There comes a point in every creative business where you start to realize that it’s not possible to do it all. Not only that, but it often becomes possible to see it all; all the opportunities for growth within your business, new offers you could sell, and how to organize your work and life so you can spend more time creating! That’s where coaches come in! The goal of a good coach is not to tell you what to do but, instead, to give you perspective so that you can make the decisions that feel most authentic to you and your goals. As an artist, I struggled to find a business coach that understood the unique challenges of running a creative business. I was often frustrated by how so much advice boiled down to the same basic sentiment: “Here is what everyone else is doing, so do that and just be better at it.” That doesn’t work for a business built around the ever-evolving viewpoint of an artist! These days, I provide creative coaching for artists and creative business owners who want perspective from someone who has actually been there.
The Difference Between a Business Coach and a Creative Coach for Artists
The biggest difference between a typical business coach and a creative coach like me is that a business coach is focusing solely on business growth while I take a holistic approach to growth that encompasses your business, creative, and personal growth. It’s important for creative businesses to continue to learn new creative and technical skills so that they can use them to innovate new and exciting business opportunities. I also encourage my clients to consider how they can use their business and creativity to improve their personal lives by making more time for the things that matter most.
Making time to just create is so essential to an artist’s mental and physical well-being, which is why I will always recommend that artists choose a creative coach rather than a life or business coach.
My Experience Creative Coaching For Artists
I love working with other artists. Whether I’m answering questions in my Facebook group, The Creative Connection, hosting guest experts in my mentorship program, or just catching up via Marco Polo with my coaching clients, I am at my best when I am helping other people discover their best.
That said… change is hard. Growth is harder. That’s why all of my coaching relationships begin with building a rock-solid foundation of trust, vulnerability, and compassion. I can’t speak for other coaches, but I can tell you that I don’t provide coaching because I want to be famous or because I like telling other people what to do!!! I do it because I receive genuine fulfillment and joy in helping artists create their fullets, most authentic lives. Because that sort of person didn’t exist when I first started my creative journey.
I struggled with doubting myself (as a woman, as an artist, as a business owner) for way too long. When I think back on that girl I used to be, my heart just aches for her. So I made her a promise: I will be the person she needed. I will be the mentor, coach, and cheerleader that she deserved to have. Coaching is my way of making sure that no one else looks in the mirror and doubts the artist they see staring back at them.
What to Expect When Hiring a Creative Coach for Artists
Timeline for Creative Coaching
My creative coaching programs for artists are split into 3-, 6-, and 12-month categories. Shorter programs work best for receiving clarity and planning specific projects, whereas my yearlong coaching program is best for long-term growth and overall creative business strategy. Every coach does things differently, so start by deciding whether you want immediate clarity about a specific area of your life or if you’re looking to see change on a larger scale, which requires more time.
Scope of Creative Coaching for Artists
Again, this varies from coach to coach and package to package, but most coaches should provide at least:
- A phone or video chat meeting monthly
- Action steps and homework for the client
- Follow-up and accountability between calls
- Personalized advice, strategies, and ideas tailored to each client and their goals
I always try to cover three broad areas with every client.
Your audience — learn how to grow, engage, and convert your online and local customers to grow your business.
Your business — find help making key business decisions that give you more income, time, and freedom.
Your creative practice — get pushed outside your comfort zone to create new ideas, products, and offers that keep your customers coming back for more.
What to Look For in a Creative Coach
Find a coach you feel comfortable with, that is the primary objective! When I was looking for a coach, here are some things I considered:
- Availability! Does your coach book calls at times that work with you? Do they live in an adjacent time zone that makes those calls possible?
- Personality! While it’s great to be friendly with your coach, it’s important to remember that you’re not hiring them to be your friend! Look for a coach who loves you like a friend but challenges you like a mentor.
- Expertise! Does the coach you’re considering have the experience necessary to guide you; have they actually walked the walk?
Ask these questions before hiring a creative coach!
Regardless of what sort of coach you’re seeing, it’s important for clients to take an active role in their own growth. When I meet with new clients to determine if they are a good fit, my first question is always the same:
Are you ready to take action?
My favorite clients have a two part response: “Yes, and I have a few questions for you…”
It’s important to find a coach that you connect with! In addition to the research you’re doing by watching their content, following them on social media, and reading their blogs, you can learn even more during an intake call if you come prepared with a few questions to make sure that you’ll be a good fit.
- How do you motivate your clients? This is huge! Some of us are motivated by rewards, some of us are motivated by punishment. Personally, I try to help my clients find their own intrinsic motivation (proven to be the most important aspect of success) and then reinforce their decisions by reminding them of how much closer they become to that big goal. I always lead with love, even during hard conversations. Determine what works best for you and find a coach that’s a great fit!
- What accountability do you provide? When I think about great coaches, I think back to all the baseball coaches my boys have had over the years. The very best coaches were the ones who provided direction, motivation, support, and accountability. A coach who doesn’t assign warmups or a coach who lets players routinely skip practice is coaching a losing team. Growth and success come from commitment, and commitment comes with a certain degree of accountability. Look for a coach who is willing to assign homework (with a deadline!) and hold you to the high expectations you set for yourself.
- How do I reach you if I have questions between calls? Sometimes opportunities arise so fast that we simply can’t wait a whole month before consulting with our coaches! If being able to get quick feedback is important to you, then this is a question to ask your potential coach. I love to be there for my clients so, in addition to my monthly calls, my clients also get daily check-ins via Marco Polo or Messenger.
- How do you handle clients that are struggling? Here’s the thing: life happens. Sometimes a BIG life event happens and throws off our entire plan. So make sure that the coach you’re working with has a backup plan in place to help their clients weather the storm. For example, some of my coaching contracts include a pause clause that allows them to pause services for a couple of months in the event of something life-changing. Others have chosen not to use the pause clause and, instead, asked me to help them pivot their entire business plan to accommodate their new reality. Be sure that whatever coach you work with is willing to update their advice as your life changes.
How to Get The Most Out of Your Creative Coaching Calls
Each month, my coaching clients get a ninety-minute coaching call with me. We discuss their growth since the previous month, audit their websites and social media pages, and create plans for the upcoming month. In order to cover all that, all parties on the call have to make sure that they show up focused and ready. Here are some ways you can make the most out of all your coaching calls, no matter who they’re with or what you’re discussing!
- Show up prepared. This varies greatly depending on your goals and what you discuss with your coach, but if you know that you’ll be looking at sales numbers to see if your latest content marketing plan was effective then it’s a good idea to have those numbers ready before your call. Likewise, keep a running list of questions or notes that you can pull up for each call so that you never forget to ask the important questions.
- Start with a goal. We get a lot more from a conversation if we know why we’re having it! Though coaches may often have their own goals for a call, it’s important that you also have your own. Some common goals include: creating an action plan for what to do next, understanding how to achieve a specific task or goal, a list of strategies you can use, or clarifying an idea you might have.
- Be ready to take action. The flip side to preparation is action! Once you’ve done your part in preparing for the call, it’s the coach’s job to synthesize all the information you’ve shared in order to help you develop an action plan! Have a notebook and a fresh pencil ready so that you can take notes and then promise yourself that you’ll take ONE action step within five seconds of hanging up the phone… even if it’s just scheduling next month’s call.
- Reassess regularly. Take time between your calls to reassess your goals. It’s okay if the direction you started in isn’t the direction you feel compelled to take anymore! It’s so much better to communicate that with your coach than to continue doing something that doesn’t feel right for you.
- Be open and receptive to new ideas. Good coaches challenge their clients because we see all the potential that they don’t see in themselves. Good creative coaches ask our clients to get outside their comfort zones because that’s where true creativity and innovation lies. Be willing to think critically about your instincts and try new things!