Revamp that Portfolio
Just like your website, make sure it’s up to date! I know how easy it is to get so caught up in doing commissions that you aren’t finding the time to shout about them to anyone. Make sure all of your marketing materials are up to date. Spend time on them you might not have had otherwise. This can be your CV, portfolio or your profile on freelancing websites. All of it.
Perhaps even drafting things like artist’s statements that you can use on a variety of future projects. You might want to use this time to write new packages that you offer that you can send to businesses, whether its related to commissions or wholesale or whatever is relevent. Make admin for future projects quicker and more efficient. In doing so you are making it so your capacity for work in the future is greater and you will make this time back then.
Take Some Time Out
My partner’s mother said that one good thing out of this would be to see me get a weekend off. She’s not wrong. Between markets, painting days and events in my part time job I rarely get a weekend to myself. Frankly, I’m knackered! If it takes a pandemic to force me to give myself a break well then that’s what we’ve got. I know how hard working small business owners are. I know that many of you who can afford it will be better off for a rest too.
Keep in Touch and Support Others
If you can afford it, shop online! Buy some bits that you can afford and that you don’t mind potentially waiting a while for if post offices close. Some makers can’t afford for us not to buy form them right now. If you can’t afford to buy, share them online, tell your friends and followers about them. But mainly, keep in touch. With your fellow artists, your suppliers, those you work with.
Make sure you know what’s happening with your postponed opportunities, and what is going on with those organisations. If you are unable to fulfill deliveries, commissions or stock drop offs, let people know. Make sure that you are all on the same page about when you can work together again. Strengthen your relationships from afar.
It should go without saying too that if you’re sick then don’t do anything except get better! If you want Netflix reccomendations, book suggestions or recipe tips, get in touch and I’ll provide my best ones.
Stay safe x x
Hone Existing Skills
Just taking time to practice is great too. Unfortunately the one thing I have been most focused on practicising is wheel pottery, which following the closure of my studio is now out of reach. However, spending time to do more experimental drawing and painting and even sculpting with air dry and polymer clay is valuable. These are the kind of not necessarily commercial projects that I find do well on social media too. Use this opportunity to find out your half finished projects and finish them off.
Build your Social Media
We all need to stick together at these times. Social media can be a great way to do that. Building a new audience now and keeping them engaged can also mean potential customers when everyone is feeling a bit more financially stable again. Most of my advice, like this, is around not generation immediate income but fostering resource, relationships and opportunities for a stronger chance of building your business back up quicker and bigger on the other side. Visit Instagram for some #drawthisinyourstyle competitions for the chance to reach new audiences and improve your skills simultaneously.
Tidy up your Online Store
If you are like me, you probably have a few bits you have been meaning to put on your online store but haven’t had chance yet. Well here it is! It’s also good to review things like your tags and keywords, your shop description. It is probably a good idea to add an announcement about how COVID-19 will affect your domestic and international deliveries too. If you don’t usually do this, delve into your shop stats and learn a little bit more about what drives traffic to your site and how you can apply this to your listings.
Products Old and New
Now I am not implying that you have the capital to do this right now, but if you sell products then now is a great time to look into future ranges. Research suppliers, design new things and by Christmas ordering time you will find everything quicker and easier. Can you photograph existing and new products at home? That’s a great way to pass the time and revamp your online shop a little too.
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.
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!