Managing money is difficult for just about everyone. For artists, though, surviving as a freelance worker and managing money can be much more complicated.
Like most careers and passions, there’s a cost to do business, and for artists, that can be supplies, degrees, studio spaces, and more. These tips can help you get started as a new artist to build smart financial habits.
1. Pay off your debts when you can
The first few years after college can be some of the hardest for new artists. In this time, your student loan payments can start to have a financial handicap on your life as other bills like rent, supplies, food, and expenses begin to build up. It can be very easy to default to a credit card in these times, which will only dig you deeper into debt.
Some, unfortunately, go bankrupt. While these are great tips in general to follow, they won’t pull you away from the brink of bankruptcy. If you think bankruptcy is your best option, consider talking to a bankruptcy lawyer.
Paying down your student loans and credit card debt should be one of your first goals. This tip is straightforward but can go a long way. By minimizing your expenses monthly, which we’ll talk about more later, you can relieve yourself from some stress and open yourself to new opportunities with your financial freedom.
2. Budgeting and Saving
In conjunction with paying off your debt, budgeting can work for anyone to manage money. By budgeting your monthly income, you can save yourself from the necessity of creating more debt on your credit card. For some, the 50/30/20 budgeting rule can go a long way to getting you financially secure. The idea is that 50% of your money goes towards your needs, like rent. 30% goes toward your wants, and the remaining 20% is savings.
Having savings is vital for any artist due to the fluctuations of the industry. Inevitably there will be slow stretches between sales, jobs, or new opportunities, so having savings can take away from the brunt of a lesser flow of income. In addition, it’s good to think long-term for your future and retirement.
3. Set goals and a business plan
Having an idea of where you want to go and what you want to do as an artist can help you stay on track. Ideally, a full business plan can help you understand how you create and sell your work while setting goals and developing marketing tactics. Most will plan out up to 5 years, but start small and focus on just your current year. When you’re ready to get started, ask yourself questions such as and try your best to be as realistic as possible:
· How am I going to sell my work? To whom?
These questions and many more like them will help you figure out what your business is, from your vision, mission statement, goals, and how you’ll go about achieving it all.
4. Have a side gig
In most cases, post-college artists should take side jobs to supplement their income until their art can support them. These side gigs should be able to support you while you grow your business. In addition, a side gig can provide extra income between sales of art or commissioned pieces.
The creative process is essential to successfully creating art, so aim for a job that either works in conjunction with your skills, like one at an art gallery, or one that uses your skills in another way, like social media profile management. Skills from jobs in graphic design, social media, and creative writing can be valuable to learn for your art career as well.
The beginning of your career can be the most challenging time to live off your art. Setting goals and financial security can help you stay on track and pursue why you want to make art. Take these tips into consideration as you’re getting started with your art career.