The Best Things in Life Should NOT Be Free

As The Flying Lizards song goes,

“The best things in life are free / But you can give them to the birds and bees / I want money.”

Don’t we all?

But being an “artist” in today’s economy (and pretty much every previous era’s economy) seems to come with an expectation that we do without it, and offer our creative contributions to society without appropriate compensation. And as a result, many of us have resigned ourselves to the life of the “starving artist,” and accepted that we either need to do our artistic work as a side gig, or simply not eat. I’m sorry to admit that I’ve been guilty of this myself.

But not anymore.

A recent NY Times article by acclaimed writer Tim Kreider brought the issue to light, and made an impassioned plea to all his fellow artists: “don’t give it away.” And it lit an equally bright fire in me. A lightbulb went on. Why am I giving it away?

Since I left my cushy corporate job back in March 2011, and set out on a fresh path of creative independence, I have been struggling from paycheck to small wad of cash to project backend points, desperately trying to keep my checking account afloat. And it’s made me a pretty miserable artist – a lot less creative and inspired than I know myself capable of, and probably much less fun to be around. Anyone who’s been on the verge of penniless, or buried in debt, can attest to this feeling – it’s a really scary thing to not be sure you can pay your bills this month, and that can really damage your attitude and ability to keep thriving.

We seem to be facing a prevalent attitude today (and pretty much all throughout history) that artists should give away their work. They may really admire your work, just not enough to pay one cent for it.

And for what? What’s the point?

Artists, as with any other profession, cannot survive on creativity and “exposure” alone. Clicks and retweets don’t pay the bills. Money does. Cold hard cash. There’s simply no replacement for it, as much as we wish, and hope, and are told there is. What we create and offer as artists is every bit of valuable and worthy of cash compensation as any other working professional.

Now there’s certainly something to be said for paying your dues. A great many different jobs and industries involve starting at the ground level with a low or unpaid internship-like position. In the film industry, this would be the PA (or Production Assistant), which is basically a gopher or errand runner job for any young newbies to the business who are just happy to learn.

But I’m no beginner. I’ve been doing this for long enough, headed enough projects, produced full feature films – that I shouldn’t still be paying my dues. I should be earning them. I’ve been on this path of no recompense for too long and it’s finally starting to wear on me, ruining relationships and killing the creative buzz. It’s time to shift my own mindset, and give myself permission to value my work and my time for what it’s actually worth.

I even wrote a book about how other artists and creative entrepreneurs can do this for themselves, and build a profitable business around their art. But I’ve yet to really take my own advice, and that should have been the first step.

So I’m taking that step now, and I’m not apologizing for it. It’s time to start really valuing myself and my work, and start making an actual living. No more unconditional favors or pointless giveaways! No more taking lower pay than I deserve! It’s time to take ownership over my career, so I can realize my full potential and actually achieve all that I say I want to.

So who’s with me?!

Are you in the same boat? Do you struggle with making a living from your career as an artist or creative entrepreneur? Well, then join me on my journey and start valuing your worth!

And if you want some guidance on that front, feel free to check out my book on Amazon for a step-by-step guide to building the business and life you deserve.

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Listen to the Dark Beauty of The Productive Artist

We’ve done it again! The Productive Artist has been featured on another podcast!

Topher Adam, of Dark Beauty Magazine and Dark Beauty PulseCast, recently interviews yours truly and asked me to explain why I created The Productive Artist, how I got here, and how I want to inspire the next generation of Artists with my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan.

Topher and I connect on a lot of similar points about our goals and mission for our businesses, and what change we want to inspire in the global arts community. Give it a listen, and see if you agree with us!

Dark Beauty PulseCast

If you do agree with what we have to say, and what to hear more – remember to subscribe to my email list and YouTube Channel, and stay tuned for more coming soon. And don’t forget to get your copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan!

The Journey Continues – Putting Your Plan into Action

Alright, now I’ve talked a lot about how vitally important it is to have a business plan, or some version of a plan for the actualization of your business, before you can build a truly Productive, fulfilling, and successful business around your art. And that’s true. The first step is to build the Plan, and figure out your answers to those signature Seven Questions that make up the essential components of a complete and functional business model.

But once you do that – and have your very own creative and comprehensive business plan – what do you do with it?

Well now it’s time to put that Plan into Action! Because after you plan, you have to act, or else nothing is achieved.

I could spend all of this blog talking about your plan, and how to write it, and what should go in it, blah blah blah. But even the most brilliant ideas are nothing, and will never become anything, without action – no matter how well planned out they are. You can write and rewrite, and plan and re-plan, all you want. But you have to be careful not to let yourself fall into analysis paralysis – or its equally evil twin and my personal favorite enemy – perfection paralysis. At some point, you have to stop and decide when the plan is good enough to implement.

So once you’ve gone through all the steps, and answered each of my signature Seven Questions, and put your whole business plan pages together – it’s time to define your Action Plan for how you are going to accomplish that plan. In fact, that’s precisely why the last and final Quest #7 of my signature business planning method is entitled, “How Will You Achieve It?”

The first thing you’ll want to do is select which program(s) or tool(s) you will want to use to help you set your tasks and track your progress. For my own personal and professional purposes, I mostly use a combination of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive (Docs & Spreadsheets). I guess you could say I’m a bit of a Google baby. But then I’ve also seen other folks find great success with Asana, Evernote and Trello, among others. So I encourage you to find the tools that work the best for you and with you, especially any you’re already using or can easily integrate into your current work routine.

Make sure whatever system you do choose has the ability to describe the Action Item and assign the category, or department, or higher goals of your business that it pertains to. Use the SMART method to make sure every task you set is Specific, Measurable, Active, Realistic and Timed. Then be sure each Action Item has room to indicate its deadline, and any notes or status updates on your progress towards achieving it. You’ll want the tools you use to be really accessible and convenient to use, so you remember to check in with it regularly and keep your tasks top-of-mind. Try using something you can keep open on your desktop or browser throughout the workday, or lying on your physical desk in front of you – wherever will be the most obvious and eye-catching for all-day motivation. The key here is to lay out all of your business goals into an actionable and measurable roadmap of realistic milestones that will help you stay on track.

Then lastly, you’ll want to incorporate into your routine any other means of motivation and accountability you can, so you don’t let yourself falter in a moment of weakness or laziness and give up on your dream! This could be written reminders around your home or office, or alarms set on your phone, or a mantra you say to yourself before you go to bed each night (or wake up each morning). But don’t forget to reach beyond what you can create for yourself, and enlist the help of a strong support network. Join groups or communities in your field, attend local meet ups, and align with colleagues to help keep each other on track. Find your closest, most trusted friends and tell them your goals or share your To Do list. Make yourself socially accountable as well, and I promise it will only help you stay even more committed to your plan.

So how about it? Are you ready to put your Plan into Action?

If you’ve already been through my book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, and have your complete business plan – then comment below and tell me how you are going to implement your plan and turn it into reality! Or if you’ve already made it happen, then tell me what you did to achieve that and how you kept yourself motivated to take Action.

And if you haven’t yet built your own Productive Artist plan – then get yourself over to Amazon now and get your copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, and I will help you get to building! And remember to subscribe to my email list and YouTube Channel to join me on the journey to a more productively artistic you.

The Journey Begins with Quest #1: What Is It?

Enter you and your vision for a more Productive business around your art.

Your Productive Artist journey starts with the same first question that I always ask myself, “What Is It?” – which is why it became the first Quest in my signature business planning method, as detailed in my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan.

Your answer to this question will be your reason that you want to build your own business in the first place. So it makes sense that it should also be the foundation upon which to build your business plan. Before you can figure out the “how” to build your business, or the “who” to do that for, you need to be extremely clear on the “what” you even want to build and whether that is worth building.

In this Quest, you are asked to identify exactly what products and/or services (aka Offerings) your business will offer. You probably already know your answer to that, or at least what demand you want to fill in the marketplace and what customer needs you want to provide a solution for. For example, my new book The Productive Artist’s Business Plan is a product, a book, to help aspiring creative entrepreneurs of all artistic fields learn how to build the business they envision and sustain themselves as Artists. That’s my “What Is It?” What’s yours?

I designed this first step to help you identify and create the most valuable, competitive Offerings for the people you want to help, and the problems you want to provide a solution for. So you must take this step seriously and answer with conviction, because every Quest that follows in my business planning method will refer back to these Offerings and how you are going to realize your dream of getting them out into the world. This is really where the rubber meets the road – your first crucial step to paving the road ahead for your business and livelihood. How can you tell people about your Offerings, or decide how much you can charge for them, or make any kind of impact in your market and your business without first knowing what those Offerings are and whether those people will buy them?

As my favorite marketing expert and entrepreneur Marie Forleo says, “You’ve got to name it to claim it.” And that requires having clarity and confidence in what you want to put out there. If you want to build it, you’ve got to name it first. So consider this your wake up call, your jump start, your first stepping stone. Your moment of truth has arrived.

What do you want to build?

What product or service do you want to out out into the world to benefit and inspire others?

Please comment below and tell me – “What Is It?”

Then remember to subscribe to my email list and YouTube Channel to join me on the journey to a more productively artistic you. And don’t forget to get your copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, for a much more extensive, detailed guide through this and the rest of my signature Seven Questions for creative success!

The Productive Artist is on a Podcast!

Goodness groceries! What an incredible and rewarding journey this has been so far as The Productive Artist – not to mention the journey that got me here!

Just the other day, some of my close girlfriends and I were ruminating on our life goals that we’ve accomplished so far, and how much easier it is to see how far we’ve come if we look back a year, or even 5. A few years ago, I never imagined I would actually be a published author, or that I’d be helping so many aspiring Artists and creative entrepreneurs as The Productive Artist.

It’s been one hell of a journey – one that’s taught me a lot about how to guide other Artists along that journey toward realizing their own dreams and goals. And one of the joys of having reached some of those goals and achieved some success is the recognition you receive from peers and the resulting opportunities to share your story with even more people.

That’s what happened when Kent Sanders approached me about appearing on his podcast for The Artist’s Suitcase, a wonderful online resource geared towards Artists and creatives who want to unlock their creative potential.

The Artist's Suitcase

Wanna know how it all got started, why I do what I do (for all of you), and what my new book is all about?

Then listen up to this podcast from The Artist’s Suitcase, featuring yours truly!

The Artist's Suitcase-My Podcast 9.26.13

Huge thanks to Kent Sanders of The Artist’s Suitcase for the opportunity to do this awesome interview! If you liked what you heard, please subscribe to my email list and YouTube Channel for more juicy nuggets and valuable advice to come.

Have You Created the Business You Want?

Well it’s been a week since the official launch of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, on the Amazon Kindle store – and already the rave reviews are rolling in! I have to say, I am so incredibly moved and thrilled to hear how much people are enjoying the book, and finding it invaluable in their creative endeavors.

MFrenchie calls it “A “getting things done” how to for artists.”

Chris Cheng says it’s “A great framework that takes some best practices from the business world, and gives artists a leg up on how to be successful in their industry. ”

Nathan Hoskins adds, “I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to bone up on how to get things done and get them done right! ”

And bookfan even claims, “This is the book I wish I had when I was starting out. ”

So if you’re one of my glowing reviewers, then thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope you keep that momentum going! You are on the road to a very exciting, more Productive and prosperous future as an Artist – so keep it up!

And if you haven’t read my book yet, what are you waiting for?

If you are an Artist, in any sense of the word – if you have a passion and drive to create something original and make a living from that – then you need to build a strong business foundation around that to give it (and yourself) the best chance for success. This book will help you do that, so get your copy today!

Then read it, use it, enjoy it – and write me a review on Amazon to tell me how it all went and whether it really helped you become a more Productive Artist.

I wrote this book for you, my people! And I want to write more and share more and keep pushing this forward. But there’s no point in my doing all of this unless it makes a difference for you.

So how about it? Have you created the business and life you want as a creative entrepreneur yet?

The Productive Artist's Business Plan

The Productive Artist’s Business Plan – now on Amazon!

Well folks, our 5 day free book promotion has run its course – so I hope you didn’t miss out on getting your free copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan.

But if you did, it’s not too late!

The book is still available on the Amazon Kindle store, and now for only $9.99! Now that’s not so much is it? For just under $10, you can learn how to create the business and life you want as a creative entrepreneur, and sustain yourself as an Artist. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal! So what are you waiting for?

The Productive Artist's Business Plan on AmazonIf you’ve got a great vision for your art, but no idea how to turn it into reality – or if you know you need a business plan, but aren’t sure how to start or wish you had a more creative option than the traditional templates out there – then you are (still) in luck!

No matter what kind of creative work you do, if you are driven to create something original and innovative, and want to make a living from that, then you are an Artist and this book is meant for you! I designed this book specifically for my fellow Artists and creative entrepreneurs just like you, who need a business planning method as unique as the art you create.

The key is not to tell you the right answers, but to ask you the right questions. This book will guide you through my simple, yet thorough, signature Seven Questions that you must answer to build a sustainable business around your art; one that is fulfilling for both you and your customers. Each “Quest” on your journey will translate into one piece of your business plan puzzle. I will help you outline your offerings, map your competitive landscape, craft your marketing, operational and financial plans, and design your action plan to bring it all to life. And when I’m finished with you, you’ll walk away with a comprehensive and creative plan to guide you on your next adventure building the business and life you want as a creative entrepreneur!

If you’ve already read and love my book, remember to subscribe to my email list and my YouTube channel, so you can continue to hear about the latest in my Productive pointers and products.