New Program Helps Local Artists Become Successful Entrepreneurs

street musicians

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

This is a favorite quote among my friends who pursued liberal arts degrees. It speaks to both the dream and reality of trying to build a career around creative talents. AKA it’s damn hard.

Google “least valuable college majors” and you’ll see a laundry list of arts degrees: creative writing, film, philosophy, photography and especially music.

What’s always funny to me about these lists is that they assume a salary is the only way to judge value. Books, movies, visual art, and especially music bring immeasurable joy to our lives. Without them we could never be transported to distant imaginary lands, feel the pain of another person’s suffering, or know what it’s like to have a one-person dance party while sitting at a stop light. WE NEED ART, which means we need artists who aren’t living in a van down by the river.

One problem with the current arts education system is that it lacks a business aspect. Few if any art students start their senior year with the knowledge they need to successful seek, find, communicate with, and supply a paying audience. They’re afraid, or worse, completely oblivious to the business world, unaware of how to be both the artist and CEO. Likewise, business people assume artists are flakes and vagabonds, and so are hesitant to invest money into art-based ventures.

Well artists, it’s time to put up or shut up. Arts Incubator of the Rockies just launched a comprehensive new series of workshops and seminars that are designed to connect artists to the business training they need and business people to the artistic ventures that Colorado craves.

If you’re a local band that’s looking for a way to turn that demo tape into a record contract, a painter looking to show your work in galleries where people will actually buy it, or a crafter whose friends have been saying “you should really sell these” for years, this is one educational series you can’t afford to miss.

AIR Shift Workshop: A 3 day learning event that will teach you how to change your thinking about art, value and community, help you develop your business pitch, and connect you with the diverse community of artists and art lovers that can help make your dream a reality. Learn more about dates, topics, and prices.

AIR Evolve Program: After you’ve taken the Shift Workshop, the next step is to put what you’ve got on paper into practice. Yes, drummers and bass players, this means developing a business plan. Yes, writers and painters, this means learning how to model and track your finances. At the end of this six month program, you’ll find yourself pitching your creative venture to a panel of local business people. Learn more about dates, topics, and prices. 

Image via drgonzo/Flickr

3 Easy Ways To Continue Your Freelance Education

Happy Monday!

Last week we talked about some reasons why continuing education is essential for freelancers. In a time when technology and modes of communication are changing rapidly, to become complacent in your knowledge is to become instantly outdated.

If you want to create a more robust network of clients and connections, and increase your value (aka your hourly rate), education is the key.

But it’s been a long time since most of us were in school, and I’m definitely not saying that getting another expensive degree is the way to go. So how does a busy freelancer continue his or her education without taking too many hours away from paying gigs?

Learn From Your Peers

For the past six months, Cohere has hosted an almost-weekly schedule of valuable workshops specifically targeted for working freelancers. We affectionately referred to it as the Winter of Learnin’, but high demand means this essential tradition has continued into the summer, and will probably stick around all year. We’ve learned about everything from copyright infringement to SEO strategy, all in the comfort of freelancers we know and experts we trust.

If you’re looking for an easy way to broaden your horizons, see what classes are available at your home coworking space. And if your home space doesn’t have workshops yet, offer to teach the first one. You might be surprised how much you learn when you teach.

Get Certified

Are you a self-taught whiz when it comes to graphic design? Do you love to manage large, complicated projects that involve contractors and vendors all over the world? These skills are worth their weight in gold, but only if your client believe that you truly possess them. Because a resume or online profile is usually the first introduction prospective clients will have to your skill set, the ability to brandish well-respected industry certifications will let them know that you mean business right from the start.

Check out this article on the Top 5 Certifications for Freelancers or this interesting blog post about certifications in various freelance industries from Fresh Books to learn more.

Brush Up On Your Business Skills

Almost everyone starts freelancing because working in the corporate world interfered with the pursuit of their passion. If you’re passionate about your career, you probably don’t need much motivation to continue building your knowledge base. But how skilled are you at owning and operating a business? The administration-side of working for oneself is a stumbling block for many freelancers, and often gets ignored until it’s too late.

Check with your local government or business development agency to see what they offer in the way of classes for new small business owners. Fort Collins, for example, is offering a Power Up Your Business! mini-conference on how to be a great leader within your business, increase visibility of your products and services and save money throughout your operations. It might not all be applicable to freelancing, but hey, it’s $15 and you’ll probably make some valuable connections in the community.

What other ways can freelancers continue their education? Share your ideas in a comment!

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