There comes a point in every artist’s (every entrepreneur’s) business where you can’t grow without hiring someone.
It might be a paid intern, your kid, a website helper, or a bookkeeper, but you need the extra hands if you want to expand.
Who do you hire?
What will they do?
Your primary focus as an artist is on making art. That’s when you are in what Gay Hendricks calls your “Zone of Genius.” In his book, The Big Leap, Hendricks writes:
In your Zone of Genius, though the time you spend there produces great financial abundance, you do not feel that you are expending effort to produce it. In your Zone of Genius, work doesn’t feel like work.
I’m certain you know what that feels like. Bliss.
Your goal is to take those tasks off your plate that aren’t in your Zone of Genius – the tasks that keep you from making your best work. It’s the art you produce in the studio that nobody else could do.
For example, you might be competent at updating your WordPress template, but it’s not your best work. It takes you away from your best work.
Consider how lovely life would be if you could dwell in your Zone of Genius most of the time. How would that feel?
Not all artists’ websites are created with sales in mind.
For many artists, a website is a digital portfolio – an introduction for gallerists, curators, and other opportunities. If this is you, some of what I share here doesn’t apply. However, you could still benefit from heeding much of this advice.
There are numerous factors as to why some art sells better online than others: the work is more “popular” or more affordable, or some artists use their lists and social media more effectively.
On the other hand, here are four errors you should look at correcting immediately if you’re trying to make sales from your site. Each is a step toward making it easier for people to buy.
1. You make people click multiple times to see the art.
If your website hasn’t been updated in years, you might have an old template that makes people click numerous links to see your art. It’s time for a major overhaul.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about blogging, so I thought it was time to share some thoughts I’ve had and revisit some past ideas on the topic.
Let’s dive right in.
The Benefits of Blogs for Artists
There are three clear benefits to blogging.
1. More content attracts more eyeballs for your art.
It’s tempting to forego a blog for social media: “Who needs a blog when I have Facebook?” The danger in building up all of your content on Facebook is that you can’t control Facebook. They’ll do whatever earns their shareholders the most money.
But you can control a blog. Blogging allows you to build content on your own site, which attracts traffic. You’ll benefit from posting on a blog and then sharing to social media, rather than posting only on social media.
2. The more you write about your art, the more you will discover about its meaning and your purpose and the better you will be able to articulate your work to collectors, curators, and writers.
This is the #1 reason to blog.
Marketing isn’t something you do when you are done with the work.
You can’t afford to wait until everything else is in its place to promote your art. You must be marketing consistently.
Marketing is more than taking out an ad or sending an email. Marketing is a combination of everything you do to sell or to gain recognition for your art. Everything.
There will be times when you must focus on the work in the studio, which means there is no room in your life for marketing tasks. But something is amiss if this drags on for weeks without attention to your business.
Don’t wait until you’re finished with a body of work before you start marketing it. Think about marketing daily. Actually, do more than think. DO your marketing daily – as you go.
You don’t want to wake up one day with the realization, Not again! I forgot to market my art! By this point, it’s probably too late to get the results you want.
Don’t think of marketing as separate from your art. Marketing is the final step of making: sharing your art with others.
But it’s more than that.
Meeting new people is essential to growing your art business.
The more people you know, the more people there are to appreciate, buy, and tell people about your art.
The best tip I can give is just to get out! Online relationships are valuable, but in-person meetings can make an artist’s career.
Everyone you run into is a:
- Potential buyer. You never know where people are coming from.
- Potential connector. If everyone you meet knows 150 people (the average), imagine the possibilities. When you meet someone who is great at making connections between people, WOW!
- Potential friend or fan. Who can’t use more of these?
Become involved with an artist organization if it’s the right speed for you. If you are serious about selling your art, don’t waste your time in a group of hobbyists. You’ll quickly get frustrated in groups where you’re always a step ahead of everyone else.
We are often too quick to ask for feedback.
We’re equally guilty of giving feedback when it’s not requested (or wanted).
I’ve been guilty of both – especially the latter – and I’ve learned a lot about giving and receiving feedback. I owe much of what I know about feedback to Cynthia Morris, an artist and coach.
Here’s what I’ve learned from her and from others.
When Not to Ask for Feedback
Feedback is serious stuff. You should only ask for it if you’re prepared to hear the answers.
At certain points in the creative process, your project is in a delicate state. You might have a direction and be excited about it or, alternatively, not know what you’re doing.
Proceed with caution when you’re at this point. Asking for feedback too early doesn’t give you time to nurture your baby. The wrong words could put a quick halt to any enthusiasm you had and before you know it, your bubble has burst. Ouch!
How to Ask for Feedback
I probably don’t have to tell you that selling only original works of art doesn’t always pay the bills. Sales can be seasonal, galleries can shut their doors, or the economy might tank.
This is why I am all for artists having multiple streams of income – when it makes sense.
Multiple Income Streams for Artists
An income stream is a source of money.
Your income streams might include employment outside of your art business, but I’m going to focus on diversifying how you make money from your art.
Selling original works of art is probably the most appealing way for you to make money from your art. Other avenues include, but aren’t limited to, teaching, licensing, and selling reproductions.
Sometimes multiple income streams go together.
For example, if you teach art, there might be money from both online and in-person classes. Additional funds might come from how-to books and information products.
They’re all information based and marketed to the same audience.
Likewise, you could probably market products with your art on them
Are you like a lot of my clients? You want to do/try it all. You’d like to be everywhere but time runs out.
Lack of time is the number one anxiety for most of my clients. It’s not fear of rejection or failure or even potential criticism. It’s there’s not enough time in the day to do it all.
Like you, I’ve been overwhelmed with possibilities for business development and strategy.
Just three years ago, I remember sitting down and crying to my husband that I couldn’t work any harder. If I wanted to increase my impact in the world, I would have to work smarter. That’s when I hired a serious business coach and got back on track.
Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with overwhelm and a seeming lack of time.
1. The important stuff always gets done.
I don’t know how, but I know why the important stuff always gets done. It gets done because it’s important! I recognize its value and somehow manage to make it happen.
Knowing this truth is a relief.
2. There is no such thing as time management.
You can’t manage time. The clocks keep ticking and the sun continues to rise and set. There’s not much we can do about that.
But we can manage ourselves. Here are a few ideas for doing this:
I feel like there is this big secret in the art world. It’s about how things work and how to be successful. Everyone but me seems to know what it is.
Ever feel this way?
If I only knew this one thing … this one elusive thing that I have no idea what it is … my art business would be a success. But I don’t even know what questions to ask to find it.
You’re not alone. Many artists are on a quest to find the magic bullet and hoping to uncover it in a new class, blog post, or book.
And, still, the cogs and sprockets (Jetsons, anyone?) that run the art world machine are a mystery to most.
Let’s consider all of the personalities that are part of the drama. You’ve got your artists, gallerists, and collectors. You have critics, curators, and consultants.
Not part of the gallery scene? You’re looking at festival organizers, licensing companies and agents, portrait brokers, and art consultants. Not to mention the people in organizations that oversee public art projects and residencies.
These days you have tech startups that create apps, software, and websites for artists to show their work. So let’s add RedBubble, Etsy, Fine Art America, and Society 6 to the list.
Finally, you have people like me who try to help you navigate the possibilities. Each of us comes from a different background with a unique set of strengths. Who to trust?
No wonder you’re confused!
It would be lovely if someone would hand you a road map to success, right?