Top Myths (and Realities) of Working from a Home Studio

While there is some truth to the romantic notion of having a home studio (yes, you are free to wear your fuzzy slippers; yes, you can work your pajamas; and yes, you can start work at noon if you want), there are also some realities that you need to consider before moving your business into your home.

Here are some of the top myths (and gentle reminders of the realities) of having a working studio in your home:

Myth: You will be more productive in a home-based studio.
Reality:  Remember that you might be distracted by every other home related thing going on in the house, says Luann Udell www.luannudell.com, a full time artist and writer who works out of a renovated antique barn attached to her Keene, NH home: “I’m constantly answering the phone, making arrangements to get together with friends, doing dishes, doing a load of laundry,” says Udell.  Phone calls are a constant distraction she adds.  “People may hesitate to call you at your (out-of-home) studio where you are ‘officially’ at work, but they’ll call you in a heartbeat when they know you are at home.”

Myth:  You can have an “open studio” anytime.
Reality: Yes, you can, but you won’t get much work done. You can’t invite in your friends and family just because you are home everyday. You must remind yourself everyday that your home studio is a business.  “I work just about every day,” says Terry Lloyd www.terrilloyd.net, an artist who works and lives in Los Angeles, Calif.  “I have to schedule fun, phone conversations that are social. My day starts the moment I wake up and usually doesn't end until about 12 to 14 hours later.”  
Myth: Working from home is cheaper than an outside studio.

Reality: True. But before you decide to move your studio under the same roof where you live (which can be disruptive to your home life), look into creative renting options, says Udell, who has worked from both in-home and out-of-home studios in her career.  “Are you willing to give up eating out so often?  Ready to trim back your fancy vacation plans?  That’s what my husband and I did to make room in our family budget for my first studio,” she suggests. Also, find a sympathetic realtor or check with your local economic development group. Talk with the managers of large, multi-use buildings.  Chances are they’ll know of a decent room with the bare amenities at a good price, she says.

Myth: An at-home studio is great for raising kids.

Reality: If you have small children at home don’t think for a minute that they can play at your feet in the studio while you work warns Udell:  “Been there. Done that. Doesn’t work.” You should figure out the cost of reliable child care before you make the move into a home studio.

Myth: Working from home is lonely.

Reality: Yes, a home studio can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be says artist Annie Strack (www.anniestrackart.com). “I actually get more work accomplished when I’m working in the company of other artists,” she says, noting that she will occasionally use live video calls to connect with other artist friends in their studios. “This helps to alleviate the feeling of working in isolation,” she says.

Myth: A home studio is unprofessional.

Reality: Not true, as long as your customers don’t have to walk through a kitchen with a sink full or dirty dishes to see your art, says Udell.  “Keep your studio space truly separate … have its own entrance, for example, or as close to your entrance door as possible.  Keep your home life out of it, and your customers will feel as comfortable as...well, being in your home.”
Myth: Working from home means less money.
Haley Mindes www.haleym.com, a jewelry and accessory designer based in Manhattan, N.Y. points out that when you have your own home business – with little overhead -- the potential is always there to make more money – its all up to you.  “There is always a feeling of anything can happen (when working from home),” she says.  “The phone can ring or an email can come through requesting a large order … and exceed any job I would be working outside my home for someone else.”
Myth: You can work whenever and however you want.
Reality: This is true, but sometimes this can work against you says Pablo Solomon www.pablosolomon.com, an artist who has worked from his Texas-based home studio for decades. “Because of the relaxed atmosphere (at home) the challenge is to be disciplined and self-motivated enough to work.” To truly be successful at a home studio you should not just work whenever you are inspired, he notes.  “I get up each day at 3 a.m. Except for a short siesta after lunch, I work all day and into the evening,” says Solomon.
It is good to remember that having your business and home life under the same roof can give you the feeling of working all the time, particularly if you have a small home studio, warns artisan Isa Issacs (www.upcycleheaven.com): “You’re married to your work … there’s little space to entertain and have guests (since) your art is spread all over the place!”
But the benefits outweigh the negatives for Issacs.  “While you're married to your work it can be incredibly inspiring and really keep you in your vision rather than distracted from it.”
Jewelry and accessory designer Mindes agrees: “The months where there is balance (not too busy and stressed, or not too slow and worried about money) I feel such joy and happiness … I feel like the luckiest person to work from home doing what I love.”

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MARCIA PASSOS DUFFY (www.backporchpublishing.com) is a freelance business writer who works from her home in New Hampshire. Marcia’s articles have appeared on Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Bankrate.com, NFIB.com, Smart Business Magazine, The New York Times Lifewire, The Weather Channel, among others; she is the author of the book, Be Your Own Boss. Marcia wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie May.com (http://www.debbiemay.com/), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.