How to a Build your Business in Quarantine Part 1

So many of us may be trapped at home, contemplating cancelled commissions, lost markets and lack of online orders. Good news is that there is lots you can be getting on with the strengthen and promote your business for when this all eventually blows over. It WILL blow over. In this article I’m going to look at a few things you can do to ensure that this time isn’t wasted and that your business is as strong as it can be when it starts operating on full steam again.

This isn’t necessarily very helpful to those in need of cash now, but that’s because I don’t necessarily have those answers when everyone is feeing the pinch. The situation is unprecedented and there is a great economic loss all round. Each country has different benefits available for the self employed so you’ll have a better idea than I can direct on where to look for immediate support.

This article will be in three parts, because we have plenty of time to chat about it and I have lots of ideas!

Shine that Website

First thing is first, update your website! If you tell me that your website is already up to date well I don’t believe you. Go through all the pages. Make sure your blog is looking healthy. Ensure your recent commissions are on there and all the info is up to date. The beautiful thing about blogging is that you can write and schedule blogs for as far in the future as you can imagine. Use this time to write blogs for the future. You can save time to work on new commissions when they start coming back.

Learn New Skills

You can get a free trial on an excellent website called Skillshare. You get 7 days as standard but if you go to cancel they extend your free trial further. There is lots to learn on there, including really specific lessons for professional artists. I am currently learning about vectoring my art. I haven’t studied art past the age of 14 so it’s a resource I find especially helpful. If you want to learn a new craft altogether, YouTube itself is an absolute goldmine. I have previously found it an especially great resource for all things knitting.

COVID-19 An Artist’s Perspective

I’d ask you all to presuppose that this article is about a very specific vantage on the virus. It by no means suggests that navigating these times as an artist is the hardest hit way to exist in these times. It is, of course, those affected so personally by the cruel virus itself. In this article I will assume that the reader has followed the news closely, is aware of the wider issues, the dangers, the deathcount and the heroic nature of the NHS. This article will consequently not discuss anything further about the virus itself or the times we live in, beyond it’s affect on my artistic career. I hope that it’s not perceived as flippancy but instead for the exhaustion and anxiety it truly is.

Can a sector get sick?

It took me until I was in my thirties to call myself an artist, so for this to happen so soon into my career it makes me kick myself a little for the years lost. Commissions that I have spent hours preparing, weeks and months waiting on, all gone within hours of each other. The cancellation of events means markets, festivals and exhibitions. It means lost commissions and lost chances to earn revenue.

Artists, everywhere are worried. Some rely solely on their artist income and have studio rent to pay. Bills to pay. Online sales took a nosedive too as job security plummeted. People have spent all their wages on loo roll and have more on their minds than buying art. Plus, competition is high. Bricks and Mortar businesses are pleading for custom in a way they haven’t before. I don’t see how I can make money as an artist until this is through.

Postponed or cancelled though?

Technically, everything I had booked in is actually postponed, not cancelled. This shows great willing on the organisers part to keep contracts and support artists. However, the reality is that some of these organisations might not survive the crisis. Some of these opportunities will be postponed and consequently clash with other sought after opportunities. It means that the scale of lost income and opportunity is particularly hard to gauge. 

Is it all doom and gloom?

Hopefully not. But it is scary. Many artists are banding together online, exploring online markets and #drawthisinyourstyle competitions to gain new followers for when it’s all over. I am unsure how effective online markets will be when everyone’s wallets are lighter than usual. The ability to post stock is likely in jeopardy to. I think waiting it out is the only option to be frank. It doesn’t mean the time is wasted though. Next week (because we will definitely still be in this by then) I will focus on tips for ways to spend your time to enhance your art career when no commissions are coming in. 

Stay safe, stay home and don’t buy all the loo roll!