When you define your audience, it means that you are beginning to treat your art like a business instead of a hobby. In the business world, this is called your ideal customer. In the Christian community, sometimes we are uneasy mixing a sense of business and divine mission. We feel like we are somehow compromising our values if we treat our art like a business. Instead, the opposite is true: treating our art like a business can allow us to reach more people and do much better work.
Treating your art like a business can allow you to reach more people and do better work.
It doesn’t necessarily mean your goal has to be making money. It just means that you take your art seriously by setting goals and holding yourself accountable for results.
One of the key elements of being a professional is the willingness to define the person you’re reaching with your creative work. Who will read, listen to, watch, or purchase your products and services? (Even though you may be involved in art as a ministry, it’s still helpful to think about your ideal audience.)
Here’s an example:
A few months ago I spoke to someone who had written a book, an autobiography of sorts, and they asked for some suggestions on self-publishing it. I gave them a few thoughts, and then asked if they had a plan for doing a book launch or building some type of audience.
I think the question caught them by surprise because they had never considered the idea of building an audience before publishing the book. They hoped that somehow, the audience would magically materialize once the book was released.
That story illustrates why it’s so important to think about your audience before putting a lot of time and effort into a project you hope people will buy. Once you do that, and also have a clear idea of your identity and purpose, you’re in a much better position to create work that will connect with people.
4. The question of work: WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING?
After we have gained clarity about our identity, calling, and audience, we then must decide on what we should specifically be doing with our time. In business terms, our “art” is the product or service that we create for others to enjoy.
It’s very easy to get this process mixed up because we want to get to the fun part of making stuff. And let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that everything we create has to be for a business purpose, or must have a set audience in mind. That would drive any creative person crazy. You must have some creative outlets that are just for you, with no other purpose than to serve as a creative outlet.
A good example of this is the treehouse I built for my son a few years ago. It had no business purpose but I had a blast doing it, and learned a lot in the process. It definitely boosted my creativity. (Here’s a video tour of the treehouse.)
The question, “What should I be doing?” mainly concerns productivity and concerns three areas: your goals, your use of time, and your commitments.
You must be clear on these three areas in order to be productive. It’s vital to have a clear handle on how you’re spending your time, and whether you are setting and reaching goals that will produce results for you. It’s also vital that your commitments in life aren’t working against your creative goals.
I know I’ve given you a lot to think about in this post, and in future posts in this series, I’ll be breaking down each of these questions individually, as well as the issues within each one of them. Each question can help you stop drifting and start focusing in your creative life. I hope you’ll take a few moments to think about each of them and whether you can clearly answer each of them.
Note: This post is part of the “5 Cups of Creativity” series. For previous posts in the series, click here.