10 Reasons Why Artists Starve.

Changing the Myth and Transforming from Artist into Creative Entrepreneur.

Photo via Unsplash

I’ve had my jewelry business for over a decade, it’s been successful since day one and yet everyone assumes I starve.

In the first years of my entrepreneurial path when I would attend networking events or talking with acquaintances, after hearing what I do, a conversation would continue like this:

“Let me pay for it”, a gentleman would offer to pay for the round of drinks assuming that buying a glass of wine was a lot for me. “So do you live in Greenpoint?” — he would then ask and would think: “and share a loft with 5 other people?” “No, in Greenwich Village. I own an apartment there.” — I’d answer. These were the beginnings of my creative career— I would get into detailed explanations, oversharing and convincing that I am able to support myself as an artist but now I just accept a free glass of wine and smile.

The fact that a lot of artists starve is not a myth. Even the most talented creatives can’t make it and here are 10 most common reasons why:

  1. They don’t test their products— forgetting that their opinion counts as 1, these creatives make things that they like, sometimes asking their family and friends for opinions but not expanding their testing reach beyond those who they know.
  2. They want to invent — a lot of creatives obsess over being original, offering something never seen before instead of choosing a safer path and capitalizing on existing trends.
  3. They don’t create multiple streams of income.
  4. They get too attached to their creations sometimes not even willing to sell them.
  5. They obsess over perfection — instead of offering their products for people to buy, these creatives feel like they’re never ready to show and sell their pieces. There’s always something to finish. Taking too much time to finish, they get bored with their creations — they procrastinate and loose interest.
  6. They create and wait for what’s going to happen — instead of going through the whole process of making it, these creatives think that having made things was enough and now their job is done. Their plan is to wait and see without putting themselves or their products out there.
  7. They refuse to do marketing — thinking it’s not their job, they claim they don’t know anything about marketing and promotion and they refuse to learn. They usually don’t have the budget to pay someone to do that so they end up waiting for their ideas to take off naturally.
  8. They don’t know how to price their pieces — not counting the time they spent on making things, these artists usually price their work too low thinking that it’ll facilitate the sales at the beginning. They don’t realize that some people will associate low prices with poor quality.
  9. They have a desperate attitude — apologizing for being awesome, these creatives convince us that what they make is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time or talent. Projecting this unattractiveness, we get convinced that their products are not valuable and decide to buy what we need somewhere else.
  10. They don’t create systems for their business — these artists love making one of a kind pieces and every time they start, they start from scratch. Their set-up and preparations take time and it doesn’t get any easier with time because these creatives don’t focus on efficiency and implementing systems.

Do grab a copy of Jeff Goins’ book Real Artists Don’t Starve for some helpful tips for non-starving creatives.

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