When creative business owners stop and think about where they want to go with their art and their creative businesses most do it exactly backwards. They start with money – what they should charge, how much they want to make, what things cost, etc. Then what work is necessary to generate the money they seek. Finally, if at all, most creative business owners ask themselves what exactly it is that they want to share with the world. If that vision fits the money and the physical, then most creative business owners are good; and if it does not, usually the vision gets adjusted (or chucked).
Perhaps this thought process is from classic SWOT Analysis and all that, but I cannot see how it can work for creative businesses.
The spiritual is everything. Your seeds as an artist, social commentator, communications expert, visionary are based in your ideas and what you feel you need to deliver. It is beyond ego and into the realm of giving. Yes, it is woo woo and meant to be. Why you are here and doing what you are asked to do is the only place from which you can begin. To be even more aggresive: without this foundation, your creative business will crumble. Why? Authenticity. Truth. Art. Those that resonate in these three words with you will pay you and your creative business anything to share your version of the words with them. In a world that tries to objectify and rationalize the value of everything, you must know your intrinsic value separate and apart from THE thing. Lots of people like to make pretty, does not make them artists or effective creative business owners. Art and creative business is what is behind the pretty. The why, the ethos of who you, your art and your creative business are and intend to be. Start there.
Then, what is your bandwidth? Do you want to do one hundred projects a year or four? Do you want to be a manager or a lone wolf? Or somewhere in between? What will it take for you to do your best work? Always? Where will there be idle hands and where will the creative light go out from overuse (literally, burnout)? The place is different for all of us. No, you may not be able to proscribe it for yourself. Maybe you want fifteen projects and get five or twenty, but to not think about what volume of work you need is ostrich time (i.e., head in the sand). You cannot adjust the value of what you offer if you are letting what is offered to you determine your value.
Last is financial. Once you have worked through the spiritual and physical side of things you will know what you need financially. From there you price, not based on the market, or what the value of the project is, or other objective mental masturbation game you might want to play to come up with a number. Nope, just what you need to do what you do as often as you need to do it for the people that have to have you and your creative business do it for them. Your number is your number. If it is one million dollars and you want to do ten projects, price is one hundred thousand dollars per projecct.
Yes, yes, maybe the market will not support what you need. Too often though, that is the symptom of doing it backwards. Starting with money is almost a sure bet to creating the ceiling you believe is actually real. “No way would someone pay me $x for my design/idea/plan. I mean the most expensive so and so only charges half of $x. Just not what designers/planners/florists/photographers/caterers here in Kalamazoo are paid.” Except Kalamazonians do not define your value, you do. Without knowing the spiritual and the physical that makes you and your creative business tick, your default will be about the thing you create in the end and those things will always, always be capped and forever getting cheaper. The better you understand the spiritual and the physical, the better you can define (and get paid for) your intrinsic value to those that crave it. That is what creative business is all about — getting paid to create. Creation has no definition and neither should price. It is just what you need to create, no more, no less.