I was chatting with my friend the other day, after I sent an email about working for free.
You remember – when I told you to moon anyone who tells you it’ll be ‘great exposure’? (You should, by the way. Moon them, I mean.)
I was talking about writers, photographers, designers, consultants… more ‘businessy’ types.
But she pointed out that artists, dancers, and performers are just as bad. She’s one of my circus friends and comes from a performance background, and the norm seems to be the idea that if you’re asked to perform anywhere, you’re lucky and the experience itself should be enough for you.
Stuff paying the bills; this is soul food.
Well, that’s fine. But people need to put a roof over their heads, keep the electricity on, and put food on the table.
And you can’t do that with warm fuzzy feelings. Feelings which disappear pretty quickly in the face of the stress of not being able to pay your bills, or do any of the things you’d like to do.
I reckon this way of being has come from two sources: the artists and performers themselves thinking that marketing is somehow ‘beneath them’ and that if they’re good, success should come to them.
Sorry, toots, this is the real world – as my friend pointed out. You want people to take notice? You gotta give them a reason to do so.
The second source is directors, theatres, choreographers: they tell youngsters that ‘this is just the way it is’ and to ‘suck it up’ and ‘you’re lucky to be working at all’. Well, I call bullshit.
You’re only treated like crap if you allow people to treat you like crap. You can’t do much about the first time; but if you let someone treat you badly twice, you’re a fool. Performers and artists don’t have to rely on the traditional way of doing things to get anywhere. Yeah, it’s scary to break out on your own – but create your own stuff. Find someone you want to work with. Approach venues on your own and sell your abilities yourself.
It really is that simple.
Not easy. I’ll give you that.
But it is simple.
I’ll get people now telling me that ‘it won’t work because things aren’t done that way!’ ‘The performance industry is different!’
Change the way things are done. Performance and the arts is a business like any other, and there’s nothing wrong with making a good living from it. Drop the pretentious ideals that ‘the art should be enough’ because it isn’t. Not in this world. In this world, you need to pay the bills.
So if you’re an artist, dancer, performer, writer, photographer, graphic designer… if you’re a freelancer or self-employed and you’re fed up of running out of money at the end of the month… you should join read my book Business For Superheroes and find out how you can make what you do a whole lot more enjoyable again.
Starting with how to write your book – and why you should do it as soon as possible.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.