In “Business for the Right-Brained,” M. C. A. Hogarth taps her experience working day jobs and as an independent artist working artist to offer practical insights on the mindset and organization needed for an artist to succeed in business.
M. C. A. Hogarth on Business for the Right-Brained
Hogarth (@mcahogarth) offers a wealth of practical advice based on her experience as a working artist with a variety of day jobs. She went full-time in 2018, the same year she published this book. But her work on this book started years earlier as she captured her advice to other artists about business in a series of blog posts on Live Journal.
Three Roles: Business Manager, Marketer, Artist
Her “Three Jaguars” model is that a successful working artist needs to shift between three different mindsets (or find people can help with the Business Manager and Marketer roles):
Role: Business Manager
- Facing: vendor and financial institutions
- Primary work mode: practical and administrative
- Duties: accounting, personnel, asset management, process management, and administrative tasks
- Facing: customer
- Primary work mode: creative and social
- Duties: trend analysis, customer, product management, research, and advertising
- Facing: internal
- Primary work mode: creative and internal
- duties: creation, research, and practice (craft or skills)
These reminded me of Michael Gerber’s Manager, Entrepreneur, and Technician roles in his E-Myth books. She distinguishes between artistic output and product; the former is produced by the Artist role, the latter by the Marketer mindset. Gerber distinguishes between the Technician, who provides the critical capabilities or skills that drive the business, and the Entrepreneur, who decides how to turn those skills into offerings.
But while there are many commonalities between the two systems, one critical difference is that Hogarth assumes that the Artist needs inspiration to create output. In contrast, Gerber believes that the Technician can perform on a schedule.
Hogarth offers a short list of critical items and activities to track to monitor the health of your business and make informed decisions:
- Your time.
- Your expenses.
- People you meet or interact with, including where and how you met them and what projects you have pitched them.
- Your customer contact info and what they have purchased.
Pricing and Value
She maintains the distinction between the artist’s output, which has value, and products, which have a price. She advised that you work to the following priorities to achieve profit:
Step 1 – Maximize Revenue
Step 2 – Minimize Expenses
Step 3 – Profit
I like this approach because it forces you to focus on what people are willing to pay for and assess its demand before trying to optimize your production process. It’s in contrast to the South Park Gnomes, who did not connect their actions to profit:
- Phase 1: Collect underpants
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: Profit
- Reclaim lost time: comb through your day and look for wasted minutes.
- Re-arrange your schedule to turn spare minutes into bigger, more useful blocks of time.
- Be creative: trade services with friends.
- Sustain your inspiration: you can find the time if you want to.
These are practical tips that are also good advice for entrepreneurs and consultants. I also pay attention to the times of day that you are most productive and put your most important work into those time slots.
How to talk to customers
I liked this chapter as well. These are essential tips that I find many entrepreneurs take too long to incorporate into their day-to-day practices:
- Be interested
- Be professional and courteous
- Be kind
- Establish a separate email for customers
- Schedule time for customer support – and publish them
- Turn good answers into templates and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
“The only way to grow is to live a life full of bumps, bruises, and experiences you might have preferred not to have gone through. A Day Job is the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to get those experiences. […] That your Day Job may give you some measure of financial freedom is secondary to its affect on you as an artist. [..] One of the most common patterns I see in the bios of successful artists is an incredibly eclectic biography
M. C. A. Hogarth in “Business for the Right-Brained“
I like her model. It recognizes the value of a breadth of experience and encourages artists to look at a job as a chance to gain valuable experience. The same applies to entrepreneurs.
Full Time Jaguar
She wrote about her transition to full time work as an artist in 2018 post “The Full Time Jaguar.” Here are some excerpts:
While I am by no means a Kindle millionaire, I am now at the point where I believe the hours I spend in someone else’s office (or, appallingly, in traffic, to the tune of almost an hour a day each day I drive in) can be more profitably employed in writing another book, running another Kickstarter, or attending to all the marketing and advertising opportunities I let drop because I don’t have the cycles. […]
I’m honestly not sure what to feel after years of pursuing this goal. Fear, certainly: freelance income is never assured, and I know more than most that the effort you put in only somewhat correlates to the money you earn. Numbness, because I sort of don’t believe it’s possible or is happening, after years of striving, and probably won’t until a few weeks into my new schedule. A kind of vibratory agitation that is equal parts ambition and terror, that I’m not making enough and I need to earn more to justify the money I’m giving up with the second job.
Relief, though. An exhalation. That eerie sensation that a wind is blowing through you and taking with it something that was weighing you down. […]
I have had a lot of day jobs in my life, and from them learned so much: about people, about processes, about myself. They forced me to navigate social expectations and situations, and figure out how to work with other people… which in turn revealed just how interesting people are. They taught me grim endurance, and frugality, and prudence, and made sure I understood that passion for your work is not enough to fuel an artist: you have to have life experiences, as many and as varied and—yes—as unwelcome as possible. […]
I am getting time back… around 900 hours a year! And I am that artist who knows how to create a tremendous amount of work in far less time. Because my life made it imperative that I stop dabbling and focus in the face of every distraction, from exhausting commutes to interminable nights spent hovering by a crib. To streamline everything, even if it meant jettisoning painting, and research, and experimentation, and crafting. To make what I do function as a business. […]
M. C. A. Hogarth in “The Full Time Jaguar” (2018)
I read this book and her “Three Jaguars: A Comic about Business, Art, and Life” because we are seeing more artists pursuing entrepreneurial paths at the Bootstrappers Breakfasts. I am happy to recommend “Business for the Right-Brained” to any artist who is trying to make money from their artistic efforts.
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