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Five Tips on Quitting Your Job

Five Tips on Quitting Your Job

Five Tips on Quitting Your Job

Why Quitting the Right Way is Beneficial

So you’ve made up your mind. You’ve thought long and hard about it and quitting your job sounds like a dream come true. In fact, quitting your job is more than a dream come true. It feels like the right thing to do. Quitting your job will give you the time you need to pursue your art, to live your passions on your own terms, and to focus only on your art without an eight hour interruption.

So now what? Do you type up your resignation, stride into your boss’ office, slap it down on her desk, and with your chest puffed out tell her to take this job and shove it? Well, even if you hate your job and your boss, I’d advise against that route.

In my last post, Should I Quit My Job? I covered three areas of concern you should consider: responsibilities, creature comforts, and risks. Assuming you’ve already carefully considered these things and are still in favor of quitting, it’s time to plan for your departure.

Even if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants guy or gal, wouldn’t you actually want things to go as smoothly as possible? Quitting your job without a plan spells almost certain disaster (I won’t say 100% because there are the rare individuals that can pull it off). So that being said, let’s get started.

Five Tips

  1. Financial Planning.

    Now, now! Stop with the sighs and the eye rolling and hear me out. You’re a human, right? It costs money to live. You need shelter of some sort, food, gas (if you plan on keeping a car), toiletries, etc. Those are the basics. But you’re an artist as well as a human. So you’ll need art supplies too, right? The saying goes, ‘it takes money to make money.’
    quitting your job

    How much do you have saved? A few months’ worth? A year or more (ideally)? Keep in mind that most brand new businesses fail within the first year. Many struggle for several years before things really take off and become a stable source of income. If you don’t have anything in savings, how are you planning to survive? I’m assuming of course that you haven’t won the lottery nor did your Great Aunt Eleanor didn’t leave you gazillions in her will. So, what’s your plan in the event of an emergency (health or otherwise)? Cars break down, accidents happen, cold and flu season always rolls around. You must figure those what-ifs into your finance plan.

    If you don’t have anything in savings as of this moment, it might behoove you to use your job as a means to an end. With your new goal in mind (to be a working full time artist), start squirreling away every extra penny towards your resignation date. There’s nothing that says you can’t work on your art on the side while you keep working. And why not put away any money you do make from your artwork in addition to your 9-5 savings? The point here is, you may not want to jump without a secure safety net. It takes money to make money, but it also takes money to live.

  2. Business Planning.

    Do you have a business plan for your art business? Yes, I call it a business, as unsavory as that sounds to most artists. But let’s face it…you’re planning on living off of your artistic talents, right? You create your masterpieces and someone buys them. Work is done. Money is exchanged. That’s business in a nutshell.

    Where are you in your business plan? Do you even have one? Are you at the very beginning (which is totally fine…we all have to start somewhere)? Are you a total unknown or do you have a small following? Have you begun branding yourself on social media? Do you have at least one body of work that you can advertise? Have you created your website yet? How do you plan to market your work? Will you sell originals only or originals and reproductions? If both, have you begun researching printers and other resources?

    quitting your job
    You see, your business plan is a road map, your GPS, if you will. It will state your big picture (where you want to be and how you envision your life as a successful artist). It will also state what you need to do in order to get there. Most will start off with the big picture. Envision what your successful artist life will be like in three years (earning $100,000-150,000 by the end of year three) and how that’s going to happen. Then go down to goals for year two, year one, six months, three months, monthly.

    For example…

    -By the end of next month, my website will be up and running and selling ten of my best products.
    -Create or hire someone to build my website.
    -Finish the last few projects on my table to have ten products available.
    -Research printers.
    -Send hi-res images of projects to printer.
    -Upload images to website store page.
    -Purchase shipping supplies.

    These serve as landmarks. They also serve to hold you accountable. If you’re not reaching those mini monthly goals, you may need to step up your game or adjust your long term goals. And let’s face it, saying that you want to pull in $150,000 is one thing. Actually attempting to do it is downright overwhelming without a plan! Most entrepreneurs work on their business plan for a very long time before taking the leap and still, many fail and end up going back to a 9-5. But the chances for success are greater when you do have a plan rather than when you just jump in blindly. Increase your chances for success by creating and going over your plan again and again with a fine-toothed comb. Be nit-picky. This is your business, after all. It should be the way you want it to be. But understand when it comes time to actually put your plan into action, you may have to accept that some things won’t go exactly as planned. And that’s okay, too. Roll with it and adjust your plan accordingly.

    quitting your job

    Planning will help you not feel so overwhelmed.

    If you are at the very beginning stages, don’t lose hope! I know it can be overwhelming. I’m living the overwhelming part almost every day. But there are things you can be actively doing even while you still have your job. Work on that business plan. Get your work out there. Get on social media and portfolio sites like DeviantArt. Get out in front of people via the web and/or art walks, festivals, etc.

    quitting your job

    Business cards or business postcards are a good way to let people know who you are and what you do.

    Want to get in the mood of your new business venture? Order a small supply of business cards or postcards that you can hand out. Maybe leave a stack of postcards at your gym or doctor’s office if they allow you to do so. You will most likely find as you create your plan, that there are a number of things that you can accomplish while you’re still working at your job. Consider too, that most of these beginning stage steps are not income earners. In fact, more than likely, they’re expenditures. So it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you were still earning a steady paycheck, right?

    If you have no idea where to begin with a business plan, Google ‘business plans for artists’. Check out a bunch of them and tailor them to suit your needs. Check them out even if you have a plan. Someone else may have thought of something you hadn’t considered.

  3. Test Your Market.

    I touched on this briefly in #2 as something you could be doing in the meantime. Get your work out in front of people if you haven’t already. If you have, push it further! If you’re not already, you could (and should) be blogging regularly. There are tons of blogging tips out there, but one of my favorite sites for blogging how-to’s is ProBlogger.

    quitting your job

    Blogging is a way for you to gather a following. By writing what you know (your art), you establish yourself as an expert in your niche.

    Websites Are Crucial

    You should also have your own website so that you can have someplace to send your potential clients when they express interest in your work. You should also be posting to social media on pages that are dedicated to your art (as opposed to your personal pages). This is a business so treat it as such. Potential clients want to see your work, not pictures of your pets or what you’re eating for lunch.

    Online Portfolio

    Consider creating an online portfolio on artists’ community webpages, such as DeviantArt. I gave a whole list of them in my Not Good Enough Mentality post.  Check them out and see what suits your particular tastes and art style. Interaction is different on each of them. Some may not jive as well with you as others. Personally, I find DeviantArt to be more professional (although there are plenty of amateur artists there as well) in terms of feedback.

    Exhibit Your Work

    Ask around your local area. Restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, libraries…many of them showcase local artists work and even allow you to put price tags on each piece as well as keep a stack of your business cards or postcards in house. Find out how to show your work in art fairs, art walks, festivals, etc. Even ask around at small galleries what it takes to exhibit your work with them. Note: The bigger the gallery, the harder it will be to get in.

  4. Growth.

    This can probably be linked into #2 as well, but consider what it is that you’ll be marketing. Will it be original paintings or drawings? Do you work digitally? Are you a sculptor? Do you specialize in textiles? New customers are great. Return customers are even better. They can become your bread and butter. Is there are way you can draw return customers in via a quarterly or even a monthly subscription type avenue? Will your originals be one of a kind or will you sell the original at a higher price and reproductions (perhaps limited editions to increase demand) at a lesser price?

    quit your job

    Repurposing your artwork gives you the potential to get more bang for your buck. Do one project, sell it several different ways!

    Think of every angle. Sometimes doing the right job for free or much less than you would normally charge, might get you in front of dozens of potential clients (a non-profit or charity, for example). Or, perhaps that discounted work will be a test run for your client to see if you fit their needs. If so, it might lead to a contract. A client on retainer is steady income! Will you repurpose some of your work into much smaller items, such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, cell phone cases, etc.? You might think the latter to be beneath where you want to be, but consider it a cheap form of advertising. It might not draw the big bucks like your original pieces, but advertising can get pretty expensive. You’ll have some guy buy your shirt for $20 and walk around town with it on. You get $20 and free advertising!
    quitting your job


  5. Never Burn the Bridge!

    When you’re finally ready to make your sweet departure and say goodbye to your 9-5, it’s vitally important to leave on good terms. Why? You don’t need them anymore after all is said and done, right? Think again. People know people. Your boss or any one of your coworkers might run into someone someday who needs a talented artist. If you were open about your talents at work (and why wouldn’t you be?), then they’ll automatically think of you. And if you were a pleasant guy or gal, guess what? They’ll refer you! Chances are, wherever you worked, you were probably the only artist there. Other people remember us. Where I work, it’s me and one other guy. They know me as the animal portrait artist and him as the tattoo artist. My point is…people remember. And if you were a nice person, they’ll be more than happy to point potential clients in your direction. So leave on good terms!

    Oh…remember those business postcards I mentioned in #2? You better believe I gave one to each of the coworkers that I’m close to. Most keep them visible in their cubicles. People walk by and notice. Your friend mentions that you’re the artist. Word travels. And now there are lots of people who have my contact info when someone hears through the office grapevine that an artist is needed.

    And…you’ll also want to leave on good terms…just in case. Consider it a safety net. IF things don’t go as planned (it’s not pessimism, it’s being realistic…it’s always a possibility), there will be no hesitation on your part to go and ask for your job back. You won’t have to go with your tail tucked because you left on a negative note. But that’s just an IF.

There Is No One-Size-Fits-All

Personally, I’m not the leap first and look later type. I need a plan. If plan A doesn’t pan out, I already have a plan B. As artists, by our very nature, things are more fluid. Such is the way with creative people. Things come and go like the tides. Art can be a very fickle business. So being prepared for every contingency is wise. I’m currently right in the middle of my three year plan to leave a government job. And yes, it’s frustrating and overwhelming and most of the time I’m asking myself if I’m crazy to leave a steady paycheck and benefits. But pushing papers around all day is certainly not my passion and I can’t see doing it for another 25 years while it slowly crushes my creative spirit. So I read over my business plan again and again. And then I tweak it again and again as I live it and work it and realize this or that won’t work the way I planned. It’s a work in progress (as it should be).

Remember…each of the steps above is an individual case for all of us. There are things I might be willing to live with that you couldn’t bear and vice versa. It’s definitely not a one size fits all. But it is your GPS. It might not be able to predict every roadblock or construction zone, but it can give you an alternate route in case one pops up.


Further Reading:

Should I Quit My Job?
Not Good Enough Mentality


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