Boost Your Art Business Income

If you would like to increase your income in 2015, you must take charge of your art business.

You have to stop waiting for things to happen and start putting all of the pieces into place, so that the good stuff can settle in.

Liz Crain, Clay Dollars. Dollar bills, clay slip, underglazes and underglaze pencils, electric oxidation, 2.5 x 6 x .25 inches. Used with permission.

Liz Crain, Clay Dollars. Dollar bills, clay slip, underglazes and underglaze pencils, electric oxidation, 2.5 x 6 x .25 inches. Used with permission.

Money doesn’t just appear when you need it. You have to work for it. [Tweet this.]

In my experience, one of the best things you can do to improve your chances of making more money is to create a plan: an income-boosting plan.

Where Is The Money Coming From?

In order to boost your income, you first have to know what it is, historically, and where it came from.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to focus on your gross sales.

First, gather your sales figures for the past 3-5 years.

What are your streams of income? These are the sources of your income and will vary from artist to artist.

Income streams might be broken down as such:

  • Sales of original works
  • Sales of reproductions
  • Teaching
  • Illustrating
  • Consulting
Charles Pannage, my cousin, fashions U.S. State silver quarters into rings. Used with permission.

Charles Pannage, my cousin, fashions U.S. State silver quarters into rings. Used with permission.

On the other hand, if you sell only original work, your income streams might be categorized according to venues. For example, arts festivals, online, and galleries.

If you sell original work only online, you might break down your income streams into how people found you. This could mean your income categories are your blog, Facebook, and Pinterest.

You want to know the dollar amount you sold and the percentage of your sales from each income stream.

Analyze Your Numbers

Now, spend time looking at the numbers in front of you. What are the trends you see?

Are you naturally increasing your income 10% every year?
If so, shoot for 20% this year because this is a stretch for you, but not out of the realm of possibility.

What events happened to lead to your results?

A gallery might have closed and led to a drop in income. Or you might have received an unexpected commission that resulted in a big bump in your bottom line.

©Debra Benditz, Where is Jack? Digital photo on canvas enhanced with oil, 47 x 21.5 inches. Used with permission.

©Debra Benditz, Where is Jack? Digital photo on canvas enhanced with oil, 47 x 21.5 inches. Used with permission.

Maybe, like many of my clients, you see sales spike when you send a newsletter.

Perhaps you notice that 10% of your teaching is bringing you 50% of your income.

Set Your Income Goal for 2015

The final step in your income-boosting plan is to set your goal for the New Year.

At this point, you aren’t pulling a number out of a hat. Your goal will be based on analyzing data from the past and thoughtful consideration of what is possible in the future.

Artists who go through this process have told me that it is empowering, and that they can see how their goals could happen.

I’d love to hear your comments about this process. Have you attempted it in the past? What results have you seen? What questions do you have? Just leave a comment below.

 

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8 comments to Boost Your Art Business Income

  • This is such a very important aspect in knowing where you are as an artist, and it truly helps! I track this throughout the year, but do an in depth analysis in January as I get everything ready for taxes and figure out my goals for the new year.
    I actually use Excel to break everything down by month, then source, then by the type of product, and track it based on percentages sold through each relevant source. The monthly tracking helps with figuring out how to budget expenses.
    For example for 2014…
    Sources:
    commissions-18%,
    show sales (includes art shows & studio sales)-32.2%,
    gallery & wholesale-28.4%,
    online-1.2% (very small online store activated in November),
    prizes-9.2%,
    design/installation-11.1%.

    Details (sales thru shows, gallery/wholesale & online only):
    cards-2.9%,
    calendars-2.8%,
    fused ornaments (direct sale)-27.8%,
    fused ornaments (gallery/wholesale)-20.7%,
    fused other items-1.6%,
    original glass panels-50.4%,
    paintings-0.4%.

    In comparing this data to last year, I know I need to boost my commissions and maintain or increase making original panels to sell. But it also tells me that the cards and calendars, while not a significant percentage, carry a lot of weight because they are in essence reproductions and thus do not take much time to “make” so the ROI is high. Also that selling ornaments wholesale really was beneficial since this number is more than double what it was in 2013.
    But the biggest take-away I see is that selling through galleries is starting to equal independent art/studio shows, and if I were to focus on getting into a few more galleries, then maybe I could stop doing some of those labor intensive shows.

    And calculating those percentages? Just plug the numbers into Excel 🙂

    • Way to go, Josephine! This is such a great analysis.

      Did you make up the process on your own or learn it from me?

    • Alyson, it’s been a bit of both. I did this type of analysis before, but last year you prompted me to look at in more depth. Now I track it like this as my sales come in rather than trying to find all of the data at the end of the year. It has the added benefit of telling me exactly where I am at any given time.
      The piece I tend to forget is actually thinking about what the numbers/data mean and how that should be applied towards future growth and directions.

  • Alyson,
    Thanks for the Boost Your Income webinar. Good info and new way of thinking.

  • This is such a great post! Thanks, as always, for the helpful info Alyson!

    And, connecting other artists! Josephine your info is so helpful to stir up the cobwebs and get the wheels turning!

    Happy New Year!

    Jennifer

  • You just cracked open my mind to a few things. Thank you!

  • I haven’t sold many enough to be able to see a pattern. What do you do then?