The Circular Business Plan for Artists

Most business and marketing plans are linear, and most artists are anything but linear.

The See Plan

What if, instead of having a traditional business plan, you nurtured a holistic approach to your art career?

That’s what I want to help you do with The See Plan, a new tool to help you see your art career in total. I want you to see that a successful business is not all about making and marketing (the M’s).

The See Plan: 8 C’s for Getting Your Art Seen is circular rather than linear. You need all of the C’s for a healthy business and balanced life, however you define these.

Let me tell you about the 8 C’s.

1. Creativity

Everything begins with the art. Without the art, you are not an artist.

You need inspiration to be your best creative self.

But your creativity doesn’t end with the art-making. You can also benefit by spreading your creativity into your marketing and every corner of your business.

Terry Parker's Glaze Buckets
©Terry Parker. Terry Parker’s glazes at Loma Prieta Pottery. Used with permission. Terry’s Instagram feed is inspirational. Follow her @lomaprietapottery.

2. Commitment

Commitment isn’t something you can get from a book or a class. It has to come from within you.

Being a successful artist and entrepreneur requires that you make hard choices about how you spend your time. This discipline piece is opposed to how many artists think of their work: joy, pleasure, and play.

Once you wholeheartedly commit, things start happening. The Universe knows you are ready and works to help you attain your goals.

3. Clarity

Clarity is the planning piece. It’s getting clear where you are and what you want. You don’t have time NOT to plan.

Planning is crucial for a successful business and requires that you set aside time to look at an annual calendar, systems, income projections, and marketing strategies.

Planning at Art Biz Breakthrough - for clarity. Photo by Regina Mountjoy.
Planning at Art Biz Breakthrough – for clarity. Photo by Regina Mountjoy.

4. Community

Every artist-entrepreneur needs a support system, which is your community. It includes the people who love you when you’re cranky and frustrated (family and friends).

It also includes the mentors and other artists who nourish you with inspiration and from whom you learn about opportunities.

5. Connection

The more people who see your art, the more people there are to follow you and to buy your art.

Connection is the self-promotion piece. Once you make your work, you have to get it out of the studio and into the world. Your most powerful way to connect with the world is through your art.

Antonia Ruppert takes the mic at Art Biz Breakthrough. Photo by Regina Mountjoy.
Antonia Ruppert takes the mic at Art Biz Breakthrough. Photo by Regina Mountjoy.


6. Confidence

Confidence doesn’t automatically show up when you put your art into the world. It happens over time and as a result of a continuous path toward improvement.

Confidence expands when you take courageous action. Challenge yourself as you’re making art and sharing it with more people.

7. Completion

Creatives are notorious for starting projects and never finishing them. This is fine UNTIL you have to earn money from those creative projects.

Complete the art, complete the book, or complete the coursework. It doesn’t count until it’s finished.

8. Celebration

Celebrations don’t have to be large or cost money, but you should have some kind of ritual in place that helps you add closure to your project.

For some people, it’s a manicure, a massage, or a shopping excursion.

Buying something special is often a celebration ritual for me, but so is vegging out, watching movies, and ignoring email for a couple of days.

Your Turn

The See Plan is a tool I am using with clients to make sure they aren’t forgetting anything, to see that they are completing the circle. How are you doing on the 8 C’s?


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12 thoughts on “The Circular Business Plan for Artists”

  1. Thank you for this plan- I’m trying to figure out how I make a living painting… in the meantime I just keep practicing, creating, producing, and selling. Love how you put this all together in a way that jives with my creative mind. Thank you! I’ll definitely be checking out everything else on your blog!!

  2. Alyson,
    I listened to your webinar on the C-Plan on 11-16-2015.
    Step 1–I committed myself to CREATIVITY that night (I didn’t produce as much art in 2015 as I had in 2014) deciding to make more art in 2016 than I did in 2014.
    Five days later, I received an invitation to do a solo exhibit at a local college in their exhibit space. Talk about serendipity!
    I wrote out notes using the C-Plan to create a plan of attack for pulling the exhibit together.
    Step 2–I COMMITTED to doing the exhibit with opening day April 4. 2016 and opening reception April 8, 2016.
    Step 3–I got CLARITY on the project, deciding on the theme for the exhibit. I used your Art Exhibition Checklist blog post ( to set a timeline for all the important tasks that needed to be completed along the way in addition to producing art for the exhibit.
    Step 4–I got the support of my COMMUNITY (my husband is my frame builder, got prayer support from my arts group, got a friend to do photography during opening reception, enlisted my college-age son to do sales during the opening reception, and the person who invited me to exhibit is a high school classmate who has been following my Facebook art page)
    Step 5-I made CONNECTIONS with local arts groups I belong to, advertising the exhibit on our membership page, and with a local arts magazine that showcases the arts in my city. I advertised on my website (, my Facebook art page(, FineArtAmerica events page, sent postcards to my personal Christmas Card list, and (drum roll please) I finally got my act together starting a MailChimp account and actually figuring out how to use their site to create a newsletter. I sent an announcement about the exhibit and opening reception to my relatively small list of email address that I have collected with permission to email. I was able to collect 65 additional email addresses from guests who signed the guest book at the opening reception!
    The following week I sent an email to my newly expanded list with photos of the reception, thanking guests who came and reminding those who didn’t make the reception that the exhibit runs through Jun 20th and that they still have plenty of time to go see the exhibit.
    Now I have to figure out how to use HTML tags.
    Step 6–Oh, how my CONFIDENCE in putting together a solo exhibit has grown because I had all of this wonderful guidance from you, Alyson! All I had to do was just follow your formulas!
    I have discovered that at least 50% of this artist life is just showing up and then doing the work.
    Step 7–COMPLETION–I completed 14 new pieces (5 of them are 4x larger than I have been producing) between Jan 9 and April 4. WHEW!
    Step 8–CELEBRATION–On April 11, I celebrated my accomplishments by purchasing a Raskog utility cart from IKEA. Now I can keep all my supplies together and roll them around the studio with me. I work on several pieces at the same time, moving from one to another while one is drying. Having this cart will make this process even easier.

    Thank you, Alyson, for making so much information readily available for anyone who will commit to trying it. Thank you for helping this community of artists learn how to thrive in the business of art.
    YOU are a blessing! Looking forward to meeting you in person some day!

    1. Mary: This is wonderful to hear. Congratulations! And it’s not really serendipity. You committed and started the work, which puts the wheels in motion. Always – never fails.

      So … you should plan on coming to Art Biz Breakthrough November 3-5, 2016 – here in beautiful Golden, Colorado. Yes?

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