5 Ways Artists are Sabotaging their Creative Careers

I work with a variety of artists. These are people that are creative beyond measure, stellar at their art and live and breathe to create something incredible. I admire their hard work and dedication to their craft.

As I watch them develop their artistic voice with abandon, I notice that sometimes their business acumen isn’t as strongly developed. Which is understandable – you become an expert in what you train yourself in. Here are just a few things from my observations that I hope will help.

1. Checking Your Email.

I have sent a photographer that I know 3 leads for family photos and head shots in one month. These were clients ready to buy based on what I told them. These photos were meant to be done for holiday postcards.

He has yet to reply to them… It’s February.

Recently, when I’ve written him, he has taken over 2 weeks to respond and that’s if I am lucky.  If you don’t check your email, that is fine but give potential prospects an alternative way to contact you. Would you rather receive a text? Are you constantly traveling but always on social media so a PM there would be better? It is your business so you can define how a client should communicate with you. You tell them the best way to always reach you – dates, times, where, so you are never missing a business opportunity.

You may not get every client who reaches out to you but the ones you upset before they are even clients is a loss of multiple opportunities not just one.

A happy client will tell their 3 closest friends. An unhappy client will tell everyone she knows.

[Tweet “A happy client will tell their three closest friends. An unhappy client will tell everyone they see.”]

Please do not give them a frustrating dead end.

2. Subscriber list that goes nowhere.

Do you have a subscriber list that goes into a blackhole? You may feel, “Well we need to get fans’ email addresses so we can sell to them but we have nothing to sell now, so we will just take their name.”

In my initial review of sites, I always check out their subscriber area. What happens? If you are just setting this part up, then it’s no big deal. I understand trying to put all of the pieces together. At minimum you should set up an auto reply to confirm the subscription. Let them know the frequency of your correspondence to setup expectations. A quick:

“Hi {FirstName}

Thank you for subscribing to my email list! I typically send emails around specific events to give you a behind the scenes peek. I will send out an email at the end of each month letting you know any happenings, scheduled events, and any behind the scenes footage I think you would enjoy.

Here’s a clip to show my heart felt appreciation:

I look forward to staying connected!


At minimum, set up that auto response for your subscriber list. Thank them for wanting to follow you. It is a true kindness that they believe in you enough to follow your work. Show the appreciation and send them something that will make them feel welcomed into your world.


3. Poor Video Content:

If you are going to have video content out there, it should have meaning and convey purpose to your mission.

I recently was engrossed with a Michael Jackson documentary. I am intrigued with everything about him and his artistry and can’t rip myself away from anything that provides me with insight into his creative process. One piece of the documentary that particularly stuck with me is at a young age he wrote down his goals for his life. He wanted to be the number one pop artist in the world. He wanted to innovate new ways of doing music and performing that had never been seen.

He wanted to change lives with his art.

He started that journey by writing down everything he wanted as an artist.

Now when I think about that, it wasn’t just that he wrote down his goals. He also took every strategic step possible to lead him toward those goals. There was nothing in his life that did not move him in the direction he wanted to be going.

Think of where you want to be in life. Think about your true heartfelt goal.  Now take a look at your video content.

Does it get you closer to where you want to be? Does it represent who you are? Or was it something that you did just to have something out there?

Create content that moves you forward.


4. Inconsistent branding across all mediums.

I am going to pick on a band I love. I’ll preface it by saying they are incredible. Brianna’s voice is literally music to my ears. She has this smokey warm tone that just puts you at ease. She can communicate heartache, love and joy with the rise and fall of her vocals.

The issue is that when you try to find their band, they don’t have a consistent way that they brand themselves. On their logo it is Girls+Boys, I found them on an event poster and it’s Girls&Boys, their website is girlsandboysmusic.com and don’t even get me started on trying to find them on YouTube. There were some not-so-family-friendly images when I typed in their various names.

It’s a complete frustration.

So when you are deciding on a name make sure you have that name universally across all mediums you will be communicating on. Decide on one format and be consistent so your fans can find you anywhere they look.


5. Not understanding how to price yourself

A lot of the time, price is driven by the market you are in or your target audience and their pricing threshold. I have one photographer that shoots head shots for $500 and these are magazine-style amazing shots. I have another photographer that prices his head shots at $2500. Also wonderful.  They both live in San Francisco area. So they are in an area that has deeper pockets than say a farm town. Whose pricing is correct?

I say both.

When you are an artist you have to understand the value you bring to the table. You have studied your craft, you have honed your skills. You have read every book you can, studied from every teacher you felt worthy to teach you your next skill set. You are constantly working on improving yourself. So when someone asks you your price for a 2 hour event, they are not getting just your time to cut their hair, or record their song.

You are giving them an expert in the field. You are giving them your knowledge, your lessons, yourself. You must understand your value. And be able to state that with confidence.

[Tweet “Understand your true value as a professional and price with confidence.”]

So when someone asks your price, understand your value, your market and say it without hesitation. Don’t ask their permission. (“I can do it for $500, is that OK?) State your value. My prices are $1000 an hour, and here is the value you get from that.

You are worth every penny. Here is an infographic we recently posted on freelancing pricing.

I hope this was helpful. If you outline how you wish to communicate with clients and do everything you can to be consistent and keep them excited about your brand, then your goal of being the Oprah of Education will eventually happen.

Let us know if we can help you in any way. We love our creatives and we want you to succeed beyond measure because your creativity fuels the world.



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