Move On to Something New

The goal is never to work harder. It’s to work smarter.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about working hard. We can only work so hard before maxing out. That’s when it’s time to move on to something new. If you’ll indulge me for being a bit more personal in this newsletter, I’ll tell you how it applies to you at the end.
Some of the peak moments (as Chris Guillebeau calls them) for Art Biz Coach over the past 8 years have been:
2002 – Started Art Marketing Action newsletter under a different title, created Art Biz Coach, taught first e-classes
2003 – Sold first e-books, led first live art-marketing workshops
2004 – Launched Art Biz Blog
2007 – Started broadcasting Art Marketing Action Podcast
2008 – Published I’d Rather Be in the Studio!
I’ve gained great value from each of these actions, but times change. I change. I need to evolve in order to lead a full life, but also in order to do best by you.

Holly Irwin, Country Morning. Oil on canvas.
Holly Irwin, Country Morning. Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. ©The Artist

My personal theme for 2010 is “collaborate and innovate.” In order to innovate, something that takes time and energy has to go. I can’t add any more to my plate (e.g. “work harder”). I need to work smarter.

The Big Announcement

The last Art Marketing Action Podcast will be broadcast on Wednesday, November 24.
Here’s how I decided the podcast had to go:

  • It’s a duplication of content — the written newsletter in audio format. It’s fun to create new content, but not so much fun to recite text.
  • Somewhat related to the first point: the challenge is missing. This was a biggie for me!
  • I don’t interact with people who listen to the podcast. Where I grow and learn the most is in my online classes, live events, and on the blog and Facebook. All of those feed my curiosity and lead to better answers and ideas for you.

I’m so excited for the plans I have for you in 2011, but I’m not quite ready to share details.
Do you need to move on to something new?
Are you a member or leader of an organization that is no longer serving you?
Are you showing at the same venues over and over again?
Is your teaching no longer a challenge?
If you’re doing something that you think might not be working, ask yourself:

  • Is it fun?
  • Is it a challenge?
  • Am I learning anything?
  • Am I working too hard and not smart enough?

What do you need to release?

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71 thoughts on “Move On to Something New”

  1. Hi Alyson, GREAT, GREAT topic. Holy Moly, eliminating overwhelm is a constant challenge? It sure seems to boil down to planning and then guarding my time with my life! Thanks for sharing your strategies and giving examples of what you’ve accomplished. That’s a great idea to keep reminding ourselves of the cool (and beneficial) things we have under our belts!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Colleen: I know you get where I’m coming from. Do you have the same criteria? Challenge/fun are huge for me. Making a living ranks up there, too.

  2. Hi Alyson,
    Funny, after taking your blast off class things started to change. I have painted in oils for years but suddenly found I wasn’t having fun , I was working at it too hard. The Universe helped out but allowing me to blow out my knee plus surgery and I switched to wAtercolors. I am totally renewed and having FUN!!!!
    You are so right!!
    Thanks, sheila

  3. Alyson, I’m right there with you.
    I’m making some space for new projects to come into my life by eliminating things (groups, emails, distractions) that I refuse to tolerate any longer. It feels great, at least ten pounds lighter!
    PS: I’m loving the blog triage. Great information. i highly recommend it. You two are fabulous!!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Tejae: I haven’t gotten to the “10 lbs lighter” thing, but I think I’ll feel that after November 24.
      So glad you’re enjoying the BT class.

  4. Alyson, you just used slightly different words to ask my favourite question, “What can I let go of?”
    I’ve been doing a bit of shedding myself of late and with every thing I let go of – be it physical, conceptual or digital – I feel a bit lighter 🙂
    Here’s to a new year and new plans – Enjoy!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      WildC: Yes, that’s an excellent question. I think you simultaneously need to ask what needs to stay.

  5. Great message today…. I’m streamlining my areas of commitment, moving away from an industry I’ve been deeply involved in for 25 years….this is taking a lot of commitment and courage, and it is happening. I’ve also evaluated my time, and am giving in some new areas, specifically two art related charities, and enjoying the new experiences there.
    Simplifying is a constant process that always benefits me. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Roger K. Lawrence

    I started thinking about why, during my retirement, that I am procrastinating in doing my painting in the studio. It seems that during my working years I became to reactive to emails from others, news, and phone calls, to the point that it has become routine.
    I need to move-on and shut off the phone for most of the day and move my computer out of my studio. I am sure you have addressed this to your followers many times but I really must ” Move on to Something New” by letting go of my need to be available to others.
    My goal is to paint in Oil with a high level of skill.
    Thanks for the wake-up call.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Excellent, Roger! Try setting aside email/phone time. I think it might change your life.

  7. hi alyson. i totally get your message in this post. i always need to be challenged too!
    i did want to send you an appreciation. i am new to your world and have gained so much from the content you have put out there. And, i really have learned from the podcast particularly. at first i went back and listened to them all – i don’t think i would have had the focus to read all that. then, when i was caught up, i both read and listened to make sure the information came in, so to speak. i thought the duplication was brilliant and you have certainly mastered podcasting.
    that said, i am looking forward to what is coming next!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Thanks, Dana! I appreciate your vote of confidence in the podcast. I worked hard to make it better. I even took voice lessons to be more animated. I know that will serve me. (I have a post coming up about lessons I learned.)
      I love what you wrote here because it’s so important to digest information in multiple formats in order to engage multiple senses. We learn better that way.
      Thanks, too, for being open to what’s next.

  8. Hi Alyson, yes smarter!
    Have just started a huge new project which is fun, challenging and very daunting. Are planning on documenting the whole process on my blog and what better way than with all the help I can get from your Blog Triage Self Study course which I’ve just started. Great timing and I’m really enjoying it. Thanks!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      That’s good to hear, Stephanie. Be sure to let me know what you like most about the BTSS.

  9. Maybe you could use the audio podcast medium for when you are addressing musicians or performing artists who use sound? As a visual artist, I like my info visual-but if you diversify into some of the audio folk, they might need it read to them out loud…

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Thanks, Sari. I’ll definitely be doing more audio in the future. It will be better. Lots of artists listen to the podcast while they’re in the studio or chauffeuring kids around town.

  10. Hey Alyson,
    Great topic! Your posts have been so helpful to me. I have used much of your advice as I am moving onto something new. Last spring, May 2010, I “rewired” from teaching art for many years to 6-12 grade, to focusing on my own studio practice. It is taking a lot to get my studio career up an running again after a fifteen year hiatus and so much has changed via the internet. Great that there are so many more resources such as your blog, book, etc. to help artists with the business end of art than when I was a grad student. So far I am loving my new life!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      I love hearing that, Christine. Your new life sounds like a dream and I’m glad to be of some small help.

  11. I once had a conversation with a man that I knew who owned a popular restaurant in Syracuse, NY (he happened to be dying of a brain tumor at the time). He said that the restaurant business always reminded him of that Chinese Acrobat act with the spinning plates– that if you got too many plates going, you eventually would have to let some fall in order to save the rest. These ended up being the last words we ever spoke to each other. Needless to say, I took them to heart. Somehow I think that he was talking about more than the restaurant business, which I also got involved in at one point– a plate that I have since let fall. They are, after all, only plates, and life is too short not to focus on what we love the most– instead of silly spinning plates.
    Cheers, Allison. Good topic as always.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Love the metaphor, Scott. And what a special lesson to learn from someone in that position in life.

  12. This couldn’t have come at a better time!
    I’ve been working on “cleaning house” in my art life so that I can start with a clean slate. I’m having a studio sale to move out the things that I no longer need/want so I can start fresh. This also means that I’m changing my involvement with local arts organizations that have been a big part of my artlife for the past 4-5 years. I’ll remain a member but change my level of activity there to make room for a broader horizon.
    Thanks for being there for all of us and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  13. You hit the nail on the head for me with this, Alison. Two years ago I moved out of the Big City to a place where I could afford to work on my art — to make it my day job. Turns out, I may be in a rural area, but it’s an entire region for several miles in all directions, that’s artist-friendly! Still, for the past 2 years, I’ve been commuting to the City monthly to attend a group that’s related to my art…but only in a fringe sort of way. This is becoming clearer to me almost daily…but I am now the co-ordinator of the group, and committed for 1 more year. Solution? I am reducing my trips to every other month in 2011…and will wind down to zero in 2012. I’ll still be a member, but online only, and will attend special events on an as-able basis. I save 2 1/2 hours’ driving time (each way), plus gas money…and still retain the contacts and (I hope) the friendships. Your post is yet another confirmation for me that I am on the right track.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Margaret: Sounds like it’s the right move for you. For myself, I NEED to get out every so often, but 5 hours round trip is a LOT.

  14. I’m revamping my blog, and my life, so that they all focus on the few things on my priorities list. If it doesn’t fit under one of those categories in a direct kind of way, then I’m not going to spend time on it. Simple idea, easy to implement, hard to follow. Well worth the effort, however!
    Alyson, I can’t wait to see what you have planned for the future!
    (P.S. – I never listen to the podcast, instead reading the text.)

  15. Hi Alyson,
    Although I understand your reason for moving on with new projects I have to say I am sad to see the podcasts go. That was actually how I found you! Just searching around for marketing and art related podcasts. I have since taken several online classes and follow the blog. You have helped in many ways to get my art career going this past year. The audio was great for me to listen in the car and sometimes I even do repeats . Well, I’m looking forward to all of the new projects you have coming, I’m sure they will be inspiring!

    1. Sue: I didn’t know that. I’m sorry, too, that I can’t keep them up. But I do promise more, better audio. Now I’ll have time for it.

  16. What a great post — I feel as though many people I know are letting go of big elements in their lives right now in order to move forward. While I feel I am constantly “cleaning house”, there are probably a few larger things that I could benefit from parting with. Thank you for your courageous move that inspires the rest of us to take a closer look at what is and is no longer serving us!

  17. Alyson,
    Good for you!
    Awesome post! I feel so grateful to be a full time artist now. There is nothing greater than having the choice to do what keeps you challenged, happy and motivated. There are so many unhappy people stuck doing things that they don’t like. Having a choice about what to do or not in your work/life is the greatest gift.
    Thank you for this!
    Can’t wait to hear what’s coming in 2011!!!

  18. I really had to think about this one, Alyson, because since your Blast Off class I’ve been more focused than I’ve ever been, but there are still some things that are getting in my way. The thing that takes up the most time, unfortunately, is the daily phone call from a dear friend. She is also self-employed, and we used to spend a lot of time together during the week, shopping, etc., and there is at least one daily phone call that lasts up to an hour. I have had to make some changes in our relationship (and this was one of the things I listed in my Blast Off plan). I’ve fallen back on an old saying that we used to have when one of us was having a great creative day – I’m in “FLOW.” I’ve begun to use this to let her know that I am working hard, and that I will phone her when my work is done.

    1. Gini: Is it hard to do that with a friend? Sometimes you all can come to an understanding. Often, the other person is just lonely.
      When I was writing my book, my standard line was “I’m on deadline.” Of course, I always seem to be on deadline for something.

  19. Hi Alyson,
    I too am sorry to see the podcasts go. It’s one of my ultimate goals to learn how to podcast. But perhaps you could do videos from time to time.
    The thing about the podcasts you’ve done so far is that you could put them in a salable format so that people like me could buy the whole bunch.
    I love listening to them because your voice is so wonderful. But I completely understand. I find, painting, teaching and blogging almost daily quite the push. From time to time I let myself go to bed without
    blogging. As most of my days are 15 hours at the minimum, that can be quite the relief.
    I want to thank you for everything you’re doing for people like me.
    I read your posts and feel both supported and nudged to go to the next level, try and become more organized, boost myself, stop fretting, and just do my work. You are without a doubt a marvellous and inspirational person Alyson.

    1. Thanks, Barbara. As I say above, I’m not stopping the audio. In fact, there will probably be more audio. Just better quality.
      You always humble me–in a good way. I hope I live up to your nice words.

  20. I’m blessed to have found you. I’ve subscribed for only a short time, and it feels great to make this connection. I’m a lost artist who owns a frame shop. I would really like to teach artists how to frame there artwork to sell it, to showcase it, and to do it properly in an economically manner. I’ve seen wonderful pieces of artwork from galleries and local art shows that weren’t given the proper respect that the art deserves, and the client brings it in to frame or reframe. I would like to reinvent my business to help artists learn the ins and outs of framing to propell their careers. Secondly, but just as important – I would like to start creating my own artwork again, which sadly has taken a back seat to running a frame shop.

  21. So right on with this Alyson.
    I was feeling that way about some exhibits I’ve shown in. Didn’t light me up much, but did them because that’s what I’ve always done. So I decided to make some changes, and I’m much better for the adventure!

    1. Tracy: Exhibiting your art can become a habit that doesn’t serve you. Glad you found that out and are moving on.

  22. Alexandra Lazovski

    Alyson, thanks so much for shearing all the wisdom of your experiences! I find myself reading your posts and seems as you are reading my mind. I am in the middle of a change process at this very moment, changing the way I paint, looking for the “next” artistic challenge that makes my heart beat jump!! Thanks again!!

    1. Alexandra: Not reading your mind. We’re all just human and experience similar emotions and trials. Glad you found this post helpful.

  23. Alyson —
    I can answer “yes” to all four of your bulletted questions. My work isn’t work, it’s play, and it’s challenging; I’m learning a great deal, and I think I need to work smarter, not harder. My goal for this year is to learn to work in a more cohesive series. I’ll be seeking help in this venture, and I’m counting on success.

    1. Diane: Not sure I want to hear you call your work “play.” When we do that, it sounds diminutive to others. But you can do it here just between us. We may enjoy what we do, but we work our butts off to get recognition for it.

  24. I really enjoy reading your newsletters and look forward to reading your lessons I learned one.
    Change must be in the air as I have relaunched my artsite, in the past few weeks. I’m also trying to drum up enough local artists so we can do your art marketing salon here in Wanganui, New Zealand. Have you thought of visiting New Zealand?
    Dee x

  25. Lady- Susan Govindasamy

    Hi I’m always reading your news feeds
    I agree with the latest comments & for myself I am now feeling it’s definitely time to take action.
    I have had a really busy time I have just returned from honeymoon in the Maldives, after planning a dream wedding for two years I now feel I am at the place creatively where I want to plan my art career
    I have a spare room converted to a studio for the purposes of painting in acrylic & oil on canvas I also want to sculpt I have some good ideas & themes, I guess I need advice do I start my career with my new married name I’d like a website to show my paintings write a blog & also need to be able to exhibit my work from tome to time.
    Any advice on any of this would be greatly appreciated.
    With grateful heartfelt thanks & love to all artistic & creative souls 😉

    1. Lady: Planning a wedding for 2 years? I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Stick around this site and look at some of the older posts (see Categories in the sidebar). You’ll probably find some direction.

  26. Glad to hear you’ve made a decision. 🙂 Moving on is always good, and sometimes hard to realise you need to do!
    You have, ironically, inspired me to go backwards. I gave up my podcast but am going to start doing it again. In a strange way, your last 2 reasons are good reasons for me to start: it is a challenge to find something verbal to share about visual art, it is a different kind of interaction to share a verbal communication with my readers. I suppose part of it is that I’ve realised WHAT to podcast about again. I’m going to response to statements other artists make on social media, often things that make me think or giggle, and then share them with non-artists to sort of give a bit more insight into the creative process or creative mind.

  27. I went through some major health problems this year – and did a lot of journaling and just thinking – and realized I needed a change – in where I am heading as an artist as well as the business. As you said, one can only go for so long before they have maxed out and I was at that point. So I decided it was time for a change and a fresh approach to what I was doing. As I am putting the final touches on things, the timing of the BTSS was perfect for me to make sure I have crossed my t’s & dotted my i’s!
    Looking forward to another year with you.

  28. Hi Alyson,
    What a timely post!
    I am in the slow and steady transition of preparing to leave a ft career in fashion management and to relocate back to my former province as well so that I can return to my art full-time. Family circumstances dictated that I move to aid my daughter several years back and I had to give up my beloved studio gallery in the process. While my current career is a very good one, the breathless pace has left it wanting and the challenges have waned and become repetitive.
    For everything there is a season…
    Your blog triage course is aiding me with the tools to getting the things I desire to do back on track…and posts like this remind me that I am not alone in the desire to move on and let go. My sincere thanks!

    1. Julie: Wow! I hope getting your blog back on track is what you need. I think a lot of artists “find” themselves through writing a blog. It’s a cool thing.

  29. At first I was a little upset at loosing the weekly podcast. It has inspired me to do many things over the years. (join a gallery, show my work in new places, join twitter, etc. etc.) But then I started thinking maybe this is the kick I need to change something in my own life. I’m not sure what, but I’m excited about the idea. So thanks for the kick, and thanks for the great podcasts. I’ll miss them.

    1. Sorry, Bill. I just hate to disappoint loyal listeners like you, but I do hope that you’re happy with the upcoming new “stuff” here. Let me know about your results.

  30. What a timely topic! And interesting that I just opened it this morning. Last night I met with a group of ladies who share a non-profit body-mind-spirit business together. We have been in business for 9 years and last night we finally, after months of lethargy, talked about how the energy has gone out of it for all of us. The question is out now, Is it time for us to let it go? Can we rebirth it into something else? Do we want to? It feels like a weight has been lifted in just airing the issue. Thanks for the confirmation. Every ending is an opening to a new beginning.

  31. Wow, once again you said the right thing at the right time. I’m members of two organizations (board member of one of them) that lately don’t seem to be serving my needs. One moved in a different direction than I’m going in and both seem a little lackadaisical in their commitment to their mission. I have to take time to go to meetings that I could spend doing studio work or marketing or even just relaxing rather than going out to something that I just don’t find interesting anymore. I need to find better ways to connect in my community that work with my needs and schedule better.

    1. Wendy: It’s too bad when organizations get off of mission. It often happens when a lot of people have their hands in the pot. So glad you have your boundaries.

    2. Things DO change, and I guess I have to accept that, but the one art association I’m part of sometimes seems to exist only as an “anti-“–a reaction rather than action. Bitch sessions rather than accomplishing something.
      I tried to steer us into at least making art together, sketching eachother, plein air, something…but so far, nada. Moving on sounds good…

  32. Thanks, Alyson, this is what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and making changes. Your post is a confirmation!
    Do you need to move on to something new?
    “Are you a member or leader of an organization that is no longer serving you?”
    Check, and mostly out of it…
    “Are you showing at the same venues over and over again?”
    “Is your teaching no longer a challenge?”
    Check-ish (it’s always a challenge but EXHAUSTING. I do 6-week online classes…)
    “If you’re doing something that you think might not be working, ask yourself:
    · Is it fun?
    · Is it a challenge?
    · Am I learning anything?
    Am I working too hard and not smart enough?”
    Yep. And so cutting back, and not taking so many students but at a rate that lets me be competitive with other online teachers who have been around a while, moving my classes to a simpler site, and not trying to have a Flickr site for them, too (with all the attendant confusion of multiple IDs…)
    And thinking of offering a series of non-interactive mini-classes that can cost a lot less…as you say, it’s fun coming up with new ideas! I just put up a poll to give me an idea of what people are interested in…with somewhat surprising results. This will be fun!

  33. Pingback: What I’ve Learned about Producing Audio and Podcasts — Art Biz Blog

  34. Alyson
    What a great topic !! It is all coming together to read this and be taking your class.. I wanted to respond because I feel very challenged right now as I build my art career and questioned yesterday whether this was normal- whether the low sales these days was a sign that I was in over my head or was being told by the universe to just give this topic really resonated with me this AM and helped turn my head around.. but more importantly – I now understand the value it is to have people engaged in what you are putting out there. So I was moved to write and let you know my thoughts as it helps you grow too… so thank you thank you for practicing what you preach and bringing your readers into your world.
    My next blog entry might build on your questions.. see you in class

  35. Hi Alyson – I bet it feels good to shed what isn’t working anymore. We, each, are only one person and I still haven’t found a way to stop sleeping, eating, grocery shopping, cleaning (heaven forbid!)… so other stuff has to drop off. Sometimes, just feeling ok about it can be the challenge. There are so many wonderful things to do in life! We know whatever you put out there we are going to love – looking forward to it! Thank you!

  36. I saw your post today after lamenting all week about not having time for my art and realized I am on the right track. I am moving on and it is taking a lot of work, killing my budget (I am giving up some profitable aspects of my other non-art related work), selling my house and moving so that I can have a simpler lifestyle that will allow me to thrive as an artist in whatever capacity that means. I am excited and frustrated as there is a ton of shifting that has to happen and I cannot control the timing. Now the house is on the market, my new location chosen and I am slowly getting back to my art (as months of doing very little work has left me a bit timid and uncertain if I am any good anymore, BAN that thought!!!

  37. What a timely post, Alyson! I’ve been thinking the same thoughts the last couple of months and made the following decisions myself:
    I’ve been “in” several different worlds the last few years and I need to get them pared down a bit and really focus more. I’ve been cleaning up my emails and subscriptions to places that I don’t read (i.e. if the email is in my In Box and I don’t even open up the emails to read them, time to unsubscribe!).
    There is only so much time in the day and I can’t be everything to everyone. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed for a bit also and that is going away as I’ve been decluttering and getting out of the herd and finding my own direction.
    Continued Success!

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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.

Where can we send it? 

To ensure delivery, please triple check your email address.

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

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