How to Survive the Business Side of the Creative Industry?

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

– Picasso

When you are a creative artist you most probably already had the idea (if you’re not doing it already) of wanting to make a living out of your passion – perhaps offer your creative services and create your personal brand or set up a creative business like MicroCreatives, or sell a product that you created yourself. But what if you are not really confident about your commercial skills? As much as you are good at production, you think you’re also as bad at selling or the whole business side.


Working in the creative industry doesn’t just involve picking the right colors, creating storyboards, and the whole creative process. There are also other aspects of the business such as marketing, product pricing, networking, and even the simplest email analysis – some of these things not taught at school or are often overlooked. Of course, skills and creativity are the most important assets of a creative business; but the strongest professionals out there are the ones who mastered the two ends of the spectrum: arts and commerce.


Here at MicroCreatives, we keep in mind some daily reminders to help us grow our creativity, boost business transactions, and create networks of happy clients. With that, we’ll be sharing some of our tips on how to ace the business side of the creative industry.


Be Eager to Learn

Coming fresh from art school can make you alien to the business side of the industry. Nobody expects you to know every facet of it at once. But, it is important that you possess the eagerness to learn.


Internships are great opportunities to get a sneak peek into the creative industry’s business in real-time. Look for a mentor that will open opportunities for you. Being under the tutelage of industry professionals can expose you to the nitty-gritty without the pressure.


There are also a lot of books and online resources to check out to gain knowledge about the business and how it operates. You can start by first searching the definition of ‘business management’ and let it take you on how creatives and business collide. And while practical knowledge is a better teacher than theoretical knowledge, reading about how business works is a good start.


Focus on the Clients

Clients are the people who trust in your skills and are willing to pay for your work. Also, they could be a great ticket to be known in the industry. We know that we should let our work do the talking; but in order to create networks and gain both return and new customers, being good at doing business must also not be disregarded. Know your target market and their interests; know what will catch their attention.


Personality counts as much as your portfolio. Learning the ropes of marketing and promoting your creative services can take time, but you can start with having a pleasing disposition when it comes to interacting with prospects and clients. They want to work with people who are easy-going and knowledgeable of the job. Having a killer portfolio and a striking personality to match can take you places.


Dealing with Feedback

Whether they are in front of you or through online communications, presenting your work is always a nerve-racking experience. The concern here is not getting negative feedback, but how we should interpret it.


Criticism can come very personal to us since we worked hard and really put a lot of thought into the project. Handle criticism like a pro by taking it as constructive feedback to revise and improve the draft. Creative projects normally go through many revision rounds. To prevent misunderstanding and minimize reverts, make sure to ask questions that would help clarify anything about the requirements or instructions that are not clear to you. At the end of the day, clients just want to like your work and get what they asked and paid for.


Make Your Emails Count

When clients outsource work, correspondence usually happens online, mainly through email. Ensuring clear communications is the first step in managing client expectations.


When answering emails, here are the things you need to address:

  • Acknowledge the message. Respond to emails by acknowledging the sender’s issue, request, or feedback.
  • Deal with the issue/request. See the problem, discuss its scope and indicate your plan to resolve it.
  • Set a timeline. Provide the time on when they can expect the result. Keep them updated and well-informed; don’t leave them having.

Make sure that every email and project briefs received are read and understood. Ask questions for clarifications.


Construct a Superb Portfolio

Let your strengths shine through each page and focus on curing your weak points. Portfolios will serve as your shield and armor as you prosper in the industry.


Creating your portfolio strategically can add another dollar to your service without the shame of asking for more. Showcase the things you are proud of. Offer range and variety without overdoing it.


Promote Your Work

Surf into the hype of the social media craze by putting your works on different online platforms. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn have ample audience to see, share, and like your work.


Having your own website is like having an online portfolio. Possessing a strong online presence shows that you have great maneuver of the internet and a self-motivated person.


Establish a Business System

At first, you may just be winging the first client contracts, but it is important that you have a systematic way of doing your business. Have a clear process so you can make sure that you didn’t miss any important details or requirements. Some of the essential steps in the creative business process include introducing yourself and your business to the client and explaining your work and work process (this includes showing your portfolio), asking for a project brief or sending them a questionnaire to be filled out, giving an estimated cost and project assessment (including revisions process), and contract signing.


Honor Contracts and Protect Your Business

Know your rights as an intellectual property and business owner, and respect others’ as well. To protect your business and your clients’ interests, both parties will have to come to an agreement which will then be solidified in a contract. Protect your business by creating terms and conditions and making the scope and limitations of each project clear.


On the other hand, avoid getting into legal issues with your clients as well as from the entities you will get resources from by honoring contracts – such as an NDA – and intellectual property and copyright statements.


Maturity in the Business of Creativity

Creativity and innovation have stood the test of time by changing its canvas now and then. The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers conducted a study, “Cultural Times – The First Global Map of Cultural and Creative Industries” that shows visual arts, books, and music are the top three employers in the cultural and creative industries sectors. And in total, the creative industry has generated 29.5 million jobs. Clearly, the creative industry has evolved because of its corporate backbone.