Whether we realize it or not, independent artists are freelance workers. We offer our music, novels, arts articles, poems, paintings, or other works to people for a fee or a price. Some of us also teach on a freelance basis, giving lessons or tutorials out of our home. Many also operate side gigs on a freelance basis, such as tutoring in a non-arts subject, working as a driver for Uber, Lyft, or Instacart, or doing maintenance or cleaning independently. As people increasingly work from home, we may even find our salaried work feels like freelancing, as we are responsible for setting up work spaces and scheduling work tasks from our dens and kitchens.
As most of us continue to spend large chunks of time at home, we are often looking for projects to keep us occupied. Devoting some of that time and energy to organizing the work of your career or side gig will not only provide something productive to do now, it will make things run much smoother when everything does normalize again.
Write out a short but detailed business or career description and plan.
Many people balk at the idea of writing out a career or business plan for their art work. At first, I was one of them.The thought of doing this makes me feel like a fool. What business? It’s me.I’m an artist. I teach writing skills to adults. I write fiction. I can sing well enough to join in an open mic, but not well enough to get paid. I can write for and about artists and the arts. Go ahead and feel foolish. Writing about exactly what you’re about, what services you plan to offer, and why will help bring everything else into focus. Consider the following statements:
“I write modern, place based, realistic novels, and blog articles for and about Utica artists, in addition to teaching writing skills to adults online in a salaried position. I am available to write sponsored posts about your business or service, features about music or musicians for your magazine or newspaper, and press releases for your music or other art career. My hobbies are singing and languages.”
“I’m a writer who likes singing and languages and I’m looking for work. I used to be a reporter and feature writer for the newspaper. I have also worked in an office.”
Both of those are me, but the first one is clear about what type of work I’m able and available to do, and offers insight into my skill level. The second one focuses too much on past work I want to leave behind, and is vague about my skill level. “I like singing and languages” could mean I’ve been compared to Diana Krall and am fluent in five languages (I wish), or it could mean I’m that annoying person who belts out off key phrases from songs every time someone says a word that reminds me of one, and spends five hours in front of the tv watching foreign films every night. Mentioning that I used to be a reporter and have worked in an office would only be relevant if I were looking to do that type of work again.
Set up a dedicated online presence
Using Weebly to set up this webpage was easy. I never learned to code, and have no depth perception, meaning I can’t line things up on a screen. I can still used Weebly to run this page. Wordpress is another popular hosting site that most people find easy to use. Other options for an online home for your art practice and/or freelance business include bandcamp, Facebook, and Instagram.
At minimum, your online space should have a business or career description, clear photos, links, or descriptions of the items or services you offer, and a price list.
Here is Lou Santacroce’s bandcamp page: https://lousantacroce.bandcamp.com/releases
Looking at that page, we learn that he’s a Utica based singer-songwriter, arts writer, and novelist, and get a glimpse of the type of music he writes and performs. The prices are clear, and there are samples available. This is a strong online presence for a professional musician.
Gather all of the supplies you need to run your business.
Use free software to create a professional looking invoice. Even if you are in a situation where you speak or perform for cash, your client might want something for their records, or you might want to make one to keep track of what you’ve done. Order business cards. Vista Print, www.vistaprint.com offers professional cards for as low as fifteen dollars for a box of 500. Hit Dollar Tree to stock up on pens, notepads, and other basic office supplies you might need.
This step will vary depending on what you plan to do for work. Writing for and about artists in Utica takes my laptop, notepads, and pens and pencils. People whose second career is teaching children may want to look for work teaching English as a Second Language online for companies like VIPKid. These companies typically won’t work with you unless you have a mini virtual classroom set up in your home. You will need an entire corner you can devote to items such as maps, color charts, alphabet charts, and other traditional school room educational decor.
Publicize your business or career.
We all know about posting things on social media, but consider paper fliers (posted with respect for the owner of the place you post them and others who have fliers up of course) and buying advertising in the local news media. For print ads, visit https://www.uticaphoenix.net/contact-us/ and speak to someone about buying ad space in The Utica Phoenix. You might also want to purchase local radio advertising on Phoenix Radio, 95.5 The Heat. Listen in at www.955theheat.com then get in touch at https://www.955theheat.com/advertise-with-us.html to buy some advertising for your business.
This article is not sponsored. All endorsements and recommendations are my own.