Mastering the Business of Creativity – 4 Tips for Aspiring Artistic Professionals

So, you want to make it big. First, you’ll have to make it in business. Maybe you don’t need an MBA to land a speaking role in a primetime network series or market a best-selling book, but you do need to get your self-promotional ducks in a row. Mind these four must-dos, if you haven’t already.

  1. Set Up a Public-Facing Digital Presence

Your website doesn’t have to be perfect. Your social media accounts don’t have to attract off-the-charts engagement.

But they do have to exist, and look like their owner cares about them to boot.

If you haven’t already done so, deploy a basic website with:

  • A concise bio
  • Regularly updated blog (shoot for one or two short posts per week)
  • Statement of capabilities or services
  • Contact details
  • Links to your social profiles
  • Links to your clips, or clips onsite

Over time, you can work on polishing your website. The most important thing, for now, is getting it up and running.

Next, add your bio and contact details to your top social accounts and use a scheduling platform to issue regular updates about your work. Remember, you’re not trying to break 100,000 followers overnight here. Slow and steady wins the race.

  1. Find the Right Talent Agent (If You Need One)

If it’s customary to use a talent agent in your line of work, find one with a demonstrated track record of success in your niche. Film producer David Mimran, who’s seen more than his fair share of good and bad agents, advises working with an agent who’s a “known quantity in the business” and has plenty of capacity to take on new clients.

  1. Don’t Work for Free, Unless You Can’t Pass Up the Opportunity

“As an author and a speaker, I have to be careful about how much time I devote to unpaid work,” writes noted author Amy Morin.

Morin isn’t alone. Many creative professionals struggle with the question of whether and when (if at all) to work for free. Morin identifies four situations in which it might make good business sense to work for free:

  • “Legitimate exposure”
  • Real-world experience
  • Impressive resume fodder
  • You believe in the cause

This is ultimately a personal decision, however. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t work for free unless you can’t see clear to achieving the same result any other way.

  1. Look for Two-Way Networking Opportunities

Networking is not a one-way street, however much you might want it to be. Even budding creative professionals just starting out on the road to fame and fortune (fingers crossed!) have things to offer – real, tangible things that more established colleagues and gatekeepers crave, like (for instance) the ability to perform work at relatively low cost.

In short: don’t hesitate to scratch a few backs, because you never know when you’ll need yours scratched too.

Artists Don’t Need to Starve

Any artist knows that some tropes are well worth leaning into.

One that’s not: the starving artist. In a world badly in need of levity and grace, it’s difficult to conceive of a more offensive implication than that the natural state of the creative professional is want.

You know better. Breaking out of the “starving artist” mold is well within your grasp, should you choose to accept the mission. It all begins with your mastery of the business of creativity – and your firm resolve not to accept anything other than your true worth.