Friday, October 26, 2012

Working Creatively

I had a chance this week to speak to a room full of students at College Of DuPage. It was a panel discussion on "Making It In The Arts". I want to thank Terry Vitacco from COD, and Amy Rodgers from North Central College for putting the whole thing together.
We covered a wide range of topics, and I hope some of the information that was shared was helpful. I know we talked about the benefits of networking, assisting, and finding out where your passion is. And I'm sorry if I shocked anyone when I said that I didn't use contracts (I really hate paperwork.) But I do have a system in place, and somehow it works for me. You'll figure out what works for you too.

There were SO many other things that I was hoping we'd be able to cover. There simply wasn't enough time. And I suppose there will never be enough time to get to it all. There were other topics planned and I do have a few thoughts about them that I'd like to share with you here-

*  Most Successful Marketing & Promotion Activity- Honestly, nothing brings in work like having a big project that is seen by lots of potential clients. But I know that's impossible to do when you're starting out. I have also had success with a self-published magazine that I send out to my existing clients and potential prospects. It serves as a portfolio of recent work and looks pretty slick- The Works
*  Biggest Struggle & How Did I Overcome It- I still get the shakes thinking about the time I tried to do my own taxes. Surround yourself with helpful people that are smarter than you. I have a great accountant now that makes my life better.
*  Social Media Used- I use Facebook, twitter, and this blog. Again, it's what works for me. I keep hoping Pinterest goes away before I have to learn about it. Go away Pinterest!
*  Did I Start With A Business Plan- Yes! It's always a good idea to write down your strengths and weaknesses, problems and potentials. Write down what you want to do, investigate your target market, and make a plan. Without a plan you don't really know where you're heading. This is something I revisit and tweak every year or so (usually around tax time.)
* How Do I Keep My Business Moving Forward- You have to learn how to market yourself even when you're busy. Otherwise you get in a viscous cycle of super-busy and horribly-slow periods. Don't take your existing clients for granted, and always network and reach out to new people.

It was great meeting the other panelists. And thanks to all the students that came out, especially the ones that stuck around afterwards and had great questions. I encourage you all to contact any of the panelists if you have anything else you want to ask. We all remember what it was like in the beginning. There were many people that helped me along the way, and I try to help out wherever I can as well.

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