – both the things you are already doing and the things you know you need to do but perhaps aren’t even doing now. Your list may start to look like this:
- Administrative: Sending invoices & receipts, Scheduling, Handling mailings, Inventory of materials/supplies, Ordering office supplies, Keeping the studio clean, Organizing photos of work, Editing and proof reading writing, Processing Sales, Photographing work and events, Collecting testimonials, Handling opt in lists from your website and Social Media
- Marketing – Lead Generation: Designing Business Cards, Working on your website, Handling Social Media (including creating posts, scheduling posts, researching articles for posts, etc.), Producing Press Releases, Creating blog posts, Creating Email Campaigns, Creating flyers, brochures and marketing packets
- Sales – Lead Conversion: Having conversations for sales, Creating and implementing sales opportunities
- Customer Service – Lead Fulfillment: Handling issues, Staying in communication with previous buyers and collectors
- Finances: Bookkeeping, Accounting, Reports
- Operations: Ordering materials/supplies, preparing materials, Framing, Staging and Hanging work, Managing Events, Packing & Shiping work, Creating Systems for work flow
Now go through your list and next to each item mark the things that you do not really have expertise at (even if you have been forcing yourself to do it) such as: Website development, Accounting, Legal work (Contracts), Social Media, etc. These are things that you can hire freelancers and professionals, who are experts at them, to do for you.
Then go through your list and look at all the things that, even though they may not be hard and you can do it well, they still take up a lot of your time. These are the things that you can get a personal assistant or several different assistants to do, i.e. the admin functions, the operations functions, etc. Mark those items too.
Here is the HINT: Other than making your Art there is practically nothing that only you can do!
One of our biggest traps is to think we are the only one who can “do it right”. You can clone yourself by training people to think like you and speak in your “voice”. Be open that someone else might even know better than you or have an easier way to handle something.
Now, start looking for the right people to start taking over the tasks you have marked. You can go slow. On board a professional or assistant at a time. I would start with the things that take up the most of your time. You may need to train assistants in your way of doing things. It may seem like double work at the beginning but it is worth it.
As you train them you can have them document the training process and write training manuals for the different functions they are learning to perform so that if they need to be replaced then the next person who replaces them will be easier to on board.
I have 15 virtual assistants that do a variety of things for me. I even have a virtual assistant who manages the other virtual assistants. I have hired them from excellent professional freelance sites like Upwork Global (www.upworkglobal.com). I outsource everything I can to free myself up to handle only those things that only I can do and that I love to do.
The best part is that I pay very little for these services because of the currency exchange and I provide jobs to some very talented people all over the world. It was not overnight … I have built my team a little at the time. I have learned along the way.
I have clients who have found extraordinary college interns that want to learn the industry and take on chunks of their work for them. I have clients who have found people in their family or friends who were willing to help them for X amount of hours a week. This is not about spending outrageous money … it is about being creative to find the right people to take on the right functions. Some people love administrative work, some people, believe it or not, love working with numbers.
The payoff is that once you start handing things off to others to do then you are now freed up to do what you do best … CREATE. Your creations are what you are selling and now you have more work to sell and, if you outsource it, you have someone to help you sell it. If you put the right people on your team they will start paying for themselves as you wear less and less hats. And there is no need to stop with your business … what would it be like to have someone clean your house or do your grocery shopping?
When I started my first business in 1997 I found myself burnt out pretty quickly. A colleague gave me a book, by Michael Gerber, that changed my life and my business future. The book has been updated many times since then and now the title is: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. I highly recommend it.
Gerber’s book is an easy read and will give you a view of how smoothly your Art business could run if you become a business owner vs. the I-do-everything, multi-hat person. There is a way out and millions of us entrepreneurs have done it. Your Art Business deserves to expand while you and your Art expands also.
What things do you repeat over and over to yourself as you do them: “I hate doing this!” or “This takes so much of my time!”?
For those of you that have already outsourced some of your work what tricks have you learned that you can share with us?
As always, I would love to hear from you about your experiences and your challenges! Your feedback is such a welcomed contribution to me and to everyone who gets to read your comments!