Many creatives put pressure on themselves to make a business out of their art. This is a tremendous pressure that can sometimes warp the artistic process, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Once you start looking at yourself as a business, however, you begin to realise how little ‘worth’ your creative projects have on paper. The book, even if it’s successful, isn’t going to be enough to live on. The YouTube video may not even raise enough money to buy a decent meal. Is a sustainable creative business possible?
Of course it is. But your assets - your intellectual property - could probably do with some re-framing. One of the most common mistakes emerging creative entrepreneurs make is the narrow way of thinking about their art. Your ideas and output are your business, so you need to get as much juice out of them as possible.
Think about ways you can shift your thinking. Can you blog be turned into a book, for example? Or a play, or a podcast, or an audiobook, or a television script? A comic? Can you partner with an artist and put together an exhibition or presentation? If you’re a musician, can you take your lyrics and sell them as poetry? Or take your music and apply to score a short film?
One idea can have a myriad of outcomes - and why limit yourself to just one?
Sites like host millions of artist looking to collaborate. Here, the idea is you give up any rights to your material and let other artists riff on your work. The site has resulted in short films, publications, albums and more - some even resulting in profit for the artists. Communities such as this present an important blueprint of how to think about your work in the creative economy.
Another example is our own Jennifer McDonald, who’s collection of blogs about her cancer recovery have now taken on the form of a book. And an audiobook will of course follow too.
Widen your ambitions and let your art into the world for a wander. You’ll be surprised how much fuel you can get out of one idea.