No matter if you’re a freelancer or on a job: Having more than one outlet is very beneficial for you. You could be working on art packs when animal portraits are drying up, or vice versa. It will pay off when you’re versatile as an artist. But how do you cater to more than one kind of audience? And is this approach something for you?
Reflecting on life
I’d like to give my own experiences as an example. Like many of you, I came from a completely different field before starting Tez Art & Design. (Later followed by Life to Legend and Spudknof, but we’ll get there). Before this all, and even to this day, I worked at a local restaurant, my parent’s restaurant to be precise. I mentioned this in other articles before.
I have been working in this restaurant for over 15 years now. But if there’s something I learned it’s that, even renowned companies like that of my parents may have a hard time making a decent profit. There are many factors playing into this. The two major ones in the case of my parent’s company are: The location and not being able to move because of a lack of income to build up a new restaurant + guest base from scratch. And 2: The economy. These days there is so much pressure on people, and life moves so quickly that it’s extremely hard to keep up of you only have one audience.
I feel like I have the advantage to know this now and decided to take advantage of it. I’m not saying I have all the wisdom or can dodge all the bullets from his point on. I don’t, but I can learn from what I see happening around me and anticipate. One of my key focuses was to have more than one audience. This way I would be able to shift gears quickly when one type of income dried up (be that permanently or temporary).
My key focus points
During my time helping out other people building up their companies (Restaurant and doggy walk so far) and following artists that just started gaining traction, I learned a lot. When I do my work I do my best to be versatile, while also offering quality products and always improving. But when you build your own company it’s not just about your clients. Whatever you do: It needs to be sustainable. In my opinion, you need to be at least comfortable and have some notable financial reserves at any time. But even more important is that whatever you do, can be done for a long period of time. However you go about your business, you need to find a way so you can keep doing it without burning yourself out.
My priority list is as follows, as you can see it doesn’t only include my client’s experience, but also that of my own.
- Quality products.
- Quality customer services.
- Proper planning (Enough time to finish everything I have planned + a bit extra time).
- Variation (It’s something I need in my work, which lines up nicely with running multiple businesses for different audiences).
- Enjoying my job (Artistry is very demanding, I wouldn’t be able to be an artist if I didn’t enjoy being one).
- Having a decent income.
- Enough time left to enjoy life.
The list mentioned above for me is thé way to be able to sustain myself, while also keeping myself sane, and enjoying what I’m doing. The only way to offer quality products is by making sure you have a planning and lifestyle that you can follow for long periods of time,
Having several target audiences
Being an artist in and on itself is already a very hard thing to do. Most of the time you’re on your own. And if you’re not well-known yet in the artistic world, it may be hard for you to break through and show your quality and potential, while also making a sustainable living. Catering to more than one audience is a big step to make. I suggest you won’t aim for this until you’re confident about your own skills and are at least a bit business savvy. Make sure you have your business plan ready, you have your art fundamentals down, and things like your own website, a portfolio, and social media channels are in place before you endeavor to split yourself up into more than one line of business.
Note though that you can be a bit creative with my words. When I started digging into fundamentals I wanted to make sure that, whatever I practiced thoroughly, I should monetize at some point. I decided to do this in the shape of art packs and illustrations that would be of such a quality that I could put it up for sale. However, in the beginning, I couldn’t get any further than the art sale. I had to drop the packs because at the time it was too much to handle for me. Even so, I do recommend doing something with the art you make, given that it is of a high enough quality, In other words: Put in that extra mile to make it sellable!
What does a multiple income stream look like
This can mean many things. First things first: Discover what you enjoy doing, and filter out what actually earns money. Some research is always required. There are no shortcuts. You need knowledge about the audience and the field you want to cater to. And depending on what you prefer doing.
As mentioned before: Most of the time you will start with just one project. Over time, when you can spend more time on making art based on your skills, instead of practicing all time, you will be able to work on several projects at any given time. These could be commissions (I recommend always doing commissions!). Writing your own comics, making art packs, creating posters for sale on a platform like Deviantart or Displate. The possibilities are almost endless. Maybe you like making memes, or merch, a brand, 3d assets, or 3d prints. And maybe you’re a writer that also loves drawing and creating an interactive world or a children’s book.
You can add to this list whenever you feel the time is right, when you have some time to spare, or when you switch to being a full-time artist. To give you an idea of how I went about it, this is roughly my timeline:
- 2017 – I decided to become an artist. I wanted to just make wonderful posters for a platform like Discord, and do commission, while also making things like menu’s and posters for local companies.
- 2018 – I realized that the above wouldn’t cut it. This resulted in my first course on Skillshare, about a subject that came naturally to me: Contrasts. However, considering my skill-level on other subjects, I decided to leave it at that.
- 2019 – I continued improving my skills. I didn’t really take on new endeavours other than the occasional commission and catering to local businesses, two things that started to get a bit momentum. I knew that I shouldn’t spread myself thin and instead should work on my skills.
- 2020 – My first art-pack came out. I was hyped when it started to sell, but recognized a big problem: I have a specific style, to make an asset like this interesting I should have more art packs in the same style and in the same category. Not something I had time for at the time, so this got postponed as wel.
- Also in 2020 I started the Facebook group Life to Legend.
- Well, we all know what 2020-2021 was like with corona. Our restaurant has been closed down for over 9 months. I spent my time improving my skills and managed to do so decently.
- In 2021 I hooked up with Jade Jez of Steampower Studio’s to start a new project: Spudnik and Knofje (or Spudknof in short). And an informative blogging website was started for Life to Legend. The very one you’re reading now.
Plans for the future
Right now I’m working on 3 projects at the same time. Commissions, Spudknof, and Life to Legend. While still having a regular part-time day job, I’m nearing my limits. This doesn’t mean though that I don’t have plans for 2022. These are as follows, and will be added to the already existing list:
- Spudknof merchendise
- Art packs
- Podcasts with Jade Zivanovic
By the end of 2024 I also want to start creating courses for Life to Legend.
All and all, you can tell that it took me a few years of trial and error to realize I can’t do everything at once. But after 4 solid years of practice, I’m finally ready to start taking on several projects at once and am careful to expand on that, planning ahead in time instead of starting with them whenever I feel like it. I hope this lesson and timeline are useful for you.
If you are an artist starting out, I can imagine this is no fun to read. You probably are full of ideas and are eager to make money from your art. But it’s a tough business to be in. Give yourself some time to learn art fundamentals, share your art, ask for feedback. Give it 2 to 4 years, really. And then start branching out. Otherwise, you will only be disappointed by everything you can’t manage yet.
Read more about target audiences right here!