Valuable advice from filmmaker Gary Hustwit, excerpted from Tell Me Something: Advice from Documentary Filmmakers:
“Embrace the idea of releasing your work yourself, without a film distributor or record label or book publisher or other middleman involved. Don’t listen to people who try to convince you that you need them in order to get your work out there. You don’t.
The Internet is such an incredible gift to creative artists, one that allows us to reach the people who want our work directly. But I’m amazed at how quickly some people want to give that gift back and let someone else control how their art reaches the audience, and how they’re compensated for that art.
Build a direct relationship with the people who want to see your work, and run your own small company to produce and distribute it. I know, to some of you that doesn’t sound like a good thing. But it is. You might be thinking, I don’t want to be a businessperson. I’m an artist; I just want to focus on the creative stuff. Well, if you want to keep creating, you need to know where the funds are coming from. I know it sounds like a lot of work and responsibility dealing with the business issues yourself, but you’ll be much more knowledgeable about your industry if you learn how it works through doing it.
Yes, it would be convenient to hand off these responsibilities to someone else. But if your goal as an artist is to be self-sustaining – that is, to be able to work on whatever projects you want to without anyone else’s approval, and be able to make a living from that work – then I don’t really see any alternative. A catalog of work that you create over your career, and that you retain full rights to, is a long-term asset that will continue to benefit you in ways you can’t even imagine right now.”
To which I would only add:
The creative work is the hard part, and you’re already doing that. Building direct relationships with people who enjoy what you create? Running a small company to produce and distribute your own stuff? That’s comparatively simple.