The Artist’s Guide to Business

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “The Artist’s Guide to Business”.

 

Money Runs the World

First and foremost, let’s not beat around the bush. Money runs the world. Anyone can be an artist, but not all artists are paying their bills. It is an illusion that talent alone can feed and save you. It won’t. So where does money come from?

Real money—the kind that buys nice things like fancy cars and mansions comes from a mass of people wanting to pay you something for your services and products, or from a trust fund, nice job, and/or the lottery. The game is rigged for us to fail, because they feed into us since birth that talent and hard work alone can get you a financially stable life. They don’t. Throw your ego and misconceptions out the window and get this straight.

Let me say it again: money runs the world. It is an inescapable truth. If you don’t get that, go struggle for another month, and then come back to me when you’re ready to accept this truth.

I’m waiting…I can wait forever…go do whatever you think is a better way to do things. If you make it on talent alone, good for you…if you haven’t…I’m just here…read me again when you’re ready.

Do you get it now? Good. Now we can quit with the tough love and proceed. Say it with me now, “Money runs the world.”

 

The Reality of Starving Artists

I’m not talking about becoming a billionaire. Bruno Mars’ chorus in that one song is unrealistic. Most billionaires are business tycoons in certain industries that have nothing to do with art. But wait, what about the writer of the best-selling book series of all time, Harry Potter? J.K. Rowling…she’s an artist and a billionaire! What about Oprah…also an artist billionaire!

Okay, okay so you can become a billionaire with your art. Most billionaires consider themselves artists of their industries, but first, they are very very very good at business. Because, behind the art that they put out to the world is the business model that runs their powerhouses that creates the products and services that most of us consume on a daily basis.

Okay so from where you’re standing, being a billionaire may still be a far-out dream. But, paying the bills, providing for your loved ones, and buying that nice car are not far-out at all. Let’s get back down to the real world and face the hard truth: there is a reason why the term “starving artist” is a household concept, because sadly most artists are starving.

In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts announced there are 2.1 million artists in the US. “In the US, a full three quarters of artists made $10,000 or less per year from their art. Close to half (48.7 percent) made no more than $5,000.” A $10,000 per year income, and especially a $5000 per year income are significantly less than the poverty line for a 1-person household in the US of $12,490 per year. It is time for artists to stop being impoverished! You deserve better.

 

Why I Started This Book

I was just like many artists: a self-proclaimed superstar ready to take on the world and show everyone what I got. Actually, I was also very blessed. My parents were very supportive of every creative whim I had. But they didn’t know the ins and outs of show business nor was I willing to listen to the people who had done it. I was an arrogant, spoiled brat, and I probably burned too many bridges to even comfortably accept or think about now.

I had done big things in my opinion. I was part of a world-champion dance group. I won awards for my singing, and opened for big, international artists. I started a retail company with a dance studio in a mainstream mall. I have been professionally paid for singing, dancing, doing choreography, designing clothes, acting, modeling, and writing. I even went to school for Architecture, Fashion, Performing Arts, and eventually I finished in Business Administration from a school in the UK with First Honours (equivalent to a Summa Cum Laude in the US). I am as versatile as millennials come. I became fairly good at anything I tried, and succeeded.

But my past success is beside the point because eventually, the destruction of the music industry, my blindness to what people are actually willing to pay for, and my silly pride drove me to a dead end. To add on to that, I lost the support of family and friends, I had no prospects for my performing career, my beloved store went bankrupt, and a few years ago, I was facing depression, complete financial ruin, and a want to end it all. Crying for weeks in the dark, the only light I had was a small business idea that turned into my saving grace.

But I didn’t want to do it. It had nothing to do with artistry. It was just me putting up an e-commerce store for the Filipino traditional clothing that my family was selling in Los Angeles. My mom and I fought about the business structure. I had to see this idea through on my own with my own money, but I had none left. Except—

In the Philippines, I had this credit card that was attached to a savings account. This is what most Philippine banks do to make sure that you’d be able to pay whatever balances you have with them. In that savings account was roughly only $1,000. This was all the money I had to my name. After this, I would be completely done. But, I had no other option. I was incapable of working for other people. So I took that leap. I cancelled my credit card and bought the first inventory of my company that became BarongWarehouse.com.

To make a long story short, after two years of tinkering with this business, I was earning enough to not just survive, but to absolutely thrive. And now, I have enough money to not only pay the bills, and invest in a penthouse condo in Manila, but I also have enough to put money back into my creative projects, and enjoy the independence of having time to do work on them so my artistry can shine again.

These lessons I’ve learned from being an artist for over two decades, from business school, and from being completely broke and alone (and figuring out how to make it all work right for me), I want to share with the starving artist who just needs a little guidance to get themselves out of their own financial rut. I wish I had this book to guide me when I first started. I wouldn’t have had to learn it all the hard way. But that was my path to follow so I can help you now.

 

Back To You

Great. Now that you know a little more about me and where I’m coming from, let’s dig deeper with you. In Chapter 1, let’s find out what makes you tick and what it is you have that can create the income you desire.

Then in Chapter 2, we will break it down and create a business plan. Don’t worry, it is not as daunting as you may think. I will provide you with templates to simplify the process so you don’t have to go to business school like I did.

In Chapter 3, we will start to put into action your plans. Then we reflect on how well you’re doing and see what tweaks we have to make to get you geared for more success. You are not alone…we will get you out of your rut.

That’s it. I like to keep things as simple as possible. Earning money isn’t hard. The hard part is getting rid of old habits that no longer serve us. And being broke is a habit that serves no one.

 

Let’s Work Together!

So if you’re really serious about not just surviving, but thriving and breaking the rules of this rigged game we call life, stay tuned for my book, which I will release this year, or if you’d like, I can personally coach you now for FREE.

Think of it as a collabo: In turn, I will use the information gathered from coaching you to add more value to my book. And, we would be able to cross-promote each other’s work when it’s all said and done. It’s a win-win situation. You may reach me at cheloaestrid@gmail.com for more details.

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