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How to Hire a Personal Assistant for Your Art Business

by Jason Horejs on 07/26/2013 · 31 comments

Several years ago my business was really beginning to pick up and I was becoming overwhelmed with all of the minutia involved in running a business. I could never seem to get caught up on my email. I was travelling a lot and coordinating all of the travel arrangements was eating up precious hours out of my day. Bookkeeping and sales tax reporting were nearly impossible to keep up with. I was often working 9-10 hour days, six days a week (not to mention work I was doing at home).

Though I had recently hired a new gallery director to help manage the sales side of the business, it was increasingly clear I also needed to hire someone to work directly with me to help me manage my day-to-day affairs. Ironically, however, this was in the depths of the recession and I felt nervous about hiring an assistant. I wasn’t sure if business was going to continue to grow, and with a still-erratic cash flow I was worried about paying a new employee, even though I was only imagining the position as part time. I was also, honestly, worried about the extra tax filings I would obligate myself to with a new employee – would it be worth it for a part-time position?

I also suffered from (alright, let’s be honest, I still suffer from) a common small-business malady – the desire to do everything myself.

So, I resisted and procrastinated.

What finally caused me to break down and hire someone?  I had a conversation with my accountant one afternoon and he asked me why I didn’t hire a payroll service to take care of all of my payroll processing and tax filing. I replied that I probably couldn’t afford it, and that it probably wouldn’t make sense with such a small staff. He told me I would be surprised by how affordable it actually is and told me that I really couldn’t afford not to do it. He recommended a service – Compupay – and I gave them a call. I discovered that for a fee of about $40 + $3 per employee, they would take care of all of my payroll processing and tax filings. I could have kicked myself for all of the years I had been processing the payroll through Quickbooks and the hundreds of hours I had spent agonizing over ridiculously complicated payroll tax and employment insurance filings.

I immediately signed up for their services for my current employees and placed a help-wanted ad on Craigslist.com for a personal assistant. I figured out what the position was worth to me at the time, which, honestly, wasn’t a lot of money, and listed a starting wage. I figured I had nothing to lose – the worst that could happen would be a complete lack of interest.

Within minutes of placing the ad, however, the resumes started pouring in. As I recall, within the first day I had nearly a hundred applications for the position. My problem wasn’t finding someone qualified to take the position, my problem was wading through the deluge of great candidates and having to decide on only one.

I finally pulled out three or four resumes that I considered interesting, called the candidates and scheduled interviews. I feel I could have hired any one of the interviewees and done very well, but one in particular, a young woman named Ashley, seemed especially organized, well-spoken and deliberate. After I completed the interviews I called Ashley back and hired her for the position.

Ashley hit the ground running and immediately took over some of the most laborious parts of my work. If I had at first been worried that I would have a hard time training her, I quickly discovered that she picked things up before I could even finish explaining. Not only did she get the hang of the job, she figured out better ways to organize things and found ways to expand her work, taking over even more than I had planned. Though I had initially imagined the position would be part-time, it almost immediately turned into a full-time position.

Having an assistant didn’t mean that I was suddenly working less, it just meant I was able to begin concentrating more on the big picture and big projects instead of getting caught up in the minutia.  I immediate felt the investment in an assistant was paid back in spades.

Ashley was with me for three years, during which time she completed a degree in accounting and recently moved on to a position in that field. Her leaving caused a momentary panic as I now had to worry about finding and training a replacement for someone who basically kept my entire professional life together. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find someone as organized or conscientious. I was afraid it would take a long time to train someone new to do all of the varied tasks Ashley handled with such aplomb.

These fears turned out to be unfounded, just as my initial fears of hiring an assistant had been. I recently hired Mj, and she seemed to almost seamlessly pick up right where Ashley left off.

When Should You Hire an Assistant?

So how does this apply to you? If you are a gallery owner or an artist, you should consider hiring an assistant if you find yourself getting bogged down in the details of your business. If there’s something you are doing that has become completely routine, consider hiring someone to take it over so you can concentrate on creating the most value with your skills and talents.

I waited too long. Looking back I realize I should have hired someone as soon as my time started being of more value to me than my money. This is a hard one to gauge. Remember, three years ago my business was still relatively young (just 7 years old) and the economy had just fallen off a cliff. The tendency to be conservative with finances was pretty strong.

If you are an artist and your work has begun to sell well, or you have increased the number of galleries you are working with and shows you are participating in, you will very quickly find value in having someone around to help you get your ducks in a row. You don’t have to hire someone full time at first – just 4-5 hours a week might be enough to take care of the busy work, especially if your assistant can devote their full attention to that work.

If you are a gallery owner or director your time spent working on marketing, advertising and customer relationships is your most valuable asset. You can’t afford to spend your time filing bills and calling copy machine repairmen or sorting through the spam in your inbox.

How do you Find Someone?

I once read that many small business owners hire people they know to work in their business. I have certainly done that in the past, and several of my current and former employees have been family members. While that’s worked for me for those positions, I actually wanted to hire someone completely independent for the personal assistant position. I worried that a friend (or even a friend of a friend) would pose additional challenges if they didn’t work out. I wanted to feel like I could make a simple business decision about their efficiency and reliability, and not feel obligated to work with someone just because of a relationship.

CraigslistI am an fan of Craigslist.com. Craigslist has become the de facto source of classifieds. If you’ve ever bought or sold anything on the service, you know that they have a bare-bones interface that lends itself very well to the classified ad. Almost everything – create a listing or buying a used item, is free on Craigslist. A help-wanted add is one of only a few exceptions. There is (at the time of this writing) a $25 listing fee for job postings. I imagine this helps eliminate  spam and fraudulent job listings and provides one of the only sources of real income for the company.

Here’s the ad I placed in announcing the position when I was hiring a replacement for Ashley:

Scottsdale art gallery seeks full-time assistant for owner
Scottsdale art gallery seeks full-time assistant (35 hrs. per week) for owner. The ideal candidate will have strong writing/editing skills, excellent organizational abilities and be very comfortable with the computer (photoshop, some excel, data entry, blogging, social media). Position also includes, answering phones, managing communications with artists, order management, scheduling, travel booking/management, and occasional retail and customer service.

Schedule: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Tuesdays and Sundays off.

Try and be as specific as you can about the position so that you get the best possible candidates.

How Much Should You Pay?

You should pay your assistant what the freed up time is worth to you. The more you can pay, the better the candidates you will have apply. On the other hand, if you pay too much you’ll suddenly find that the money is worth more than the time and you’ll wish you were back to doing the work yourself.

I based my pay on an hourly rate – just a few dollars above minimum wage, but then I also include some performance based commissions on various special jobs and tasks (including art sales, since my assistant works in the gallery and helps cover the floor) that raises the total wage.

When advertising the position, I list only the base rate so the applicants wouldn’t have false expectations about the wage, but I then am able to pay more than the initially listed wage.

What Questions Should You Ask in the Interview?

Interviewing can be just as intimidating for the employer as  it is for the prospective employee. How do you find out if the candidate has the right skills? How do you figure out if they are honest? The stakes can feel pretty high. In just a few minutes of interviewing, you are trying to get to know someone who is about to become a virtual appendage in the coming months.

My approach has been to describe what I’m looking for, explain the position and then ask a prospective assistant to tell me why they feel they would be good at the job. I try to let the candidate do most of the talking.

Ask follow-up questions based on their assertions.

“I’m very organized,” says the applicant.

“Tell me how you used your organizational skills in a previous job.”

There are a lot of blog posts and online articles on how to interview – just do a Google search and you’ll find thousands of them. I’ve read a number of them, and some have been helpful. Most, however, seem to be geared more to HR directors who’s only job is to hire new people and who have to come up with creative new ways to torture applicants with silly questions.

“Ask your applicant why manhole covers are round” is a famous example. I guess it’s supposed to help you get into the mind of your applicant and figure out how resourceful and creative they are. I couldn’t ask a question like that with a straight face though, so I tend to stick to the basics.

How Do You Make a Final Selection?

In my last round of interviews, when seeking to replace Ashley, I interviewed five applicants. Of the five, four seemed extremely well qualified and interviewed well. In going back over my notes and the resumes, I felt I could pretty safely hire any one of the four. So how did I select Mj? I wish I could give you a formula I used, but truthfully, in the end it came down to a gut feeling. I liked Mj’s personality and confidence. Perhaps one day my instinct will lead me astray, but remember, you’re going to be working very closely with your assistant – it’s important to feel comfortable with them and I’ve found that instinct can be a better guide than logic in this arena.

The Paperwork

Once you’ve offered your assistant the job and they’ve accepted the position, you should discuss when they will start. Within the first day or two, it’s important to have them fill out all of the necessary (and mostly annoying) paperwork that will make them official. If you follow my suggestion above and have a payroll company take care of the payroll and tax filings, they will provide you with a new hire packet with all of the appropriate forms for your state. Those forms need to be completed within three days of the employee beginning work, so don’t procrastinate on this one.

Paying your Assistant and Filing Taxes

With a payroll service working for you, payday is easy. When I was dealing with payroll myself through Quickbooks, paydays seemed to come one right on top of the other. It seemed like I would just finish running all of the reports and filings and it would already be time to start the next. With a payroll service I only have to email my payroll manager the hours worked and bonus amounts and make sure there is money in the checking account to cover the payroll.

On payday, the paychecks are direct deposited into my employee’s accounts and I log in and print out a paycheck detail report.

Now that I use the payroll service I don’t even give tax filings a thought. The service handles everything and sends me occasional reports and forms for me to keep on file.

You’ll want to talk to your accountant about this, but mine had me set myself up as an employee through the payroll service as well so that my personal tax filings would be easier.

Why I Hired a Real Assistant Instead of a Virtual One

I read a lot about small business owners who have hired virtual assistants – that is, someone who handles all of their work from a remote location via the internet. I find this concept intriguing and can see how technology would make this feasible, and even in some cases, preferable. For my situation, however, it works out far better to have my assistant physically present at the gallery. Because we are a retail operation primarily, it helps to have one more person on site to help handle phone calls and work with customers when we are busy. There are also tasks where I find it nice to be able to sit down together to figure out how to tackle a particular project.

I can see how a virtual assistant would work for many artists and gallery owners, however. If most of the work you would be having them do – inventory, email, website updates, etc. would be done on the computer anyway, it could easily work. You could manage your communication via email, Skype and Google Hangouts (chatting and video calls). A virtual assistant could be set up to share your email and manage your inbox. Travel arrangements are just as easily done from your assistants office as from your studio or gallery.

Training & Expectations

Before my first assistant began working for me, I sat down and created an outline of everything I wanted her to do in the position. I thought about all of the ways she could help me free up my time and listed them in as much detail as possible. When I recently hired Mj, I used the same list of responsibilities, but added to it everything that Ashley had taken over doing. It was amazing how much the list had grown from my initial expectations of what an assistant would do to what she actually ended up doing as she grew in the position.

Training was easier than I imagined it would be. With almost every task, I would simply explain what I was trying to accomplish, show her how I had been doing it and then let her run with it. In many cases I would often be pleasantly surprised to find out that very little training was required, and even more surprised to discover that my assistant was better at the job than I was and found easier ways to get the work done.

Here is a partial sample list of tasks that I have Mj take care of for me. This is what I emailed to her when I extended the job offer:

MJ,

I would like to offer you the position we discussed last week in the interview. As I mentioned, Ashley, who currently holds the position, leaves at the end of this week, so I would love to have you start as soon as possible to have a couple of days of overlap. Let me know what’s possible (I understand you have to give consideration to your current employer).
To review the position.

Responsibilities

Planning my national workshop schedule – including travel arrangements and booking the venue for workshops.

Researching artists in the area where I will be travelling and marketing the workshop to them via our email list and local art groups and art publications.

Sending out a series of emails to artists in the workshop area.

Managing registrations for the workshops – sending out workshop materials and instructions.

Coordinating images for our bi-monthly art catalog.

Coordinating images for our monthly ad in American Art Collector magazine

Managing inventory, processing orders, coordinating shipping.

Helping me manage email.

Answering calls.

Managing my calendar.

Editing and proofreading blog posts and marketing copy

Expectations

Punctuality to schedule: Monday, Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (you can take 1/2 hour paid lunch)

Attire appropriate to a retail setting (business casual – more relaxed during summer months, but always appropriate for dealing with retail customers)

Your Life Will be Better and You’ll be More Productive when you Have a Personal Assistant Managing the Little (and Big) Things for You

You might say, “Jason, I’m a starving artist, I can’t afford to hire an assistant” or “my gallery is too young – I’m still in the stage where I have to do everything myself.”

That may be true, but I’ve always encouraged artists and fellow gallery owners to envision their art business as it can one day be if they work hard. Even if you can’t hire an assistant today, start thinking about how you could utilize an assistant when you are one day able to hire one.

Perhaps you have a friend, spouse or someone else who wants to help you with your business and would be willing to volunteer to take over some of the tasks that fill your day. You can apply many of the same principles in bringing in a volunteer that you would to hiring someone.

Business CardA Final Note

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven though this entire article has been about hiring a “personal assistant” – I don’t call Mj (or Ashley when she filled the position) my personal assistant. I don’t mind the title, I just don’t feel it accurately describes the position. On Mj’s signature line in her email and on her business card it lists her position as “Creative Director & Workshop Coordinator.” Although she does a lot more than this as well – I think this better describes the gravity of what she’s doing. I don’t really consider her an assistant, or secretary – in fact, most of the time I feel like she is so on top of what’s going on that she doesn’t really work for me, I work for her.

I also think that these titles give her more weight when she’s communicating with someone in my behalf. Someone communicating with Mj should believe that whatever they need help with, she has the authority to take care of it.

For an artist, I would think that “Business Manager” sounds pretty good for this kind of position.

What Do You Think?

Have I convinced you to hire a personal assistant? Do you already have one? If so, what advice would you give someone who’s considering hiring one for their art business? Have feedback about this article or questions you’d like to put out to the Reddot community? Please leave a comment below! Note that due to spam screening, we have to hand approve each comment and it can sometimes take up to 24 hours (usually less) for us to post your comment.

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About 

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill Paris Rody July 26, 2013 at 11:32 am

One Day……
I hope one day I will be so successful that I WILL need a Business Manager…
Meanwhile, I AM that person, and learning by guess and by gosh and by a little help from my friends!
Jill

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Johanna Goodman July 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I really enjoy reading this helpful article.
Let me share some ideas about personal assistants, plural is the key, since sometimes it takes a village.
It is important to me to get as much help as possible.
My significant other is my partner and my assistant. He is a photographer and his skills help me to see my work more objectively.He also helps me organize my schedule.

I also have a friend who is a good web designer– I trade art sometimes for his services.
If I need framing, again art work exchanged or free advertisement for the framer at one of my shows.
All works together.

Johanna Goodman

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Barbara Green July 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Happily, or not, I made my living as an accountant. Sounds odd? Well, financial reporting is just patterns of squiggles (numbers). Anyway, in that life I also was fortunate enough to work with computers and the internet and am now proficient in Dreamweaver, Photoshop, etc. So, because I’m not successful enough as an artist to have a Creative Director (that day can’t come too soon!) I do all of this stuff myself – which saves a lot of $ but eats into creative time. Also, I’m a part-time bookkeeper (very part time – one day a week) for the local Art Center and that helps me to stay involved with the local art world. It’s funny how things work out.

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Celia Durand July 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Jason,
Thank you for a very informative article. I haven’t reached that point yet but I’ll keep your suggestions in mind. I think your tip about the payroll company is especially useful; like you I thought it would be a very expensive option.
Keep up with your good work helping and advising artists.
Celia

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Carol Adams July 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I have had 2 assistants for years. I figure they generate their income by helping me achieve more. This is especially true when searching and applying for public art projects. I also use Craigs list It’s great!

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Claudia L Brookes July 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Jason, i have been fortunate to have had an intern from a local high school working with me in a “business of art” paid internship since February. As he’s just entering his senior year, I will have the opportunity to work with him another year. I think this could be a way to go for some artists–a plein air painting buddy heads that school’s art department, and I asked him to “make a match” for me with one of his students. The relationship has been a great one–we have done project after project together–revamping all my pricing strategy, cleaning up first my website, then my database, doing a direct mail campaign for small prints, starting a MailChimp email newsletter and mail list, and most recently, all the promo and set-up for the biggest home-based sale I do all year, from our Amish barn. Whew! I can’t believe what we have accomplished together–he is learning everything from selling skills to organizing campaigns and databases, (while getting credit and an income) and I have the opportunity to work with a young person who can help with all the nasty computer and social media stuff without blinking an eye., plus lift and carry and set up and frame and do all those other things we artists have to do all the time. We have certainly both learned from the other, and it has been a very rewarding experience.

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Nubia Seibert July 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Dear Jason, I often admired how you got so much done! books, book club, webinars, sales, gallery, blogs, guest speakers etc. You are a genius!
I am preoccupied with the idea of hiring a PR someone who finds new channels to exhibit my work
aside from galleries. A Marketing person to help me develop a viable plan and Implement a plan that
included shows, media, public appearances, fund raisers, corporate installations. How do I find someone
to help me, I feel terrible because beside my art education
I also have a degree none other than Business and Marketing :) but feel
I need someone to bounce ideas with how to get the people by the numbers 100-200 -300 to exhibitions, studio
shows than will translate into more sales. Any ideas?

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JJ Jacobs July 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Great article, Jason!! Congratulations on finding your perfect assistant(s).

If you can’t afford to hire a personal helper right now but have steady work for an assistant, contact a local high school or college to see if they have any students needing to fill community service hours or off-site training programs. You’d be surprised at how eager and competent many of these kids are, and it’s free!!

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Joyce Wynes July 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

What an inspiring and informative article. I understand exactly what you are describing about thinking that you could do it all. When I had my other business that is how I felt until everything got too much and I had to either scale back or hire help. Now that I am a full time fine art painter, I am not in a position yet to be able to hire someone since I started that when the market crashed. When I am selling more work the first thing I am going to do is hire someone to take care of FB and all social media for me. They would have to know and understand my work of course. Another thing is to have someone handle my marketing and newsletters. Even though I have graphic design experience and had my own company, I can’t do it all if I want to be in the studio every day painting. Again, thanks for the great article. I am going to save it so I can reread it when I am ready.

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Roseanne July 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Really helpful article… and the comments were a bonus!
Thanks everyone,
Roseanne

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Julie Bernstein Engelmann July 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm

As a former employer, my most eye-opening hiring moment came when I decided to actually have applicants do a hands-on task. Once I narrowed the applicants down to three, I invited each of them in, asked a few questions, and then asked them to show me how they would set up a simple Excel spreadsheet to accomplish a specific goal. I explained that they did not have to know how to do this, they could ask me any question they liked. I was floored at how much this revealed, within minutes, about how well we would be able to work together. I wished I had been doing this for all of my previous years of hit-and-miss hiring.

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Jason Horejs July 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Great suggestion Julie! I will have to try this next time around (hopefully a long time from now!)

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ecc July 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Perfect! The whole article was beautiful! There once was a dark wall of “what ifs’ ” I was in fear and holding myself back.
I think I will print this and tape it to my door. Thank you so very much, this is a gift, an inspiration, and a catch net.

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Linda Rossin July 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm

In 1990 my painting career was off to a good start and the art market was humming. Shortly afterwards I found I couldn’t keep up with all that needed to be done, and the time allotted for painting suffered. I didn’t have a computer, and although popular they weren’t yet a necessity and everything was done in longhand. Working all hours of the day and night, feeling frustrated I hired my first assistant.

I didn’t have to look far as a friend knew a young neighborhood lady who was looking for part time work. After her interview I hired her on the spot. She had a business background, was very organized and had a computer at home. She produced all of my promotional show mailings, addressed and stuffed envelopes, updated my bios, wrote press releases and sent them off to newspapers and magazines. In my studio she filed reference material, learned how to close up the backs of frames, wired them for hanging, and packed and shipped art to galleries. Occasionally she ran an errand or two. All these tasks kept me at the easel, which is where I needed to be. I was very sorry to see her leave.

My second assistant, who also happened to be a neighborhood girl, picked up where the first left off but, after a time she also felt she needed to move on.

By the late 1990’s the computer was a necessity. My third assistant handled most of the above plus all of my web work, e-mail, and created new data bases for client and business contacts. Unfortunately in 2005 when the art market and everything else began to go south I sadly had to let her go and have been without an assistant since.

A lot of “life” has happened in recent years, putting a bit of a kink in my career. And now with all the latest avenues of social networking, I’m finding it difficult to keep up once again. Without a doubt, I will be looking for another local part timer in the future!

I’m so glad this subject of hiring an assistant arose, because if it wasn’t for the years of assistance I received early on, I’m afraid my career may have slowly spiraled downward. Thanks Jason, great subject!

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Thyra Moore July 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

Is it me? Or do we all want to move to where Linda lives? Her ability to find quality assistants in the neighborhood is wonderful! Kudos Linda! We don’t have kids, so don’t know many of the kids in the area. You are making me realize the ones I know are heading off to college or are in Elementary School. If you have a secret to finding the right kids please share?

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Claudia L Brookes July 30, 2013 at 4:59 am

Thyra, I would suggest contacting your local schools (high school or college) and asking for the head of the art department. If you described the kind of person you were looking for and what you wanted them to do, you might be as lucky as I was with my “business of art” intern and get a good “match.” The young person will probably want minimum wage. If they are promising, I would offer them as much more than that as you can afford; then you will not feel uncomfortable asking for any kind of help you need. A junior or senior can usually credit for an internship or senior project. Using Julie’s “test” above is a great idea, and would help you find out if the applicant will work well with you. Usually a student can pretty easily find 10 hours a week to work with you (plus more in summers), which is definitely a help.

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kellymilukas July 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Brilliant and Wonderfully detailed. I’ve been asking myself who, what, when for 2 years. You just gave the nudge and the template to get it done!
Artists take note of ROI!

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Ted W. Snoddy July 27, 2013 at 12:05 am

I have a small photography gallery in Julian, CA for the past two years, a tourist town busy on the weekends and holidays, but need to expand hours and business – as I have 10 artists on consignment. My 50 year old daughter is moving in with me to help run the Gallery. I am a single father. Her kids are grown. Reading the article gave me a tremendous view and perspective on the jobs and expectations and duties I can delegate to her. Right now I can never get out and do photo shoots as I am bogged down in paperwork, framing and housekeeping duties, running the gallery and meeting people, running from social meetings to another, and no down time. Knowing it will be a challenge for both of us, the article certainly helped. Anyone else have similar experiences or comments, chime in please.

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Stan Bowman July 27, 2013 at 7:24 am

Having an assistant to help me in my business (I make Giclee prints for artists and others) would really be helpful at times, but there are several concerns that keep me from doing that. First is that I really don’t think I have the overall volume yet to hire someone full time so part time is the only thing feasible. Also it would have to be on demand as my work flow volume varies, sometimes quite dramatically, and I might go weeks without much work going on. Also I could use someone with woodworking experience as I frequently have to make wood frames (from scratch as it affords certain advantages) for stretching canvas prints, and I am also concerned about the safety of having someone using power equipment in my studio. Finally no one has spoken about needing to provide workman’s compensation for an employee and that seems like something I would rather not have to deal with.

However Jason has listed some good points to having an assistant so I will probably give more thought to it, particularly some of the things they might do, perhaps excluding woodworking. And perhaps I will also find things for them to do that assist me in my art making and promotion which could be as useful as an assistant in my business. I never seem able to keep my web sites (I have three) up to date, and social media is as yet not fully explored.

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Jason Horejs July 27, 2013 at 7:40 am

Stan,

When you advertise the position, include exactly what you just wrote about the ebb and flow of demand and part-time nature of the work. I think you’ll find that someone out there is looking for exactly this kind of position and that you will be able to work out an arrangement that suits you both perfectly. Since you are asking for a lot of flexibility you may also have to give some flexibility, allowing your assistant to work at odd hours after their day job or on weekends. I imagine that you are going to find someone who is interested in crafts and art and would welcome the opportunity to work with a more experienced artist and learn the business.

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Lori Woodward July 27, 2013 at 9:34 am

Hmmmm…. This could be the answer for me since I am feelings quite overwhelmed by the number of hats I wear.

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Thyra Moore July 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

This comes at a very opportune time. Have been thinking of how to focus most of my time on art and less time on the “other”. As an artist and not a gallery, thought I would share in case it might give others thoughts too. AND perhaps you have suggestions for me??? My focus right now is hiring an assistant but with a twist. Since much of my time needs to be creating art I am looking for a ‘life assistant’ to take over all the other things that must be accomplished — cleaning, laundry, critter care, house maintenance (i.e. waiting for repair people), etc — you know that long list. Also hoping to find someone who can take on some basic office assistance with the goal to carve out as much time for art as possible. Once I have accomplished that, then I can see what areas (which may require specific skills) can be outsourced in the way of marketing, etc that many of you have mentioned.

Jason, thank you for providing the details of your process, including the salary structuring. I am going to see what we can incorporate into our process — the position is different, but the intended outcome is the same. THANKS!

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Barney Davey July 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

Great article Jason, personal and to the point.

Whether you realize it or not, you embody the solid advice that has made Michael Gerber’s “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” book a perennial bestseller for decades, (Currently #562 out of 30 million+ plus books on Amazon.com). The essence of the book’s message is about overcoming the belief no one can do it as well as you. While true in some cases, it becomes an unsustainable albatross that sinks many ships.

I’m happy your instincts are so good. Keep using them and relying on them. What you accomplish in your life and your business is nothing short of amazing. You are a manifester of the first degree. I’m honored to be your friend.

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Patricia J Finley July 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Great article, Jason! Best of all, it was just the push I needed to hire some one very part time to do some basics for me that I don’t want to do and somehow don’t get around to doing.

Thanks, as ever, for the great advice!

Pat

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Patricia July 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Jason,
Actually one of my artists sent me your article….bless you for writing it. I have been a one woman show for 8 years…yea, way too long.
I have had different friends give me a hand over the years. This summer a friend committed to 2 days a week and Art Walk Night once a month for the summer. She like your first assistant, caught on so fast and the experience actually showed me how much I could accomplish with a bit of help. She is leaving the area in September but I am convinced by this summers experience and the encouragement from your article to move forward with finding someone else.
Thanks for a better perspective, Tricia

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Jason Horejs July 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I call that timing! Be sure and get back in touch and let us all know what you find.

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Diana Tripp July 28, 2013 at 10:10 am

It’s amazing how timely this is. At the beginning of the year, I decided to take this year to really do a “step up” for my art career. I wanted to get in at least 2 galleries, I wanted my cards out in more public places and I wanted to free up time for more instruction, more workshops etc, etc. I soon began to feel even more overwhelmed than before i had these lofty, but appropriate goals. Whereas I couldn’t find the justification for hiring an assistant, based on my current art sales, I did need help. Coincidently, a friend moved into town and was looking for work. We agreed that she would work by the hour at a pretty reasonable rate and that she would begin to research our local area for both card placement and a start at reviewing the galleries I might want to consider.
This was one of the greatest things I ever could have done. I AM now providing cards for some new locations and have started the process of finding a match for my art in a gallery. Surprisingly, I heard from one gallery owner immediately and it does appear that she will begin carrying my art in the near future.
I don’t know how long I can continue to pay this assistant – but I’m going to try because the value of having some of that overwhelm lifted has been beyond wonderful.
And thank you Jason, for your continued support and training. I’ve learned so much from you these last 6 months or so. I’m truly grateful.

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William Schneider July 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Excellent article! I’m searching for an additional assistant right now.

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Amy LaBossiere August 5, 2013 at 7:30 am

Great article. This applies not only to the art world, but small business in general. You’ve really captured the fears, concerns and how to handle them straight on. Thank you for the inspiration!

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Cyndy Carstens August 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

Thank you, Jason, for a great article – informative, to the point and candid (one of the things I really like about you personally). I have needed a business manager for some time. God willing, 2013-14 will be the season that allows me to do it. I have book-marked your article, so when the time comes, I can refer to it again.
Thank you for all the wonderful information you share. I am one of your biggest fans.

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Norma May 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You have taken away some of the apprehension and answered a lot of questions I had. You have cleared up some confusions as well.

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