Happy New Year, a warm welcome to 2021! I know many creatives have struggled and continue to feel the financial setbacks of the pandemic whether it may be from reduced opportunities for growth to navigating late payments or reduced fees.
In light of these challenges, I made a positive discovery in more acutely knowing and proactively working towards the opportunities and working relationships I would love to have.
1. Set a schedule for basic bookkeeping.
Collect any purchase receipts and payments in an "inbox" (can even be a physical box) and document your expenses/income in a spreadsheet. Try to empty this "inbox" routinely (ex: every month or 2). Take note of the date you send invoices so you can easily track the payment schedule and followup as necessary.
2. Review your standard annual expenses
These are set expenses for your business, like association membership fees, software licenses, class subscriptions etc. If your budget is tighter this year, consider only investing in services that are essential and equip you with the most potential for growth. Take initiative to source free resources, share information with your peers, and find mentorship opportunities. A few key players/targeted resources are better than a general scattering.
3. Negotiate with a long term partnership mindset with clients you value.
The pandemic has understandably presented some clients with financial setbacks. Take the initiative to come up with creative solutions to work around project budgets. Suggest ways you can adjust the scope of your work or discuss together ways to reallocate the budget to fit other projects. Propose ideas that can engage a wider audience and actually find greater success in this new scenario. I personally believe empathy and genuine dedication to craft in a professional manner will be recognized.
4. Handle late payments professionally
Financial hardships amidst the pandemic is wholly understandable and we should be accommodating to delay. However, maintaining a stream of income for freelancers is of utmost importance to sustaining business. There is a line between empathy and protecting your livelihood. Know that it is your right to be paid in full for your services regardless even if the client is unable to use it at this moment. There is a contractual agreement that the time you spent creating the artwork should be respectfully compensated. Be polite yet proactive to push for specific dates and amounts that you expect to be paid.
5. Target new markets
Now is the time to really think about how you want to move forward creatively. Perhaps, the challenges experienced this year made you realize you need to more proactively look towards more stable markets with better growth opportunities. Expand your vision, time to start working on refining that portfolio!
6. Strategize and experiment streamlining workflow
How can you work more efficiently particularly under tighter budgets and new demands? Can this be addressed in an innovative style that still speaks strongly to your heart and identity? I personally have been experimenting more with the steps I take with my traditional and digital workflow.
Thank you so much for reading this longer one! I would love to hear your thoughts and any tips. Come say hi on instagram: @natalie.illustration