Tips for Working with an Accountability Partner in Your Art Marketing

Guest bloggers: Amantha Tsaros and Kathleen Probst

Most artists work alone and flourish in their silence without interruptions. This is critical for the creative process. But when it comes to building a business, know this: You will make better progress in art marketing and business planning by joining up with an equally ambitious accountability partner.

Partners can propel one another farther faster and stomp out each other's fears. We are doing it and you can, too. We’d like to share how it is working for us.

Amantha Tsaros Art
Amantha Tsaros in her Massachusetts studio.

We (Amantha Tsaros and Kathleen Probst) found each other in Alyson’s online Blast Off class – a class she no longer teaches – in June 2011. It was a great benefit to find a like-minded comrade in art who had already committed herself to avoiding excuses and powering through challenges.

We knew we were on the same page.

Since we work in different mediums and live far away from one another, we are able to focus entirely on goals and marketing. We are not distracted by too much studio talk or social banter.

Our bond is based in growing our art businesses.

We also have the delightful luxury of promoting each other to our circles. The result is that we both have more fans across the country!

Structure of Our Check-ins

Amantha is in Massachusetts and Kathleen is in Idaho, but distance isn’t an excuse these days.

We agreed to check in with each other and asked for accountability, honesty and zero whining. We had a frank discussion of our goals, our approach to criticism, and our needs.

Kathleen Probst Art
Kathleen Probst in her Idaho textile studio.

Kathleen put it out there from the start: “Question me when you see something that could be done better.” Don't we all need a friend who will tell us when we have spinach in our teeth or “something” stuck in our art marketing?
At first we checked in with just three things:

  1. Brag on a recent success
  2. Share a difficulty we’re facing
  3. Anything else – an open-ended share

We adapted this structure to our changing needs as we progressed.

We now check in every Saturday with a brief email reviewing the past week's accomplishments, challenges, and our next steps and goals. If Saturday is inconvenient we do it on Friday. If you can't be on time, be early!

Our weekly goal-setting breaks tasks down into into manageable chunks. We give each other critiques of our marketing, writing, blogs, and so forth.

Sometimes we check in during the week if we're stuck or want to share a huge success, via text, email, or a quick phone call. We begin phone calls by stating how long the question is going to take and getting right to the point.

We hold an annual FaceTime meeting on New Year's Day to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments and commit to new goals.

Within all of these steps we help each other brainstorm ideas for marketing or venues.

We share resources and “steal” ideas from each other all the time.

We help each other choose or design our mailing templates and discuss  organizational apps like Mindmeister or Evernote. We even ordered the same calendar type as holiday gifts for our clients and collectors.

Your partner is a resource – double up and halve the research!

Tricking Ourselves with Rewards

Blunt talk and nagging is good for getting right to the heart of a problem but sometimes a reward nudges us toward creating a new habit or completing a big project.

Kathleen suggested getting mugged! She had her eye on a modern Marimekko mug. We each took on one dreaded task (a monthly newsletter for Kathleen and a blog makeover for Amantha) to accomplish over a three-month period.

Merimekko mug
Kathleen and Amantha now have matching mugs as a reward.

When one of us reached her goal the other sent her a Marrimekko mug of her choice along with an encouraging message. Every morning we each get to use our own fancy mugs (we each chose the same one!) and remind ourselves how marvelous we are.

What little treat can you offer to energize yourself?

Best Practices for Accountability Partners

Here are our top tips for working with an accountability partner in your art business.

  • Know yourself. Are you a person who wants constructive criticism? How do you want the message delivered? Share your insights and needs with your partner.
  • Get to know each other before you decide to partner up and then ask for what you need directly.
  • Create some kind of structure to check in.
  • Be flexible with your chosen format and let it change as you progress.
  • Be generous. Encourage modeling of your good ideas.

Do you have an accountability partner? How do you work together?

About Our Guest BloggersAmantha TsarosKathleen Probst

Kathleen Probst is a textile artist who creates simple, elegant, abstract art using her hand dyed fabrics in her home studio in Meridian, Idaho.

Amantha Tsaros is a Boston-based printmaking painter who creates bold, abstract, spiritual landscapes in monotype and acrylic.

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30 thoughts on “Tips for Working with an Accountability Partner in Your Art Marketing”

  1. Hannah Hunter and I met through Alyson’s Blast Off class several years ago. We have been accountability buddies for over three years. We live on opposite sides of the country as Hannah is in California and I am in Atlanta. We work in different media, textiles and paint, but we have connected and “been there” for each other in more areas of our lives than art. Reading each other’s invitations, critiquing artwork and giving pep talks have all been part of our on-line, phone relationship. We talk once a week for sometimes an hour and a half and email with photos. Hannah has talked me through more personal hardships than anyone. Thank you Hannah and thank you Alyson for bringing us together in your community.

  2. this article was very visually appealing, and well presented. I have noticed how often Amantha promotes Kathleen’s work on FB, and have become very fond of and familiar with her style. I think you two have an excellent plan, and it clearly has been working. I don’t know Kathleen personally, but I’m aware of how hard Amantha has been working at her marketing goals, and the payoff she is receiving.
    I think working in different media and being long distances could be real advantages, so there is little competition between the pair: submitting work to the same shows, having the same audience, etc…
    Congratulations to you both! I look forward to reading more of your tips and hearing about the results of your partnering.
    Rena Shear

    1. Rena,
      Thank you! I’m glad you discovered my art through Amantha. She really does have a gift for sharing artists and promoting their work. I would not be where I am today without Amantha’s support. We depend on each other.

  3. I am blessed to have my “art buddy” Joanie Springer as my accountability partner. Joanie and I met online when we were both painters on a Daily Painters for Abstracts group, and instantly connected. We both live in California (1.5 hours away from each other) and maintain a weekly 1.5 hour conference call where we discuss projects, marketing, art and goals. The only time we miss our calls is if we have a workshop or personal emergency, but fortunately we find time to make it up during the week through emails or other calls. We work with different mediums and share our new works for honest critiques. Occasionally we meet for a field trip somewhere artsy and enjoy a social outing/show & tell day where we bring some work to see in person. We’re each other’s “rah-rah” queen and share all kinds of art-related info. I know my art career is thriving in part due to my very special art buddy, Joanie — as is hers. I highly recommend this arrangement to all artists! Find someone with similar goals and visions, and start outlining your dreams. Be supportive, consistent and honest with feedback, and watch your art career take off.

    1. JJ, How great! It is true that an accountability partner will boost your career. I love your story – you are lucky you can get together for art outings. The commute from Massachusetts to Idaho is killer for us!

    1. Janet,
      As I would say to Kathleen, “Steal this idea!” You will love it. It keeps me anchored to have someone who just “gets it”.

  4. Timely post. I’ve just teamed up with Alexandra Buckle with just his thought in mind. We’ve been wondering how to format the sessions so might use this as a template to start us off. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cathy,
      It is wonderful to hear that you teamed up. I’m sure you will find a style of sharing that fits. Give it a go and then tweak your format to fit your needs.
      Good Luck!

  5. christine sauer

    What a wonderful post! So many great ideas and it seems y’all have great energy working together. I enjoyed seeing both of your bodies of work too.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Christine,
      Thanks! We do get great energy from each other. That is one of the best perks of a partnership. Thank you for taking time to see our work as well.

  6. This is a fantastic idea! Thank you for sharing with all of us. I live in quite a remote area and I have always thought that teaming up with someone for marketing would be an advantage.

  7. Theresa Grillo Laird

    Just in time. My first meeting with my accountability partner is tomorrow. Actually we’re 3 instead of 2. It will be interesting to see how it works out. I like the structure template!

  8. Super post! I’d been meaning to read it for a while and just today an artist I met in a FB group offered that we partner up in such a way! So thank you for all the tips, they give me a great foundation of what to think about how to structure this possible accountability relationship.

  9. Anne Fournier Anderson

    I love this idea. I live in a rural area and would greatly appreciate having a person to bounce ideas around with me.

  10. Pingback: Inspired Designer » Interview…Kathleen Probst

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