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The "Before" People

The "Before" People

The "Before" People is a term I coined for an interesting phenomenon I have noticed during my years in business. Not just as the owner of Forged Flare® — but also previously as a freelance artist and designer.

So who are the "Before" People?

These are the people that are friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances that knew you before you started your own business.

Some still envision you as the baby whose diaper they changed, a few look back on you as the elementary school classmate who ran around the playground with you, others remember you as the colleague who facilitated important client meetings at your corporate job. In all of these situations, it's a hard mental jump to connect the person you used to be with the person you are now.

(It is important to recognize that what I am about to say isn't meant to be taken as a slam —especially if YOU are someone who is a friend or family member who knew me "Before".)

Many "Before" People can’t see past who you used to be. A great deal will never be a customer, or take what you do as seriously as someone who is perceived as having a "real job". They will say things such as "You're too expensive", "It must be nice not to have to go to work", "Since you don't work, can you do x-y-or-z for me", or even "I think it's so nice that you have such a fun hobby!"

One time — about Forged Flare® — a former colleague told me that I was way more talented than spending my time making crafts that her grandmother could make (in a way that I can only hope was meant as a compliment). She did leave a good review about the "cute little arts and crafts project"...

Many times, it will take some grand moment in your business — like celebrity or media recognition, etc. — before these sentiments cease to exist (if at all).

So why exactly am I writing this article?

I have observed this phenomenon for years and find it kinda fascinating. For me, it started when I'd get pushback for my design pricing. 

I routinely received requests to do design work because of the notion that since I enjoyed creating art, I surely wouldn't mind creating art for free. As shocking as it is, many artists don't charge for — or severely undervalue — their time when pricing their products or art. It is my belief that this is an act that has led to the artist community at large being undervalued and dismissed as a legitimate profession. Somehow loving your job equates it with being a hobby or something not to be taken as a serious occupation. Just like the comment "You're too expensive", it used to hurt when the "Before" People didn't understand why I wouldn't do illustrations for them for free.

Many years ago — during college — I sold cosmetics for a multi-level marketing company. At the time, I thought that I would make it big! After all, I had a large pool of friends and family and they're sure to support me, right?

Wrong.

While I loved doing it at the time, I didn't last a year because my strategy (or lack thereof) was severely flawed.

Never go into business expecting to make a living off of your friends and family. This was a hard lesson to learn — but a valuable lesson that prepared me for a future of being a business owner.

I see way too many posts online in the artist community with the same type of comment: "Why doesn't my [family, friends, colleagues] buy from me?" Generally these comments are masking anger, sadness or self-doubt. I get it, I truly do — I've been there after all! To the artists asking this, I say: Many of the people who don't buy from you are the "Before" People. Not all, but many. Don't feel upset — it's not a personal reflection of you or your business. They're not your niche.

Let me say it again.

They're not your niche.

 As an artist, you have to find your people. While the support you get from the "Before" People can be oh-so-amazing and feels wonderful, there's something special about the validation you get from a complete stranger that is even more rewarding! Please don't be angry at those in your life who choose not to support you. It's ok. They're ok. You'll be ok — your business will be ok. Please remember that and try not to let personal feelings get in the way. Work on finding your people.

While it's important to love what you do, it's even more important to find the people who love and respect your creations as much as you do.

And for the "Before" People who may be reading this article — it's completely ok if you choose not to purchase from us. We understand! While a piece of us will always be a "Before" Person ourself, we are no longer that same person. Please don't avoid us, if you see us posting online it's often because we LOVE what we do and our business is (for better or worse) our life!

Just like you proudly posting about your recent job promotion, work party, or business travels, what we post about our business makes us excited and proud. Consider liking or sharing our posts — even if you never have an intention of purchasing for yourself. Just the encouragement we receive from you goes a long way!

At the end of the day, we only ask that you respect us as the business professionals we are.

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