I have been guilty of scrambling to get business and making hasty decisions that set me up for failure. When business is slow, naturally you turn to panic mode. If you were to just sit back and do nothing, you could use the time to catch up on old books or take up a new hobby, but how would you pay your bills? When it’s slow we lower our prices, book gigs that we wouldn’t normally take, and make decisions that come back to pinch our butts in the future.
When I was in college and wanted to take a trip to Mardi Gras (I knew my parents wouldn’t foot the bill), I was desperate to bring in some cash and fast. It was slow in January, as it usually is, so I contacted the local restaurants and asked them about starting a family night. They all said that they were slow and didn’t have a budget to hire me. So, being the crazy woman I am, I offered my services for free and I would accept tips.
At the time I felt it was a good idea because I could make good tips and if the restaurant saw how good I was, I figured they would be willing to hire me once I generated enough business for them.
Fast forward three months later. Yes! Business was good at the restaurants and I was making good tips. Better restaurants found out and wanted to actually hire me. I was already committed and I felt terrible quitting on my current restaurants. I had made friends and a following. So I approached the owners and requested a meeting to see about being hired. Of course, no one wants to pay for something they get for free. They politely turned me down. I kicked myself all the way home because I knew making decisions when you are in a stress frame of mind wasn’t smart and that eventually it would catch me, and it sure did. I was working for free for three restaurants when I could of been hired to do different restaurants. In hind sight, I would have contacted the restaurants and made a 30 day renegotiable contract for them so that they wouldn’t always assume I’d work for free.
From one crazy painter to another, if you are stressing to fill the books, don’t panic and make bad decisions. Be creative and start your marketing engine. The Internet, Facebook and good old customer service can be your saving grace. Pick up the phone a month before a previous birthday child’s party and call the mom. Let her know how you’d love to help her celebrate his/her’s childs party and that you have new cool things to offer (Like glitter tattoos!). Volunteer at a local charity event so you can get exposure and meet as many potential clients as possible. Try to avoid locking yourself into a position that is hard and can cause you to loose money. Whenever I take on a new restaurant, I lay out a 2 month plan so I know if I am over committing myself. Planning is crucial and planning for success means the difference between dollars and cents.
Comment below and tell me about your pro bono jobs and hasty bookings.
Happy painting! -Silly Heather