When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Art Business Tasks

Are you avoiding art business tasks because you “don’t feel like it?”

watercolor painting in blues purples and grays of the moon over a mountain range clouds above | on Art Biz Success
©Kristen Dunkelberger, Sawtooth Moonlight. Watercolor on cotton paper, 6.5 x 8.25 inches.

If you are trying to make money from your art, you are responsible for certain tasks that you may not feel like doing.

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You might not feel like:

If you're like me, you never feel like doing your bookkeeping.

I get it that not all of these, or perhaps any of them, might be fun. 

And, yet, you need to do them to make progress. And to be smart about how you run your art business.

There’s no sense bellyaching about the things you don't enjoy. And no sense wishing that you'd rather be doing something else.

Pining for different circumstances is wasted energy. If you want to make progress, hold your nose, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.

And do it joyfully, dammit! 😉, because you’re darn lucky. You're lucky to be an artist in the free world and to have the freedom and resources to build your own business.

My top trick for getting difficult things done is to find support and accountability. And that's why those 2 things are the cornerstone of all my programs. 

You can find answers anywhere. Thank you, Google. But artists need community to thrive.

If you are doing this alone without the support of a coach or community, perhaps considering a few questions might help get you past the struggle.

Examine Your Resistance

square oil and acrylic painting of a young skateboarder going up an incline in yellow orange and purple artist Jessica Cook | on Art Biz Success
©Jessica Cook, Reverse. Oil and acrylic on cradled panel, 20 x 20 inches.

Why are you procrastinating?

Is there a mental block and, if so, what is it related to?

Is it a fear of success? A fear of failure?

Do you have everything you need to do the task?

I have discovered that some of my clients procrastinate because they have a project on their lists rather than a task. A project requires multiple steps (tasks) to complete.

If you need to send a newsletter, but you haven’t even researched or written the content, of course you’re going to delay.

Always identify the next action for your task and make it an actionable, single step.

Appeal to Your Sense of Accomplishment

How will it feel to get this done?

Take a moment to soak it in. How will your life be better when you finish this?

Imagine crossing through that task with a fat black pen and getting on with other tasks or to the work back in your studio.

Why are you doing this?

Why is this on your list in the first place? What's it going to get you? Again, how will your life be better when it's done?

black and white graphite drawing of fence pickets and baby angel statue | on Art Biz Success
©Nick Long, Heaven’s Gate. Graphite on paper, 22 x 30 inches.

Invoke Your Vision

Is this other thing you’d rather be doing more important than what you’re procrastinating?

There might be something on your art business agenda that is more important than the task you don’t feel like doing. But I’ll bet it’s not checking your email or scrolling through Instagram.

If you’re wasting time on trivial matters, this question should bring you back into line: Is this the best use of your time right now?

Sometimes we add things to our lists that we don’t really have to do. Maybe the world will keep turning on its axis if you decide against completing that particularly disagreeable task.

What will happen if you don’t do this?

Then there are times when the ramifications of avoiding a task are enormous. People won’t hear about your work, fans will be the last to be invited to a special event, or you won’t make the sale because you waited too long to act.

Are you willing to find out?

Consider Your Future

One week/month/year from now, how will it feel to have completed the task?

One week/month/year from now, how will it feel to have neglected the task?

This post was originally published January 23, 2013 and has been updated with original comments intact.

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19 thoughts on “When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Art Business Tasks”

  1. AMEN to that!!! A very big AMEN to that! I work with a lot of artists in a local art association and we keep beating this drum. They would rather have someone do it for them but when it comes right down to it, they wouldn’t pay what it would cost to do this (understandably since one can’t afford to hire one to do this work). So much of this can be done for free too, which is what boogles me. Before the internet, doing any kind of marketing for free was unheard of.
    Thank you for putting this call to action out there. Whether or not you feel your work is ready, let others be the judge of that and JUST DO IT!

    1. Thanks, Paula! Yes, those same artists would never have been able to make a living 20 years ago without the Internet.

  2. I’ve come to enjoy some aspects of marketing as well as the idea of marketing. For me the issue is less about procrastinating than it is being overwhelmed and deciding which things to do first and how much I can manage given my circumstances.

  3. The one thing that I procrastinate about is updating my email list. It is an important task but for some reason I always leave it to the last minute. Going to try to change that for 2013. Thanks for the nudge. I want to spend as much time in my studio painting so a daily calendar is a must for allotting my time and sticking to a schedule. I find if I don’t, I end up spending too much time on the computer following links.

    1. Joyce: Figure out how long it takes. One hour a month maybe? And put that on your calendar. In the meantime, keep everything organized (names and biz cards) so you use that one hour effectively.

  4. I am starting this year with an overhaul of my work focus. I’ve reduced or eliminated some outside activities & commitments to other organizations which don’t directly support my Art & my Art business & eat away the precious hours in my week. I am reviewing & redesigning all my marketing & promotional material with a new & fresh look. That includes website, Facebook, business cards, brochures & all print & online graphics including logo.
    I am taking a renewed look into what direction I want to take my Art & studying some tutorials to spur on my juices.
    In order to accomplish these goals efficiently I keep lots of lists. I use paper & pencil, a cloud based website called http://www.teuxdeux.com, a database program for Mac called Daylite for my email lists & tickler files.
    Gotta go. I’m busy!

  5. Strangely, though I hate doing web sites, I actually do mine quickly each year (either a total redesign or homepage look update). What I struggle with (and the reason I update the site) is SUBMITTING. I tell friends sometimes, “Look at so and so who has a show, or so and so who is doing so well with her art. I wish people liked my art like that.” And then comes the question: “Who have you submitted to?”
    [insert sound of crickets]
    Yes, this is fear. I need to submit to contests, galleries and online sites, but think I don’t have enough of a particular style, or haven’t ‘branded’ myself solidly yet. The good news is, I was just rejected by two sites (i.e. I submitted!). So, like Stephen King in his early days, I may just make a point of collecting rejections in hopes that one will soon turn into an acceptance!

  6. OK I’m guilty as you can be, but atleast I am in the studio painting. Marketing is hell, and procrastination makes it easier because you don’t really have to do it. I realize how important the marketing effort is so I have periods of marketing effort, mostly in the spring where I actually commit and really try to market myself. I do make some sales but I could do better. I try to show as often as I can even if it is in a gas station, Im not that picky, Im showing in a Outdoor equipment store right now. Marketing on the internet has been useless essentially. I like giving a biz card to someone so they can go to my website and see the work. I would not say it results in more sales. Sales for me are one on one sales, or friends who like me and my work. See I didn’t procrastinate writing something on this very help website

  7. I always think I’m just sitting around procrastinating the marketing aspect, and I feel like I’m stuck at the point where I would certainly do it if I knew what “it” was.
    Online, “it” turns out to be a mix of:
    Social Media
    Website maintenence
    I have no problem doing these things, in fact they are pretty fun! I’ve added youtube videos to the mix recently as well. I join in local juried exhibitions and take up a booth at juried craft fairs, all of which require a lot of time and money, but are rewarding in other ways too!
    But what do you do if none of this is working? Gallery exhibitions are usually okay, though I never profit from a craft fair, for example. Even with the social media, blogging, youtube, and such, I’m lucky to make $35 gross per month. So I STILL feel like I’m sitting around doing nothing.

    1. How many people are on your mailing list, Melissa? I think building the list is the most important thing you can do. Forget the other stuff and focus there. That means lots of networking.

    2. Thanks!
      I’ve read lots of your blog posts that mention the mailing list, though I’m not sure I entirely understand it! I actually use Etsy as a storefront (connected to my site) and they forbid unsolicited communications with buyers. The closest thing to a mailing list is my monthly newsletter, through mailchimp, which also only allows “opt-ins”. It’s only got 14 non-detailed sign ups and only half of them actually open it. It used to be more like 90% opens, I don’t know what went wrong there. A bit demotivating, but I try to keep moving… I need to figure out a way to transfer the youtube audience over! 😀

    3. Alyson Stanfield

      Your mailing list is your #1 asset. You have to build it and nurture it and the only way to do this is to meet more people and ask them if they’d like to be included. Online is fine, but in person is where it’s at.
      IOW, Don’t rest! Keep building the list. It’s THAT important because those are the people that are waiting to hear from you.

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

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