By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
At some point in time in your art career, charities or organizations may ask you to kindly donate your artwork to help them reach their fundraising goals or other worthy causes. When you’re approached by people like this, this is a great opportunity for you to gain exposure as an artist as well as help out a worldly cause at the same time. It feels good to give and it feels good to be valued as an artist, so I always recommend giving if you’re able, but you also don’t want to give away the farm if you’re barely making ends meet.
In the 13+ years of being a self-employed artist, I’ve probably been asked well over 100 times to donate art in some way, shape, or form whether it being donating original paintings, donating framed prints, doing custom murals, commission paintings, or nowadays even paint parties as raffle items. I’ve donated thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of artwork for raffle items as well as over $28,000 to different charities, organizations, and families with our paint party fundraisers. It’s hard to say yes to everyone, and it’s even harder to say no, but below I have a few tips and tricks to help you make your own decisions when asked to make art donations.
1. Donate Within Your Means
When asked to donate artwork to a charity or organization, first you need to ask yourself if you’re honestly in the position to donate. Don’t feel obligated to donate, you don’t want to donate from a place of guilt, you want to donate from a place of love. If you’re financially struggling and barely making ends meet, now is not the time to donate. Just kindly let the charity or organization know that now is not the right time and they should reach out to you later down the road. Believe me, I’ve been there, and there’s nothing wrong with being honest. If the well is dried up, there’s nothing you can do.
If you’re doing ok financially but you can’t donate as much as they are asking, just kindly let the charity or organization know that you can’t donate something of the value that they are requesting, but that you’ll kindly donate within your means. So, if they are asking for you to donate a painting, but you can’t donate something that expensive, let them know that you’ll donate a framed print, or if that is still too expensive for you, donate a matted print without the frame.
Something I do often is if I have a painting that hasn’t sold for a while, I might donate an older piece like that. The painting is still new in the eyes of the recipient and I don’t have to do any immediate painting for the fundraiser item, the time and energy to create the painting has already been done a while ago. This is great because you’re still reaping the rewards in many ways. You’re gaining exposure to a new audience, you’re giving away an older piece of artwork that will free up some space in your studio, your giving to charity and helping them raise money, and who knows what other opportunities the donation could lead to.
2. Something Is Better Than Nothing
I know this concept is hard to adopt since it’s hard enough to make a living as an artist as it is and it feels like these charities or organizations are squeezing blood out of a rock when it comes to your lively hood, but I promise you, if you can donate even a little, this will lead toward more opportunities down the road.
When you donate to charities and organizations they absolutely LOVE you and they typically ask for your business cards to display at their fundraising event, mention you in the newsletters, or even list you on their website or broadcast you on social media. They’re more than willing to give you the exposure you deserve, and they don’t take your services for granted. I think if you’re just starting out as an artist, this is a great way to begin building an audience and earn a great reputation for yourself. From the many years that I’ve donated to charities and organizations, it usually always leads toward more opportunities like being hired for commission paintings, possible fine art sales, murals, being hired for paint parties, or even an easy subscribe on the mailing list.
3. Give Art In Place of Traditional Gifts
Since we’re on the topic of giving, another thing that I like to do is give my artwork away to friends and family for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and other sentimental occasions. I think this is a smart way to give within your means and also give a unique gift giving idea that will be more meaningful to the recipient.
Think about all the times that you’ve been to weddings and typically gave $50 or $75 to cover your plate of food at the wedding. As artists, sometimes scraping together a monetary gift for a big occasion like a wedding is hard to come by. Why not give a painting or framed print for a fraction of the price instead? I know many of you may think this is the cheap way out, but whenever I walk into a reception hall at a wedding carrying in a large wrapped present, I look much more authentic than everyone else that carries in an envelope. It’s a great feeling and I’m not breaking the bank in the process.
To Wrap Up
What are some of the ways that you give to charities and organizations as an artist? Have you had instances where it was hard to say no? I’d love to hear your thoughts! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the Facebook and Twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
Deciding to pursue the arts as a career path is a risk in itself, so as an artist you must get comfortable with taking risks in your business early on. It’s a risk to create something and put it out there for the world to see for fear of criticism from the general public. It’s a risk to purchase supplies and invest in startup costs when you have no idea if you’ll see a return on your investment or not. It’s a risk to book events when you have no idea if people will come and it’s a risk to put a value on something you created when others might laugh at the price tag.
Risk comes with the territory of being an artist and a creative entrepreneur, and the sooner that we get more comfortable with taking risks, the faster we’ll be able to advance in our careers. As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. If you want different results in your business, you’ll have to take some risks. Here are some reasons why risk taking is important for you to adopt in your art journey.
1. You Know What Works and What Doesn’t
By taking risks, you move into the realm of knowing, rather than just dreaming. You don’t have to wonder if something works or not for your business, you now know, and that’s super powerful. If you just sit back and keep repeating the same behavior over and over again without challenging yourself in some way, chances are you’ll keep seeing the same results (like our friend Albert said). If you try something and fail, don’t perceive that as a failure, look at it as part of the learning process and new knowledge that you now have.
Where a lot of people fail is that they are afraid to take risks because of failure. If they looked at failure as time well spent in order to help them steer their company in the right direction, the game would be changed forever. After taking many risks, you’ll eventually start seeing some small wins, and then you’ll know what type of behaviors you need to repeat in order to see the positive results you’re after.
2. You Develop New Skills
As you take more risks in your creative business, you begin developing new skills which is very rewarding. Think about when you first started your business. You probably didn’t have a business card, a company website, or a social media account, but because you were determined and ready to take some risk, you invested your time and money into designing and ordering business cards on Vistaprint, creating an eye-catching website on Weebly, and starting to build your fanbase on Facebook or Instagram. Now, you have the experience of building your foundation and you could repeat the process again if needed, and probably a lot more efficiently.
Not only that, but because of these new skills, they could be lucrative for you as well. Now that you know how to design business cards, setup a website, and create some social media accounts, these new skills could be offered to customers as a way to make some side revenue while you build up your own brand in the process. The newer skills you learn, the more potential revenue streams you could have. This doesn’t need to be your focus, but it’s great to have options.
3. Developing a Growth Mindset
When you continually take risks in your creative business, this helps you foster a growth mindset which is a huge advantage to have in business. If you keep challenging yourself and keep reaching for bigger goals, you begin conditioning your mind to get use to the uncomfortableness that failure brings. As you get more comfortable with failure, the more mental strength you’ll have to propel your business forward.
It’s this growth mindset which will help ensure longevity in your business. When you don’t have a growth mindset, you remain still and complacent and you don’t really move the needle forward in your business. When this happens, you don’t tend to take more risks that could lead to more revenue generating ideas or ramp up your momentum in anyway. But, if you adopt a growth mindset, you’ll be more apt to maintain the momentum that you currently have in your business along with the desire to take new risks that could help pull your company forward even more. Basically, you want to keep growing and expanding as the leader in your company. People will look up to you and see you as an expert in your field, which is what you want.
To Wrap Up
What are some of the ways that you take risks in your creative business? Are there other ways you’ve benefited from taking risks in your business than the reasons above? I’d love to hear your ideas! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the Facebook and Twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
Over the past few weeks I’ve been really struggling with the fact that I want to do too many creative projects all at once and I’m realizing that it’s just not humanly possible. You only have so much time during the day and although somedays you’ll be able to juggle many balls in the air, over the long term it’s just not sustainable.
Believe me, this was a big bummer when I realized this. I used to always pride myself on being unshakable and being able to manage a variety of creative projects at once. I think it’s an admirable mission, but in reality, you’re spreading yourself too thin and you won’t be able to produce your best work. Below are some thoughts to help guide you during your own multi-passionate dilemma.
1. Realize You Can Do It All…But Over Time
I still firmly believe you can do it all, things just take time to build. Instead of doing everything all at once, develop the mindset to move from project to project. If you’re trying to run a business, write a book, cut a music album, act in a play, and prepare for an art exhibit in the same month, chances are the wheels are going to fall off and your going to crash and burn with at least a few of those projects.
Instead of taking on too much at once, try to focus on one or two major projects and maybe slowly do a third project on the side that will accumulate over time. So, for the above example, maybe you can focus on running your business full time and prepare for the art exhibit, but slowly write a couple pages of your fiction book every night, while completely putting off the music album and acting in the play for when you have less on your plate. After a couple of months, you might have a full-length book on your hands, and you would have accomplished this with ease and less stress on your shoulders than if you had tried to bite off more than you could chew.
2. How Do You Choose?
Choosing which creative project(s) to focus on can be difficult, especially if you find everything equally fulfilling (I have this issue as well). What’s really happening is FOMO, or the fear of missing out. You’re anxious to do everything at once because you don’t want to miss out on other creative projects passing you by. But, what you have to realize is that you’re in control and you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own artistic fulfillment. In the grand scheme of things, do you think it will really matter if you put the music album on hold for 6 months while you focus on writing an epic fiction novel? Or vice a versa? If you’re honest with your followers and supporters, they will wait for your next creative project and will most likely be understanding since they know you’re only one person and can only create so much content at once.
If you’re on the fence with what creative project to choose because you find all art equally fulfilling, then there are a couple of ways to narrow down what move to make. First, if you do some deep soul searching, I’m sure there’s one creative project that’s calling to you more than the others in this moment in time. Even if it’s 1% more, your heart will never lead you astray. Second, maybe choose the creative path that is going to help reward you more financially (if that is a priority on your list). Thirdly, maybe choose the creative path that will challenge you this most, so you will grow and transform from the work (also if that is a priority on your list). And lastly, you can do the good ole “Pros & Cons List” and see which creative passion has the most positive things listed in this moment in time.
3. When Do You Switch?
It’s time to switch to a new creative project when your current project is finished or if your current project isn’t fulfilling you anymore. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a creative project that doesn’t fulfill you like it used to do. There is nothing wrong with this by the way. You just need to step back and put this creative passion back on the shelf until your re-energized to pursue it again.
Another time to switch is maybe when there’s a demand for you to switch from your followers and supporters. If you’re not producing the content that they desire, you don’t want to lose them as avid supporters and it might be time for you to put the fiction novel down, so you can produce a new music album. Or, you can always let your followers know what your plans are and tell them that in 2 months after you’ve written your novel that you’ll begin production on a new CD so stay tuned! As long as your communicative with your followers, they well understand your desire to switch from project to project and will be more likely to continue to support you in whatever creative endeavors you pursue.
To Wrap Up
The multi-passionate dilemma is something us artists deal with a lot. When you’re a diversified artist, it’s easy to get sidetracked with many projects at once, but if you understand that you should be moving project to project, should narrow your focus to the one art form that’s calling to you most, and only switch when you feel unfulfilled or when your followers want you to, the dilemma tends to unravel itself smoothly and with less stress. What are some other tips and tricks you use to overcome the multi-passionate dilemma? I’d love to hear your ideas! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the Facebook and Twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
We are beyond thrilled to announce the launch of our newest branch of JJArtworks called JJArtworks™ Publishing!
JJArtworks™ Publishing is starting things off by offering new non fiction books grounded in the genre of self development. Although our content is geared towards creative entrepreneurs, self employed artists, and small business owners looking to expand their growing empires, we really feel the content packed in our books will add value to anyone that is willing to take the time to read or listen. All of our books will be offered in e-book, paperback, and audiobook versions and can be purchased by visiting Amazon.com.
J.J. plans on hiring a multitude of authors in the near future and is hoping to release books beyond self development by expanding into fiction novels, children's books, coloring books, and more! This expansion will hopefully happen within the next couple of years. In the meantime, please feel free to browse our current catalog and sign up for the JJArtworks Newsletter on the footer of our website to be kept in the loop with new book releases, upcoming events, and other offerings. 😀📚🎨👍
Here is a sneak peak below of our first self development book called "The Mindful Artist" written by J.J. Long. The introduction talks about J.J.'s personal experiences with mindfulness and how mindfulness increases productivity, reduces anxiety, and creates overall abundance for creative entrepreneurs in both your personal lives and careers as well. If the Introduction encourages you to read more, click on the links below to visit Amazon and pick up a copy of the ebook, paperback, or audiobook versions!
(J.J. getting ready to narrate the audiobook of "The Mindful Artist" at JJArtworks Studios)
Introduction from "The Mindful Artist"
"For the first 10 years that I was a self-employed artist I was not a mindful artist. I didn’t know what mindfulness was and I just roamed the world on autopilot every day like many of us do. I had great aspirations for my life and big dreams for my art career, but I was so caught up in the minutiae of every day life that I never took the time to listen to myself and reflect inward. As a result of not giving myself enough time to focus on myself, I was always stressed, financially unstable, emotionally and physically drained, and was just never in a confident state of mind. I never had enough money in the bank, never had time for a social life, and was just never satisfied. My eyes were always set on the destination rather than the journey and I never took the time to relish in the amazing progress that was always unfolding underneath my feet.
I’m a fairly grateful person and have very strong morals and values that my parents instilled in me at a very young age, but if I’m truly honest with myself, those first 10 years of being a self-employed artist, I never took enough time to really honor the blessings that came my way. I never gave myself permission to really celebrate the present moment, because I wasn’t at my destination yet, and it was only when I would arrive at that destination that I would truly be happy, and everything would be worth the struggle and the sacrifice.
We’ve all been there, when you’re doing one activity but while you’re doing that one activity your mind is wandering off thinking of something completely different and we’re not fully present in the moment. It’s even worse when you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone and your mind wanders off thinking about work related projects, or that email you have to send, or the errands you have to run for the household. I know it’s embarrassing to admit, but this was how I functioned those first 10 years, with a glaze over my eyes, and my brain preoccupied on the future.
I knew I wanted more out of life, but I didn’t know how to get there. It wasn’t until about 2013 when I discovered mindfulness from a friend that my life began to change for the better. By this point in time I was 32 years old, and I barely had 2 pennies to rub together. My music career and fine art career had officially worn me out and I was looking for a lifestyle change. As I learned about mindfulness, I learned that being more focused in the present moment and slowing down has health benefits and can create prosperity in your life. I soon began applying many mindfulness techniques into my daily life such as meditation, writing in a gratitude journal, going for daily walks, listening to music, etc. As a result, what soon happened was that these mindfulness techniques then began to encourage other healthy behaviors in my life like daily exercise, drinking more water, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, eating healthier, etc. What I realized was that once I started listening to my mind, I also started listening to my body and before I knew it, I was really nourishing my health in a big way.
In this book, you’ll learn how mindfulness can also positively affect your work life as well. As creative entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get side tracked with all of the tasks and responsibilities we have, but as we learn how to focus and listen to our minds, our strategies and visions for our businesses can really take flight because we’re finally planning from a place of clarity and calmness rather than from a place of chaos and disharmony. Through mindfulness we can truly increase productivity in our careers because we’re finally making decisions based on our priorities, avoiding burn out, and maintaining our health which will give us more energy to get more work done in a more efficient and meaningful way. Are you ready to be more mindful? Let’s dive in!"
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
This past week I found myself in a mini melt down where I felt super overwhelmed with everything going on in my art business, from having way too many tasks on my list, to trying to reach too many unrealistic deadlines, and also having anxiety for not dedicating more time to other creative passions that are dear to my heart. In addition to these career stressors, in my personal life I was trying to maintain a new nutrition and exercise routine, and everything just seemed to be too much all at once. It’s impossible to do it all at the same time and I finally came to that realization this past week. It was a hard realization for me, and as a result I curled up into a ball on the couch, reached for the ice cream, and binge watched old 80’s movies because that’s how I normally cope with things (you can never watch enough Indiana Jones or Van Damme movies in my eyes).
To some respect, I think this is a great short-term solution, I do believe in unplugging, but unless you address the issue head on, you’ll keep shutting down and not maintain forward momentum towards your dreams. This was a tough tail spin for me to get out of this past week, but I’d like to share with you 4 tips that I used to overcome my overwhelm.
1. Take a Second To Breathe
You need to realize that you’re only human and that this is something that happens, and will most likely happen again at some point in the future. Everyone experiences moments like this and you aren’t being punished in any way. But it’s how we react to these moments that can be the game changer.
The first thing you need to do is acknowledge that you’re experiencing overwhelm and take a minute to unplug. My method was to reach for the ice cream and watch Jean Claude Van Damme kick butt in an action movie. Some other ideas could be to meditate, talk a walk, take a nap, listen to music, sing, watch a TV program, journal, buy your favorite latte at Starbucks, etc. You need to reward yourself for realizing that you’re experiencing overwhelm. You’re listening to your mind, which is a good thing, and you’re taking care of your mental health, which is huge.
The length of time to spend on unplugging varies. For me, it took a couple of days to unplug because I felt I had a lot on my plate, and not only that, but I haven’t taken a vacation in years. In the past, I might have dwelled in overwhelm for sometimes a few days or even a few weeks, but as this continues to happen in my life, I’m starting to get better at the length of time I dwell on things. For some people it might only be a few hours or a day at most to unplug and recharge, but do your best not to spend too much time on unplugging, because this isn’t how to fix the meat of the problem. The “unplugging” is only meant to be a quick buffer before you dive into the issue.
2. Address The Issue
After you’ve taken a bit of time to unplug, now we can address the issue with a clear mind. The first question you need to ask yourself is “Why did I become overwhelmed?”. Was it having unrealistic deadlines? Was it overloading your daily task schedule? Was it you lacking physical or mental energy to get through the day? Was it due to something that someone said that triggered a sense of overwhelm? Or maybe was it thinking of future dreams and projects that seem light years away? (this one always gets me!). It could be one thing or multiple things that triggered your overwhelm. Be honest with yourself, because the clearer you are with this step, the easier it will be to fix it the next time it happens. The thing to understand is that we are trying to identify the root of what caused this so that we can prevent this same scenario from happening in the future.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
3. Cut Out the Fluff
A lot of the times, overwhelm is from having too many things on your plate. And also, a lot of the times all of these things are taking up too much space in your brain. In a previous blog post, I talked about the importance of doing a “brain dump”. A brain dump is when you empty your brain of thoughts and mental chatter onto a transferable medium like a piece of paper, a computer, a dry erase board, or a voice recorder. This is just a way to visualize everything you have going on in your life in front of you so you can think with a clear mind and begin trimming the fat.
When I say cut out the fluff or trim the fat, I really mean for you to start removing the items off of your list that aren’t a priority or that you don’t have control over. If you’re worrying about whether or not a client is going to like a project that you are working on for them, and this is stressing you out and overwhelming you, unfortunately their response to your work is out of your control. You can only do the best you can do on the project and that is it. Ultimately you can’t control other people’s responses or feelings, so this isn’t something you should stress so much over. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to cross these feelings of not knowing off of your list.
Also, you might be overwhelmed by creative projects or ideas that you want to accomplish in the future and you’re experiencing anxiety because you’re not currently doing them right now (some people call this FOMO or the fear of missing out). The best way to deal with this is accepting the fact that you only have so much time in the day and you need to finish the current projects you are working on now in order to make the time available for you to work on those other passion projects in the future. It’s not that you’ll never reach those other creative projects, it’s just that you’re putting them on hold while your building other passions that are equally important.
And lastly, and probably the most common, is you literally just have too many tasks on your plate in any given day, like having to field emails, serve as customer service, do accounting and payroll, update the website, market your business, develop engaging content, post on social media, send out the newsletter, etc. A way to cut out the fluff on this is to delegate these tasks to other people in your company. If you’re only self employed and you don’t have other people in your company yet to help you, there are other ways of finding solutions to your overwhelm, like maybe hiring an intern to help you, having a family member or close friend doing a trade of business, or finding a software solution to help you out with your mundane tasks like accounting or email marketing.
4. Reprioritize and Keep Moving Forward
Once you’ve cut out the fluff on your list and you’ve removed certain tasks and habits that typically cloud your mind, the next step is to get laser focused on your top priorities and move towards your dreams full steam ahead. As things begin to pile up on your plate again (because they will), remind yourself if these things are in alignment with your big ambitious goals in life, and if they are fluff or not. If you can keep trimming the fat in real time, that’s ideal, but every so often you’ll probably get overwhelmed again and want to reach for the ice cream and the 80’s movies. That’s ok and is to be expected. But next time you’ll be more prepared to deal with overwhelm and will be able to tackle the beast head on. Just quickly unplug, assess, cut out the fluff, and re prioritize. Rinse and repeat as much as necessary and revile in the fact that now you are more organized and efficient than ever before.
To Wrap Up
What are some other tips and tricks you use to overcome overwhelm in your own life? I’d love to hear your ideas! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
What exactly is failure? According to good old Mr. Google, failure means lack of success or the omission of expected or required action. I don’t now about you, but after reading this definition, I actually don’t feel too horrible about failing lots of the time. In reality, it’s almost impossible to be successful and on point 100% of the time, and you can only take so much action towards your dreams every day.
Not only that, but success is truly in the eyes of the beholder. Some might think having a million dollars in the bank account means success while others might think success is just working from home every day. I think in general, failure stems from us putting too much pressure on ourselves to do everything right. Instead of looking at the 20 things we did right, we only look at the one thing we did wrong and we focus on that one thing so much that it drags us into a downward spiral. Here are 3 tips that I use to overcome failure on a daily basis.
1. Realize Failure is Inevitable
You might as well come to grips with it now, but failure is here to stay. If failure didn’t exist, we’d be great at everything and life would be boring. It’s the struggle that makes a compelling story. Once we understand that failure is inevitable, than we can stop feeling sorry for ourselves when it happens, and we can just roll with the punches knowing that it’s a part of life. Of course when failure happens, it’s not the most pleasant experience, but just by understanding that it comes and goes like the weather, we can do our best to brush it aside when it happens and have comfort knowing that it soon will pass.
A lot of the times as creative entrepreneurs we interpret things as failures, when in actuality these are things that are out of our control. All art is in the eye of the beholder. So if you’re at an art festival and someone harshly criticizes one of your paintings, instead of feeling like a failure, remember that art is subjective and this just comes with the territory of being an artist. If one person dislikes something about your creation, but a dozen other people praise you for the same work, then I wouldn’t stress too much about it.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
2. Failure is Actually a Good Thing
Success is a direct result of failure, so failure is actually a good thing! I’m not saying to start worshipping failure as your new deity, but just understand that nothing in life is worthwhile without skinning your knees a bit. What makes us an expert in our field is the fact that we’ve failed countless amounts of times but are still standing and have gained wisdom as a by-product. So the more we fail and endure, the more people will look to us as an authority in our industry.
When I hear people say that they’ve been self employed for 10 years or more, I typically say to myself, “Wow that’s such an accomplishment,” not because of all the successes they’ve had, but because of all the failures they’ve endured. To have longevity as an entrepreneur, you need to understand that obstacles will always pop up, but it’s how you tackle those obstacles that determine your success.
3. Learn The Lesson Then Move On
When failure happens, DON’T DWELL ON IT! Don’t get so trapped in past mistakes that you get paralyzed and stop taking action towards your future goals. If you start dwelling too much on past failures, then whatever momentum you had moving towards your dreams will likely be stifled. Learn the lesson then move on. Again realize that failure is just a part of life and this is how we grow and transform.
Maybe your failure is due to a product launch that didn’t do so well. Or maybe your failure was due to treating a customer poorly when you didn’t mean to. Or maybe your failure was not preparing well enough for a certain event. Maybe even all three of these failures happened within a week of each other and then you feel like a massive failure, instead of just a regular failure. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and getting dragged into the downward spiral, make note of all three things that happened and promise yourself to take action toward a better outcome next time. For these examples you could say to yourself:
“Ok, the next product launch we do we’ll put some more marketing behind it”
“The next time I help out a customer, I’ll be more humble and go above and beyond to help them out”
“That next workshop I teach, I’ll nail my introduction a lot better”
To Wrap Up
Failure is a part of our everyday lives, it’s inevitable, but it’s how we pick ourselves up from failure that determines our success. Failure is actually a good thing, and it will help us grow and gain wisdom. And lastly, when failure occurs, don’t dwell on it, learn the lesson and move on. What are some other tips and tricks you use to overcome failure in your own life. I’d love to hear your ideas! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
As artists we’ve all experienced writers block at some point or another. This is when we look at a blank white canvas for hours on end hoping the painting will paint itself. Or we stare blankly at our journals or computer screens hoping that gnomes will write our next chapter of our book for us. Or maybe you’re at the rehearsal studio and a catchy melody can never seem to muster it’s way through your fingers or vocal chords.
What do you do when creativity isn’t flowing through you? And how do you minimize the amount of time that you experience writer’s block? Today I’m going to give you 5 tips on how to tackle this issue head on. Let’s begin!
1. Do A Brain Dump
A brain dump is when you empty your brain of ideas and mental chatter onto a piece of paper, a computer, a dry erase board, a voice recorder, or any other type of transferable medium. A brain dump is great for a multitude of reasons. A lot of the times throughout the course of a day we actually do have a million great ideas, it’s just that in that moment we don’t remember to do a brain dump and get our ideas into a journal, and as a result those ideas are lost. And then when it comes time for us to sit down and be creative, we experience mental paralysis and our minds aren’t as active because we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves. It’s almost like our minds are experiencing stage fright to some respect.
A brain dump is also good not only to jot down your creative ideas throughout the day, but also to get out the other million non-art related things that are clouding your brain. You may have so many other thoughts running through your head like the grocery list, booking a doctor’s appointment, what to make for dinner, etc. that your brain doesn’t have the time to even think about yourself or your creative passions. So it’s a healthy idea to get ALL of the thoughts out of your head so you can organize yourself a bit and having clearer headspace to allow the creative juices to come to you.
2. Seek Out Inspiring Content
When you hit a mental block, another idea is to seek out inspiring content. Google is a great place to start. If you’re an acrylic painter and you feel like you’re subject matter is getting dull, you can easily do image searches on Google by typing in key words. For example if you want to start doing coastal themed subject matter for your paintings but you don’t know where to start, just type in “coastal paintings” into Google and the images that pop up will give you some great ideas. You can also Google your favorite artists and get inspired that way as well. Sometimes it just takes seeing an image, watching a video, or listening to a song to get inspired.
Another great resource is Youtube. When you visit Youtube, just type in a key word for something that you’re interested in and loads of videos will pop up related to your key words. With Youtube you can look up other great artists and samples of their work, as well as “how to” videos for things related to your art industry, music videos, motivational talks like TED talks, etc. Sometimes having a person talk to you in front of the camera is more powerful than just looking at a photo of something or listening to an audio recording. Test out images, videos, and audio recordings and see which format inspires you the most. Everyone is different.
3. Go to a Celebration of Art
If you’re in a deep rut and trying to find inspiring content from home on the inter-webs isn’t working for you, consider going out to a public event to get inspired. Sometimes being around other people at a public venue can be electrifying and the energy you feel can be just what the doctor ordered to get the creative juices flowing again. It’s also a great way to network with other like minded individuals which is an added perk (bring your business cards!).
What I mean by a celebration of art, is any public venue that showcases an art related activity. So types of venues that come to mind are art galleries, theaters, concert halls, ballrooms, studios, museums, etc. Paying admission to see a creative performance or body of work on exhibit can be extremely inspiring and most definitely get the creative juices flowing. Some other great ideas are to attend seminars, workshops, and other public speaking engagements from inspiring experts in your creative field.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
4. Start Small with your Creative Projects
Another way to get the creative juices flowing again is to start small with your creative projects and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do a masterpiece in one sitting. Again, when we put too much pressure on ourselves we tend to shut down and nothing creative flows through us. By starting small with creative projects, we’re working on making our art just a daily habit again. Ultimately we want to be immersed in our art and losing track of time because we’re feeling so creative, but if you’re experiencing writer’s block, go back to starting small to build the momentum up again.
So if you’re a visual artist, starting small might be doing one thumbnail sketch a day. If you’re a writer, starting off small might be writing just 200 words in a day. If you’re a musician, starting off small might be practicing a few chords or quickly humming a melody you thought of into the voice memo app on your smart phone. Over time, these small bits of progress will add up to a completed masterpiece. It’s when you don’t take even the smallest bits of action that your dreams don’t come to pass.
5. Schedule “Creative Time” in Your Day
How many of you actually schedule time in your planner every day to work on your craft? If not every day, than how about a couple times a week? The power of putting aside time every day to work on your creative pursuits is truly liberating and empowering. You’re actually putting yourself first and have had a private discussion with yourself already that your art is important to you. And I’m not even talking about a few hours every day. I’m talking about starting with 15mins every day and then scaling up your creative time after it’s become a habit.
I know some of you are saying, “But J.J., I can’t schedule my creative time. My creativity just finds me at different times of the day and I don’t think I could be inspired during a specific block of time every day”. My answer to that is, well when you’re creativity strikes you, in that moment do a brain dump to get your ideas out. Then when you have that block of time reserved for your creative time, that is when you take action on your ideas and begin executing your masterpiece. Believe me, when you start blocking off creative time in your schedule, you’ll make sure not to waste it. You can either use this time as a brainstorming session or you can spend this time hammering away at your craft. Working on your craft every day makes you a polished artist and this will definitely show through in your work.
To Wrap Up
Today I gave you 5 tips on how to get your creative juices flowing as an artist. You can get your creative juices flowing again by doing brain dumps, seeking out inspiring content on the internet, going to a celebration of art like a concert or gallery show, starting off small with your creative projects, and scheduling creative time in your day. What are some other tips and tricks you use to get the creative juices flowing in your own life? I’d love to hear your ideas! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
As creative entrepreneurs we’ve all been there. Business is going great, sales are steady, freelance work is consistent, and then all of a sudden we hit a bump in the road where sales might drop off the deep end, customers/gigs stop knocking on our doors, and we lose the momentum we once had. It hurts, it’s depressing, and some of us might even consider throwing in the towel because we can’t deal with the ups and downs of an inconsistent paycheck.
Being an entrepreneur is definitely a roller coaster ride for a multitude of reasons, but when the money stops coming in, we tend to get worried and can start making drastic choices that could cripple our already fragile businesses. Today I’d like to give you 3 Tips on how to “weather the storm” so to speak when you hit these slow months and how to keep a positive outlook on things when so many of us might fall into depression or want to call it quits.
1. Prepare For The Slow Months
Anticipating that you’re ultimately going to have slow months as an entrepreneur is the first step towards solving this issue. When we first decide that we’re going to become self-employed or start up a company, the energy is usually electric. Working for yourself is something new and exciting and we can feel unstoppable in the beginning. I do believe in optimism and wishful thinking, but the reality is that more than likely you’re going to have some slow months in your business, and you want to be prepared for when this happens. Even Apple and Disney have slow days, so try to be humble and understand this is just part of the process of being a business owner.
If you know when your slow months are approaching, like maybe your company is a bit slower in the summer season, etc., than that’s even better! By having this knowledge ahead of time, you can adequately prepare for this and you can still survive and get by during these slow times.
A lot of entrepreneurs, when they have a great month of sales, instead of anticipating slow months ahead and putting money aside in an emergency fund, they tend to overspend and celebrate with their spoils, most likely because they’ve been deprived of income for so long and they feel like they deserve a little splurge (believe me, I’m guilty of this as well).
Immediate gratification feels great, but when you do this, you’re ultimately hurting yourself down the road. If you can slowly build up a little bit of a cushion during the peak months, then you can survive off of that cushion during the slow months. I know this might be a difficult habit to develop at first, but start off with something small, like put aside 5% of your sales and watch that grow over time. Sometimes just having that extra $200 in the bank account can go far during a slow month, especially if it’s the difference between paying rent or not.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
2. Learn How To Be Frugal
Contrary to popular belief, being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. Cheap people focus on spending less money and tend to sacrifice quality when it comes to their purchases. Frugal people prioritize their spending in alignment with their dreams/goals and put value and quality over price. Frugal people are also very resourceful when it comes to their spending.
An example of a cheap person would be someone that spends copious amounts of time cutting coupons out of the grocery store flyer because they are more concerned about saving a few dollars, even if it’s on items that they don’t necessarily need at that moment. The bottom line for them is saving money. A frugal person also likes to save money, but when they go to the grocery store, they still buy the products they want.
A frugal person tends to spend less money on the things that they don’t care too much about, but is willing to spend more money on the things they value the most. For example, a frugal person might buy the store brand aluminum foil because it’s the cheapest and they can’t justify spending more money on an item that seems to function the same across different brands, but when it comes to their favorite brand of coffee, they will always go for the Folgers because it tastes the best to them and it’s an important part of their morning wake up routine.
The reason I bring up frugality when it comes to your creative business is because this is a great skill to apply when you’re in a slump or going through a slow month of income. Maybe instead of buying a bulk order of paints or canvases for your painting business that would normally save you money over the long term, you might buy just what you need to get through the month and you might be able to shave off say $50 off of your typical monthly expenses.
Maybe instead of doing $40 worth of paid Facebook ads for your business that month, you can drop the price down to $20 a month. And even in your personal life, maybe instead of hitting up Starbucks every day, you can make your coffee at home and bring a travel mug. Or now would be a great time to finally get rid of that gym membership that you’re not using so you can save another $65 per month, and just decide to workout in your living room or start to pick up jogging outside. There are many ways to be resourceful and frugal, you just need to think outside the box a bit.
3. Focus on Sales Driven Behavior
If you find yourself in an unexpected slump, the number one thing that you should be trying to do is generate sales and find resourceful ways on how to make money as fast as possible. When I say sales driven behavior, I don’t mean spending time to polish the website, work on a training manual for your employees, or plan the company picnic. If you’re in a slow month and it looks like no sales are in sight, you need to do everything possible to generate money NOW!
Some quick ideas to generate immediate cash might be to launch an impromptu sale on one of your products or services. Maybe you can finally offer that loyal customer discount you’ve been thinking of doing and that might spike some sales. Or maybe start up a referral program which could help generate some more leads and sales. Another idea is to start massively doing outreach to new customers with an aggressive email campaign.
They key here is to not increase expenses at all, crossing your fingers hoping that just investing a little bit more money will increase your chances of making more money. That is a gamble and not something you should really depend on. When sales are non- existent, you need to focus on getting into the positive, not more into the negative. Stick to the tactics that have worked for you in the past and those that you can rely on.
To Wrap Up
Slow months are inevitable as creative entrepreneurs. It’s better to be prepared for the storm that we can’t see yet rather than to be swept away by the chaos when it arrives. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap, and it pays to be resourceful during difficult times. Lastly, if you find yourself unexpectedly caught in a slow month, throw out the fluff tasks and really buckle down and focus on sales driven behavior that will bring in money immediately.
What are some strategies that you all have used to get through the slow months? We’ve all been there and I’d love to hear your ideas. To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
Every Entrepreneur's Dilemma
Every entrepreneur at some point in time has probably had issues with work-life balance. You know how it goes, you get super involved in a project in the studio or at the office, lose track of time, and then before you know it it’s past dinner time and you decide to order a pizza to keep you fueled up so you can work into the wee hours of the night burning the midnight oil. You might even sacrifice family time, because you really think the project you are working on is that important and you can justify it in some way.
A lot of the times we might do this because we are trying to reach a certain deadline. Other times we do this because we’re in a really good creative flow state, and other times we do this because it’s just in our DNA and we haven’t learned to shut off the workaholic gene yet (I totally get this from my dad).
For the past 3+ years or so, I’ve spent a lot of time studying life style design, which means structuring my life the way I want, scripting out my days, removing bad habits, adopting healthier ones, and doing my best to maintain a balanced lifestyle in alignment with my dreams. There are a ton of tips I could list here (I’ll probably do another post about this topic at some point), but here are my top 5 tips that I live by and I think will help you out on your own work-life balance journeys.
1. Stick To A Schedule
This might be common sense for some people, but if you don’t already stick to a schedule this will totally be a game changer for you. I remember when I first became a self employed artist I was super excited because I could create my own hours, come and go as I pleased, and didn’t have to answer to a boss. This was all fine and dandy, but in the beginning I never had a schedule in place and as a result my days were always uneven and I’d wake up overwhelmed and anxious because I felt like I had to “do it all” in one day. Not having a game plan is basically planning to fail.
When you script out your days you eliminate a lot of anxiety because you know exactly at what time you should be doing what activity. You should not only be scheduling obvious things like appointments, meetings, and taking little Johnny to soccer practice, but you should be listing out other important self nourishing things like meals, showers, reading, exercise, meditation, journaling, etc. When you plan out your day, it’s not just the workday, but it’s your ENTIRE day (this is where the balance comes in). Plan out from what time you plan on waking up in the morning to what time you’re closing your eyes at night. Work time, family time, and personal time. Script out everything.
An amazing planner that I’ve been using for years is called Passion Planner. My sister, brother in law, and I rave about this planner. It features month at a glance views, 7 day at a glance views with time slots ranging from 6am – 10:30pm, plenty of lined paper and room for notes, as well as motivational quotes every week to keep you inspired. Definitely check them out when you get a chance, they make a great quality planner.
2. Understand That Everything is Equally Important
All areas of our lives are equally important, although many of us put work ahead of our family and ourselves sometimes (I am guilty of this as well). Since we are entrepreneurs, we are always chasing after our next freelance gig or trying to find innovative ways to make our next paycheck, so it’s easy for us to push things like our social life or fitness out the door.
When we’re desperate for money, other areas of our life suffer and we end up in this endless OCD loop where we are starving ourselves of balance because we are so focused on making that next paycheck. It’s so easy to do, but once we realize that everything is equally important in our lives, it sort of puts things in perspective. If you say to yourself, “Going to the gym is equally as important as family time”, or “Working on this project is equally as important as going to the movies with my friends tonight”, then you cut out favorites and you begin to live life a bit more balanced. Not only that, but you begin to really cherish the present moment when you’re now engaging in that activity.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
3. Be Conscious of Bleed Time
Bleed time is when you go over on time for a certain task. So for example, say you’re giving yourself 1 hour to work on your social media posts for your business and then after that you plan on exercising for a half an hour. If you take 1hr and 15mins to post on social media, your bleed time is 15mins into your exercising time. And guess what happens then. You say to yourself, “Well now I’m only going to have 15mins to workout, so maybe I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow instead”.
This happens over and over again for most of us, every day on different tasks. But…if you understand that everything is equally important, then you begin to respect the boundaries of your time. Once you commit to this belief, another conversation with yourself might be, “Ok so I know I have at least 15 more minutes of social media posting BUT the gym is equally important to me and I don’t want to miss it, so I’ll either finish this last post later on or it can wait until tomorrow, I really want to stay healthy and look my best”. Be weary of bleed time, it can be a silent killer.
4. Learn How To Prioritize
I know it’s hard to stay on point every day and stay on task in the allotted times for everything you have to do, especially if these are new habits you are trying to adjust to. You’ll experience bleed time here and there and you’ll still favor some tasks over others. Not only that, but you’ll probably get the unexpected interruption, email, or phone call that throws your day off course. This is to be expected and something you need to strive towards. But regardless of all of this, you should still have your daily priorities identified.
Your daily priorities are the one or two things on your to do list, that are musts for you that day! This is whether it’s finishing a big project that you are working on for your business like launching a new website or running off to little Johnny’s soccer game that you can’t miss. If you identify what are musts for you that day, than you eliminate bleed time for that specific task and it sort of frames up your entire day. If you know you have to leave the studio or office by 2pm to get to Johnny’s soccer game by 3pm, then you know you only have “X” amount of hours to dedicate to other tasks. Learning how to properly prioritize the big things helps you frame up your day so you know how much time you can delegate to other important areas of your life.
5. Be Present All The Time
If you’re new belief is that everything is equally important, than it makes it more fun to be present with whatever task you are working on because you shouldn’t be worried about losing out on other things. If you’re exercising, instead of letting your mind wander because you’d rather be working on a creative project instead of exercising (I’m guilty of this), try to be more present while you exercise and give your body the love and attention it deserves. Or, if you’re playing with your children after work, really try to cherish those moments rather than worrying about the invoices you still have to send out to customers. Having work-life balance means staying present in all areas of your life. At least that’s my definition.
To Wrap Up
So I hope these 5 tips will help you manage your work-life balance in some way. Being entrepreneurs we have a lot to worry about and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But by sticking to a schedule, understanding that everything is equally important, being conscious of bleed time, learning how to prioritize, and being present all the time, this will help us achieve more balance between our careers and our personal lives. What are some other tips that have worked for you as an entrepreneur? What are some specific issues in your life that are preventing you from balance? To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
By J.J. Long
An Interesting Observation
I was at the dentist’s office getting a root canal the other day (oh joy!), and I couldn’t help but notice how organized and efficient my dentist was. As I sat in the chair for an hour and a half, all I could hear (other than the drilling and sucking noises), was my dentist telling his assistant what tools he needed next in order to get the job done. He’d rattle off the different names and sizes of the drills and tools that he needed and because the assistant already had these items laid out in front of her, she was ready in a moments notice to hand that specific instrument to my dentist.
They both were a well oiled machine and every second was used in optimum fashion. In that hour and a half, there was practically no down time and my dentist probably made roughly about $1,400. He was super swift and calculated and I’m sure his philosophy was “The sooner I can wrap up this patient, the sooner I can work on the next patient and make even more money”.
So why bring up the dentist? I think as artists, many of us lack the organizational component to how we run our businesses. Being organized as an artist can free up a lot of physical and mental clutter in our brains that will eventually lead to more money down the road. As a result we’ll have more time to work on our businesses and concentrate on generating revenue rather than scrambling to figure things out because we don’t have our systems in place.
I think many of us love the creation process and tend to lose ourselves in the moment with our art, but when it comes to having a clean studio or being able to “balance the books”, a lot of us lack that necessary habit. How many artists have you met where their studios look like a bomb went off and they can never find that color red that they’re always looking for? Or those artists that are super talented, but don’t have a website yet to showcase their work or if they do have a website, it looks like it’s riddled with cobwebs and hasn’t been updated since the 1980’s (insert Bon Jovi ballad song). Being disorganized costs us time, and although it might only be minutes here or there, it compounds over time and can eat into our potential profits if we don’t have the right habits in place.
5 Tips on How to Get Organized
1. Book shelves, containers, and hooks:
This probably sounds self explanatory, but no matter what your craft is if you’re a painter, a musician, a writer, etc., having bookshelves is a great way to organize your supplies and inventory. If you’re a painter, just having containers that separate your brushes, your paints, and your palette knives are a huge help. If you’re a musician, having your microphone or XLR cables cleanly wrapped up and hung on a wall hook can be freeing. If you’re a writer, obviously having all of your books and journals cleanly displayed on a bookcase can be beneficial. Having things neatly organized by size, style, and type can make things more reachable and easier to find.
(My shelving unit in my studio space)
2. Accounting Systems:
Having solid accounting systems in place is huge when it comes to bookkeeping. For business receipts, keep all of your receipts in an accordion style envelope organized by months. If that’s too much organization for you, then at least place your receipts in a singular place like a box and organize them at a later date. This is important if for some reason you get audited by the IRS down the road and need to furnish proof of your expenses.
Keep track of your income and expenses using online accounting software. For many years I used Excel spreadsheets to keep track of my income and expenses. If Excel works for you, then that’s great, keep up the great work and do what works best for you. Even if writing on napkins works for you and you commit to making it a habit, at least you have a system in place and this is great for starters. If you want an upgrade and want something that is a bit more easier to navigate and can generate a variety of reports, I highly recommend WAVE accounting software which is what I use for JJArtworks. With WAVE you can do things like create invoices, accept credit card payments from customers, connect your bank account to the software so you have seamless integration, etc. And did I mention that WAVE is completely free!
Keep track of your mileage. As a business owner you can claim your business miles traveled on your taxes. No matter if you run to Staples to get ink for your printer and the drive is only 2 miles from your house or if you perform a service at a clients house and they live 200 miles away in another state, it’s important to record all of your mileage. Remember to record both directions and remember to record even the low miles. All those miles will eventually add up and make sure to make it a daily or weekly habit. I currently use Excel to track all of my mileage, but they also make apps for your phone like MileIQ, Everlance, and Autotrip in the UK that you can purchase for a small fee.
Having good budgeting software is key as well. I use a company called YNAB (stands for You Need A Budget), to budget for both my business and personal expenses and it’s a great way to keep track of your cash flow. I plan on doing a whole Blog post or at least some tutorial videos about YNAB because honestly, it’s truly revolutionized the way I operate my business. It’s a software system that I use daily and it really gives me peace of mind in so many different ways.
3. Online Portfolio:
Not only do you need to be organized in the studio or office, but you need to be organized online as well. If you don’t already have an online portfolio, you really need to join the 21st century and get on the internet train! Having your own website and displaying your own products and services to the world is paramount for success. In addition to your own business website, you also need to be present on social media and interact with your customers and audience on an almost daily basis. If you’re new to social media, start with the major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Once you get organized with your online branding, then the next phase of organization is streamlining your posted content, but we’ll save marketing and content creation for another post. I just want to give you guys the basics for this post.
4. Calendar Systems:
Having both an online calendar system and a physical wall calendar system is important as well. If you’re an artist and you book a lot of art festivals per say, then having a calendar system is crucial so you don’t double book events and you can easily tell customers when you’re available for commissions and other art related projects. For an online calendar system, Gmail offers a free calendar system which is great. You can share internal calendars with other people in your organization and you can all edit and view these calendars. JJArtworks uses a company called Zoho for our calendar and emailing system. Use whatever company works best for you, there are a lot of free ones out there.
Also, having a traditional wall calendar is great as well. I’ve been using yearly “At-A-Glance” wet erase calendars for JJArtworks for at least 4 years now, and it’s honestly great being able to look at all 12 months at once. Being able to look at the year in this way makes it easier for me to set quarterly goals and stay on point with my numbers.
5. Accountability Partners:
After you’ve made the decision to get more organized, it really helps to have an accountability partner, or someone that can help you stay on track with your goal setting. Even just having a friend or family member give you a call once a week saying, “So how’s organizing the studio going?” or “Have you found a new calendar system for your business yet?” can really go a long way. Let your friend or family member know what your goals are to get more organized and give them a personal deadline to when you would ultimately like to be more organized by.
To Wrap Up
Organization is a beneficial ingredient in an artist’s tool kit. By organizing your work space, having your systems in place, and cleaning out the physical and mental clutter in your life, you’ll be saving lots of time down the road which will ultimately lead to more financial success in your business. By saving time, you’ll have more free time to create without unnecessary obstacles and focus your energy more on generating profit than searching for that darn red paint or lost microphone cable.
I know I left out plenty of other ways to get organized as an artist and I’d love to hear your ideas and personal experiences. To leave a comment, click on the blue "comments" link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
J.J. Long is the founder and CEO of JJArtworks. J.J. has been professionally painting, singing, acting, writing, teaching, and doing voiceovers for over 13 years. The purpose of our blog is to help artists thrive in their own businesses by sharing valuable and sincere content.