This blog post was first published on the Huffington Post.
I don’t know about you, but the last few days have been quite hard for me. With everything wrong that is going on right now on earth, I feel it’s normal and ok to stop and wonder if it’s really all worth it.
I spent most of the last week speaking to people around me, artists and entrepreneurs alike who were asking themselves the same question: Is it really worth all the trouble?
Unfortunately, when you start thinking like this, it’s not too long before feelings of discouragement, resentfulness and failure start settling in.
That’s why, when artists come to me with this question, I invite them to take a sincere look at the actions they have taken to move forward with their business.
Whether they are artists or entrepreneurs (although you should know that I consider artists as entrepreneurs) I ask them to honestly answer this question: “Have I, (insert name here), been doing everything in my power to take my business where I want it to go?”
Most of the time, the answers I get are vague and apologetic. When it comes to artists, the most common reason I hear is that they aren’t getting recognition and sales for their work because they can’t get a gallery to represent them.
This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, the art market has changed so much in the last few years that it is now up to you, artists, (not galleries, not agents) to make thing happen for your career. In today’s ultra-connected world, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) wait for a gallery or agent to take you in so that you can have a healthy collector base and a thriving career. You can do it all yourself!
But where to start? It can feel overwhelming to get out of your comfort zone and into a business mindset when you are an artist, especially if you have never done it before.
That’s why today I’m sharing with you 5 questions you should consider answering as you start (or continue) making your way into a bigger and brighter art business + career.
Question #1. Have you set clear goals for your art business and career?
No, “quitting my day job to do art full time” or “sell my art” are not clear career goals. What type of career do you want? How much do you want to earn? Who are you going to sell to? Those are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and you have to respond by being ULTRA specific. You basically need a very detailed plan. Clarity makes it so much easier to achieve whatever it is that you want.
Question #2. Do you have a professional body of work to present?
You don’t become a professional visual artist overnight, you need to work to get there. What is your artistic process? Are you looking at what other successful artists are doing? Is your art up to par or do you still need to work on your skills? Do you know what the art market landscape is like? You need to take an objective look at your work so you can see where you fit in. Seek feedback from art professionals who will be happy to give you an objective view point.
Question #3. Are you investing in your business?
If you want to make a great living with your art, you have to treat it like a business and invest time and/or money to give it a chance to grow. Did you know thatentrepreneurs invest on average 10% of their income and 20% of their time on marketing their business? If you want others to invest in your business, you need to start doing it yourself.
Question #4. Do you show up?
Whether you have your own website or use an existing online platform for artists to sell your work doesn’t really matter because what you really need are leads. You need to find those people who will buy your art and chances are, they are not in your immediate circle of friends and family. You need to figure out who these people are and where they hang out (online and offline), engage, and find ways to get your art in front of them. You can’t leave it up to a website or gallery to sell for you, you need to be there and show up every step of the way.
Question #5. Are you going that extra mile for your clients and fans?
The people who are investing in your art are in fact, investing in you. Are you offering them an experience leaving them wanting more? Word of mouth is very important for your art career. You want your clients and fans to talk about you and your work often and in the most positive light possible. You have to consistently give them something great (good is not enough!), to talk about.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: artists make for great entrepreneurs. But you have to give yourself a chance to succeed and for that, you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and get into the habit of promoting yourself and your work.
I look forward to seeing you succeed!
Are you an artist who would like to develop your entrepreneurial skills? Then join me and over 3,500 artists from around the globe at The Artist Entrepreneur Network.
Follow Catherine Orer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CatOrer