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.
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 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:
- Brag on a recent success
- Share a difficulty we’re facing
- 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.
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?
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.