February 4, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Creating a Monthly Report for Your Art Business

We’re obsessed with how many likes we get on social media posts or how many views our videos received.

We are consumed by “getting” more followers and subscribers.

But do numbers equal success?

No, of course not. But they are an easy way to measure what is working well and what might need a little tweaking.

This month in the Art Biz Success community, we’re looking into measuring success.

What do you measure?
How do you measure?
Do the numbers tell a story?

Most importantly, you have to know what success means to you before you can discern any insights in the measuring step. Numbers will never be helpful until there is meaning behind them.

I’ve said before that I believe success is measured by the progress you make, not by comparing yourself to others. Check out The Art Biz Podcast episodes #32 (Success Is Complicated) and #71 (Goals for Artists) for more about that.

This new episode gives you a framework.

February 1, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Test Your Art Marketing Efforts for Better Results

Painting by M. Jane Johnson

Have you been promoting your art the same way for years without seeing better  results? Allow me to remind you of this quote.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

It first appeared in 1981 text from Narcotics Anonymous and has been misattributed at various times to Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Mark Twain.

If the quote is true, are you nuts?

Being Persistent and Consistent with Your Art Marketing

You are undoubtedly investing a lot of time and resources into your art business: websites, blogs, social media, videos, newsletters, postcards, and more. That’s terrific!

I’m a big fan of persistence and consistency—in doing the same thing over and over again—in marketing. You must commit to certain repeated marketing tasks before you can judge their effectiveness.

At the same time, I believe in tweaking aspects of your marketing as you go along. As an entrepreneur interested in earning money from your art, you want to understand what’s working and what isn’t. This is why it’s critical to track your numbers.

You should learn something with each new artwork, email, newsletter, or blog post, and you need to use that knowledge to get better results in the future.

Every marketing effort should be a test. Nothing in your routine should be considered sacred because you want increasingly better results.

What brings you the most clicks?
What blog post is attracting the most attention?
What results in more subscribers?
What leads to more opportunities?
What has given you the most engagement on social media?
What did you send that encouraged immediate responses from recipients?

Use the lists here to adjust, test, and repeat for improved results.

January 28, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

A New Direction in Your Art with Lisa Goren

Watercolor painting Iceberg from our zodiac antarctica artist Lisa Goren watercolor on paper 22 x 30 inches

We all seek success (whatever it means to us individually) but aren’t always prepared to deal with it when it comes along. That’s okay, because, as you’ll hear in this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you learn how to deal if it’s something you really want.

My guest is Lisa Goren, an artist whose work took an unexpected U-turn when the pandemic hit last year, and she went for it.

You’ll hear Lisa talk about artist residencies and the serious work she was making that had echoes of climate change. And then Covid struck. She was no longer able to travel to photograph and paint the wildlife and melting ice around Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.

Instead, she delighted in the animals that were visiting museums, aquariums, and towns. She was more surprised than anyone about what was coming from her paintbrushes. And then equally surprised that people wanted to buy the finished paintings as soon as they were finished.

After feeling like the success of the animal paintings had become a runaway train, Lisa is now taking back control over where the work is going while being open to whatever the future holds.

January 25, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

The Problem With Lower Price Points For Your Art

Have you ever created a body of work just so you could sell at lower prices? If so, you might have created a problem for yourself.

Do any of the following ring true for you?

  • You are afraid that people won’t buy your art if you charge what it’s worth.
  • You believe that the people in your geographical region buy only cheaper art.
  • You’ve started making smaller pieces because they’re less expensive.
  • You have signed up for a service like Fine Art America to begin offering multiples of your art, even though the originals aren’t selling.

If you have created lower-priced work for any of these reasons, you might be lowering the bar along with your prices.

Let’s face it: selling lower-priced art is safer. There are many more people in your pool of prospective buyers at the low end.

But I can’t believe that your goal is to appeal to the masses. You, like my clients, surely have big dreams, and that means selling big art at fair prices.

So I have to ask … Are you running to this safer place of inexpensive art because you’ve been inconsistent with your studio practice, marketing, exhibitions, and networking? In other words, are you producing “more affordable” art because you don’t want to do the work required to sell your best work?

Have you given up on selling at that higher price because you believe it’s too difficult? Maybe the cheaper stuff will be easier to sell, you might think.

I have no objections with making art in a variety of sizes or offering reproductions of your art, especially if you’re selling a lot of work and can’t keep up with demand.

What I object to is your playing small and safe.

January 21, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Planning a Year’s Worth of Artwork with Dawn Williams Boyd

© 2017 Dawn Williams Boyd, All Through the Night: America's Homeless. Assorted fabrics, cotton embroidery floss, antique quilt, lace, buttons, child's socks, 39 x 61.5 inches. Ron Witherspoon Photography

Taking charge of your art business isn’t only about bookkeeping, inventorying the work, and promoting your art effectively.

Taking charge of your art business is about assuming 100% responsibility for your actions—all of your actions, especially in your studio.

We all want to increase our productivity and creativity, and Dawn Williams Boyd has mastered doing exactly that by planning ahead.

Dawn makes figurative textile paintings that reveal stories—not always pretty ones—about life in America. Dawn’s work has an unapologetic social activist message that addresses the Black experience, feminine sexuality, social issues, and this country’s politics.

In today’s social and political climate, there aren’t enough hours in the day for Dawn to convey all of the messages she wants to share in her art. She has to carefully plan the body of work she is going to make throughout the year. She takes charge of her production for the entire year.

In our conversation for the Art Biz Podcast, Dawn and I discuss her process for plotting out which pieces she will make each year. We also talk about why now is not the time to make art that matches the couch, what kinds of conversations she wants people to have around her work, and how she makes the valuable connections that are helping her reach her most ambitious goals.

January 17, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Ambitious Artists Own Their Goals

Geri deGruy's Equanimity

Ambitious artists hire me because they want more recognition for their art and support as they get their art out of the studio and into the world.

I strung together these words during a small group discussion at a conference. One of my clients happened to be sitting next to me and flinched at the word choice: ambitious. (You should have seen her face!)

Then she challenged me on it. The word just didn’t sound right, she thought.

I said, “You’re ambitious. Don’t you think?” She thought a bit, and agreed with a little hesitation, “Yes, I probably am. It’s just the word I have problems with.” (Update: She has since embraced the word fully!)

Ambitious Artists

Definitions of ambition include:

  • A strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
  • A desire and determination to achieve success.
  • An earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.

If you don’t see yourself in any of these definitions, you might want to rethink your path as an artist-entrepreneur (all successful artists are also entrepreneurs).

Without the desire, there’s no motivation to take action. Without the action and hard work, there are no results.

“Ambition” isn’t something that’s usually associated with artists, and it’s even been viewed as a negative attribute for women to possess. Yeah, I know. Really? In the 21st century??

We still have problems with ambitious women? Women still have problems owning their ambition?

C’mon!

We also have a tendency to worry about

January 14, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Goals for Artists and What You Should Be Focusing On Instead

Dance with Me 12x12" collage with washi wood assorted papers acrylic on panel from Curvy Geometric series © Nancy Egol Nikkal

I teach setting goals for artists. It’s the first lesson in the Art Biz Accelerator.

I encourage all of my artist-clients to articulate their goals because they have to know what they want to achieve before I can support them.

And, yet, I know there is something far more important, and more difficult, than setting goals: Doing the work.

We just survived a year in which we lost control of so much in our lives and businesses. We lost control of whether a venue would be open for a show or whether a live workshop would go on as planned or be canceled.

But, in fact, we never had control of these things in the first place.

You will never be able to control results or outcomes, but so much else is in your command. Before we move on in the conversation, let’s first look at goals.

SMART Goals for Artists

I used to teach how to set SMART goals for artists, which is a system for articulating goals and deadlines—a system that was definitely not devised by an artist. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
  • The way I taught SMART goals to my clients and students was fairly rigid. Goals had to be articulated as an affirmation and include the due date: I will do [this] by [this date]. If my student or client didn’t write it to my standards, I made the necessary corrections.

    While I understand this is a tested system that has been used by millions of people through the years, I have let it go. It doesn’t work for most of my artist-clients.

    I think the reason it doesn’t work is because

    January 7, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

    Seeking Balance with Chris Maynard

    2020 Chris Maynard Reflection No. 5 12x15 inches turkey feather artwork

    Balance is the holy grail of every entrepreneurial artist’s quest.

    What does a balanced artist’s life look like?

    And what happens when you actually achieve balance?

    As much as I love the idea of being whisked away by my latest all-consuming project, I also know what it feels like to be out of balance. I much prefer being in charge of my time and my life, and that’s why I loved this conversation with Chris Maynard.

    In this episode I talked with Chris about finding balance in life as well as in making and marketing art. He shares the secret behind his seemingly successful quest for balance, how he approaches requests for commissioned pieces, and the systems that he uses to stay on top of it all.

    Balance may seem elusive, and, yet, we all need it in order to be our most creative and successful selves.

    Whether you’re currently searching for balance in your work or have already homed in on what the perfect balance means to you, this is a conversation you won’t want to miss.

    December 17, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

    Leveraging Your Location with Ashley Lucas

    © Ashley Lucas, Belmar Colorful watercolor painting of Belmar Sea Side Town

    I don’t believe in making art for a market. I believe in making art from your *soul* and then finding the right audience for it.

    But sometimes we are lucky enough to make the art we want, then tweak it just a bit so we can broaden our audience. My guest for this episode of the Art Biz Podcast has found a way to do just that.

    Ashley Lucas (aka Lady Lucas) is an artist whose work features smartly dressed animals and other sweet anthropomorphic characters. She has illustrated numerous children’s books, coloring books, and other unapologetically cute projects.

    By placing her characters in the local townscape Ashley has increased the appeal of her work to a specific audience that continues to grow. I talked with Ashley about how she came up with the idea to tap into people’s love of a specific location and how she leverages it for her prints, products, and commissioned work.

    We also discuss how she connected with a community even before moving there, how she juggles her life as an artist with that as a mother of a two-year-old, and which social media platform offers the greatest return for her work (it’s not Instagram).

    Even if you don’t “do” cute or illustrations or location-specific art, you’ll want to listen to ideas for connecting to new communities.