Monday, April 22, 2013
Creating Multiple Income Streams
One of my favorite books is Barbara Winters’ “Making a Living Without a Job”. I read this book many years ago and recently find myself referring back to it for inspiration and information as I develop my artist’s life. Something that Barbara talks about has stuck with me all these years-the concept of creating multiple profit centers.
Barbara leads you through exercises to identify your interests and passions and then suggests ways you can use them to develop income generating activities-really little micro businesses in essence. You test out one idea, spending most of your time in the start-up phase and once it’s running smoothly you begin mobilizing another idea. Eventually you create several avenues to earn money while exploring what you most enjoy in the process. Your ideas can be related (such as different art products that you sell) or incorporate a broader spectrum of your talents (like your skills in event planning and auto mechanics).
I think this is important whether you currently have a full-time job or are creating a different way of living and working in the world. To consistently be generating new ideas and never relying on only one source of income. I also love that it gives you the freedom and flexibility to try out smaller ideas without putting the added pressure on that it has to succeed or else.
My friend and fellow artist, Shannon Crandall continues to amaze me with the creative avenues that she is pursuing. In addition to the things we discuss in our interview below, she has plans to attend the Surtex show in NYC in May to approach reps for a licensing contract. She's interested in launching a home decor line and I believe she can make it happen. She is preparing to take her work to the next level and just launched a campaign to raise capital to get her there. I stand in awe of her gusto. Here's what we talked about last week:
KD: I think you are such a good example of how people can pull together their many skills and talents to create a job doing what they love. How do you support yourself as an artist and entrepreneur?
SC: I have multiple income streams going. I sell my artwork, prints, and handmade jewelry in a local co-op called Artisans' Corner in Clinton, NY. I also teach jewelry and mixed media painting workshops. I just recently re-opened my Etsy shop and I continue to sell my work on my website.
KD: What's a co-op is and how do you get into one?
SC: A co-op is a group of like minded business partners that share a retail space and the common goal of marketing and selling their work. We each pay rent to cover the costs and take turns working in the store as the retail sales clerk. The co-op I am a part of requires you to be juried in ....in other words your work must be up to the co-op's standards of quality and craftsmanship. I was asked by the co-op's owners if I would be interested in jurying into their shop. They saw me at a local art show.
KD: What have you had the most success selling?
SC: Most recently I would have to say that my jewelry and art prints are selling the most. I have sold several paintings in the shop as well.
KD: So another income stream for you is teaching. What does that look like for you?
SC: I have designed my workshops to help others develop their creative intuitive spirit. I feel as though when I teach students my techniques I am sharing a part of me that gives us a great connection. I always learn something from my students and that's why I feel drawn to teaching. It is a two way street and for me there is no better way to connect and understand each other.
KD: I've taken your classes and love them. You teach jewelry making and painting- both using an intuitive approach. One of the unique things that you also do is travel to people's homes to teach groups as well as teaching at Artisan's Corner. You are like an intuitive creator on wheels!
SC: Yes I like to travel and in fact that is another future goal.....to travel and teach. Seeing and meeting new people and places feeds my creativity and my imagination! That's a great way to put it....Creator on wheels.
KD: I can see you doing this for businesses, women's groups, kids, local art events, so many opportunities. Speaking of which, you also sell you work at various shows. How do you find out about them?
SC: I have done art shows for many years and in the beginning it was word of mouth through other artists then when the internet came along it became easier to find show listings online. I still have to say though that word of mouth is great because you get a better sense of how the show is run and if your work would sell there. So I generally do a little bit of both. I just recently sent an email to an artist who I didn't know and asked her about some of the shows she had listed on her website. She was very kind and directed me to a couple of shows. She even went as far as to give me contact info for one of them.
KD: That is good advice-I love to see artist’s working together to help each other. I see that you've just launched some new products, a tote bag, pillows and prints. How did you figure out how to get your art work made into these products?
SC: I sent an email to another artist on Etsy who I didn't know and asked her where she manufactured her products.....she was really great and gave me a list of places that she uses or has used. I also have been logging in lots of hours on the computer doing my own internet searches for what I wanted to create. There are no shortcuts...you just have to do your homework.
KD: Yes, I think that's a really important message. Show up and do the work. That's a recipe for success if ever there was one. I also love how you collaborate and have the courage to just ask. I feel that so many of my questions have been answered by just asking the right person. So now that you are having your artwork printed in a variety of forms, do you use a special camera or lighting to photograph your paintings for printing?
SC: I use my digital camera....it is nothing special. I use natural light and no flash when I take my pictures. Usually my images are about 300dpi....anything less than that will not print well onto any product.
KD: I think it's important for people to know the power of diversification-that you can design your life around many interests and talents and they can help fuel you as an artist. In addition to your art, you also have a skin care practice.
SC: I am a licensed Aesthetician...or skin therapist if you like. I help my clients with acne, rosacea and anti-aging issues. I also do full body treatments and waxing. This is a part-time business for me and in a way it is creative because each client is unique and I must come up with a specific regiment for their individual needs. It is bodywork and is hands on just like creating my artwork and jewelry....and when I am giving a treatment I am actually very relaxed and again connecting with my clients and learning from them as well. This actually fulfills my healing nature.
KD: That is perfect Shannon, how caring for other in this way is another way you add beauty in the world. Do you have any advice on pricing your work?
SC: Pricing is always the hardest part. I have set up what I think is reasonable for me. Basically I charge a set hourly fee and then I add in the materials cost. So as the years have gone on I have slowly increased my rates as my experience has grown.
KD: I have to tell you I find it so difficult to charge friends and family to come to my classes.
SC: You have to see it as a business. They would have to pay to go to someone else’s classes’ right? You can always give some things for free but still charge for the class. You could give a discount on further classes if they sign up for one. Maybe you offer a scholarship program or something along those lines.
KD: Yes, there are many possibilities. I love talking with you Shannon, it always turns into a brainstorming session! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think you are such a light to others who are putting this type of life together for themselves. Your ability to share is a gift and is appreciated.
You can stop in and visit Shannon here.