The “profitable creative” is an organized creative. It’s someone who balances their artistic insight, love for design and aesthetics with time and project management.

So, how do you monetize your creative process? Follow these steps:

Identify your weakness

Like Badu said, artists can be sensitive about their sh*t. But to get into new habits you have to get out of your own way. If more than a few people are saying that you lack follow-through or that you’re not promoting yourself enough, or properly, it’s time to take a self-assessment and be ready to look in the clouded mirror.

Find someone genuine and authentic that’s not afraid to tell you like it is. Many musicians hire a publicist because they have an overall vision for their brand. A lot of creatives hire accountability coaches or project managers who help them determine how and where to best utilize their time. Invest in yourself. You think Kanye could have made Graduation if it wasn’t for a team of engineers, marketing professionals, graphic artists and a solid management foundation? Do you think Vogue would have made it off the press all of these years if it wasn’t for a skilled editorial team? You might not be at Vogue or working on Yeezy’s campaign but chances are you are holding on to the grand ideas you have for your business like most creatives do. Find a support team that will hold you accountable for setting those plans in motion. I have friends that come to my house and see walls of Post-it notes and taped index cards. It probably seems crazy to them but it’s a way for me to get my thoughts out constructively. That opens a dialogue. The rest is about execution.

Photo: Giphy

All great artists have a routine for figuring out what works and what doesn’t and pushing themselves through creative blocks and the mayhem of the thoughts that go through their heads. Profitable creatives understand that at the end of they day your art is a business. Treat it as such. Identify your weaknesses, define them as areas of opportunity and bridge the gap! Step into your greatness.

Build a system

Every great company or project works best by establishing a self-managing “system for success.” Everything from engineering to business has its own form of art. It’s the domino effect. Have project flow sheets for yourself. Make daunting tasks as easy as possible. I use Google forms now prior to onboarding. It’s a great way for me to cut down the time on free consulting and collect all of the information about a client prior to our first phone conversation. It also helps me input data into my sales tracker so I can see where my areas of opportunity lie. Let’s say you’re a photographer. What does your sales/project timeline look like? How can you cut the time it takes for you to get paid for a shoot? Have a plan of action.

For example, if someone inquires about booking you for a shoot:

Step one: Send your prices
Step two: They pick a date
Step three: Check your availability
Step four: They pay a deposit
Step five: Plan a day to shoot
Step six: Edit the photos
Step seven: Deliver
Step eight: Collect the balance owed

Photo: Kaboompics

There are other helpful system tools that will allow you to get paid sooner. If someone inquires via text or Facebook you can send them to your  website where they can see your prices and book online directly. This means you’re not spending your time going back and forth with someone who will never make it past step four of this particular service model. I use Square Appointments to manage my schedule, it means I’m not constantly going back and forth with people and the whole process makes it easy to book.

That system on its own works well because it sends reminders the day of the shoot and keeps the client’s payment information on file to ensure rapid payment processing. Using online invoices such as Square or PayPal also ensures that you’re not chasing people around. Using DropBox means you can send a link to the photos digitally versus the overhead cost of flash drives and CDs. Remember, this is just an example of good practices in one particular creative industry. Nine times out of 10 there’s someone in your field doing what you do well because they utilize a system that eliminates the tedious tasks and allows them to focus on creating. Find that person, research them and don’t be afraid to reach out for advice and pointers. The worst thing they can do is say no, but most of the time people appreciate being acknowledged for their hard work and are flattered by your aspiration to reach their level of success.

Time management

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Photo: Kaboompics

Make organizing your time and abilities fun. Try a new awesome project journal where you start your day color-coding and sketching out your time. Planner decorations are becoming their own art form. For some creatives, it’s a release to take that time to make a mess of a busy schedule into something beautiful.

You can also utilize technology for this. Try some of the cool new apps that allow you to set timers for working on projects. If you know you have 5 hours to edit 500 photos, make it fun by dividing up the time and giving yourself small rewards.

Oftentimes creatives are the kind of people who get overwhelmed and catch the “I don’t know where to start” bug. Find the tools that will allow you to push through that feeling. That’s when you’ll really tap into your greatness. There are weekends where I schedule an hour after each session to edit photos. Sometimes I’ll knock out four shoots and get at least 20/30 edits to each person before the day is over.

This is creative Nirvana.

Push yourself to get there, celebrate it when it happens and when things get overwhelming, remind yourself of what it feels like to get things done versus how overwhelming it can be when you’re weeks behind on projects and clients come knocking at your door.

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