One Talent, Multiple Streams of Income
Wondering how to use a creative talent to pay the bills now and build for retirement later? Last week, I spoke with Texas wildflower artist Linda Calvert Jacobson about what works for her. I'll share her strategies so that you can find ways to invest your talents.
Linda runs her business with a relatively low overhead and hardly any cash tied up in inventory. She rents space from a non-profit artist's association, upstairs from the group's main gallery. This space serves as her studio, gallery, art classroom, and site for summer camps and marketing seminars. She also diversifies her income.
Linda creates paintings of Texas wildflowers and sells them at her gallery and online store. She also displays them at local venues and participates in art shows. Income is generated from these one-time sales. Though some artists also arrange for the production of multiple prints, Linda has opted out of this arrangement largely to avoid investing in print inventory. Instead, she has found other ways of producing income from a single piece of art.
Print-on-demand of original designs
Through her own CafePress shop and similar online shops such as Zazzle, Linda can create and sell collections of embellished ceramic tiles, throw pillows, ornaments, and more. Because these companies collect payments, produce items, and ship products to customers, Linda doesn't have to hire staff, buy production equipment, or rent distribution space to fulfill orders; instead, she pays a low monthly fee for a customized, premium shop.
International licensing of original designs
Licensing agreements allow the licensee to use specific designs of the licensor (Linda, in this case) on specific products in specific countries for a certain amount of time at an established compensation rate, which may be royalties, flat-rate payments, or combination of flat rate plus royalties. Linda struck deals with international licensing companies by running a booth at international licensing shows in New York and California. Currently, her designs embellish limited-edition watches sold in the U.K. and greeting cards distributed in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Though she wasn't opposed to the idea, she didn't have to pay the licensing firms to develop or promote her creative works of art.
Using prior experience as an art teacher, Linda provides instruction in drawing and painting to adults and children. The classes provide a reliable source of income throughout the year and keep her in touch with people in the community. Because sessions are held in her studio/gallery, she doesn't have to spend extra money on classroom space.
After getting lots of inquiries about summer camp from parents of students and adult students with children, Linda decided to start offering day camps during the summer and spring break. She researched camp activities and developed project-based sessions with a variety of themes, such as "Circus, Circus" for younger kids and "Art in 3-D-Real or Not" for those a bit older. The camps have become so popular that this year, she had just a slot or two left open among a slate of 20 camp sessions. Again, she is using the same space as her studio/gallery and offering a valuable service to community members while generating income. Planning takes a lot of time but some camp themes can be repeated so that she can possibly reap income from one idea (plus the hard work it takes to promote and run the camp) for years to come.
Now that she has developed multiple streams of income and learned to promote her artistic talents locally and globally, Linda has begun offering marketing seminars to artists. She hopes to show others how to make a living as an artist and build yet another source of revenue.
Linda is currently investigating the e-book as a method of conveying her marketing methods to a broader audience and generating income from one creative piece.
Through sales of original art, lessons, and camp, Linda generates income to take care of her needs for the present. By establishing a national and global presence, and entering the world of licensing and royalties, she is developing streams of income that won't depend on day-to-day effort for the future. Linda's techniques can be applied to nearly anyone who wants to turn creative talent into income:
- Sell locally by tapping into community-based associations and developing partnerships with area businesses that might host special events or promote your work.
- Extend your reach nationally and globally through online sales, licensing, and engagement of outside representatives.
- Create and sell items using your own artwork, photographs, copyright-free material, or copy (I thought this saying was clever though I disagree with the conclusion) by using print-on-demand services.
- Write an e-book or self-publish a printed book using Lulu.com or similar services.
- Teach specific skills or ways of doing things to other people through classes, seminars, webinars, and camps.