Archive for the ‘self employment’ Category

To all cheap caricaturists:

While discussing fees with colleagues recently we found ourselves divided into two camps; those who knew their value as artists and entertainers and those who didn’t care and were grateful not to be jobless! Unfortunately the latter camp are driving our prices down as they battle to get paid less and less!!  One northern caricaturist publicly boasted (to paraphrase) “I charge low fees because I’d rather be working every night than charge silly fees and be sat at home!”  Great business plan brainiac! So what is the net result of your pricing structure? You work more frequently because you win jobs from other artists by undercutting them, you do not create more work by under-pricing, no-one ever said “Wow I found a cheap caricaturist (he’s shit but cheap) so lets put on an extra party every night just to hire him!” No! There are a finite number of gigs available in any area on any date, no matter what you charge. You simply now have to work three times as hard to earn what you should be earning in one night, while other full time artists go hungry, unable to drop their prices lower than you. Well done – great ethic.

Know your value and stop undervaluing your colleagues by association and if you are grateful not to be stacking shelves, then maybe its because that’s closer to your true vocation, but I trained all my life to do the creative job at which I excel and will not be comparing my talent to that of a shelf stacker or fairground busker anytime soon!

Do some basic research, find out what your competitors are charging and value your skill by comparison, then endeavour to raise your prices and standards, instead of lowering theirs to meet yours. If you still find yourself at the lower end of the price scale, then maybe its down to the quality of your work and you should consider retraining?….

Recently opened up a debate regarding new competitors in the Carix market and it became clear that a few artists just have no clue what is potentially controlling their business’ fortunes. Some were unaware of competitors within their own geographical patch and one was surprised to come across a Carix who’s been caricaturing for at least two decades on their doorstep!

I thought it was  a good time to remind all fellow Carix to check their SWOT analysis, which should be done on an annual basis anyhow. SWOT is an analysis of your Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats, which should give you an idea where you sit in your own marketplace. If you do not carry out this simple task, then you may as well be fishing in the dark, because your business will be beyond your control!  Visit this simple page which gives you a few good business models to look into, including basic advice on Competitors and Pricing…

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/compare-business-model-competitive-strategy-76349.html

Strengths and weaknesses are internal qualities, determined by who you are and how you have chosen to operate your company. These include your USP and your chosen Mode of Operation.

Opportunities and threats relate to the business climate in which your company operates. These include competition and business trends.

If you are unaware of your target market, your selling points, your competitors, your potential markets and potential threats, then frankly I’m amazed you’re still in business! Get on Google and give it a look-see, it could be the making of your business.

Each year it takes us all by surprise and each year we end up crossing our fingers and hoping that the spirit of celebration takes the nation by storm again. So far its the usual slim pickings for me, with a stark November and and even bleaker looking December ahead. I am comforted by the steady stream of random last minute commissions, from bosses who remember they have to produce a calendar within 5 days or love struck boyfriends wanting to show their affection by spending £5 on a scribble!  Most of these enquiries I tend to shrug off, unless my bank balance tells me otherwise, as they tend to be a huge waste of time, often ending with the blunt email, telling me that after a week spent chasing the project, they have found someone cheaper!!

I am currently whittling away at a studio commission which will pay my mortgage and help me into December, but my diary is still clear. I have fielded a couple of dinner party enquiries “Could you pop to Guildford/Blackpool for an hour to entertain my 20 guests?” which all ended predictably in the negative.  That said, I have just negotiated a booking from a new agent who thought he would school me on what my fee should be and how lucky I should feel to get an enquiry in today’s climate… The cheek!  I was probably entertaining diners when he was potty training and have survived 23 years without his help!!  But beggars cannot be choosers and so a deal was struck and I now count 4 bookings so far this Xmas season.

Gone are the days of 18 parties and too much work to manage, thanks in no short part to the influx of new artists, who believe the agents that dictate their fee and remind them how lucky they are not to be stacking Tesco shelves!

My standards have not slipped, my quality of work is still very high, yet I am suffering at the busiest party season of the year. Punters are still hiring caricaturists, according to tales from my many colleagues, therefore I must surmise that its simply down to a flooded market with increased competition. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so!

 

UPDATE: 16/12/13

One more Xmas party tomorrow, a last minute booking as usual, then I have no more weekly wage until… perhaps March?  The perils of self employment.  Along with the freedom of being your own Boss, you have to endure the hardships of no guaranteed wage and when you are used to being paid a weekly wage, that can be harsh!

Merry Christmas

Being self employed and working from home has many pitfalls and perils, which help balance out the benefits which others see as so attractive. The main peril which is rarely spoken about is depression. This could arise as the result of an unpredictable level of life security, lack of financial security, pressures of increasing competition, the constant job rejections from clients or the anti-social hours of working late every weekend then spending every other day locked in your home office, fishing for your next job. Maybe its just because being self employed is a constant relentless struggle or maybe its just the weather!

Whatever the reason, I have dark days. Today is a dark day… Just thought I’d share that with all those craving self employment as a cure to all their woes.