The first place to look if your money gets funny

When most of us start out as artists, we generally don’t have a huge consistent flow of clients.  Hell, half of us either still live with our parents, have a day job, or both.  Generally cash flow issues happen here because you haven’t worked the system long enough.  If you keep on doing quality work you’ll get more business from repeat customers, referrals, networking, etc.

Once you’ve done art a while, if your money slows, you generally have a different problem.  It’s not what you need to do, it’s what you should stop doing.  Yes, I’ll say it again.  It’s not what you’re doing, it’s what you need to STOP doing.  

When I started drawing caricatures live, one of the ways I built my business was by volunteering my services to fundraisers.  I generally earned enough tips to cover supplies and I usually did get a paying gig from it but there was a downside.  People thought, if he drew at this show for free, surely he’d draw at the next show for free too.”  

I thought surely some of these people who I developed relationships with would pay me sooner or later, right?  Hell no.  Cheap is as cheap does.  Why pay for the cow when you can drink the milk for free.  I stopped doing jobs for “exposure” and to “get my name out there” and dealt with cash and trade only.  I still do one to two events a year but I generally charge a reduced rate and I typically only support causes I believe in or donate to anyway.

What should you stop doing?  Is it that work from family who think because of blood you’re supposed to give them discounts on everything?  Is it working for free?  Is it taking on work you don’t like because you need to pay some bills?

Whatever it is you need to stop, stop doing it.  Think about it this way, when you are spending time on jobs that suck, it’s preventing you from taking jobs that you love.  We draw and paint to do what we love, not the stuff we can’t stand.