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How to restructure your business, while sitting at home?

We're all locked away, probably for at least another month. All rested up, all caught up on video games and Netflix series, it's really time we were getting serious about what's coming our way. We all know what's happening with the economy, and the risks we face with this virus. I find it hard to focus on my personal issues, because they seem so insignificant when compared to what is going on in the world outside my front door. Some of us may not make it, but most of us will. What Bogdan and I are doing right now can help to determine what comes next. Let's face it, we may live in a very different society when this pandemic has passed. Will we have any money? Will we go back to work in the same way we did before? Will a degree of social distancing become the new normal? We simply don't know. But what we do know is that whatever world emerges post Covid-19 will have the need for beauty, entertainment, and art. The fear I guess is that people may not not realize how much they need art for quite some time.

So, even though we're making this up just like everyone else, here's some of the things we're doing to stay positive, be proactive, and stay healthy.

First of all, we're oddly lucky to have all this free time. For the first couple of weeks, we were just playing catch up, and doing little things for the business that were not harmful, but that lacked focus. We're now meeting every morning, and trying to be more strategic. We're going through our inventory of unsold pieces, and determining what we're going to do to market each. We're keeping to a schedule, and we're still producing art. We figure the work we're creating now will be our portfolio when this is all over. We wake up early, shower and dress, exercise every day, and work to a plan. We never did all this regimentation before we were grounded, but we're thinking that if we can keep this sort of routine in place for a month, we may actually develop some new healthy habits that will stick.

We're trying desperately to diversify our income. On more than one occasion we've had a wonderful client who was throwing money at us for work we loved to do. Then they left us. Since we had shifted all our time and resources to that client, we were gut-punched when the customer moved on. We realize that currently a big portion of our sales comes from customers who stop by the studio for art sales and events. Those have all stopped, and may take a long time to build again. So we're trying to get our work into galleries, and increase the amount and variety of how we sell paintings and photography online. There's no guarantee that we will have the same sort of markets when this is all over, and the way we sold art two weeks ago may not be viable in another two.

So we're also looking at new trends. We're watching what others are trying... online auctions, virtual studio tours, live streaming, online teaching, etc. It may be early to know if any of these will prove more effective than the others, but we know we have to stay nimble and responsive. I have several friends who came instantly to the conclusion that they need to reduce their prices drastically, and only produce small, inexpensive items. That might work, but it might exhaust them as well. So we're keeping an eye out for where trends are leading, and we will try to be as prepared as we can to meet this new world as it reveals itself. If teleconferencing and online meetings are becoming popular... are we equipped with the technology and training to do that? If online competitions and exhibitions are showing up all over, are we set up to jump feet first into that world? We want to take advantage of this "extra" time to get ready.

At the same time, we have to create some time for ourselves. We certainly relaxed for the first two weeks of this crisis, but now we need to schedule some downtime into the mix. We need to watch our stress levels, our emotional wellbeing, along side our physical health.

So that's what we're doing now that there's no work on. We're taking online classes (loads of them are free right now), and listening to educational podcasts and YouTube videos. We're meeting, setting measurable goals, and trying to survey and be responsive to any changes we see for freelance businesses.

This may not be over, but we're going to be ready when it is.

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