Hey there and welcome to this week’s posting! This is a multi -part article (yes I have a lot of those) focusing on how to manage your business and save yourself some time. Today, we will be coving what you need to do to get your shit in order, become a front desk helper-person and make the whole business of being a tattooer work for you.
To start, time is money and with so much on the go, every person out there needs a little help with automating processes, getting clients to do a lot of the backend work and easing the general day-to-day shit.
What it is that we do
Here is a brief introduction in being a tattooist:
Yea, that basically sums it up!
Tattooists are glorified salespeople with art skills. Sadly, most of us in the industry have a hard time keeping the artist side of our ego/persona separate from the salesperson side. It is a true duality that has some people in the industry suffering from burnout.
One aspect of the multiple jobs I work at daily is helping artists navigate the world of tattooing in a successful way. My job takes me on the road on an endless effort to help establish brands and I work as an author, an artist and as a business consultant. These efforts seamlessly (ya fucking right) overlap and usually give me a good way of connecting with industry insiders easily.
Meeting artists that suffer from burnout is a constant thing. At conventions, during guest spots or just wandering into a shop, there is a theme that seems to be consistent at most shops around the United States: You all have no clue what you are doing!
There are artists who are booked out months or even years in advance who work on artwork the night before an appointment.
There are artists who have no idea how to schedule a consultation and work only on walk-ins.
Some artists are so great that their egos can loftily accelerate their ability in alienating their clientele to the max.
Sadly, these scenarios usually end up leaving the burdened artist with no work and living in a shitty camper van.
What can we do about it?
Better yet; how can we effectively operate our business so that it starts to work for us and keeps much of the legwork at a distance.
The goal is to create so much of a distance that we can get back to having families, getting artwork done or even work a second job!?
Step 1- Get fucking smart people!
What we deal with every day is an organized type of crisis management Clients are prone to running late, missing appointments, changing designs or losing consciousness.
As artists, the psychological drain from being a spiritual healer and therapist can cause us to seek outside comfort from booze and sex and rock and roll to deal with these stresses. This is not only super unhealthy, but it also leads to total burn-out faster than you could imagine.
Well… maybe you can imagine a sense of burn-out if you’re running crispy lines and take breaks to snort cocaine off a toilet seat in a convention hall… It happens to the best of us.
First, let’s imagine you, as a fruitful and accomplished artist, are healthy and not hooked on the nose candy, ok?!
How can you streamline your life to ensure you get a good night’s rest and are available for those needy clients when they have an all-day session? Easy! Use the tools around you to help ensure your working life doesn’t overlap with your home life.
Integrations and specialization:
Integrations: not what Donald Trump is arguing about these days… Integrations are things in your life… Things that work with you to get shit done.
This may come as a surprise, but we are living in a digital age. You have fucking handheld computers that do all your thinking for you! A trillion images that we use a flash or reference at your fingertips!!!!
If you own a computer, a phone or a tablet, there is a few things that you can use to make your days go easier.
If you work hard you need support to ensure the major cogs of all that working stuffs stays sharp. You need to learn to delegate and share the load that you take on, so you won’t burn out.
This idea is not just applicable to tattooers out there, this is generally a great idea when running a business.
The most successful businesses work well by delegating responsibilities to specialists. Those specialists work, for the most part, in a single area of the business operation and ensure quality product is released in a timely manner.
Most times, those products are not just tangibles but also efforts of mental labor.
You, dear reader, may be a specialist in the field of artistry or tattooing yet there is a definite possibility that you are not a specialist at running a business, scheduling clientele or tracking your projects accurately.
Becoming your own specialist with some help from what’s out there
One aspect of my business practices is helping new or existing owners/operators understand shortfalls and misaligned practices. Painstaking effort goes into dissecting all aspects of operations and building systems that incorporate minimal efforts which yield maximize results.
AS tattooers, we are often crutching as much time as possible trying to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously. Artwork, scheduling, client follow up, redrawing shit, redrawing the shit again, taking phone calls, answering emails, social media…
All of these tasks can start t muddle into a single beast that is the lifestyle that claims more artists the more booked up they get.
To get on top of the daily grind, we need to focus on the systems available to us that can streamline or automate some of the processes that take up meaningful time. You need to specialize in your business.
Hera re two examples of what I use to help me make my way through mountains of artwork and client requests.
To start, let’s focus on specializing on being the assistant you always want. Start saving time by using booking software.
( So, this is a product plug but it is the best software I have used in a long time. )
With my career taking me on the road constantly I needed to find a way that empowered clients to do their own scheduling as well as answer simple questions that they may have.
There are many times weekly where I am in the shop answering phone calls. These phone calls usually follow the same route:
Me: “Hello, *insert shops name*. My name is Rian, how can I help you?
Client: “ummmmmm….. so I have a question. Can you answer it for me?” (23 seconds in)
Me: Absolutely! What can I help you with?
Client: “ummmmm…. How much do you charge for tattoos?” (1 minute in)
Me: “That depends on a few factors like: where you want to get it, how big it is and what the final image is. Can you make a trip own to the shop to have a consult with us?”
Client: “Oh no. I am unable to make the trek down there. I can tell you that the tattoo is like… not that big and its like…. All black but maybe with a little color. My friend has the same one and her friend said she shouldn’t have paid as much as she did but I have a budget of 60 bucks and I need to know if you will do the tattoo before coming down because my car is like…. Ya know I need more time to check an see and I am just shopping for prices….. “ (13 minutes in and my brain sort of wanders.)
Me cutting in: “I am sorry. We cannot give any quotes or prices over the phone past what the shop minimum is. I cannot guarantee what the final price may be, but the minimum is ***X***:
Client: “WHOA@@@@!!!!!! Ya.. ummm…. Maybe I’ll call you back thanks”
20 minutes later, I have not gotten anything really done and try to pass the phone to anyone who is walking near me to save me the next encounter that may mirror this previous call.
After many years of this same repeating scenario, I started looking for a way to maximize my time and funnel clients to a single point of reference that answers the simplest of questions.
In a perfect world, clients would do their fair share of the legwork when it comes to scheduling consultations and appointments. I am unaware of any average tattooer having an associate that takes care of everything for me. It’s a one-person show, and, personally, I am scattered to the point of complete frustration.
My booking system is on point tho…
Using an online scheduler, I can integrate my clients into the travelling lifestyle that permeates my existence.
Here is the software that I use. It is called Acuity Scheduling.
Their tagline is, “All you need to do is show up on time…”
What a perfect tagline! That’s all I ever want to do!
Yes. It is a plug. I make money off you getting a paid subscription when using this link below but, trust me! It will be worth your while to at least take a chance and streamline your scheduling!
Setting it up
They have an amazing interface which makes things easy to get started. Just login with your Google or Apple account and you’re ready to get the scheduler setup.
I wont go into how to setup the software as the website has some pretty rad and in depth articles about how to do this so… if you choose to take a peek (which the initial software is totally free), you can hazard up the courage to set it up yourself.
One benefit to Acuity is the forms you can attach to any booking (tattoo time or consultation). I have in great length rebranded a form from another tattooer that spells out everything. Minimum prices, average costs… all the BS I have to spew out over the phone in the day-to-day. When I answer the phone now, I say “go to the website”.
Take a peek at my booking site here
Now, let’s take a peek at some project management software that allows you to stay in touch with you client and give them updates at your leisure.
Using project management software may seem like a bit of an overkill approach to communicating with clients but, I assure you, it makes things easier if you work 3+ weeks into the future.
First off, you can create custom boards that clients can be invited to. These are private so no one can see what you are up to unless they are invited.
Secondly, you can set timelines, checklists and allow clients to upload files directly to the boards.
You are also able to upload drafts of artwork so that the clients can review them and give you a heads up as to what they feel about the process.
I have found this approach to be most helpful to the business-esq clients that have busy lives. They don’t want to spend time driving back and forth to the shop checking drawings and waiting on your ass to finish a crispy line to have a 5-minute chat.
So there you have it. Take a peek, see what may work for you and try something new. With all the focus on using tablets for creation, start learning what other tools are out there for you to save some time!