Contemplating New Opportunities

by seanlow on February 1, 2018

I thought we would pivot this week.  I have spent a lot of time these last few months focusing on the distillation of your art and your creative business.  The work has been about developing everything you do around what you most care about and getting paid for it specifically.  Of course, we will return to the topic as having your art and your creative business tell a better story is a never-ending exercise.  Today, though, let us talk about what happens when new opportunity manifests.  How do you go about thinking whether what is on offer for you and your creative business is something you should consider and, if so, how you might best maximize what is (or could be) there for you, your art and your creative business.

The Benjamins – For most of us, no project is going to come along that singularly is going to offer “sit-on-the-beach” dollars.  Therefore, the first thing to pay attention to is that any particular project has to set the stage for the next one.  If you reach for all the dollars you can at the expense of the future, you need to be okay with the idea that there will be no future.  Examples: mass market opportunities that really cheapen what you are doing vis-a-vis your core market.  By the way, you do not have to be a nationally recognized creative business to have this apply to you.  If you are hyper-local, as most of you are, it can be as simple as associating with the wrong venue or vendors as to cause concern that you are “selling out”.  Which brings me to direct vs. indirect dollars.

Sure, you can get paid directly for the association (maybe a license, endorsement, product launch, referral fee, etc.) and if you have enough clout it might be worth it for the one shelling out the dollars.  More likely though, you do not have the clout, at least not alone.  So primary in the effort for any new opportunity is to balance indirect dollars that might benefit you, your art and your creative business directly.

An obvious example is PR, Marketing and Social Media support.  Having someone else committed financially to growing not only the viability of your relationship but your name independently is a very big deal.  Why? PR, Marketing and Social Media is expensive (in both dollars and time) and getting help that you do not pay for is incredibly valuable.  Also, the relationship offers a perpetual story that can continue to grow and evolve over time.  Last, if those writing the check see your desire to receive indirect dollars, they likely will feel your commitment to the project and will probably spend a lot more than if they were just going to pay you directly.  And, let’s face it, the bigger you, your art and your creative business become, the better the next opportunity will be.

Layers – This one might be a little more controversial than direct vs. indirect dollars.  If you cannot see your way to multiple revenue streams from the opportunity, you should pass.  Having a home run license deal is like hitting the lottery and getting rarer and rarer every day.  The digital age has taken care of that.  We can see all choices at all times.  Relying on you to be THE choice ala Martha is a relic of the analog age and not nearly as valuable as it once was.  There will always be room for great products, just not THE product.  What it means is that the opportunity has to generate multiple opportunities for you to be truly rewarded.  Here is an example from the interior design world that I think can apply in many areas of creative business.

Say you are offered the opportunity to design an apartment building, or hotel or country club.  Most times a designer will receive a consulting fee for their efforts and will provide input on public spaces, interior layout and possibly hardscape (fixtures, appliances (if applicable), floors, lighting, etc.).  Just not enough to warrant participating.

At minimum, I would also want the PR, Marketing and Social Media support noted above.  Since there are probably third party purchasers involved, the designer would not be able to sell products to the developer of the project.  She could however custom design certain elements for the project and either seek to retail them on her own after the project’s completion or license them.  If you and your creative business (as some sort of high-end designer) happen to be in this space today where you might be able to create high-end product for a project that might have life after the project, you need to know about Kate Verner at KVA.  No one better at making this product and its after-sale a reality.

Of course, if the project allows the designer to work at their core (say design finished apartments), this can be included too.

In sum, here is where the project might have started:  Consulting fee for design advice on a commercial project.

Here is where I suggest landing: reduced consulting fee, payment for PR, Marketing and Social Media (both for the project and your creative business independently), opportunity to custom design elements for the project (to be independently distributed afterwards), and invitation to custom design (if applicable). Probably the same cost to the other side, but much better for you, your art and your creative business as to the how and why of the deal.

One last note.  If the project is intended to become another creative business for you, your art and your creative business, then you have to consider all elements of the Perfect Egg. First the opportunity, then the new creative business.

Art transcends its medium.  Your work matters and will be seen in many many lights if that is what you desire for your creativity.  As with everything, see past the moment to set the stage for all of the moments to come.  The rest will take care of itself.

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