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The Definitive Business Survival Guide for Artists and Creatives

Last updated on April 13, 2020

In These Times of Turmoil

This Definitive guide is a way for me to help the artist and creative community to survive and thrive in this pandemic. It has three sections

  • Be Helpful – to show a new side of the work that creatives do and how to make it more tangible, results and use oriented. The section aims to shift the mindset of artists from hoping for work to actually creating their own opportunities and avenues through reframing their work and see it’s potential in a bigger way.
  • Concepts of Wealth –  A lot of the artists I’ve interacted with are unaware or uneducated about how the wealth works and how they can protect it long term. This section is an attempt to put all the information and knowledge into simple and clear links that can give you a clear understanding of wealth creation and how Artists are at the very best position to do it! It is further divided into 2 sections – Comprehension and Implementation. Comprehension talks about the concepts and thoughts that go behind wealth. Implementation gives the exacts steps, techniques and methods to take action on your work.
  • Transitioning Your Work Online – This section is specifically to help artists with moving their work online or atleast involve the online platforms as a basis to complement their existing offline work. It has both practical guides to build an audience on different platforms as well as real case studies, and examples of how artists practicing different art forms are taking it online and engaging people.

Earlier last week, I did a survey to check up on artists and creatives to see how they are affected by the pandemic and the results I got were shocking! To summarise the survey, I found 78% respondents believed that their professional life has been influenced by the pandemic. And 54% saw a sharp loss in monthly income due to the lockdown in India! More than that over 94% of the work done by artists was a mix of Offline and Online. Which makes it difficult for them to transition purely to an Online medium. Plus 35% respondents had a completely Offline practice or work, which makes them the most susceptible to the pandemics’ worst case scenario. And finally, more than 75% people haven’t thought out a future plan, and even in that 13.5% people had no clue where to start on how to tackle the losses or generate income online.

This made me worry about the future of these artists. And so I set out to create this Definitive Business Survival Guide to help them face the upcoming recession and the bleak possibility of offline events or workshops in the near future.


It has taken over 4 full days of work to present all of my depth of the subject and bring it down to this concise form. And I believe it to be one of my finest work as a Business Coach. The whole thing is organized like an extensive course that will get you up and started within a few days and take your work online easily plus earn from it. I know if some real smart work, this one page can get you the results that may probably worry most artists right now.

So I hope you find this page as a true “Guide” and it helps you on your journey during these extreme times. And if you feel like there can be some additions to it, please feel free to share them with me on hi@atraypresents.com, and I will surely love to incorporate it, if it fits.

Stay safe, and keep learning.

Love,
Atray
Business Coach for Artists and Art Businesses

1. Be Helpful.

Paul Graham on How to Write Usefully.

Writing is considered to be futile, even in this age of overloaded content. But rather that also becomes the opportunity for good writers. In this article Paul shares how writing can be made useful for others and how to think of it as a product in itself. Although the article is on writing, it can easily be extended to any other artform as well – music, painting, design, sketching – anything.

Solve Problems of Others with Your Art – Atray Agrawal

I’ve been a proponent of using art to help others ever since I started to work in the industry. The link is actually a workshop that I host where I help artists understand how to help others with their art form, whatever it might be. And also how they can start creating opportunities for their art immediately. It’s a very powerful workshop that gets immediate results if you execute on it and will make you rethink about your art form completely.

Are Artists Entrepreneurs?

As the name suggests, It answers this burning question that will help you through these times. Entrepreneurship is beautiful as it is the only thing in the work that unlocks value and creates growth for Humanity. And unlike the usual thought, I think of entrepreneurship as a mindset applicable to any and every kind of work, not just business. So this piece will really show you how Artists can be amazing Entrepreneurs!

Realise Where you Can Pitch in Your Creativity – will.i.am

This is a podcast that showcases will.i.am’s journey through creating a massive brand with his music and creating an abundance of opportunity all the way through. The podcast will give you an insight as to how you can seek real world opportunities that are all around you and then use your Art to fill those voids. I specially like the NASA incident mentioned there.

To survive a down market, be an investment, not an expense – Amy Hoy

I recently discovered her, and fell in love. This post brings the whole concept of being useful and helpful home. It’s a simple thing – Art right now is an Expense. Can you shift from being an expense to being an Investment?

2. Concepts of Wealth.

Most artists and creatives struggle with understanding how Money and Wealth creation works. This sections is to make you clear on those plus give you tangible, practical things that you can do to actually reboot your practice.

Comprehension

Naval Ravikant is greatly known in the Silicon Valley and startup circuits. Here in the two links he talks about Leverage – what it is, why it’s important and how to get it for your work or your business. Although the language may seem to be for startups or talking about “Products” but it is actually important for people from any background. For Example, a product for a painter is the painting itself. And the service is to do a customized painting. This is very powerful.

Business Models of Earning Online in India

Business Models simply mean how do you make money. Since a lot of the work has or will be moved online, this post will give you clarity over what model of earning money can be best used in your case. Technically you can also use multiple of the methods mentioned, but I strongly advise on taking up just one and master it first, and then venture on to other models.

Build Minimum Lovable Products/Services

This is some high level startup stuff. But the idea is how to incorporate a thinking of Consumer first in your work and really give them something that they need rather than something that they want. It’s a great read though if you are serious about your work/audience online.

Earn Attention for Your Work Online

As the title suggests, the article guides you through exact points that can be done to EARN attention online. It’s simple and sweet, but profound if understood properly. Has an example of Taylor Swift which I found beautiful (Never thought I’d like Taylor Swift before this). Also it brings the previous point of Minimum Lovable Products to life.

Implementation

Emergency Money Workshop – Ash Ambridge

One of the best online workshops you’ll do! And it’s beautifully relevant today. She gives you exact ways, exact scripts and ideas that you can use if you have clients that canceled, or projects that got shelved. And as the name suggests, it talks about creating cash in these uncertain times so that you don’t lose out your best customers.

Build a Weird Internet Career

As you seek to launch a new Internet Career (or an extension of your existing career), be it in Arts or any other field, they almost certainly happen to fall under the “Weird” category. So this is a Step-by-Step guide to get you started and fastrack your growth online. It’s simple, effective and 100% practical.

Create a Great ‘About You’ Page

Now more than ever people need to know who YOU are! So this is a simple checklist that you can follow to put your best foot forward when you’re making a “About You” page.

To learn a new skill, learn it like a language

As your work moves online, there will be a steep learning curve. Be it to understand how to build a website, or to create an audience. I found this simple way of thinking about new things super helpful whenever I’m trying to learn something new. It’s a pretty cool learning hack really.

3. Transitioning Your Work Online.

For the Last section, I wanted to help you transition your work online and give tangible resources and experts that I’ve found, explored, learned and tested out over the past 5 years. You can probably find 100s of lists like this for each category if you go and search each of the headings on google. And that’s exactly I’m sharing my years of research in a concise manner so that you can save the time that I’ve already spent.

Build an Audience

An audience online is one of the most crucial things that you can ever work on. Although I prefer the word Community over audience, but the idea is the same – they are the people who want you to succeed and go forward! They are the people who will see everything that you share. They are the people who will push you to do your best work. They are the people who will miss you when you’re gone.

Guides to Specific Platforms – Blog, Email, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest

You can build your audience or your tribe or your community at several of the Platforms out there. Here I’m sharing 5 of the most popular and important channels in today’s times. Each of the links gives you indepth insight as to really grow your audience on that specific channel.

Content Creation Technique – Create 64 pieces of content in a Day

This link shows you the technique of one the master content creator alive today – GaryVee. I don’t like him much, but I have to admire his work and it’s effectiveness. This slideshow will be lifechanging for you and open your eyes to the possibilities of creating content quickly, efficiently and beautifully.

My Recommendation of Tools

Mailchimp – Sorts out all your Email problems. Has a really cool free plan.

Buffer – Sorts out posting on multiple channels at once.

Canva – Sorts out your graphic design troubles. Has great number of templates to directly use as well.

Possibilities in the New Reality

For Artforms like – Music, Dance, Comedy, Theatre, Events

Well, I know sudden changes can be very daunting, and so I realize that you may not be getting ideas as to how you can bring your artform online. But I assure you there is definitely a way, You just need to think about it. Here I’ve compiled examples, case studies and realtime programs of different art forms (As much as I could find) that are adapting to the new reality. My hope is that you will both get motivated to take your work online, as well as innovate to bring the best out of these new ‘Virtual’ interactions by seeing how other artforms are adapting.

Some of the independent artists doing a great work as well –
Shikhar Kamat – Mentalist | Paid Commissioned Sessions directed towards charity

Ali Sethi – Brand Integration with Cornetto after building a live audience on his page.

My Recommendation of Tools & Platforms

Education –
Udemy – The biggest platform for online courses.

Skillshare – A great platform for Art workshops and courses.

Zoom – For Live Workshops and Courses.

Teachable – For hosting workshops and on demand Online Courses.

Portfolio/Freelance Work –
Behance – Best place to showcase your Portfolio.

Upwork – Freelancing portal that actually works!

Facebook Groups – Best way to actually find new freelance customers.

Website –
Squarespace – Beautiful templates.

Wix – Great addons and plugins.

WordPress (Free) – Self service wbsite.

Payments
Instamojo – For a simple, no hassle payment gateway

Patreon – For memberships.

Paypal – For International Payments.

Misc Resources

Artistik License – By Manojna Yeluri, one of India’s finest Creative counsel for creative professionals.

Contract for Creators – clean, functional & free contract templates for creatives in India by some super artists!

C4C Directory – A new initiative by Contract for Creators to bring the community together and collaborate with one another.

Homegrown Academy – A great initiative by Homegrown and executed beautifully on their Instagram.

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