Best Practices vs. Your Reality

Best practices are just that. They’re what we aim for.  They’re what I share with you in my book, on the Art Biz Blog, and in my workshops.

But they’re not always what we can do right now.

Ann Scott, Summer Storm

Ann Scott, Summer Storm. Oil, 26 x 40 inches. ©The Artist

Best practice: Get complete contact information from each person as you encounter them: full name, email, snail mail, Twitter, Facebook, and so forth.

Reality: It isn’t always appropriate to ask for all of this information at once, nor is it convenient. For instance, if you leave all of these blanks on a Web form, you’re going to scare people away by asking for too much of their time. Get the contact info you can and fill in the blanks as time passes.

Best practice: Post to your blog at least three times a week.

Reality: You might rather have a tooth extraction without painkillers than to post to your blog three times a week. What’s right for some may not be right for you. First, make sure you really want a blog and then figure out a schedule that suits your temperament.

Best practice: Send a monthly newsletter.

Reality: You might not have news each month. Select a regular distribution time that works best for you. If it’s quarterly, go with it. The most important thing isn’t the time between issues, but that you deliver on your promise.

Best practice: Create a business page on Facebook and update your fans every day.

Reality: The thought of joining Facebook turns your stomach. If this is you, you shouldn’t be on Facebook because you’ll just be bad at it. It’s unwise to have a public presence that you don’t give your best effort.

Best practice: Keep your inventory, calendar, and task list on your computer for quick searching and easy organizing.

Organize Your Art BusinessReality: You aren’t ready to let go of your paperwork and the truth is that you’re doing just fine with your photocopied inventory pages and your Day-Timer. Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken.

On the other hand, if you’re a disorganized mess, check out the Get Organized class starting soon.

Someone decided what best practices would look like in his or her world. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find another “expert” who has a different set of best practices.

Pay attention to your reality to decide what your best practices should be.

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17 comments to Best Practices vs. Your Reality

  • Love these, and love that you have allowed us to be a bit compassionate to ourselves too. :) I haven’t sent a July newsletter and have felt guilty but really there is nothing to share. I’ve been manic busy, no new paintings really, and am heading out of town on Saturday. So I figure better to have a really awesome August newsletter early in the month.

    Mind you, even if it isn’t the “best” it does make me think I could have a quick news blast newsletter with a couple show dates. See, you’ve given me a kick without even trying.

    • Tina: When that happens you have to ask yourself: “Are people really wondering where the newsletter is?” Usually, not (sadly). But everyone is busy. I say pick up where you left off and don’t even (ever) apologize for not doing the July issue.

  • Very well said.

    I’m learning more and more the importance of following my own rhythm and find out what really works for me, instead of just applying “universal” rules. We are all different and what works for someone might not work for another.

    I am all for pushing myself a bit, but not in the wrong direction :)

  • I have found that the best way to update my blog is to do it once a week – it’s manageable and I usually have news, photos or images/sketches that I’ve done in the last week that I can post.

    As for my calendar, I’ve got a calendar stuck up on the door, which shows the next two months. The same calendar is reused, with the ‘finished’ month’s days being painted or stuck over with white (NOT painting over the lines that separate the days), and the new month’s numbers put into the correct ‘day blocks’. And when the calendar is all used-up, I use it in a mixed media artwork or my art journal.

    Google is probably my best friend – I use their task list as well as my Gmail address book. And Mail Chimp is my second best friend for my contact list/mailing list.

    And on the Facebook page – import your blog posts as ‘notes’, there’s an import option at the notes section, which keeps your facebook page updated as regularly as you post updates on your blog. At the moment I’m having a bit of trouble, as it’s not importing/updating, but usually it works like charm!

  • Great post, Alyson. Now I don’t feel like I have to beat myself up for not having all these blog posts for the week.

    And thanks, Janet, for the tip on importing notes into my FB page! That will be very useful for me.

  • Excellent, excellent post! Best practices are always a good area to apply your own realism to, rather than continue operating in a substitute reality!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I have been following your blog, have your book, get your newsletter, etc. for years and have felt guilty when I don’t do as well as I “should”. This post made me realize it’s ok to adjust things to what fits my schedule and life (as a single parent, with a full time day job, full painting schedule, plus a nonprofit I just started, my life is quite full!). I have implemented a lot of the suggestions from your book which has made things so much better, but sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with the marketing of my work, the social media stuff, blog, newsletters…ugh!!! I have learned to be ok with only sending out a newsletter about every other month or so and I write a blog post and then use that link as a facebook wall post (killing two birds with one stone). I use a large white dry erase board to write down shows and competitions I want to enter with all pertinent info listed where I can easily see it on a daily basis: deadlines, dates of show, location, list of paintings to enter (this way I don’t enter paintings into overlapping shows). I also enter the deadlines on my paper calendar which is right next to my computer, so I see it every day and know what’s coming up. This works much better for me than an online calendar. Thanks for letting us know that it’s ok to be human and adjust things as needed!

  • Anita Rodriguez

    Very important post – thanks Alyson! Since the school year ended for me I’d been preparing for an early July event and after that event I tried to keep the momentum going. Result: angry at myself for not doing everything I thought I should. I had to step back and appreciate the work I’d already done ( including learning a lot of technology stuff and starting up my website). I realized that I didn’t have to have it all right now and do it all perfectly, whatever it happened to be. By taking the pressure off, I was able to calmly proceed with the most important items that I needed to prepare.

  • Thank you! I have been trying to absorb all the conflicting marketing & social media tips I find, and being yourself really is the best tip. Making reasonable promises and keeping them — that, I can do.

  • Alyson, this is why your help is so valuable. You always come back to something that I highly value: “To thine ownself be true”