Your exhibition/class/event was a smash hit, and now it’s over. You can breath a sigh of relief.
Your calendar is empty. The breathing room feels good for a few days, until you realize that you have no thoughts about what to do next.
I gently suggest that you take about 1.5 days to relax and bask in the afterglow of your success. Then, get back to work.
I’m not saying that you have to work at the fever pitch before your event. I’m just saying that you need something else to look forward to.
When there are no big plans on the horizon – no major deadlines – we flounder and may find it easier to procrastinate.
Without something to work toward, it’s easy to get lost in the black hole of social media or convince yourself that your inbox needs rearranging. Laundry, anyone?
Stop pretending that any of these (especially social media!) is satisfying. If you want to be happy one year from now, what do you have to do today?
Commit to the Big Scary Idea
It’s fine to accomplish small tasks and projects, but it’s the big goals – the things that are a little scary and a lot uncomfortable – that will move your art career further faster.
Big ideas motivate us to take action, and each action builds momentum toward a larger goal. All you have to do is decide to do it and commit to making it happen.
Here are six possibilities to consider for your next project.
1. Book an exhibition.
If I could choose a single Big Scary Idea for you, it would be to add an exhibition to your calendar. People will be able to see your art in real life, talk with you about it, and tell other people about it.
No, this exhibition will not be at the same place you’ve been showing for years. There’s nothing big or scary about that. Step it up a notch above your usual venues.
2. Schedule an open studio.
If you have a great studio, you might not need to find an outside venue.
This open studio should be more prestigious than anything you’ve done before. Perhaps you could:
- Hold back new work to be unveiled.
- Invite another artist and reap the benefits of having two lists.
- Set it up early and invite your VIPS, curators, and interior designers to special showings.
- Give a gallery talk.
3. Have a sale.
When you have excess inventory or when your art is moving in a new direction, consider having a sale of earlier work.
As always, give your collectors and best patrons first choice. This eliminates any sore feelings over higher prices they might have previously paid.
Do it right. Ten percent off isn’t much of a sale. People are more motivated to buy when it’s at least a 30% discount.
4. Launch a regular newsletter.
While some of us do this as a habit, a newsletter is a big step for most artists and businesses. Many a newsletter never gets off the ground because either the artist doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t think anyone cares, or is waiting for more signups.
Let’s eliminate those three excuses:
- You don’t have to know what to say. You just have to make the commitment to yourself and your subscribers.
- Don’t make decisions for other people. Let them decide whether they care or not. Good heavens! They signed up to hear from you in the first place.
- Having only a few names on your list isn’t a reason for not sending an email to those who signed up for it. You’ll never grow your list by ignoring those who signed up for it.
5. Start (and maintain!) a blog.
If you write well, take advantage of a blog – especially if you teach.
Blogging, when executed well and consistently, can:
- Position you as the expert.
- Help you to better understand your art.
- Make you more articulate about your work.
- Add more meaningful words to your site that might be found by search engines.
6. Teach a new class or workshop.
If you’ve been teaching the same thing in the same way for longer than you can remember, it’s time to rethink and refresh.
Maybe you increase the value by adding more features (and charging more); or you offer it in a new location; or you decide to turn it into a retreat.
When you have a glimmer of an idea for a new class, go for it. You don’t have to know the name of it and you don’t have to know all of the features. Again, you just have to make the commitment.
What scary, uncomfortable idea will you commit to in order to be happier one year from today? I suggest holding yourself accountable by making a note on next year's calendar.
What’s your deadline?