After years of developing your craft, at some point you may decide to go professional, and earn money for your craft. Whether you decide to monetize your hobby, go part time or make this a full time job, there are some hard lessons I’ve learned in my pursuit of going professional.
- Treat this as a business—the craft is great and your passion, but you have to remember to treat this like a business. That
includes keeping records, paying taxes and negotiating contracts.
- Have a contract—when getting started this may be a little scary. I’ve made numerous verbal contracts with various businesses and often have been burned because they changed their minds, did not know their own budgets or had a change in their itinerary. With a signed contract, the company realizes the sincerity of your efforts, and are less likely to take advantage of you.
- Take it slow—don’t overwhelm yourself with too much. Start slow, gain the experience and training that is necessary. The more experience you gain the more you will be able to charge, but appreciate those small breaks.
- Know Your Limits—know what you can and cannot do. If you are asked to do something that’s not possible or will take longer than the time required, tell the company up front. It’s better to be honest from the beginning, than to take on more than is humanly possible. You have to know when to push yourself to meet a deadline and when to give yourself more time.
- Read Your Audience—Know your audience and be willing to change when something isn’t working. As a musician, I often think that one song or activity will work with my clients. I often discover in the middle of it that it is not going as well as I planned. I make a mental note not to do that song or activity again and will even change my outline in the middle, if necessary and possible.
What lessons have you learned going professional?