This profession is fickle. I remember when I began, I had just hit my stride, my first project for Rolling Stone was awaiting publication, and I was making a good living producing art. Then September 11, 2001 changed everything. I didn't work on a paid project for months. I took another job at a gym, and made due. Fortunately, the economy bounced back, but it was a hell of a curve ball at the start of my young career.
Today, the economy is as bad as it has ever been. All artists are feeling the financial pinch- art budgets are reliant upon advertising dollars. When advertising slows down, so does the purchase of art. My business is slowing down to a trickle. So, what to do?
Now is the time for personal projects. Development of multiple revenue streams. Diversifying, to put it into proper fiscal terminology. I am working on all of those personal projects that have been kept at bay in light of a flourishing business. I assume that this economy will rebound, but you never know. It is best to hedge your bets.
Analyze your product. What do you have to offer?
Your art- what venues are you not pursuing? Illustration, Gallery work, design, books, editorial, advertising, self generated assignments, licensing, comic books/sequential, video games, children's books, competitions with financial prizes, etc.
Remember, that you are also armed with information- how to make an image, build a website, draw, think, etc. Who could benefit from those skills? Advertising agencies, video game companies, universities, people wanting to attend workshops, etc. Be proactive, and you can find an audience for the things that you produce.
The projects that generate the greatest financial rewards, are always the most personal projects. Imagine creating a character, and a story line for a comic book, or graphic novel. Seek a venue for a publisher of your collected works (if it is realistic). Collect stories of others, and illustrate them for a children's book. Find a local gallery, and paint a show of your personal work.
These are actually all things that I am actively pursuing. Hopefully you will find the ambition, the drive, the ability, etc. to focus your own personal vision into a final product that you can then market. Lord knows we have the time...