Two Commitments For 2018

by seanlow on January 4, 2018

Happy happy to everyone.  2018 is going to be a remarkable year. More than ever, there is an ability to see the reality of what was only a fantasy a few years ago.  Things like commercial space travel, 3D/Virtual Reality everything, renewable powered cars and homes, and on and on.  Go watch any 80’s movie if you want to see just how far we have come to the future we now inhabit.

So in the spirit of setting the right tone for what creative businesses need to be focused on to be relevant in today’s future, let us all now commit to two (not a hundred) practices that will reshape all of creative business.  These commitments I have not said (many times) before but always worth retelling:  live and die by your design statement and lose line-item pricing.

Design Statement – This is the ethos of why you do what you do. It is not about pretty, it is about what you think about when you set about your creative process. Your design statement is THE thing you care most about as it defines why you do what you do and how you do it.  Your design statement is meant to be raw and real and profoundly you.  If it happens to look like someone else’s then it needs to be a complete coincidence else you have not gone far enough.  Whether you put your design statement on public display (website, social media, etc.) or share it after you first talk to a potential client is up to you. But share it you must.  What would the world look like if the decision to hire you and your creative business or not was truly based on not just on what you envision (or have envisioned) but on why and how you envision the world you wish to create for your clients? Let us make 2018 all about having clients choose based on who they most relate to and make that choice front and center.  Leave the choosing on price, amount of stuff or services delivered, and false fluffy promises to the amateurs.

Line-Item Pricing – Line-item pricing connotes a world gone by.  A world where absolute and relative value could only be communicated by dollars.  We can all do better than that today with all of the tools available to us.  No more training wheels please. Clients do not know they can get better value from artists until determined artists show what that value is.  Communicating value through depth of feeling and relative feeling is here to stay. No doubt, it is more work.  However, short cuts are just that: they ending up cutting you, your art and your creative business short.  So do the work of having a harder (not because it is, but because it is different) conversation and deliver better value to your clients. Lose line-item pricing to help them trust you more, not less. There will be many that will disagree with the last sentence. Let them. They are wrong. The bastion of those who just want to get to the next step is the crutch of pricing.  Yeah, so not good enough. Teaching clients to demand more will just serve to expose the mediocrity for what it is.  Given the choice to be mediocre or remarkable, I would hope is not a choice at all for you, your art or your creative business.

Why focus on the Design Statement and No Line-Item Pricing? Because they will both force you to be better and by being better I mean more authentic, more exposed as the artist you are and the art you most wish to create. Scarier for everyone?  Sure. More valuable?  Not even close.

With a design statement in hand you will have to own your process.  When you own your process, your contract will tell a story and be a living breathing guide to the journey you will take with your client. Definitive process supported by a vibrant contract sets the stage for profound moments of trust and compels you to do more than just mail it in with line-item pricing. With trust in hand, deep value is delivered BEFORE you ever show up with your finished art. Then, of course, the magic of your finished art is inevitable. Rinse, lather, repeat.

With the new year upon us and selling season close at hand (or, in many cases, already started), be better by refusing to entertain short cuts as anything other than cutting you short.  Rather, do the hard work of speaking a language that matters with today’s future; a language that starts with a Design Statement and No Line-Item Pricing.

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