August 26, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

A Realistic Strategy for Increasing Your Income

acrylic painting orchid artist Shannon Deana Johnson | on Art Biz Success

Don’t be content to break even when running an art business. You need money to survive and shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it. Everyone needs an income to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.

That means you need to make a profit. You need for your expenses to be lower—far lower—than your income.

One of the best things you can do to improve your chance of success in any area is to create a plan. If you’d like to make more money—especially if you’re trying to make a living from your art—you need an income-accelerating plan.

I’m going to tell you exactly what that looks like and how to go through the process. I think it’s helpful to start with an income-accelerating plan before you make other plans. It helps to know how much you need and want to make and then you can select the projects to support that goal.

If you’ve been listening awhile, you know that one of my super powers is to help artists make plans. It’s not affordable for most artists to hire me to walk them through the planning process. But you can make a business plan customized to your own goals during my Artist Planning Sessions, which are very affordable.

So what if you’re hyper focused on profitability and need that income-boosting plan before you join me in the planning sessions. How do you do it?

I developed a process that we use in my programs called, conveniently, the Income Accelerator. We actually make a plan to increase income.

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve heard it many times before. It goes something like this: How can I plan for more money when I don’t know when my art will sell or who will buy it?

I get it. You make a plan because you’re the CEO of your art business and that’s what CEOs do. They make business projections. They have to in order to attract buy-in to their products and services.

While you don’t have any control over results, you do have control over the actions you take (or don’t take) to get the results. Take charge, like I said back in episode 96. Be the CEO of your art business and of your life.

Here are the 4 Steps to accelerate your income.

August 19, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Being Profitable Doesn’t Have to Mean Doing More with Jill Soukup 

Jill Soukup oil painting white horse | on Art Biz Success

Being profitable as an artist doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do more.

Sometimes it’s about doing less by being discerning about what you take on and where you invest your energy.

This is extremely difficult to do when you are trying to show and sell your art. You want to do more. To add new income streams and the latest marketing platforms. The ads and social media posts are encouraging you to do more.

But more is exhausting.

Jill Soukup, who has been a student and client of mine over the past decade, is my guest on this episode of the Art Biz Podcast. There are at least three things that I admire about Jill:

  1. She, above all, is dedicated to becoming a better artist. To methodically improving her work.
  2. She knows what she wants. How she wants her career, business, and life to be.
  3. She knows what she doesn’t want.

To this list I would add that she is generous, open, and an all-around nice person.

In this conversation, Jill and I discuss how and where she sells her work, how teaching fits in with her income plan, how she makes sure she remains profitable, and why it’s important for her to keep things simple.

August 12, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Increasing Art Sales with Online Events with Patricia Griffin

Ceramic bells etched artist Patricia Griffin | on Art Biz Podcast

Sometimes you need to throw out the old models for doing business and try something totally new. Maybe you’re bored with business as usual. Maybe the results aren’t as profitable as they were in the past. Or maybe you are no longer enjoying the same ole same ole.

It’s okay to go off script.

Yes, there are traditional practices for showing and selling your art, but it is a little ridiculous to think that those will continue to work in the same way they have in years past. As I said back in episode 96, you have to be willing and able to adapt if you are working toward a profitable art business.

On this episode of the Art Biz Podcast I talk with ceramic artist Patricia Griffin. If you visit her website during certain times of the year, you won’t see anything for sale because she has sold out. Zero inventory. What you will see are items she has sold and an opportunity to get on her list so you don’t miss a chance to purchase the next time her shop opens.

Patricia and I discuss what she refers to as events—the sales of her ceramics she has 3- or 4-times a year that sell out within hours and have led to a dramatic increase in income. She’ll describe the philosophy behind them, the promotional timeline, the collaborations to help raise money for nonprofits, and how the events are a valuable tool for her to cultivate relationships with buyers and potential buyers.

August 5, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Ensuring a Profitable Art Business

Jen McCaw bouder opal ring | on Art Biz Success

Are you seeking a profitable art business?

This is the Art BIZ Podcast on the blog at Art BIZ Success. I assume that, if you’re listening, you are interested in an art business, not just an art hobby.

There’s nothing at all wrong with art hobbies. I highly recommend them. But it’s a whole new ballgame when you turn your art into a business. When you begin asking for money in exchange for your talent.

I want to talk about being a profitable artist. What it takes to not just make and sell art, but to also make money. To ensure that you have a positive net income in your art business. Stick with me.

I’ve talked with many artists who try to make a little money here and there, and then find they no longer enjoy making art after trying to sell it. The pressure to make money in a business is real.

Businesses, by definition, seek profit. Breaking even with the numbers can only work for so long. If you’re claiming deductions on a business here in the U.S., the IRS is going to come after you if you continue to operate at a loss. See the “hobby loss” rule for the details and talk with your accountant. Look for similar rules if you are outside our borders.

As I said, this episode isn’t for hobbyists. It’s for you if you are ready to step up and be the boss of your art business. To be the CEO.

The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is the person at the top of a company’s hierarchy. The buck ultimately stops with the CEO.

You must BE the CEO of your art business. Because, like it or not, that’s exactly what you are.

Let’s break down what that means.

July 29, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

What Your Failures Are Teaching You with Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Wood sculpture quilt by Laura Petrovich Cheney | on Art Biz Success

Failure. We fear it. We ask, What if I fail?,  as if failure at one thing would mean the end of all other opportunities.

But failure is necessary for growth. If you are succeeding at everything, there is no way you’re learning and growing.

Laura Petrovich-Cheney is not afraid to fail. She’s also ambitious and knows what she wants.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear Laura’s philosophy that failure is the result of not listening to your instincts and not doing your best. This builds on what Leah Smithson was talking about in episode 94 when she said how important it was to listen to her gut to avoid what she called disasters.

We tend to sweep failures under the rug—hoping that nobody will see or notice and that we’ll forget about them. But, as you’ll hear from Laura, we can’t improve without examining what went wrong.

Laura talks about a few failures she has learned from, why it’s helpful to have a little bit of time and space before examining failures, and the shame that gets in the way of sharing failure with others. We also discuss the inevitable comparisons with other artists that arise when you fail and see only their successes.

July 22, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Calculating Risks in Your Art Business with Leah Smithson

Core by artist Leah Smithson painting on linen | on Art Biz Success

There is no such thing as the artist’s path. Look at the careers of 50 artists side-by-side and you’ll see 50 different paths. And probably none of them happened exactly as planned.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast I talk with Leah Smithson about her path, which kicked into gear after her father suffered a massive stroke and she began researching how creativity works in the brain.

Leah’s interest in learning has led to her nontraditional portrait paintings, jewelry, public art, and murals. You’ll also hear about how she embraces technology and has been teaching herself augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

Leah and I discuss how she decides which risks to take on and which projects to get involved with, how she schedules her week, and how her well-meaning husband cajoled her into co-hosting a podcast with him.

Leah has taken many risks in her art career, and I love her point of view: You’ll never know until you try. You can decide to take a risk because even if it doesn’t turn out as you’d hope—even if it’s a disaster—you’ll be glad you did it anyway, if it’s something that fits with your goals.

If you’ve ever considered which step to take next or which opportunities are right for your art business, you need to listen to this advice from an artist who has failed and continues to experience success.

July 15, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Artist as Problem Solver with Michael Gadlin

Michael Gadlin paintings in studio | on Art Biz Success

Many artists take risks in their businesses and in their art without even thinking about it. They are hard wired to experiment. To stretch the boundaries of what is possible.

Artists are innate problem solvers.

My guest for this episode of the Art Biz Podcast is one of those artists. The list of what Michael Gadlin has done (legally) to earn a living as a working artist for more than 20 years is impressive. He sells originals, consults, teaches, designs, builds websites, and even hosted a show on public television. He has also sat on boards and committees in his local Denver art community.

Michael is gifted with what seems to be an endless supply of energy. I came at him with one topic and his mind connected it to numerous other experiences. The result is a wide-ranging interview.

Michael waxes philosophically about the life of an artist. Deep stuff. We talk about the lessons he learned from other working artists, the artist’s collaboration with viewers, gallery representation, why it’s important to be part of a community, and much more. There are plenty of gold nuggets in this interview.

July 8, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Are You Playing It Too Safe in Your Art Business?

Jenny Hope Antes watercolor painting | on Art Biz Success

We are hard wired for self-protection.

The moment we smell risk, our physical bodies start preparing for the encounter. Our mental faculties begin telling us how we can avoid it or, short of that, deal with it.

This is a convenient human feature you were given. It keeps you safe. But it can also keep you small when you give it all the power for decision-making. It can hold you back from becoming the person you dream of becoming and the artist you were meant to be in the world.

Playing It Too Safe

I want to share some of the ways you might be allowing your built-in sensor to rule your life and impede your growth. See if any of these ring true.

You enter the same exhibitions year after year.

When you just started your art business, you began entering juried shows. You found one that was a good fit. You got in. Yay you! That wasn’t so bad. So you enter again the next year. And then the next.

Juried shows are a natural first step for artists, but what I’ve witnessed is that many artists use them like a crutch. They’re easy and comfortable.

You maintain membership in a group whose members are not growing. 

This is similar to sticking to the same shows year after year. You’re comfortable with the people you already know, so it’s easy to stay involved. The problem, of course, is that you get frustrated because the group members aren’t thinking at the same level you are. You become angry and resentful about the time it’s taking up.

There’s no reason to get mad. You can’t expect

June 24, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with Christa Forrest

Christa Forrest painting of seated woman | on Art Biz Success

Imposter syndrome is the hairy beast that shows up when we’re trying to take that next big step in our lives.

We know what we want to achieve. We know we want more for ourselves. And we know we have to embark on a new adventure in order for that to happen.

There is scary stuff ahead. Stuff we don’t know how to do. Stuff that doesn’t come with a guarantee of success. This fear is real, and it’s trying to keep us safe.

Danger ahead! Watch out!

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.

When we allow that fear to be in charge, we give away our power, our hopes, and our dreams. We hear voices whispering …

Who do you think you are?

Most artists have battled these voices, which is why I was happy to discuss imposter syndrome on the Art Biz Podcast with corporate-world-turned-full-time-artist Christa Forrest.

Christa is a big advocate for fake it til you make it, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have doubts and insecurities. In this episode, you’ll hear how Christa developed thick skin by showing her work at art festivals, why she is laser focused on building her email list, and how she overcomes feelings of inadequacy in her art practice.

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