Artists, stop trading your time for money! - Matt Essam

Artists, stop trading your time for money!

Most artists I meet earn their living by trading time for money. Even if you put a high price tag on your time, it is problematic for several reasons: Firstly, if you stop working, your revenue stream stops and secondly because it limits your creative freedom. When we put pressure on our work to pay the bills, our creative integrity often suffers. This is generally because we will do anything to ensure we generate an income. Our time is our most valuable resource, we have a finite amount of it. However this is a difficult concept to comprehend because it doesn’t have a nominal value, i.e we don’t know how long we are going to live. Money, on the other hand, is an infinite resource. There is no limit to the amount of money one person can make and does not correlate exclusively with time. The majority of artists that I work with have this the wrong way around. They see money as a scarce and finite resource (usually because they aren’t earning very much of it) and see time in abundance. If we change this perception and find ways to generate money using activities that don’t directly correspond to time, we have much more creative freedom. Building a reservoir of digital assets, allows us to worry less about our finances and be more selective with the commissions we undertake.

So what are digital assets?

In its simplest form, a digital asset is anything we create that generates value after we have finished making it. In every creative field, there are digital assets people buy and sell. It could be a piece of artwork that you have made or a photograph that you have taken. Each one of these has the potential to generate revenue long after it has been created. The challenge is; to find unique ways of generating these assets and then find people to sell them to.

What digital assets could you create?

If you are a photographer or even a videographer, it may be easier to think of assets you could create. They could be stock photos, prints or even guides for other photographers. However, if you are a traditional artist using physical media in most of your work, it becomes slightly more difficult. To start with, look at what is already selling in the digital market. Look on platforms that sell digital assets such as graphic and audio licensing websites. Could you adapt some of your physical prints to become digital assets? It may be a pattern, texture or a brush set for photoshop. There are so many things that we can create in a digital format that we can sell over and over again. That is the magic of digital, although each product has its own unique identity, it can be sold an infinite amount of times and generate revenue that isn’t limited by time.

Be patient and don’t give up!

Like all reservoirs, they take time to fill up. You aren’t going to generate thousands of pounds in revenue overnight from one photo or brush set. Find what people are already buying and create your own unique version. Generate things that other artists may find useful and ask for feedback. You could even give some things away for free to start with and once they become more popular, charge for them. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. The aim here is to create lots of digital assets that generate small amounts of income, which, over time adds up!