We all love some parts of our business more than others. I’d be lying to you if I told you that I loved marketing and bookkeeping as much as creating a course.
After doing this work with artists for nearly two decades, I can say with confidence that artists who happily embrace their role as CEO of their business do better than artists who don’t.
This doesn’t mean that you need to fake joy whenever you’re paying bills. It means that you rise to accept the challenge because you know it’s important.
There are ways to be happier about running a business, but first you must decide that this is what you want. As I've said many times, not every artist should turn their art into a business. It's a whole different game when you start asking for money for your art.
But if you choose to go the route of earning money from your art, own it.
You can be pouty and grumble about all of the hard work, or you can find ways to enjoy the ride.
Which way would you rather go through life?
What Makes Me Happy About Running My Business
Running a successful business means long hours and many sacrifices, but the rewards are unparalleled.
I love that …
I can work anywhere in the world and at any time of my choosing.
I am over-the-moon ecstatic when …
Clients have Aha! moments. When they really get what I’m encouraging them to do or try.
Clients implement and see results.
I connect two clients together who can benefit from collaboration, inspiration, or motivation.
I am blown away when …
I receive an email or card full of gratitude from a client who took the time to write.
I could go almost anywhere in the U.S., and almost anywhere in the world, and meet up with someone who has read my book, is on my email list, or has been in one of my online programs.
You Should Be Happy
(Forgive me for should-ing on you a bit.)
You should be happy that you’re an artist who can express yourself freely. Millions of people in the world can’t do this without fear of going to jail or worse.
If you have created a business from your art, you should be happy that you took this initiative and built it from scratch. You’re not just making money. You’re also building a legacy.
Many people will never have the guts to do what you’re doing.
Yes, there are things you have to do in your business that you won’t love, but avoiding them will only hold you back. Try to have fun along the way. Try to smile more.
Make a game of being in business if you need to. Discover the little things that bring you joy, and do more of them.
Because I’ve been working with artists like you for so long, I have an idea or two (8, to be exact) to share with you. See if any of these might put a smile on your face.
8 Ways To Be Even Happier
1. Raise your prices.
There are few things more dispiriting than selling your art for a price lower than what it’s worth.
Raise your prices if and when the situation merits. Money isn’t always part of the happiness equation, but it doesn’t hurt.
You’ll be happier when you're valuing your time and effort at the levels they deserve.
In the Art Biz Accelerator, I walk you through a series of steps that show you exactly how you can earn an income goal. Sabra Lynne Crockett went through this process and exceeded her goal. (Read her story here.)
2. Collaborate with more people.
The artist’s life can be solitary, so make a point of connecting with people that you can collaborate with. I know it can be frustrating working with other people, but the potential reward is too promising to overlook.
Not only will you be happier when you collaborate, you will also stretch your business muscles and expand your audience when you bring more people in on what you’re doing. You could:
- Collaborate on the art itself.
- Schedule joint exhibitions and open studios.
- Work with dancers, musicians, and writers to expand the impact of your art.
3. Help another artist solve a problem.
There is something deeply gratifying about helping people. It takes the focus off of you and your struggles.
Maybe you can respond to a question online or in a class you’re teaching. Pat yourself on the back for making someone’s life easier.
4. Go complaint-free.Stop complaining about being so busy or about doing work that you don’t like. It’s exhausting to be on the receiving end of this, and it feeds a negative mindset. Complaining is an enormous waste of energy–yours and that of those around you.
Stop complaining about other artists, politicians, or (fill in the blank).
Just stop complaining. Period. Then get to work.
5. Exert self-control on social media.
By self-control, I mean controlling not just what you post, but what you consume.
Refuse to participate in negativity. Negativity breeds negativity. Don't take the bait! When you see it online, run the other way.
People post all kinds of crazy things on social media. Some are happy and inspiring, while others are depressing. Why gamble when you’re trying to stay positive and happy?
6. Make someone smile.
Be happier by making a fellow human happy. Brighten someone’s inbox, Facebook page, or mailbox with your art.
I’m not encouraging you to spam people with your art, but if you make uplifting art, send images of it along with sincere love and gratitude to your friends and family. Imagine their joy when they receive your message.
Who can you delight with your art today?
7. Get your art out of the studio.
Two things cannot happen when you stay in the studio.
- You cannot have a financially viable business or career by hiding out in the studio.
- You cannot be emotionally or professionally fulfilled by keeping your art to yourself.
What happens when you're in the red and unfulfilled? Disappointment, negativity, gloom. (Frown.)
Getting your art out of the studio and in front of people gives you a greater chance of selling it. (Smile!) The circle of creation is complete because people are viewing and responding to it, and you are connecting with those people. Which brings me to …
8. Get thee out of the studio.
Too much time alone in the studio isn’t good for your mental health, your creativity, or your prosperity.
Don't just drop off your art and retreat back into the studio. Haul your butt out the door and go to openings and lectures or just hang out at the coffee shop.
When you really want to be inspired, visit art museums with the highest quality of art on the planet. There, you’ll be reminded of your connection to art history. Revel in the tradition you share with these brilliant men and women.
You have the freedom to have a business and the opportunity to delight many people with your art. You can choose to be happier.
- The Art Biz Accelerator gives you a system for increasing your income and a community to support you in the process.
- I'd Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion has plenty of ideas for sharing your art.
This post was originally published on May 5, 2016, and has been updated with original comments intact.