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Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business - Part 13: Expansion

If your business is keeping you busy that can be a good sign, however, if you've reached capacity with your schedule and are still not earning the income you hoped for (or you just want to earn more), it may be time to think about expansion.

In the previous post I suggested 'over commitment' as a potential pitfall that could lead to bad word of mouth and a loss of future business. One way I suggested to overcome this is to hire trusted freelancers to do the excess work for you.

Which is great if you're providing an arts based service that doesn't rely on your specific artistic talent. Not as useful if you personally are being commissioned to create art in your unique style.

However I have an option for you too...



Virtual Assistants


You've probably said to yourself at some stage, I wish I could just make my art and have someone else do all the business stuff. It's likely the only reason you haven't acted on that thought is that you probably think it's too hard to achieve. But is it?

Whilst you should always know what is going on within your business (particularly financially) it's not that complicated to hire a freelance virtual assistant, through a site like Upwork or Freelancer, to do all the business stuff. The main benefit, after assigning them all the work you don't want to be doing, is that they don't impair your ability to work from wherever you choose.

Before you begin looking for a virtual assistant you'll need to step back from your business and list all the tasks you want them to do. Keep in mind, the more work you give them the more you'll need to pay them (which is not necessarily a bad thing in the long term).

Particularly find out how much you can pay an assistant and how long you want to hire them for. Maybe you only need them for a few hours each week on an ongoing basis or maybe you hire one for a set period just to see how things go. Can you absorb the cost or will you need to raise some of your pricing to cover their fee without affecting your current income?

Keep in mind, the goal here is to free up your time so you can produce either more or better quality art, there by increasing your income overall. If you're earning less overall income, long term, after hiring a virtual assistant, you're probably doing it wrong.


Virtual Studios


I've already touched on the idea of a virtual studio through hiring online freelance artists to take on extra work but why stop there?

If you provide an artistic service, set yourself up as an art director of your own virtual studio and outsource work to a group of online freelancers. You liaise with clients and then outsource the actual work to a freelancer who works under your art direction. Once they complete the job it's you that presents it back to the client and so on until the work is done.

As an art director you can take on considerably more work than you can as an individual, with the potential to earn a lot more money overall.

You'll need to work out a pay structure that recognizes that the freelancers are likely doing the bulk of the work but also adequately compensates you for communicating with clients and using your art direction skills.

The trick here is that, although you'll likely need to take on more jobs to make the same income as you were by yourself, your time will be significantly freed up. You can then give each of your freelancers as much work each as you were taking on by yourself, there by increasing your overall income. At the same time you're doing less of the actual work per job.

Again, if you're not earning more in the long term than what you would if you were working entirely by yourself then you're probably doing it wrong. At the very least, you want to be making the same amount of income as you would have had you not hired anybody. Ideally, you'll want to earn more, otherwise, why bother?


Freelancer vs Employee


A word of warning. Some countries have very specific definitions for who classes as a Freelancer and who is actually an Employee.

In general, freelancers provide a specific service, usually have multiple clients, work on their own time schedules and are responsible for their own taxes, healthcare, insurances etc.

People who work for the same employer on a regular basis to a specific time schedule could be viewed as employees under the laws of your country. In which case they likely have certain legal requirements that you have to adhere to, such as taxes, insurance, healthcare etc.

Generally you can't hire someone exclusively and just call them a freelancer to avoid any legal obligations afforded to employees. At best this will be frowned upon, at worst it could lead to heavy fines, your business being shut down and more.

Hiring freelancers through reputable freelance sites is probably the safest option but, if you do need to use other avenues, be sure you either are employing a freelancer or you know your legal obligations if you decide to hire someone as an employee.


---o ---o--- o---


This post is the final in my series on creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business. Most of the information is based on my own experience of running my own online Arts based business.

At the time of writing I run my own virtual animation studio providing work for four freelance animators with myself acting as art director and also doing some of the animation work myself.

As I said in Part 1, it is my intention to release a book based on the entire 13 part series, likely with additional material and revised text (this 13 part blog series serves as my first draft - which you get for free).

If you have found any part of this series useful I would love to hear your feedback in the comments of this post or the specific post(s) that you got the most from. Please leave your thoughts if you feel any of the information is incorrect, misleading or you'd like to see more detail.

I would also like to hear from you if you've attempted to, or have successfully set up a business using the information I have provided.

Thanks for reading. From next week this blog will resume it's usually mix of random posts about whatever has caught my attention... and probably some more posts about Batman too.



This post is part of a 13 part series called Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business. Read earlier parts at the links below:

Part 1: Introduction and Equipment
Part 2: Business Software
Part 3: Creative Software
Part 4: Social and Marketing Software Plus Your Website
Part 5: Documenting and Sharing Your Work in Progress
Part 6: Photographing and Preparing Your Art for Printing
Part 7: Maximizing Your Art By Creating Variations
Part 8: Legal Obligations and Employee Care Plan
Part 9: What to Create and Finding Your Market
Part 10: Opportunities to make money (Part A)
Part 10: Opportunities to make money (Part B)
Part 11: Pricing Your Art
Part 12: Pitfalls to be Wary of
Part 13: Expansion (the article above)

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