Skip to main content
See if you can find the skateboarding santa.

Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business - Part 12: Pitfalls to be Wary of

By now you should have enough information to begin setting up your own Mobile, Independent, Artist Business. Last post I looked at pricing your art, this post I'll look at some of the pitfalls that can bring you unstuck or just slow your business down.

This list is by no means exhaustive but it does cover issues that I've personally had to navigate running my own Artist Business.



Work/Life Discipline


Working for yourself it's easy to think you'll just work when you want and have more time to enjoy life as a result. Certainly you can be more flexible with your time. For example, if you're not a morning person, start work later, that kind of thing, but make no mistake, you will need to schedule a lot of your day around doing the actual work.

Try to develop a routine based around the times of day you're most receptive to doing specific types of work. You might handle administrative tasks, like book keeping or invoicing, better earlier in the day whilst you're mind is still fresh. Later in the day you might relax into more creative tasks like making your art because it's less like work and easier to deal with (perhaps it's even like a reward for getting the more 'business-like' tasks done earlier).

Whatever routine you settle into, stick to it as best you can. When you work for yourself there is always something you can be doing to work on your business.

At the same time it can be easy to fall into the trap of working all the time. Your business is with you no matter where you are. If you have clients you can easily have your time taken up just with back and forth communications. Sometimes it's hard to shut down.

It's not unreasonable to take breaks on weekends and holidays like the majority of employed people do. Clients will understand that you don't work at these times because, more than likely, they don't either. If you have an urgent deadline, it doesn't hurt to work through a weekend or holiday occasionally, just don't allow it to become a regular occurrence.

Be just as disciplined about taking time away from work as you are working on your business. Remember, you are the boss, one of the perks of working for yourself is choosing when you work.


Over Commitment


If you're in the fortunate position of having more work coming in than you can handle then great, that's an exciting time for your business (I'm assuming you're supplying a creative service here, such as illustration or Graphic design). However it can be tempting to just keep taking on work so as not to lose business without thinking if you really have the time to do the actual work.

Unfortunately taking too long to complete jobs, and especially over running deadlines, can make for bad business where you'll not only lose potential repeat business but could also develop poor word of mouth.

One way to combat this is to just explain your circumstances to clients before accepting a job so they can make their own decision on whether to wait for your service or to go with someone else. Even if they do go with someone else this time they may come back to you next time for the same reasons that drew them to you in the first place.

Another option is to still accept the work but hire your own, trusted freelancers to do the actual work in your style, with you acting as Art Director and Client liaison. This way, you still get the client but earn less money on the job due to having to pay your freelancer. In this case you'll still want to make a profit so, typically, your freelancer will earn less for the job than you'd pay yourself. Reasonably justifiable since you're taking on the role of art direction and client liaison. You should be getting paid something for that role.

If your artist based business is creating a product or things (paintings for example) you should always know your production times and only accept orders within the limits of those times. Particularly if the art you create is reliant on you actually creating it (original artworks, commissioned art etc.).


Following the Money and not the Passion


It's said that if you enjoy what you do you'll never work a day in your life. If the art you create feels a lot more like work to make it and is not something you're passionate about there's a good chance you're following the money. Creating art simply because you know that particular art makes money.

It's perfectly okay to follow the money but if it really is starting to become a daily grind don't be afraid to change direction. To create art that you enjoy again and then finding a market for it.

In my own freelance career I started out doing product illustrations, moved on to selling my own original art in a local market center, then got into website design, moved back to selling my paintings (online this time), started taking on commissioned artworks of people's pets, then transitioned into creating animated explainer videos.

If you're not enjoying the work don't be afraid to change. You don't have to drop everything immediately and move on to the next thing, a gradual transition will help bridge that gap until the next thing starts earning money you can live on.


Working for the 'Exposure' instead of getting paid


This is probably one of the most recurring traps fallen into by artists just starting out. You're approached by a person or business that isn't going to pay you but claims their project will be good exposure for your business. What they mean is, if you work for free, we'll make sure our audience knows you did the work.

It sounds really great on the surface but you really need to weigh up their offer and do your research on who their audience is. What are the odds that the exposure you get will convert into additional work/sales?

It's very tempting for me to say never do any work for the exposure but in some cases it may actually be worth it, so I'm recommending you review on a case by case basis. One example might be, say you create T-shirt designs for a local rock band to wear during their performance. The band gets the T-Shirts free so long as they allow you to sell the T-shirts to their fans.

You'll get the same exposure if the client pays you for your work (remember that). Is the kind of exposure they're offering worth more to you than getting paid for the job. If not then, decline the job and don't look back.

In my previous example of the rock band, if the band paid you for the shirt designs and the license for the images, you then wouldn't be able to sell the shirts to their fans but the band could. You'd still get the same exposure though.


Not Paying Attention to Legal Issues


There's not too much to be said here. Always, always pay attention to legal issues and work within the laws of your country. Particularly make sure you have all the correct licenses (if you need them) and pay any tax that is a legal requirement.

Many businesses have come unstuck for doing the wrong thing (even unknowingly) and ended up paying heavy fines or worse as a result.

Staying legal is not hard. Mostly it's research and maybe filling out forms, etc. It may not be the most exciting thing to do but, because you're working for yourself, it's your responsibility to make sure everything you do is legitimate.


Spending all your Profits


Any full time, independent artist will tell you that, starting out, keeping the money coming in wasn't always consistent or a sure thing. They may also tell you that it still isn't depending on where they're at with their careers.

By all means you should enjoy the money you earn. Reward yourself for your successes however you like with a fun purchase. A gift to yourself for being successful in your business. Just do so within your means. In other words budget. Plan ahead. Make sure your business has money to cover the bills if you have a lean month of few sales.

It's not a good look to reward yourself with an expensive meal in one of the best restaurants in town if it means your business is going to tank due to a lack of cash a few weeks later.

If you are going to reward yourself, spend proportionately to the money you've earned and always make sure your business can survive a few months into the future with few or even no sales.


---o ---o--- o---


I'm sure there are other pitfalls to be wary of. Many can be avoided if you just take a step back and think about your next steps instead of blindly moving forward before understanding what impact doing so will have on your business.

Which is probably the most important point. Don't just work in your business, make sure you also work on your business. Keep an eye on how things are going overall and that you're taking the business in the direction that is the most fulfilling for you.

Next post will be the final one in the series where I'll look at how you can expand your mobile business in order to work less and, ideally, earn more.





This post is part of a series called Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business. Read earlier parts at the links below:

Part 1: Introduction and Equipment
Part 2: Business Software
Part 3: Creative Software
Part 4: Social and Marketing Software Plus Your Website
Part 5: Documenting and Sharing Your Work in Progress
Part 6: Photographing and Preparing Your Art for Printing
Part 7: Maximizing Your Art By Creating Variations
Part 8: Legal Obligations and Employee Care Plan
Part 9: What to Create and Finding Your Market
Part 10: Opportunities to make money (Part A)
Part 10: Opportunities to make money (Part B)
Part 11: Pricing Your Art

Comments

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

The Braille Skateboarding App - How it Changed My Mind on Switch Skating

My Profile on the Braille Skateboarding App. Braille Skateboarding launched it's new Skateboarding App worldwide on November 23rd, 2020. About a month prior to that they did a 'soft launch' via email for anyone living in Australia. I'm guessing this was to give the app a final test in the real world before launching it proper. Rather than explain what it is, watch Aaron Kyro, founder of Braille Skateboarding, run you through the app in the launch video below.  In a nutshell the app is virtually everything Braille has to offer accessed right from your phone, from tutorials to the Braille Army Community. The app is free but you can unlock more features if you upgrade to a paid membership. Braille App Trick List. One of the apps unique free features is keeping track of the tricks you've learned and giving you an overall score so you have some way to measure your progression. There is an extensive list of tricks, covering all types of skateboarding, categorized by diff

Guest Post: MY SOOPER DOOPER NEW CONSERVATORY/ART STUDIO!

Jo's new Art Studio/Conservatory. Today's guest post is by Artist, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate, Jo B Creative who writes for her blog,  Creating My Oddessey . Y ou should see our (almost) brand new conservatory, half of which is my art studio. 'Lucky me!' I think to myself. Not every creative bod can boast that. It's HUGE! Like a giant greenhouse. We first moved to our pleasant cul-de-sac house - great for raising kids - when our son, who's on the cusp of thirty-one, was four. One of the main reasons that we wanted it was that, apart from its location on the fringes of a historic market town in rural Hampshire, UK, it had a sizable conservatory looking onto the back garden. It was brown wood framed and had a corrugated transparent roof sloping down from downstairs ceiling height. On the face of it, it doesn't sound that glamourous, but we loved the idea of a conservatory. Luxury! I even liked the red brick walls which it was built against -

Update on my Cheap Skateboard Weeks Later

TET with $20.00 Mambo, Department Store Skateboard. In my previous post and video titled Can You Learn the Basics on a Cheap Skateboard? I began an experiment to see if basic, department store skateboards are at least good enough for beginners to get their first taste of skateboarding without spending a lot of money. (Spoiler - they are). Grrr Dog Popsicle  Skateboard See more deck shapes Just to reinforce my point I decided to film a follow up video a few weeks later showing that my cheap skateboard is still holding up to learning the basics. Admittedly I'm not the most hardcore of learner skaters when it comes to hours spent on the board. On average I manage around thirty minutes to an hour, five days a week. The point is that the board is still holding up to the tricks I've been learning despite my weight being about 16 kilos heavier than the maximum weight recommended for the board (50 kilos). Unlike those Youtube skaters that almost seem like their

One Week on Light n' Easy #lightneasy

My partner, Enigma, and I recently decided to try Light n' Easy to replace all our daily meals in an effort to eat healthier (and not have to think at all about cooking evening meals). Enigma is about to embark on her third week of their full menu but I caved after one and opted just to get the dinners.

TET Skateboards: Not Skateboarding for Seven Months - YouTube Channel Update Video

TET with Monkey Pizza Lifeline Skateboard. It's been a long time since I posted any video to my Extraordinary Tourist YouTube Channel . Approximately seven to eight months. This is because a year or to back I pivoted the channel into documenting my skateboarding progress, relearning my former skills, and then stopped skating due to pain occurring in both my feet. In the channel update video below I go into it in more detail but the short version is, I started to get pain in the top of both my feet, probably due to ongoing impact stress of skateboarding rather than any specific injury, coupled with very sharp, momentary pain between my toes of my back, 'pop', foot. I decided it was probably best to rest both my feet by not skateboarding for a while. While the pain was ongoing it didn't affect my ability to walk, only skateboarding seemed to aggravate it. I didn't expect to be not skating for this long. While my front foot has healed completely, my back, 'pop'

Course Review: YouTube for Bosses - Sunny Lenarduzzi. How to grow your YouTube Channel into a Business

YouTube for Bosses Free Mug...  or the most expensive mug  you'll ever buy? I've been subscribed to  Sunny Lenarduzzi's YouTube channel for a few years, learning a lot on how to grow a following on sites like YouTube and Instagram. If you have any interest in growing your own YouTube channel I'd highly recommend watching some of Sunny's videos on the subject.  Definitely explore her 2019 back catalogue for the most useful information. This year she's been on a bit of a 'being authentic' pivot that, personally, doesn't resonate all that much with me (but probably speaks volumes to anyone with similar experience). I'm not saying she shouldn't or isn't being authentic, it's just I didn't subscribe to hear stories about her life journey. To get back on track, Sunny runs a successful online business with her flagship course, YouTube for Bosses , a stand alone paid course that does act as something of a gateway to further paid (but opt