July 4, 2016 • Newsletter
Happy Independence Day! This weekend I re-watched Empire Records. Naturally, it is the best possible movie to watch circa Independence Day. “Damn the man, save the empire” is dangerously close to what I imagine was yelled in 1776. (Or maybe it was “Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior.” Who can know for sure?)
For independent artists—whether we are fully independent, partially independent, freelancers, solopreneurs, or desperately trying to find the noun that best describes ourselves—July is a delightful month to channel our inner rebels and declare independence.
And the best way to maintain that independence—to do exactly the kind of work you want to do when you want to do it—is to have financial independence. If you never have to say yes to something you’d rather say no to just for the money, that is true creative empowerment. That is independence. That is damning the man and saving the empire. Your empire.
So how do you do that?
You plan for it, you budget for it. You diversify your revenue streams so you can earn money from lots of different sources, protecting you from financial dependence on one client or one project. You track your progress along the way and make adjustments as needed. You understand your own strengths and your own weaknesses. You train yourself to spot opportunities, to cultivate the right opportunities, and to politely decline the wrong ones. You value your time and your creativity appropriately and you develop a confidence in discussing and negotiating fair compensation for both your time and your work. You understand the true costs of running your creative practice, whether those costs are expressed in dollars, hours, or emotional toil.
And you forgive yourself when you fall short. Because part of being independent, of being creative, of being human is falling short.
I’ve lost track of the number of conversations I have with clients that begin with an expression of shame. “I know I should have done this already,” or “I know I probably should have thought of this,” or “I know I should have talked to you sooner,” is the most common opening to every single client conversation I have.
No one has it all together. No one thinks of everything. No one manages all the tasks to have flawless independence.
Forgive yourself for falling short. Celebrate all the times you don’t fall short, especially those creative times when your work really shines. And think about what would make you feel more independent.
Choose one thing to focus on this month to bolster that independence. Maybe it is truly figuring out how to diversify your revenue. Maybe it is finally figuring out how to price (or re-price) your work. Perhaps it is incorporating a time management system into your studio. It might even be figuring out why certain expenses are (or are not) deductible on Schedule C.
Whatever it is, choose one thing to focus on. One thing to help you declare independence. Then let us know how it goes. We’re here to help if you need it.