In a Cash Crunch? Try These Ideas to Bring in the Bucks

We are officially at the halfway point for the year. Are you halfway to your financial goals for the year?

As all of my students and clients know, I stress the importance of “doing the numbers” before it’s too late.

Doing your numbers means figuring out where the money is coming in, identifying the leaks, and seeing clearly the best return on your investment of time and resources.

©Jessica Molnar, Paper Crane Collage. Etching with collage elements and copper foil, . Used with permission.
©Jessica Molnar, Paper Crane Collage. Etching with collage elements and copper foil, . Used with permission.

For conducting this process, you are rewarded with clarity like you’ve never had before.

What you see might not be the beacon of hope you were looking for, but at least you are armed with knowledge to make sound financial decisions.

When your numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be (a realization we’re all faced with at some point or another), consider options to increase your income quickly.

Focus on how to maximize your return with limited time and resources to invest. This means concentrating on larger sales. It’s not the time to create a new stream of income for a new audience.

The first step is to get extra clear on how much you need to earn and figure out what the path to that number looks like. Specifically: What is your monetary goal and what will it take to reach that goal?

©Virginia Folkestad, <em>Shhh….</em> Thermoplastic, poplar, graphite, steel, cable, 11 x 12 x 72 inches. Used with permission.
©Virginia Folkestad, Shhh…. Thermoplastic, poplar, graphite, steel, cable, 11 x 12 x 72 inches. Used with permission.

How many students or clients do you need to enroll to equal your goal?

How many artworks do you need to sell in a particular size to equal your goal? And do you have enough inventory?

My first choice when looking for fast cash is to …

Focus on Your List

It’s 5-25 times more expensive to land new customers than it is to get sales from the ones you have now, so it makes sense to spend most of your effort on your current buyers, collectors, and students.

Plus, if you’ve been staying in touch with them all along, it’s easier to ask for something.

Begin by following up with anyone who has expressed interest in your art. Go through the names on your list one by one.

Make calls, send personal emails, and suggest items in your inventory that they might like.

If they are students, you have additional options.

Add Classes, Workshops, and Mentorships

If you’re already teaching (remember, this isn’t the time to create a new income stream), you might:

  • Schedule an additional class that you weren’t planning on teaching.
  • Create a higher-level class for current students who want to continue studying with you – as long as it takes minimal effort.
  • Add a private consultation or critique to a class on the books (for an extra fee, of course).
  • Open a mentorship program to your best students. Don’t undervalue your time!
  • Offer private lessons. Private students should pay premium prices.

Follow up with venues where you might teach.

If you have been teaching for quite some time and have a good-sized list of students that you’re staying in touch with, you might:

  • Package lessons into a video class.
  • Bundle several classes together and offer a small discount for buying all three at once.

Loyal students will probably purchase anything you can cook up. They might even purchase your art, which brings me to …

Sell More Art

Again, focus on original art that is in the higher price range. Low-priced items will put less money into your account.

©Andie Thrams, In Forests No. 24. Acrylic on canvas over wood panel, 10 x 10 inches. Used with permission.
©Andie Thrams, In Forests No. 24. Acrylic on canvas over wood panel, 10 x 10 inches.

To sell more art, you can:

  • Tweak your social media posts to lead to sales.
  • Organize a pop-up exhibition. This can be in an empty storefront, in your studio, or in someone’s home.

You might even consider sale sales. You know, the kind where people think they’re getting a deal.

Some of these are extreme, but I’ll let you be the judge of what is right or wrong for you:

  • Put together a sale of earlier work. Some artists refer to this as an “inventory reduction” sale.
  • Offer pre-sales on work that has yet to be produced. These pieces would be discounted because purchasers are buying art sight unseen.
  • Have a BOGO sale – buy one, get one free.
  • Hold a 1-day only promotion using all of your social media channels and your email list.
  • Holiday sale: your birthday, your cat’s birthday, the solstice, Chocolate Day (July 7), International Day of Friendship (July 30).

** Anytime you have a sale of your art, your VIPs (previous buyers, collectors, students, friends) are the first to be notified. They receive exclusive first access to what is available. **

Whatever you decide, making fast cash requires hustle and some sacrifice. I think you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can make up the discrepancy in your financial goal. Then you can spend the rest of the year building on your momentum.

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15 thoughts on “In a Cash Crunch? Try These Ideas to Bring in the Bucks”

  1. I’m going to do a “Christmas in July” sale to get rid of old inventory. I’ve got paintings sitting around from 10+ years ago. They don’t match my current style but that is okay. I’ll mark them down 50% – I could use the space and I’ll put the money toward new art supplies!

  2. I was surprised at the lack of comments to this post because this is the way to keep from eating raman noodles.
    I believe in small steps. For me building my client list – which I agree with Alyson is so important – means doing a personal e-mail to Spirit Dreams, a “new age” store, which offers workshops and may sell my Labyrinth coloring book. I highly recommend CreateSpace, an Amazon Company, if you are a word and picture person, whose work will fit in a book.

    I hadn’t thought about using workshops to build a client list. I’m going to put together a pamphlet, people can get just for their name and e-mail address!!! I don’t want to give away my book because I want to sell that. I will recycle pictures and text I have used on my Facebook business page. I like separating my personal page from my business page, but I can post regular entries featuring art and reflections on my personal page, which has more response from people than my business page. Just thought of this…

    1. Debbie: Lack of comments might be due to the fact that at first the link in the delivered email didn’t work. My bad.

      Good work on focusing on that list. Keep it up!

  3. This is perfect timing for me. I too have a number of small items that have been around forever and a Christmas in July sale (as mentioned by Brad) is perfect. I do workshops and am planning on offering small ones (4 people) to generate some quick income to pay those bills.

  4. If I may make another suggestion to all these great strategies… Many people hesitate to buy art for themselves but would delight in selecting a “wish list” piece for loved ones to gift! When our son was looking for a special gift for Dad on a milestone birthday, I linked him to the site if one if our favorite local artists and identified 3 affordable options. I’m surprised that more artist don’t ask subscribers to create wish lusts and share them with family & friends! Add some enticing copy and create a new revenue stream!

    1. I love it, Alyson! I am always hesitant to encourage artists to position their art as gifts because I honestly don’t enjoy being gifted art that might not be to my taste. Your suggestion is a terrific solution to that problem.

  5. Love this post Alyson because it is so practical and important. No cash-flow is a scary thing indeed 🙂 One idea that has worked for me is to offer big discounts on oil painting sketches and small demo paintings I produce in classes and workshops. I offer these to my list or students at prices too good to ignore. It also helps to distinguish the sale paintings from my “premium” paintings. I know we all fear devaluing our art at times through sales, but a few tweaks helps to avoid this issue.

  6. Patricia C Vener

    I recently had a sale of some Pre-2018 work, (but not all since I couldn’t get it all uploaded into Artwork Archive in time). It was online, actually and I created a special web page (without outward links) for it. I promoted it in my newsletter, on my blog, and on Facebook.


    Well, at least I got a lot of inventorying done.

    No sales though.

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