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!
By J.J. Long
Why Write A Blog?
It wasn’t until about 2 years that I discovered that I love to read and write. At the time, I was looking for interesting activities to include in my morning routine as I felt like I needed an energy boost and my work days were starting to plateau a bit.
Being a new CEO of my art and entertainment company JJArtworks, I knew I needed a lot of energy to carry me through the day to consistently answer customer requests, manage my artists, perform daily admin responsibilities, expand the company, keep up with social media marketing, perfect my systems, etc.
Each day I would struggle to find my own creative time as well, whether that be painting, singing, or acting. I felt like the days would always slip by me and I would never get the chance to pick up a paint brush or sing a single note because I was too burnt out by the end of the day and lacked the energy to do so. So I knew the energy part of the equation was something that I needed to tackle head on.
As I researched Youtube for help on “CEO mindset” or “Morning Rituals”, almost every video I watched kept chanting the same information over and over again which was for the most part that I should be reading, journaling, meditating, exercising, and just eating healthy in general every day.
Exercising and eating healthy have always been difficult habits for me to adopt into my life, so I figured I’d try out the easier activities for starters such as reading, journaling, and meditation. I had already discovered the benefits of meditation a few years prior, but I didn’t commit to making it a habit every day. Reading was honestly something I hadn’t done since I graduated from college in 2003, and the last book I read was probably a boring text book that put me to sleep in class lol. Writing was something I actively did everyday, but it mainly involved typing emails at the computer and it didn’t involve me putting pen to paper or a way to express myself creatively.
As I began experimenting with these different activities in the morning, I quickly realized the benefits of each and started seeing results in my energy levels. I just felt more balanced every day, less stressed, and more complete. Every day in the morning I would meditate for 10 minutes, write 10 things I was grateful for in my gratitude journal, and then read a few pages of a book.
The first book I read was “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. I was blown away by the concept of working only 4 hours a week and immediately I was hooked on the self-development industry. It was the perfect starter book for me to digest and it got my imagination running wild. Now, all of the material I currently read is grounded in the self-development genre, and my brain is now a sponge that loves to devour these inspiring and wisdom packed books. They say readers are leaders, and I’m constantly trying to abide by this philosophy and read as much as possible every day.
So back to the question, why write a blog? The main reason is because I really want to add value to other artists and entrepreneurs creating their own businesses through the 13+ years of knowledge that I have from being a self employed artist myself. After getting back into reading and writing, I see the level of value that the self development industry has had on myself and other entrepreneurs and I want to give back in this way as well. At some point I’d love to get into coaching, leading seminars, and eventually launch an online academy, but we’ll save that blog post for a rainy day.
I don’t claim to be an expert or a guru in my industry, but I’ve experienced a lot through being a struggling oil painter, to a professional musician, an aspiring actor and voice over artist, and now running a paint party business and CEO of a brand that plans on expanding into music, film, publishing, and beyond. I’ve had a very versatile art career and I’d love to share what wisdom I have to any creative individual that would like to listen. I promise not to lead you astray :)
Type of Content
The content I plan on creating for this blog stems around artists and their journeys, whatever their disciplines may be. My belief is that art fuels art, and there is a lot of crossover between artists and their mediums. So a writer might also be an actor, a painter might also be a musician, a musician might also be a dancer, etc. So my goal is to really offer engaging and valuable content that can be applied across all art industries, although some posts might be more catered toward a specific art form than the other. Some topics off the cuff that I definitely want to cover so you get an idea of what I’m talking about are:
My initial goal is to publish a blog post once per a week. I’m not sure if the day is going to be the same every week yet, but I’m aiming for most likely a Wednesday or Thursday every week. If I get into a good rhythm with this blogging stuff, I might post more frequently, but for the time being I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew and over-commit.
Also, just as a disclaimer, at some point I might offer my own products, services, and affiliate links, but the primary focus of this blog will always be to add immense value to artists and other creative entrepreneurs. I like to be as transparent as possible with my audience, but for example, if I come out with a new killer CD, of course I want you all to know about it and would love for you to pick up a copy :)
Engagement with a Creative Community
Another main reason for me wanting to write a blog is because I want to learn. I want to learn from all of you and hear what your opinions are and what you all have to say. At this point in my life I really like hearing other people’s perspectives on different topics because it challenges my thinking and sometimes can create a paradigm shift in the way I forever see things. So I definitely welcome comments and questions and would love to engage with you all on this platform. All I ask is that you just be PG 13 friendly as children may stumble upon these posts as well and I want to add value to all entrepreneurs, no matter what the age.
So now that I’ve given you the super long intro (not all of my blogs will be this long by the way lol), what sort of topics would you like me to cover? What are some pressing concerns that you creative entrepreneurs are dealing with? If I’m not well versed on a specific subject I’m not afraid to do the research and get digging for you. Leave your ideas in the comments below and I look forward to chatting with you all soon. Thanks for reading peeps. Much love and respect!
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.