Wrong Timing or Planning to Succeed?

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

South Floridians! Join us for free face painting Tuesday night’s at the Pine Island Char Hut in Davie, Florida.
Face Painting at Char Hut Family Night

6 thoughts

  1. I approached 2 restaurants when I started out. I was still fresh and thought whatever I chose would be great exposure. Luckily I chose the one I did because I get a steady weekly paycheck from corporate. The other one wanted to offer me gift cards just for their establishment. There is only so much chicken a girl can take.

  2. Just starting out 6 years ago I was asked to face paint in full clown costume at a local funraiser for a child waiting for a kidney transplant. I did not hesitate to say yes. That one gig gave me so much satisfaction just knowing I helped a little boy. I never thought of the exposure it would give to me.
    I got many gigs from people who took my card (have business cards with you ALWAYS). Since then I do a limited number of charity events but they not only give my heart joy they give back with new customers who took my card and now have me for their children’s parties or their company picnics. To me, giving has always been a win win.
    Thanks for your awesome blog Heather.

  3. I started FP last year but all my events were for charity. However, I didn’t mind because it ended up being good practice for me. I just was called on by the the Knoxville Animal Shelter for a combined fund raiser with the children’s hospital. Both causes are important to me & I’m very happy to do this. I will be allowed a tip jar & right now I just hope to cover my paints. My expectation is from the business I hope to pick up there.

    I’ve always got cards on me & when I come across young women or couples, I just hand over my card & politely remind them how cool birthday parties are with a face painter!

    Another thing.. I’m offering a 20% discount (on my website) for parties booked for week days!

    Love your advice Heather – please don’t stop!

  4. Winter has been tight, and a restructuring at my husbands workplace meant a 1500$ dollar loss every month. We had approached the restaurants in town but no one seemed willing to pay. So now months had passed and I went to these establishments and offered 1 free night of face painting( on their kids night) so they could see the draw it was without a cost the first time. Of course everyone loved the face painting but I ran into the (it’s up to corporate speech) so instead I went with good ole fashioned bartering :) yes it is much less than I charge per hr but it’s weeknights when I’m not usually busy, plus my kids are so blessed by it. You see money is very tight but they barely even know or feel it because they get to eat out 3-4 times a week (at no cost to us) and rent all the movies n games they want every month( no cost to us) sure I’d like the money more but for weeknights I’m not working much anyhow,it’s a great blessing. Just my experience on it :) now if I could just barter with a dr. The grocery store and…. Hmm a bank? Lol

  5. I’ve been painting at local farmers markets for tips. There’s an indoor market during the winter (I live in MA). I always put out my cards, and frequently mention that I do parties. After a year, I’m finally starting to get some real paying gigs for parties and events. It’s a slow way to build business, tho’. I do get repeat customers at the market, and the kids miss me when I have to skip a week!

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