This article is based on our recent free webinar I Will Survive, which is still available as a recording. You can access the webinar, as well as more resources and links, any time you like until this nightmare is over. Click here to register!
Bushfires, drought, floods and now a global pandemic – 2020 is hitting the creative industries harder than ever. While it’s tempting to just park our practices and hide under the blankets for the duration, we at Creative Plus Business have come up with a strategy that might help you get through the worst of the crisis.
For more coronavirus updates, please visit https://www.australia.gov.au/
Step 1: Manage Your Health
How are you physically, and emotionally? If you’re unwell in either category, get the help you need, if you can. Mental and physical health are both directly connected to creative practice, and in these devastating times it’s important to take care of yourself – and that includes those who must also take care of others.
Step 2: Ensure Your Short Term Financial Survival
Next, ensure you have a handle on your immediate income and savings. Do you have enough to survive for the near future? A cash flow projection is scary and unpleasant at the best of times, but it will help you understand how much money is coming in and out of your practice in the next 2-3 months. How much money is actually coming in? Can you trim some ‘fat’ from your budgets? Can you ask for pauses in rent or mortgage?
Also check out the Australian government’s various bailout packages, including Centrelink benefits and accessing your superannuation early.
Step 3: Take Financial Housekeeping to the Next Level
Getting your financial house in order, as best you can, will help you you to navigate the oncoming financial crisis. This includes:
- issuing all invoices, and chasing those that haven’t been paid;
- working with long-term and regular clients to ensure they can pay you;
- investigating a small overdraft on a business account to help smooth cashflow, and;
- renegotiating terms with your own suppliers, such as commercial rent or internet providers, to see if there are cheaper options available.
Now is a good time to move to cloud accounting as well, if you haven’t already. It will help you to send more respectable invoices and track your finances more effectively. It will also ensure that you are keeping on top of your cash flow, especially projections.
Step 4: Take Care of your Team
If you have staff or freelancers working with you, it’s time to have a frank conversation about your options. Maybe you’ve already let them go, maybe you can keep them on, but it’s best to continue communication with them about all the options.
Step 5: A Great Time for Marketing
It might seem odd, but if you have enough money to survive and you’re in the right frame of mind, now can be a terrific time for marketing. Use this time to:
- Update (or build) your websites;
- Improve your social marketing skills;
- Get better at LinkedIn. Counterintuitive perhaps, but this is where the money people are, and positioning on this platform could be a good use of your time;
- Continue communication with your regular or loyal existing clients to see if there’s any way to maintain a relationship going forward;
- If you can afford it, consider an overall brand and logo refresh.
Historically, when recovery comes, it can be fast and furious. Attending to your marketing and working on ways to fill your pipeline with new work (see next point) will put you in a better position than those who haven’t.
Step 6: An Even Better Time for Unicorns and New Work
Now is also the perfect time to work on all those unicorn projects and new ideas that you haven’t had time for in the past.
Government grants and philanthropic donors are a long way off for the moment, but there will come a time when the money is released back into the creative community, and you can use this time to prepare. Continuing to make work, and treating that as professional time, could also help keep mental wellbeing issues at bay.
Step 7: Brainstorm Ways to Diversify Income
If your creativity is still flowing and you’re feeling OK, try brainstorming some new ways of making money. Could you:
Add products or services to your current offering:
- Develop some merchandise to sell?
- Write that e-book you always wanted to write, and sell it on Kindle?
- Offer online services, like coaching or teaching or tutoring?
- Try a subscription-based offering to existing clients?
- Combine forces with a fellow creative to offer a package of services for a combined client base?
- Try Affiliate marketing with like-minded stakeholders?
- Consider developing some other form of passive income, like online workshops, dropshipping, downloadable music, pay-per-view for screen content, and more?
Step 8: Stay Connected to the Community
Keep in touch with people. Social isolation is proving to be very difficult for many people, especially those who live alone. Stay tuned to the various Facebook groups for creatives that have sprung up online, connect to friends and family virtually when you can, and subscribe to newsletters that can keep you in touch with the latest information.
Step 9: Keep the Arts Alive
If you have the capacity, support your fellow creatives during this time. If appropriate:
- Give some time or energy or food to a local creative that you know, who needs your help;
- Buy books and poetry from local authors;
- Buy from a local Etsy artist;
- Subscribe to online workshops;
- Support a local artist through Patreon;
- Buy merchandise on Bandcamp and listen to local artists on a streaming service that pays;
- Commission an artist to create something.
Step 10: Try to stay Optimistic
This is super hard – but this terrible time will be over one day, and hopefully before the end of the year. It may get worse before it gets better, but try and manage your wellbeing to remain as positive as you can.
Always remember the rollercoaster – and thanks again to Lenny Pelling for our favourite illustration.