Seven Things to Do Right Now If You Want to Be Taken Seriously as a Creator

This week I’ve compiled a list of seven things a creator must do to be taken seriously in their pursuits. By no means is this ALL a creative must do, but it will surely pave the way for future successes in their endeavors.

Eventually, I’ll be diving deeper into these different areas, but for now, here’s a brief overview.


Start Creating

I know this person, that, whenever we talk, refers to themselves as an artist. But the truth is, they’ve been working a corporate job for the last 15+ years and haven’t picked up a pencil since college. While they might identify as an artist, the truth is to be an artist, you have to create.

Think about the last time you gave yourself permission to create something. Has it been a little too long?

One of my favorite quotes is by Pablo Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

I know it’s easier said than done, but start making things. Stop caring about the outcome and worry about the process. If you have doubts about your abilities, the process of creating will eventually knock off some of the dust, you’ll find your voice and a more comfortable place of inspiration and motivation.

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Learn

Maybe you’ve been painting for decades, writing since you could lift a pen and scribble a thought, or have mastered your instrument and are considered a professional in your niche. It’s easy to feel like you know a lot about your field. But learning new techniques, materials, and skills can help push your existing knowledge in bold, exciting new ways.

Even if it’s not within your creative field, learning new skills, for example, public speaking, is great for personal growth. Being a more confident public speaker is essential for any job that requires the ability to influence, persuade, and motivate people. Which, if you have any interest in selling your work, is invaluable. And these learning experiences will also lead to new stories, new inspiration, and new ideas that can be incorporated into your work.

If you can’t afford workshops or classes, make it a point to devote some time each week to seek more understanding or skill through free sources like your library, online platforms, or local meetups.


Create a Cohesive Website and Social Media Presence

I’m sure you could make a pretty convincing argument against this about some artists who lack a social media presence but are wildly successful in their pursuits.

However, we live in a digital world. It’s important to keep up with the times to stay relevant in a constantly changing environment.

I think it’s important to have a cohesive presence on social media and a personal website. Making yourself and your product find-able on a global scale opens you up to millions of new opportunities.

I’ll get deeper into social media/website stuff in subsequent posts but just know this... try, to the best of your ability, to have your screen names and website domain match as closely as possible. And ask yourself, does it accurately reflect what you do and who you are?

Make it undeniable that the same artist is running all accounts.

Nothing is more frustrating than seeing someone on Instagram with “graphicdesignerjosie” and a Facebook with “josiepaintswatercolors” and their personal website can be found at “josiesmithson.com”

P.S. These are just hypothetical examples, I don’t know Josie Smithson, she probably *doesn’t* own all of those accounts. Don’t at her, please.


Network

I feel like most of the creatives I talk to tend to be more introverted. I think that’s a necessary trait to be able to spend long hours engaged in the creative process.

But equally important is the ability to meet and talk with new people. Being able to branch out and make contacts working in both your industry and other industries will benefit you in the long run and present opportunities you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Not sure where to start? Start by looking for people in your field who are achieving success and see where they spend time networking. Research groups and organizations that the people you’d like to work with frequent. And find community members that are in the know and well connected (chamber members, real estate agents, city council, etc… they seem to have tabs on everyone and everything going on where you work or live) and get involved.


Work On Your Confidence

Similarly, most of the creative types I’ve met are often self-critical, or worse, self-deprecating. Especially since you’re going out to start going out to connect and network, working on your confidence is necessary.

Luckily, as you start to learn more and gain knowledge and skills, naturally your confidence will be boosted as you’ll be able to position yourself as an expert in your industry. Similarly, as you spend more time talking to people and practicing your networking, you’ll feel more confident with your social skills. It’s all about repetition and practice.

But until you get there, what do I recommend? Fake it till you make it. Dress nice, put some effort into your appearance, and act positive (even if you’re a natural cynic). Be genuine and generous. Things will start to fall into place and you’ll have more confidence than when you started.


Learn Some More

I’m not just talking about courses and workshops. Often times our biggest challenge to achieving anything is the thing sitting between our two ears.

Some people believe that their intelligence and abilities are fixed traits, that they are born with a certain amount and that’s it. Other people understand that anything can be developed through persistence and effort.

Usually, people aren’t completely on one side of the spectrum or the other. You might believe that, “Yes, I can continue to get better when it comes to [X], but I’ll never be able to get better when it comes to [Y].” Try to approach [Y] with the same growth mindset you do [X] and realize shifts, no matter how small, are possible.

Take your mistakes and learn from them. Be adaptable. And don’t let your mind sabotage your health and happiness down the line.


Value Your Time

Both figuratively and literally.

There are 162 hours in a week. Even devoting 15 minutes a day to your creative endeavors will get you closer to your goals.

Consider how you are currently spending your downtime?

More often than not there are people who are messaging me on Instagram telling me that they don’t have the time to create. The action of telling me you don’t have time... takes time.

What would your day look like if you disconnected from your phone/social media? Netflix? YouTube? Be honest with yourself... how much time do you spend on those services weekly? How much time could you potentially free up for your passion?

Also, value your time and what you are creating.

I know that some of you are learning new skills and don’t necessarily feel comfortable selling your work. But, please, put a price tag on your skill and time.

You can always raise the price, or lower the price. Never be so scared to price it incorrectly that you never put it up for sale.



So that’s it, those are my seven things you should be doing right now if you want to be taken seriously as a creator.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What would you add to this list if it was yours?

A Practical Look at Your Art as a Business

Four years ago I had a full-time job working as an art teacher as a middle school in Northeast Ohio.

It was both rewarding and exhausting.

And although it was a job in the arts, I did very little of my own personal artwork. I just didn’t have the time or energy to give to my passion.

I had to make huge shifts to find harmony between work, life, and my need to create. When I made those changes I started seeing a financial interest in what I was making. It was both overwhelming and flattering to know that there were people wanting to buy what I was making.

During this time of both full-time work and creative pursuits, I made my artwork my “side hustle”. I participated in a lot of group gallery shows, took on commissions, and even created and presented a solo show.

Then, in August of 2015, my husband’s company moved us from Akron, Ohio to Dallas, Texas. I didn’t have much of a choice, I had to quit my job and was left up to my own devices when it came to my income.

First though, I’m going to get a little scientific, a little psychological, for a minute.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests there are basic needs that need to be met by humans before they can attend to needs that appear higher up on the pyramid.

Excuse my really quick sketch, but you can see here all the things that need to be fulfilled before you get to the top. Not only basics like shelter, health, and food/water… but even things like feeling loved, accepted and having confidence. So if you’re struggling with ANY of those things, you’re probably also struggling with your creativity, am I right?

Excuse my really quick sketch, but you can see here all the things that need to be fulfilled before you get to the top. Not only basics like shelter, health, and food/water… but even things like feeling loved, accepted and having confidence. So if you’re struggling with ANY of those things, you’re probably also struggling with your creativity, am I right?

Self-actualization, enlightenment, achieving one's potential, and creative endeavors are the top of this chart.

Meaning, there are a lot of other things that have to be taken care of first.

You can’t self-actualize when you’re worried about paying your rent.

A lot of people ask me, “How do I make my hobby my full-time gig?”

The truth is, you don’t… that is until you figure out how to make full-time money on a part-time schedule.

I truly recommend staying in your job until you’re making as much money on your creative pursuits as you need to pay things like a mortgage, grocery bills, and keeping things running like your utilities.

...because you can’t be creative when you’re like, “How do I pay the bills?”

Thinking about your life’s purpose, when you can’t safely rest or eat, is a luxury. And it’s a process to get there. Every step, every need, is vital to your growth and understanding the journey.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t quit your day job without thinking about the consequences first.

If you want to be a full-time artist, YouTuber or Twitch streamer, writer, or creative what-have-you. Start by calling it your “side hustle”, put in the work, put in hours, build and grow until you’ve no doubt got yourself covered.

I’m going to be brutally honest for a second… if no one is buying your art right now, what makes you think that they will when you call yourself a full-time artist?

But here’s the good news, over the last decade I’ve learned a lot about art-making and the business of art, I can help you make your side hustle successful.

Don’t worry, I know you don’t know what to do right now, but that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to help you overcome the hurdles as they pop up along the way.

There are two types of people in this world: those who find it easier to complain about their situation and do nothing to remedy it and those who take full responsibility and build their futures.

I already know that you’re the latter because you’re here. Continue to follow along with my newsletter. You are one step closer to creative success.

I’m attaching a Monthly Income Planner document. Take a few minutes today to fill it out. Get some bearings as to what you need to net monthly in order to make your part-time art business a full-time reality.

Retiring Designs of 2019

I have never been one to make New Year's resolutions or goal setting. But after scrambling around for the latter part of 2017 and most of 2018, I realize the importance of organization and goal setting.

In 2019 I want things to be relatively stress-free, at least with respects to the things I have control over. That is why I will be discontinuing quite a few of my designs in order to make room for new pieces in 2019, both to clear out some physical space for new inventory and mentally “let go” of some older designs to embrace new art pieces. Managing so many designs online and in person surprisingly feels like a huge amount of “weight” — so I’m excited for a little bit of a purge and a fresh start.

Here is the list of what I’m referring to as the “Retiring Class of 2019.”
These are the designs that, once sold out (all prints and merchandise), will not be replenished, and custom print orders cannot be made:

sugarskullwonderwoman

All of the Dia de los Muertos designs

Sugar Skull Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - Only 8 prints left

Sugar Skull Carol (The Walking Dead) - Only 8 prints left

Sugar Skull Dana (X-Files) - Only 5 prints left

Sugar Skull Leia (Star Wars) - Only 5 prints left

Sugar Skull (Wonder Woman) - Only 6 prints left

Sugar Skull Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) - Only 5 prints left

Leeloo Dallas (The Fifth Element) - Only 7 prints left

Zombie Bill (Zombieland) - Only 4 prints left

Wicket (Star Wars) - Only 5 prints left

All of the Star Wars playing card designs

Chewbacca Jack - Only 1 print left

Darth Maul Jack - Only 3 prints left

Boba Fett Jack - Only 3 prints left

Darth Vader King - Only 3 prints left

Lando Jack - Only 3 prints left

Ace of Spades (Death Star) - Only 5 prints left

Ace of Diamonds (AT-AT) - Only 6 prints left

Ace of Hearts (Bantha) - Only 7 prints left

Ace of Clubs (Millennium Falcon) - Only 5 prints left

Dr. Zaius (Planet of the Apes) - Only 6 prints left

Daenerys Targaryen sketch (Game of Thrones) - Only 2 prints left

Bounty Hunter (Star Wars) - Only 4 prints left

Scoundrel (Star Wars) - Only 8 prints left

Doc Brown (Back to the Future) - Only 3 prints left

Margot (The Royal Tenenbaums) - Only 3 prints left


That’s it! Over 20 designs you will not be able to purchase again after they have sold out. If you’re interested in grabbing these designs before they’re gone for good, head over to the shop.

I’ve gone ahead and pulled them all aside here.

I’ll honor the buy three get one free on these designs, as long as stock allows. Just put three you’d like in your shopping cart and leave the fourth print as a note in the “Notes to Seller”.

Thanks, everyone! Here’s to a lighter and more organized New Year!

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5 Quick Tips for Starting An Online Art Business

1.       Do your research

  • Learn about the different platforms for selling (usage rights, agreements, processing fees, etc.) and become familiar with the vocabulary of online sales.

  • If you’re running your own shop (and not using a drop-shipping platform) become really familiar with shipping and handling.

2.       Target your current audience

  • Don’t put the cart before the horse! If you’re on social media you already have an audience. Even if it’s just 9 of your closest friends and family, they’re here now because the like what you do and support you—and that’s awesome!

  • Start with what you’ve got and then build out. Growing your target audience takes time and patience!

3.       Ask family and friends to help

  • I was giving my art to friends and family and selling them my merchandise at cost, all in exchange for reviews in my shop and encouraging them to post and share on social media. I never had them to lie about my product or fake a post, but I did nudge them incessantly to post their honest feelings about it.

  • Social proof is important to online sales. The idea that other people have purchased from you with satisfaction is huge in gaining momentum online. No one wants to buy from a shop that has zero sales and/or no reviews.

4.       Become familiar with SEO (or how to reach people on the platforms you’re using)

  • If you’re using a shop like Etsy, you MUST do your research on SEO. You could have the most beautiful products with an incredible shop, but no one will be able to find you if your SEO is bad!

  • Similarly, if you’re using Instagram to promote your shop, make sure you’ve done your research on how to reach new eyes. Have you tagged your posts with 30 well planned hashtags?

5.       Provide incredible customer service

  • I don’t believe in the old adage “the customer is always right” and refuse to be walked all over as a person or as a business. HOWEVER, it’s really important to me to provide impeccable customer service even before the customer gets to my shop

  • I try to put all of the information and potential answers to questions within the listings to eliminate any confusion.

  • I try to have strong and clearly worded policies and procedures in place.

  • I try to respond to e-mails in a timely matter with well-written and thought out replies.

  • If something goes wrong with an order, I do my best to be transparent with the buyer but also respectful – communication is so important!

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How To Support A Streamer On Twitch For Free Through Amazon Prime

Did you know that if you have Amazon Prime you also have Twitch Prime? And if you have Twitch Prime you can help financially support your favorite streamer at no additional cost? It only takes a few minutes to help make a big impact in a broadcaster's stream!

I'm both an Amazon Affiliate and Twitch Partner so I monetize my links and my channel.

Here's how to do it:

1. Create A Twitch Account
If you don’t already have one, set up a Twitch account at www.twitch.tv

2. Click "Sign Up" 
Click “Sign Up” and register with your e-mail address or connect through Facebook

3. Log In To Amazon
Open a new tab and log in to Amazon and click “Connect your Twitch Account” at http://amazon.com/trytwitchprime?tag=winterthirt07-20

4. Find The Streamer's Page On Twitch
Head back to Twitch, specifically the account you want to support
For example, my channel is: http://www.twitch.tv/winterTHIRTEEN

5. Subscribe
Click the “Subscribe” button at the top of the channel and choose the "Subscribe Free" option

6. All Done!
That's it! You’re all done! This subscription is good for one month! After that you will have to go back to the channel and repeat Steps 4 and 5.

Thanks for your time and support!

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