By Mel Williams
Nowadays, with the ease and access of today’s technology, there’s really no excuse. You want to start your own business? Blog? Share your ideas and products with the world? It’s as simple as creating an (often free) account and publishing content.
It’s so easy in fact, that many people overlook what it really means to be an independent artist.
Sure you can create a free account and publish content and build an audience of millions of followers, but where exactly does that leave you? Amassing a significant following of people who vibe with your content definitely has its perks. But even then, eventually, you’ll come face to face with the reality of the business side of the industry and the indisputable fact that: As an indie artist, you ARE a business.
What does that mean? It means that all your hard work, time in the studio creating, coordinating and posting content, the point of it all isn’t just to share and create presence on a world stage, but at some point you need to be monetizing to keep the momentum going (unless you’re already a billionaire and being an indie artist is just a really fun side hustle).
The real indie artist knows that it takes money to make money. Even with millions of followers, it costs to go on tour, book studio time, hire a team to help in various areas. It costs to create, grow, produce, and spread your brand. So now that I have your attention, let’s dive into what it really means to be considered a real indie artist or indie anything.
Here’s a brief, simple checklist to ensure you’re on the right track to actually realize your dream as an independent artist, no matter your industry, as well as setting yourself up to monetize all of your hard work.
STEP 1: You’re not a business until you register as one. Whatever country you live in, research the laws on becoming a recognized entity. In the US, you register with your local state office and obtain an EIN. You use this EIN instead of your SSN when you file business tax forms with various entities so that you can keep your business costs and income separate from your personal life. If you don’t keep your personal life expenses separate from your business expenses, you may get “shut down” as just being a hobby vs. a legit business, which leads me to STEP 2.
STEP 2: Open a second bank account dedicated solely for your business transactions. Even if you just open it and there is little to no activity in the first few years, own one. It will help in the long run to keep your business finances separate as you may likely need it to establish and build a line of credit history, to take out bigger loans to invest in your craft.
STEP 3: Hustle HARDER. You’re already well on your way to being an established business. But it’s not time to kick back and take it easy! You need to pick up momentum. This means logging in hours perfecting your craft, actively seeking out mentors and the knowledge they have to offer, and networking with people of like minds who can either help you get where you’re going or provide support (emotional/financially) for the long journey ahead.
STEP 4: INVEST IN YOURSELF. It blows my mind how many people overlook this step or try to avoid it altogether. I’ll use an ancient metaphor to make my point . . . If a large tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? In other words, if you as an indie artist puts out project after project and no one is there to “hear” it, are you really having an impact? If you’re not impacting an audience with your chosen craft, can you realistically expect to make a return on investment?
Investing in the creation of your brand is half the equation . . . maybe less, because again, if no one knows who you are and what you do, you’ll only ever exist in your small bubble that’s only getting you so far. If you’re serious about reaching the masses, you have to invest in reaching them. That means running ads. That means hiring the right people to make your brand’s story appealing to build up a loyal fan base who will invest financially back into you and your brand. It also means establishing yourself in your market by having others share your content (think press) so your fans can connect with you.
STEP 5: Realize YOU are the business and not just your product. As an artist, you are continually growing and that means your tastes and styles are subject to change. Even if they never do, realize that your growing fan base needs to see who you really are.
Otherwise, you’ll secure a base of followers who are not true fans and who only stick around for a short time period. When you share your product by definition, it’s only an extension of sharing who you are as an individual with the world. People become invested in you, not just the product.
STEP 6: Never stop learning. You should always be actively learning with regards to your industry. Become an active participant in your knowledge and education. It may seem overwhelming at first, but break down each step into smaller more attainable steps. Set aside 15-30 minutes each day, even 5 min if you feel you can’t do more until it becomes a habit. Don’t ever get complacent and feel you’ve learned all you need to know. Google’s search engine makes it too easy to obtain the knowledge you need for free. Watch videos, read books, listen to podcasts, keep learning. I highly recommend listening to podcasts of successful people to keep your entrepreneur spirit strong.
So you think you’re really in it for the long haul and you’re ready to make 2019 your year? That’s great!
Feel free to tap into the TALENTS community and let us know how we may be able to help you with our services! Here’s to a productive new year!
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