Sifting Through Noise that Throws You Off Course

I’ve taken great pride in the fact that I’ve written a weekly newsletter since March 30, 2002 without ever missing an issue.

It’s a story I’ve recounted repeatedly. Until now. I skipped last week’s (April 26, 2018) edition – on purpose.

©Cecilia Borghi, Flowers and Shapes. Stoneware and reduction firing glazed porcelain, variable dimensions. Used with permission.
©Cecilia Borghi, Flowers and Shapes. Stoneware and reduction firing glazed porcelain, variable dimensions. Used with permission.

I did it because I want to own a better story.

I don’t want to be known as the woman who wrote a weekly newsletter for more than 16 years.

I want to be known as the woman who changed the lives of artists for the better. I had to let go of the old story in order to make room for something better.

It’s a Noisier World

When my newsletter started, there were no other weekly newsletters to help artists with their businesses. There were probably others that were less frequent, but I don’t believe they lasted.

There was no Art Biz Blog, which kicked off on November 30, 2004. I remember spelling b-l-o-g for my workshop attendees before explaining such a foreign concept to them. Can you imagine?

There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest in 2002. No podcast, webinars or Facebook Live.

I had to describe to my artist-followers (in painstaking detail) how to listen in on a teleseminar by simply dialing on their phones. You would have thought I was giving them directions to Mars.

Remember those days? Man, I’m feeling old right now (but can we agree to refer to me as “seasoned” rather than using the o-word?).

©Heidi Carlsen Rogers, Shell Portrait I. Acrylic, gouache, and pencil on canvas. 48 x 48 x 2 inches. Used with permission.
©Heidi Carlsen Rogers, Shell Portrait I. Acrylic, gouache, and pencil on canvas. 48 x 48 x 2 inches. Used with permission.

The world is noisier today, and you are more tech savvy than you ever thought you’d have to be (or ever wanted to be). You have loads of information at your fingertips, which presents a different problem.

With so much knowledge available, it’s difficult to discern what’s critical from what is noise that will throw you off your path.

What you need instead of more emails is a reliable system that 1) makes sense of all the information and 2) helps you run your art business with confidence – so you can spend more time in the studio.

That’s why we at Art Biz Coach devote most of our energy to creating plans and systems for artists while providing support and accountability to help you implement them.

Don’t worry, though. I will continue to provide plenty of free content as I always have: here on the blog, in less frequent emails (see below), on the podcast, on webinars, and on my social media channels.

Here’s how you can benefit from what I (or anyone else) share without being overwhelmed.

Suggestions for Reading & Saving

While walking with my friend Ann the other day, she told me how she consumes my newsletter: If I have time to read it, I will – if it’s pertinent to me at that moment. If not, I skip it. I know I’ll be able to find it later if I need it.

Makes sense. We’re all busy. Why spend time on something that isn’t immediately useful for you?

Many people have told me that they print my newsletters and keep them in a binder. While it’s an honor to hear that, you really don’t need to do the same.

©Meg Munro, Radiant Nature. Watercolor. Used with permission.
©Meg Munro, Radiant Nature. Watercolor, 22 x 30 inches. Used with permission.

Every single article I send is posted here on the blog, which has a super useful search engine.

If you’re afraid you won’t remember what to search when you land here, here are four ways to save your favorite Art Biz Coach newsletters for later recall.

  1. Create an Art Biz Coach notebook in Evernote. If you have a paid account, you can email your favorites directly to that specific notebook.Not an Evernote user? After you receive the newsletter, click the link to the corresponding blog post at the end. Leave a comment while you’re there, and then save the post using one of these handy-dandy apps:
  2. Start a board on Pinterest for the best ideas you’ve read on the blog. Our weekly artist features guarantee that your board will be good looking.
  3. Open a free account at Pocket and tag your art business articles with Art Biz Success. It’s easy to save items to Pocket when you add their extension to your browser bar.
  4. Download the Flipboard app and begin an Art Biz Success magazine. I love flipping through this app when I want news, but admit that I’m not the best at keeping up my own magazines. Maybe you can do a better job than I.
©Christen Humphries, The Shadow of Thy Wing II. Watercolor on paper, 12 x 9 inches. Used with permission.
©Christen Humphries, The Shadow of Thy Wing II. Watercolor on paper, 12 x 9 inches. Used with permission.

No need to stop with my content. Do the same for any articles or emails you find particularly useful.

What to Expect from Your Art Biz Success Subscription

Do you know how many people asked why they didn’t get their Art Biz Success newsletter last week?

Exactly zero. Nada. Zilch. Zippo.

Far from being sad that it wasn’t missed after 16 years, I was ecstatic. It proved my thesis that weekly emails aren’t life or death. Thank you!

The plan for now is to email you every other week, with at least one podcast a month.

That may change, but you can always count on me to send art business tips of some kind to your inbox. Pay attention if they’re timely for you or save them for later using one of the four methods above. Or, stop by the blog and search for your topic of interest.

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44 thoughts on “Sifting Through Noise that Throws You Off Course”

  1. You know, some of us say, or at least I do, “Hmmm, I haven’t seen a newsletter for a while.” We don’t say, “ but it’s Thursday, where is the newsletter?” That’s just not the way our minds work. I mention this because I suspect that the newsletter will be missed more than you might think. I know that I always read it with enthusiasm, even if I am vaguely surprised to see it. All that being said I look forward to whatever you come up with next, I know it will be great.

  2. Alyson, I think this is just great. I love the idea of reducing the noise, and minimizing the things that have become a routine and are no longer working or needed as designed. It takes courage to change. Just four days ago, I made a major decision to leave a venue that I have shown in for the past year, where for the past 6 months I had taken on the responsibility of curating shows and coordinating other artists at venue. Without any compensation. You, Alyson, had actually challenged me back in December about why exactly I was doing this. At the time, I had only just begun, and I had ideas about how I could make it into something big. As time passed and I saw how much I was investing in it and how little I was getting in return, I finally concluded that I was not benefiting any longer from the relationship, and decided to make a change. Your newsletter and blog today coincided within HOURS of my communication with the owner of the venue, and also with feedback from one of the other artists I had worked with. It rings so true! I know I made the right decision – I am not yet sure what is next, but I know that something bigger and better is coming, now that I’ve created the space for it!

  3. You are so right that we live in a noisier world. I don’t read the newsletter every week for exactly that reason, though I do so love knowing that I can search the blog when I’m looking for answers.

    Here’s my question… one of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve seen for artists is to build their email list of people who resonate with their work enough to be collectors (or potentially be collectors) and keep them thinking about you by providing regular engaging content. I think we can assume those folks also need to sift through the noise. After taking your step of reducing the number of emails you send out, how would you adapt that idea for the artists you advise? 😀

    Thanks so much for all you do, Alyson!

    1. Julie: Very few artists send a weekly newsletter. I believe monthly is good. And I believe personal emails, notes, and phone calls are better than anything.

  4. I noticed! Had you not sent three in a row, I would have contacted you to find out if you were ok! And I do read them all. And listen to your podcasts.
    But I totally applaud your decision to change things up! I even wrote a post on that very topic a few weeks ago. So I’ll be showing up wherever you are. Hopefully one day in person…Thank you for all you do. #grateful

    1. Thanks for noticing, Cherry! I sure am enjoying the podcast since I whittled my focus to telling artists’ stories. Appreciate your listening.

      I look forward to meeting in person, too.

  5. I agree with Gwen. I don’t know about your schedule, but love getting your newsletters. With a broken wrist, teaching, working on a large piece and then the flu, I haven’t been commenting as much as I’d like to, but I never think of your work as noise. I’m sure I turn artists on to your blog at least several times a day. You so rock. Trump et al — that’s noise — disturbing and sometimes frightening. You are vital and significant and have definitely changed my artistic life.

    XOXOXOXO Barbara

  6. I did notice…all the way from the other side of the pond. I always read your emails and I save any I think I’ll refer to again. They always come in handy. Thank you for always sharing so generously.

  7. I’m glad you’re continuing with the newsletter. It’s an amazing commitment you’ve made to do that, and to continue it. I always find encouragement and good ideas and solid thinking in the seminars etc. that you offer, although I’ve only been able to take one. Thank you.

  8. I am just getting started with your program. I tried and failed at least once before — I am feeling the changes in my artistic/professional life/perspective and I am energized! I look forward to being more computer savvy, too!

  9. I did wonder if I had missed your email last week, but thought it was me and not you since you have been so consistent.
    I alwaus look forward to your posts. I have used the very powerful search engine on your blog many times to search for topics of interest. Thank you so much for all you do to help artists thrive!

  10. Alyson, Your emails have proved to be interesting, valuable and engaging! I usually read every one of them for their relevance to my art business. My own life has taken a slight detour and my attention has been drawn elsewhere for the time being. However, the value that you bring to artists of all stripes is beyond measure! Thank you for your constant support of us wherever we may be!

  11. I am new to you ….taking the “magnificent you” course. Rewriting & rewriting my artist stmt w/ my collection of juicey words! So, so useful. What a gift you give to artists. Thank you????
    Merlyn Bost

  12. Good for you Alyson!
    I love your newsletter, and I am glad you are giving yourself some flexibility to
    follow your instincts about when to send as things shift for you.
    This is inspiring! I have also been letting of old patterns
    and it is helping make room for new possibilities.

  13. while not yet been able to afford any of your offerings, being on SS and Sect 8, I find your emails most rewarding in spirit, and yes am striving to get to being able to do online selling… so thought to show you my ongoing work, “Preludes”, a 32″x20″ pen and ink painting of an imaginary world that foreshadows the next work in mind – a cliff city on a 36″x78″ canvas… this smaller view can be seen – … hope you enjoy the prospects as am going now to begin layering color over everything…


  14. Alyson, your newsletters are great! But this sounds like a wise use of your time and ours. Thanks for re-thinking this and breaking out of and old rhythm for something new! And thank you for your amazing work and writing. xoxoxo

  15. Missed your newsletter, yes, but thought it was one of the messages that got lost somewhere in cyberspace, and that anyway, I could check your blog anytime. I never think of your newsletter as ‘noise’; am always glad to see it in the inbox and I take time to read it. But agreed- we all need to change it up occasionally. It’s good!

  16. Caryl Hancock

    The planets must be in alignment. Another blogger whose work is thoughtful and I find helpful is James Clear. His article today was about all the noise that comes in, and is mostly stuff we cannot control and his urging us (me) to make choices about that which we can control or do something about, thereby freeing time to make our art, etc. The title of the article is “Stop Overdosing on Celebrity Gossip. The News, and Low Quality Information.” Read it on I hope you enjoy his work.

  17. Alyson, I think I have faithfully read every article you’ve written for 16 years! I know if I don’t read it when I open it, it will get buried in the emails. So when you didn’t write, I kind of wondered, but frankly I am relieved, because we all get so much stuff to read every day that I was excited to think it will cut my time in half on reading your blog. Don’t think at all that that diminishes the value of what you write! It just gives all of us, including you, a little more time to breathe. I love all you have done for us for all these years. You rock.

  18. Hi Alyson,
    as many others mentioned it here, I also noticed that your weekly newsletter hadn´t arrived last week. I also remembered that you had mentioned that you were about to change the fact that you had never missed sending one. So, I thought the time had arrived. I have subscribed to your newsletter in December 2015 and, since then, listened to every single podcast you recorded, and lately, reading your posts using Bloglovin as I can use it in my cell phone and read them anywhere when I have the chance.
    I am slowly applying all your suggestions to my business and have improved it a lot, and most of all, I feel secure when taking every step as I feel I’m doing certain things because I understand how they work and how they might help me instead of doing them because it’s what I should.
    It’s a relief knowing the newsletter will keep on coming as, though as you say there’s plenty of blogs dedicated to the subject, none of them is so specific for an artist and so focused on helping us from an insider point of view.
    Finally, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for including my work in your newsletter as it is an honour to have this amazing opportunity thanks to someone whom I admire. Gracias

  19. I love coincidences. It’s just after midnight and I finally finished my night. I am sitting here in bed reading my email and I came across three little words in the one from you: Nada. Zilch. Zippo. I had to laugh because earlier this evening my sister made a Facebook comment. It said: No Comment. I commented with three words: Zilch. Zip. Nada.

  20. I think this is a great plan — and well explained. There is so much out there and I often struggle with how much do I really need to post, write, share on all the social media outlets. Thanks for streamlining!

  21. Hearing from you, Alyson, is a pep talk gift – it can arrive any time, in any form. I greatly appreciate your coaching and motivation. You’re walking the talk by re-evaluating your approach – fresh eyes are a good thing! Cheers!

  22. Great message Alyson…everything you provide us is top-notch and the first ‘miss’ in 16 years(!) …intentionally orchestrated … brings to my mind the brilliance of occasional sotto voce … We lean closer…we realize we truly do want to hear, receive, savor and apply every idea, inspiration and practical nugget that you bring.

  23. I am a 62-year old artist living in the village of Ajijic, Mexico, and I thoroughly enjoy all of your material. The advice you offer is invaluable and keeps me motivated. It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding artist or a professional, we all need input and exposure to new ideas, changes in the business, and connection within a community of others who share our interests. I find all of that, in what you offer. So cheers and keep up the great work.

  24. Great idea!

    We must all change and evolve with the needs of our lives and businesses as well. It goes a lot smoother when we lean into the changes instead of resisting; especially if they are positive.

    Thanks too for the ideas on different ways to save the articles.

  25. Your blogs, podcasts, etc. are important to me! I make it a point to set aside time for your advice, Alyson. Yes, the noise gets to the best of us! But we should choose what is worthy, and no matter what one’s credentials are, if it’s adding to the clutter of life instead of enhancing it, we need to come out from underneath it long enough to at least delete that email, unsubscribe, or ignore it. As fast as technology is spearheading ahead, and we scramble to learn the newest app, device, or whatever to stay afloat, let us not forget there might be something simple we overlooked and it was in our hand all the time. Also, thank you for the podcast with Annie Salness. We take much for granted so often, yet I want to thank the Lord for the many things I’m grateful for everyday.

  26. I just read your blog about skipping a weekly newsletter. For some time, I have been pondering whether it is worthwhile to continue with writing my monthly artist newsletter. I have been writing it almost a year now, and it seems to make very little difference to my art sales, or any other aspect of my art business, in terms of making or deepening connections with my collectors and fans. Few, if any people comment about the newsletter, even though I ask direct questions and for feedback about what topics they would like for me to write about in the newsletters. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone is reading it at all and if it’s worthwhile to continue…It takes away a lot of my time from other things I would rather do, like making a consistent body of artwork, which is a big goal of mine. How long should I give it before deciding to call it quits on the newsletter? Should I just publish it on on my blog and stop sending email newsletters? Or is that even worthwhile? Any thoughts?

  27. Alyson, You always give us great information and it is impressive that you have never missed a week in all that time! Thanks for the good ideas in keeping the information handy.

    I think it makes sense to not feel like you need to send something every week and concentrate your efforts elsewhere, while still providing excellent content and support. I do find it hard to keep up with weekly newsletters, even when I really want to read them.

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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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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.

Privacy + Terms