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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Killing the Man: Making A Living As an Artist Online [Feature]

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Killing the Man: Making A Living As an Artist Online [Feature]

by Christian Cawley
Not everyone works in an office; not everyone is tied to the 9-5 daily grind.
Thanks to developments in computing and communications technology, artists, writers, musicians, and programmers can set up on their own.
Conventional wisdom usually dictates that striking out as a freelancer requires a plan and some savings; however, it might be something that is forced by circumstance.
I spoke to a quartet of creatives recently, each proudly working for themselves in different ways. Read on to find out more about a freelance writer forced into his dream career through redundancy, a photographer who stumbled upon a means of making money through her ability with Photoshop, an artist who followed her dream instead of processing card payments and a journalist who found himself offered a six book deal by a major publisher!

The Artist: Michel

"My strategy, I think, has always been the same, enjoy what I do!" 
-Michel Keck, artist.
Rising as early as she likes, Michel sets to work on her latest piece. As an artist, she has an eye for a great picture, and as a businesswoman, she knows how to sell her work. Most importantly, Michel is a freelancer, a move that for her has only become possible thanks to the Web.
Before 2003, Michel Keck was a merchant account service provider. This all changed, however, at the suggestion of another artist who she knew.
Occasionally selling through eBay, her stunning work can mostly be purchased through her Web sites. If you have a website, you'll probably be aware of the difficulties in getting listed for targeted keywords on the best search engines. SEO is an important aspect of many online businesses, but researching and targeting keywords is not exactly the sort of thing you expect to find an artist doing!
"I have high listings in the search engines from the work I do on search engine optimization for my Web site.  I also actively promote my work and make sales through the marketing efforts I make through Facebook - the only social network site I currently utilize."
This is interesting: from experience, I know that many regularly-employed people feel that freelancers have an easy ride, but here we have an artist developing skills in SEO!
"My strategy I think has always been the same, enjoy what I do!  There are the day to day operations of business that of course are monotonous, but at the core of what I do; the painting and creating, I love it and that is what fuels my business."
Having changed her career once already, Michel knows that things might not work out long-term. Most artists can't work without a passion and love for their calling, and she seems to be no different.
"I've been making a full time living since 2003 - going on almost a decade. Business is good, but not what it was say six years ago. The economy has affected the art industry as it has all industries across the board. Fortunately I invested into my company years back so that I could self-publish as well as create originals and that is why I have remained successful."
"The moment I no longer have joy doing what I am doing I will definitely find a new path.  I'm an Aries so I can change my mind and interests at the drop of a hat!"
As Michel Keck is responsible for such fascinating and beautiful artwork, let's hope that isn't any time soon.

The Photographer: Kim

"...Eventually it became so successful that I was able to quit my day job."
- Kim Smith-Miller, photographer.
The freelance path wasn't without its pitfalls for Kim Smith-Miller. "Having been trained as a fine art photographer... I started dabbling in weddings after I graduated from Humboldt State University in 2009. After graduating college, I shot a former colleague's wedding, and then my sister-in-law's, and that's when I learned just how much I love wedding photography.
"Unfortunately, moving out-of-state to Portland, OR in the middle of a recession put the shooting end of things on the back burner..."