The whole concept of working from home has become extremely popular over the past few years. As an Artist or Creative Business this is going to be your best solution to get started. As all you really need is a good insurance policy.
You can even buy a flat-packed office or studio to be assembled in your garden – so what could possibly be better? Working from home is not for everyone however, no matter what it is that you do. Most people have transitioned over from a ‘job’, where you are working on someone else’s time, to someone else’s goals and targets. You have tasks to do and deadlines to meet.
I remember when I left my art teaching career to become a full-time professional artist (see my 7 top mistakes here). My friends would pop round for coffee, thinking I was simply ‘at home’. I would join others to go on shopping trips, have lunch out or just waste hours doing mundane household tasks. I think we call this ‘procrastination’…
It wasn’t till one day when I realised if I didn’t put in some boundaries, I wouldn’t complete my next painting collection on time. The knock-on effect of which was ultimately no sales, no money and no food on the table.
I realised working from home required my boundaries. I needed to talk to my friends and explain that I was ‘running a business’ now, and that socialising would need to be organised outside of my working hours.
So here are some tips, lessens learned and helpful guidelines to ensure you too are really successful working from home.
Here Are Tips 1 – 15 of 30 Top Tips For Working From Home As A Professional Artist.
Tip 1: Preparation
Before you start out running your professional artist business, tell all your friends and family what you are doing and how you would value their respect, help and support. Enrol them into your goals, big picture plan and rough working hours.
Tip 2: Plan-Plan-Plan
Make sure you take the time to create a simple working Business Plan and stick to it. Put together a weekly timetable structure and put it up so you can see it every day! I also like to have a year planner up on the wall, with shows, events, deadlines, marketing launches and anything else that is a big part of the next 12 months.
Tip 3: House Work
Work out with your family when household chores will get done, and divide out the tasks equally. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you are able to do the cleaning. Get a cleaner in – get that outsourcing going already! Of course if you live alone, then it should be fairly simple to fit in. I used to use this as some of my ‘fitness’ time.
Where I live currently is a really large house and garden on the edge of the bush, so walking up and down stairs, in, out and round the bush area uses up lots of steps and gives me a fresh air break. They key for me is to do small tasks as my breaks, and not get stuck into anything else. Just walk away!
Tip 4: Schedule regular ‘time out’.
This for me is also really important. Eating healthy meals, getting some exercise, joining a yoga class or taking a walk. Looking after your body provides you with more energy, and in turn you’ll be able to stay focused and engaged with your creative and thought process for longer. After all, running an art business isn’t just about the art, it’s also doing the ‘business’ stuff to.
Tip 5: Dress for work.
This makes you look & feel the part. I have always had my ‘painting jeans’, and now I have white overalls. I know that some people just get out of bed and wander to their creative space and stay in their pj’s all day. Personally I change clothes a lot, depending on what I’m doing. It’s like having different ‘hats’ – only literally.
Tip 6: Do whatever you need to do to transition into creative or work mode.
Go out of the back door and come in through the front. Focus & write down what you want to get out of the day. Fully engage yourself with a mantra or powerful sentence, which will place you in the work zone. (I am happy, creative and successful in all the work I do). Create a Morning Routine and let this become an empowering habit.
Tip 7: Try and have a workspace that you can lock.
I have been very lucky to either have my own outside studio, an office, and now a room in my home as a studio. Close the door behind you when you are done. This should stop you nipping back and fiddling once you have finished for the day/night. If you don’t have a dedicated space, then make sure you tidy up properly (I used to paint in my bedroom which was a nightmare).
Tip 8: Learn to say NO.
Set boundaries and stick to them! This is so important, I have already shared a bit about how many hours I lost when I first started out, to random ‘coffee’s and ‘shopping’ trips…or well meaning friends popping by. This is now up to you to use that NO word. If you really want to build a successful art business, and working from home is where you are at, then be disciplined with your time. Teach others to respect it too.
Tip 9: Don’t answer personal calls on the phone.
Start the way you mean to go on and set boundaries here too, otherwise your friends will think nothing of ringing in the middle of the day and pouring out their woes. Have a polite message on your answerphone, and just get used to not answering it. Every time we do, it breaks the concentration, you switch your brain away from creative mode, and it can take a while to get back into things. (Apparently about 7 minutes to re-adjust).
Tip 10: Don’t check your emails/messages more than once a day.
As we know we are now surrounded my Facebook messages, Emails, Tweets, Pings, Reminders, Notifications from all sorts of things, and this can use up hours of your day. Switch off all your phone notifications, don’t have the laptop open, or emails on, and try to only look through it all once a day. Do this in your ‘business’ time, whenever that will be. I also often use an automated response on my emails, which can let people know you are particularly busy etc.
Tip 11: Give yourself a lunch-break and enjoy it!
You’ve earned it, so no guilt please! Take a good break here, and ideally make fresh food, sit somewhere lovey to eat it and just relax. Sometimes I have a notebook, or scribble pad with me, as that can be nice. Or go for that walk I mentioned earlier, as this can give you thinking time, or just a breathe of fresh air.
Tip 12: Chunk your day into 90 min or 2 hours slots.
When I discovered this way of working I have to say it changed everything for me. Now I break my day down into chunks: painting, preparing, blogging, planning, marketing, admin – or whatever that days has in store. If I’m just doing one thing, then I break it into 2/3 slots and take 5-minute fresh air breaks. Since doing this I’ve noticed massive improvements in my results, both creatively and business-wise.
Tip 13: Drink plenty of water.
The hours can easily slip by and dehydration can set in, mixed with caffeine, this will soon cause headaches & lack of concentration. Not what you really want. So take a big bottle of water with you into your creative space, or two if needed. Having it under your nose makes it easy to drink. I like to add lemon slices, or other fruit to make it taste nicer too.
Tip 14: Have healthy snacks to keep your energy up.
Along with the water, having things like bananas, nuts and dried fruit handy stops your blood sugar from dropping. And should also help you to keep away from that biscuit jar! Or my weakness, chocolate.
Tip 15: Give yourself incentives.
Some days if you are anything like me, you get up and are just not feeling it. Then you have two options, push through and make the best of it, or write the day off and do something else altogether. Now, if you have a deadline approaching you may need to just knuckle down and get things done. So giving yourself something to look forward to, or work towards can really help. Guess we all liked that gold star chart at school!!
So that brings us to a break between blogs, and the end of Part One of my 30 Tips For Working From Home As A Professional Artist. Check out for Part Two here.