Conference Inspiration. (Or...How Not to be an Idiot) The first breakout session I went to was called Business Nuts & Bolts. It basically was about how to be a smart business person as well as an artist. After all, being a freelance illustrator means owning your own business. You can't be a total idiot in the business sense. It is just too important. Plus you don't want to be that guy who goes to jail for tax evasion. You have to do invoicing and keep up with your books and proposals and job checklists...not to mention retirement funds...

This was a good thing for me to go to, seeing as the business side does not come naturally to me. I work hard at it and I am learning and getting better at it as I go.

The thing that I found the most intriguing in this talk was the 5 Business Plans. Michael Fleishman, writer of "Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer" was the one who brought this up. He wrote about it in his book (which I have and highly recommend) if you want to read more about it than what I mention here (I'm sure you will!). But basically here are the 5 Business Plans that should be reviewed once a year:

1. Artistic - this means your style/your market/art related plan. Does your style fit the market your going after? Is your style stale...do you need to evolve? Are you doing art you are proud of? etc... He said this is something you should look at every year to make sure you are on top your game.

2. Personal - where you live/how much you work/how your career balances with your personal life. And, ehem...we all know I need help here...I'm a work-a-holic. So, I wont' dwell on this long.

3. Advertising - every year review your advertising strategy. What: You need to get your name out there...but how. Postcards? Posters? Direct Mail? Email art directors? Source books? When: how much advertising you want to do. How many times you do direct mail or call an art director. How much: how much you're willing to spend on advertising. Set a budget.

4. Financial - This includes income goals (I want to make $xxx more than last year), what your expenses are (re-evaluating studio, how much you spend on supplies...if you can cut back, etc), and the big question: Am I making ends meet?

5. Retirement - For a freelancer, this is sort of tough. You don't have an employer matching your contribution to your 401k....heck, you don't have a 401k at all. So what do you do? I'm not even going to pretend to know about this stuff. Go ask your accountant. You do have an accountant, right?

So that's the main thing I got out of that little talk. It was good stuff to keep in mind. And a really good kick in the pants that this stuff is important and I need to review all my business plans.

Is it a little anal? Yeah, but I'm a virgo. hee. I'm supposed to worry about this stuff. Gotta go write up some plans now.

*p.s. Is this kind of stuff helpful to you? I hope I'm not just telling you stuff you already know or read? (I tend to like the reminder...but that's me.)