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Diversifying As A Freelancer

I have finally decided to set up a Patreon. It is something I have considered for a few years but I have never got around to exploring properly, this is because something with Patreon has never sat right with me. It has always felt like begging, which is just not in my nature. I've never been someone to put their hand up and ask for help even when I've needed it. I didn't want to be one of those Youtube based content creators who spend 10 minutes introducing nothing just for the views and ad revenue. I absolutely detest that behaviour. But my own preconceptions about Patreon meant that is what I thought I would have to become. A creative who is more interested in monetising viewership than in creativity.


I now know this is wrong. After spending a few months exploring Patreon and seeing all the outstanding creativity on there, I see people who just want to make a living. Yes there is some questionable people on there and Youtubers can just fuck off, but I've come across some amazing artists, illustrators, printmakers and musicians who have really inspired me. Not just with their creativity but with their business knowledge. That is something I can always improve upon as I am not a businessman, I am an artist who runs a business.


That business is harder to run in 2023 than it was in 2013. I am not alone in that, I have spoken to a dozen or so freelancers in the last few months and they are all finding keeping their heads above water really difficult. Brexit, Covid, the cost of living crisis, the energy crisis. These things have impacted all of us, but especially people with no guaranteed income, freelancers. We have to find ways to diversify as we are normally at the bottom of the invoice pile, we have to take into account that it might take a company 4 months to pay us rather than 4 weeks. Yet we are expected to pay for everything up front.


In 2016 my income came from 6 main sources. Client work, teaching, gallery management, exhibitions, art markets and online sales. Due to Brexit and Covid those income streams are down to client work and online sales, which I am worried about putting the prices up of as I don't want to lose anymore work. People still want prints for under £20 and expect a project to be less than £500, even though the costs of both have gone up by less than 20%.


Our rent has gone up, our tax has gone up, our phone bills have gone up, our food bills have gone up,our water, electric and gas bills have gone up, advertising costs have gone up, materials have gone up, hotels have gone up, work subscriptions have gone up, product prices have gone up. As for my little corner of freelancing, art and design. We rely on art sales as a major part of our income stream. This is becoming harder due to people stealing our work. It appears people think work is free to use if you upload to social media. If we put our prices up we are vilified and in a lot of cases lose work. We have to find other ways to support our income. So I, like most freelancers need to find a way to diversify. Or make old income streams viable again.


So I am looking at online teaching, that just appears to be a massive scam, and Patreon. I do not want to monetise what I am putting on social media, that will always be free (especially the drunken rugby rants). I want to give updates about my work and share photos, but due to not being able to trust that people are not going to steal it steal it for their own gain, the free photos will no longer be hi-res. I will be offering hi-res photos as well as downloadable art, commissioned artwork, daily behind the scenes photos and personalised illustrations on my Patreon only. All of these will be offered at prices that are fair. Fair for the consumer and fair for me. It would never sit right with me to offer something I can't deliver or chat shit for 10 minutes on a video yet offer nothing. So I want to create something that is fair for all. Like everyone in this country without a steady wage, I need to diversify. I need it to be sustainable. It must be fair.


If you would like to subscribe to me on Patreon the link is Patreon.com/richbanksart


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