Thursday, July 24, 2008

Diversify Your Income as an Artist

Not too long ago I learned a very hard lesson, "never put all faith into one great client". When I first moved to Los Angeles eight years ago, I had to start my freelance business all over again. I had to take a day job and build an entirely new client base. Bit by bit I built a solid client base.

I had one great client in a studio that called me all the time, but the trade off was that I took less money for a larger volume of work. Every year my income grew with this studio. I thought, "yes, I'm finally making progress". Until one day they came to me and wanted me to take a pay cut so they could make pocket the money. I was already making well below the going rate. So I had to ask myself, "do I just keep saying yes to keep the work"? I decided to stand up for myself instead. I took a chance and stood my ground. I really felt that what they were asking for was just wrong. Suddenly, my worst fear happened, they quit calling me. They found someone with less experience that would work for less. Just like that, sixty percent of my income was gone.

I was not prepared to lose that much of my income. I was like most artists: the more money I made, the more money I spent. It was a very difficult time for me to say the least, but I got through it. I learned some very valuable lessons from that experience:

  1. Never be dependant upon one client (no matter how great they are)
  2. Have a financial plan. Make sure you have plan B in place for tough times
  3. Diversify your income! This means to find many streams of income. Don't just rely on your freelance income (the entertainment industry is too volatile).

It was a tough choice for me to make at the time, but I refused to be taken advantage of. I survived a freelance artist's worst fear, saying no and losing the client. Although, I'd rather lose the client or the job and keep my dignity. I will never be a "yes person" again. I realize now what my time and skill is worth and I ask for more. After all, my worst fear has already happened and I'm still standing.

The bottom line is be prepared. Never be dependant upon one client or one source of income, and always always have money in the bank if the gravy train does dry up for you. New stars come an go everyday, production companies open and close, and union strikes happen. Have a plan for those times.

- Makeup Maverick

1 comment:

Lynda said...

Good for you! Being an artist, whether it be make-up or hair, etc. We somethings lower our worth in order to survive. However, other large companies, never do. They don't barter as much as we do, and once it begins, it never stops.

Sooner or later, you will build a fabulous reputation and be paid the amount you seek, but there are growing pains, " the starving artist syndrome" before you get to that point.
Hang in there! Great read...
Lynda Sudduth (Hairstylist)