Despite the gruesomeness brought by 2020 and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year has been described by most as a rich learning curve adorned with so many lessons. Likewise, there were so many lessons for creatives when the situation cornered everyone to design an effective interim strategy. Here, I share some of the lessons from the hard hitting period that most creatives I interact with seem to be in consensus about as the biggest takeaways from 2020 for 2021 and beyond.

By Israel Sebenzo

Back-up plan

As obvious as this lesson sounds, it often is one of the most underrated and 2020 just showed how important it is to always have a back-up plan. The creatives with back-up plans kept going when the operations of the industry were turned upside down whilst the rest struggled to adjust. We often get carried away with the activities in the industry and forget that mishap can strike anytime and 2020 came to remind us just that. Unfortunately when the mishap strikes, the industry doesn’t stop for anyone, its business as usual. 

Creatives or not creatives, we all need a back-up plan in almost all facets of life so always keep that contingency plan ready for when disaster strikes!

Meaningful connections

At our core as humans, there is a need to connect with others and if we do so meaningfully there tends to be more benefits. The pandemic has taught me the importance of having meaningful connections not only with industry colleagues but with fans most importantly. I know a number of creatives that have kept co-creatives going through this difficult time and I also know some that allowed themselves to be vulnerable with their fans and the fans appreciated being let into their favourites’ lives and went on to show their support through donating directly to the artists or tuning in to their live streams to donate. If anything, these meaningful connections have kept us going through these difficult times as we are constantly assured that we are not alone in these tough times. Go on and forge those connections if you do not have any, they will come in handy now and beyond.

Diversify revenue stream

Ultimately, we do what we do to survive and being able to earn a living from your craft goes without saying. When COVID-19 hit, most creatives lost their revenue streams as the normal operations of the industry have been suspended ever since. Although the situation has been bad, it hasn’t been all gloom for those with diversified income streams. In essence, it is important to have a back-up plan on how you are going to make money from your craft. If you are musician, you shouldn’t rely on making money from music sales or streams; instead look into other avenues such as merchandise sales, monetising on social media, brand endorsements and so on. There are a vast number of choices of how you can diversify your revenue streams, look into it; you won’t know what works for you without trying!

Even more need for the 1000 true fans

The 1000 true fans theory by Kevin Kelly or the 1000 fan theory as referred to by others, suggests that:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author—in other words, anyone producing works of art—needs to acquire only 1000 True Fans to make a living.”

Having these core fans will guarantee you as a creative unshakable support through all the seasons in life. Those with their “1000 true fans” still enjoyed support from their fans that kept them afloat even though the industry was not operating normally.  Numbers are important to us creatives and yes, the higher the number of followers the better but to what end is it useful to have a million followers that you do not have a meaningful connection with? Let’s work on creating those meaningful connections with our fans and they will take care of us, they do not have to be many, just a 1000 according to the theory. After all, it is about quality over quantity.


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