3 Steps For Side-Business Success

Artists, say what you want about a Plan B, but most of us have a survival job. 

I’m going to argue that if you have the special skills to make supplemental income doing something creative and fulfilling, why not be your own boss? Then you can provide the income (or time) you need to your art form!

Today, I’m speaking to the singers, actors, dancers, and artists of all kinds who are also coaches, teachers, trainers, photographers, stylists, and more.

Most of these multi-hyphenates are such Type A personalities that they can handle a Plan B (or side business)! They are so organized, disciplined, and analytical that they’ve already started cultivating a plan.

Still, the following questions often come up:

  • Does my business belong on my artistic website?
  • Do I have to create a separate website?
  • Does it discount my personal brand (or business) to have them together?
  • How could I possibly balance a side business with all of my classes, rehearsals, performances, and responsibilities?
  • How do I keep my focus on making art while attempting to make a real income?

Each answer depends on what you really want and how you set things up! These three steps will help.

 

1. Get clarity.

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, start thinking about the size of business you want. How will this contribute to your artistic career without taking it over? 

To figure this out, you need to think about how much money you want to make and how often you want to work. Divide your desired income by desired hours (or sales) and you’ll determine your pricing. 

You also need to get really clear on who you’ll serve. How will you go about reaching or attracting these people? Be very careful to make sure that your pricing (and of course, your products/services) resonates with these people.

 

2. Consider these models for your online presence.

You have some options:

  • YourName.com/sidebusiness - a public or unlisted link on your site
  • SideBusiness.com - a separate domain and website
  • Industry.com/sidebusiness - a profile on an industry website (such as Yelp)
  • Offline - completely based on word-of-mouth referrals

There’s no right or wrong. I often encourage people to think of their audience(s). Does it “damage” or discount your primary brand (your art form) to have your side business on the same website? 

If your brands share an audience, that’s all good. For example, a soprano who also teaches singing can have her studio listed on her website. However, if it’s a soprano who sells houses, she might want to separate those brands so as not to confuse either audience! 

Keep in mind that you can still host a side business on your website, but have it be unlisted or private. For example, Meryl Streep may make extra money doing private coaching. However, she probably wouldn’t have that advertised on her website (if she had one). MerylStreep.com would highlight her career as an actor. MerylStreep.com/coaching might be an unlisted link where occasionally, between projects, select actors are invited to apply to work with her. 

No matter how you set things up, try to be very clear and show people what they’re buying in either business!

 

3. Get really good at time management.

If you’re going to balance a side business, you must learn how to quickly shift gears and keep yourself on course in both careers. You’ll need to learn when to say no, when to say yes, and find ways to always take care of yourself. 

Recognize that you are your biggest business asset in both careers—so take great care of yourself. Your health means way more than your art and business. You have to make time for self-care and personal relationships, too. Don’t lose your focus, passion, or health in service of others or your art. 

I wish there truly was a three-step success formula, but there’s rarely one “right” way for anything. Before starting a side business, get clear on what you want and why, set things up to support your goal(s) and audience(s), and remember to take the very best care of yourself—which means incredible time management. 


What's one way you're creating supplemental income for your creative career? Leave a comment below!