5 Timelines To Help You Plan

Timelines are invaluable for planning your art business and marketing.

They provide a structure for you to build upon so that you don't have to start from scratch.

Regardless of how much or little you have going on, timelines help you sleep better at night since you know you have all of your bases covered.

Sarah Jane Brown painting, Balanced.
©Sarah Jane Brown, Balanced. Oil on canvas, 13 x 18 centimeters.

I created five timelines to help.

1. Timeline for Publishing a Blog Post or Artist Newsletter

Publishing is a process. Nobody writes a publishable article on the first draft. Even seasoned writers need plenty of time and space, so give yourself a break and acknowledge the amount of time you need.

Schedule your writing and editing time wisely.

  • Ongoing :: Gather content ideas. Don your journalist cap and be on the lookout for things to write about.
  • 1 Week out :: Write your first draft.
  • 2 Days before publishing :: Edit your draft.
  • 1 Day before publishing :: Do your final edit. Schedule your post or email for delivery.
  • Publishing day :: Share on social media.

2. Timeline for Designing Your Artist Website

Artist Cynthia Mosser's Muffy I
©Cynthia Mosser, Muffy I. Gouache on museum board, 12 x 9.5 inches.

ASAP :: Interview and hire a designer. Designers have lots of other clients and need to squeeze you into their calendars.  Simultaneously, begin researching sites so that you know what you want and like.

The schedule below is an example. You will need to  agree with your designer on deadlines and adhere to them. Once you miss a deadline, the designer will move on to another client and put you at the back of the queue. 

  • 2-3 Months from launch :: Finalize design and menus. Everything you add after this point will be an additional charge.
  • 7 Weeks from launch :: Rewrite or update text.
  • 5 Weeks from launch :: Give final text and images to the designer.
  • 2 Weeks from launch :: Review draft pages that designer has created. Make any suggestions for improvements.
  • 1 Week from launch :: Review final pages, read all of the text, and test all links. Your designer is responsible for the design. You are responsible for making sure it works as you would like.

3. Timeline for Promoting Your Art Show Opening

Most artists don't promote their shows enough. They send one announcement and trust that it registers with all recipients. You have to be more vigilant than this, but it doesn't mean that you treat all shows equally.

This timeline is for a solo show, which deserves much more attention than group shows.

  • ASAP :: Announce in newsletter
  • 1 Month out :: Send a save-the-date postcard or email.
  • 2 Weeks out :: Email the official invitation.
  • A few days before the opening :: Send an email that it's this week.
  • 1 Day before opening :: Send “it's tomorrow” email.
  • 1 Week before closing :: Send email that there's 1 week remaining to see the show.
  • Ongoing :: Post to social media. Here are 22 ideas for sharing news about your show.

4. Schedules for Following Up with People

This is a different type of timeline–a list of various people you will come across and the attention they should be given.

  • New acquaintances :: Send an mail or handwritten note within 3 days of meeting.
  • Potential buyers :: Immediately. Anyone who expresses interested in your work should command your prompt attention.
  • Interested media people or writers :: Ditto above. Anyone who wants to share your art in an article, video, or podcast needs swift follow-through.
  • New email subscribers :: 2 emails within first week as this is when they are most excited to hear from you. After that, monthly is good.
  • Buyers :: Send a thank-you note within a week and make a plan to stay in touch on a regular basis if they aren't on your email list.
Artist Cheryl Berech's Keisha I
©Cheryl Berech, Keisha I. Oil on canvas, 12 x 9 inches.

I go into depth about follow-up and making sure that you take care of these VIPs who are critical to your success in Grow Your List.

5. Lead Times for an Art Show

Again, this is more of a list than a timeline. There are some venues that might allow you to schedule and install a show next month. Others have more rigorous schedules and require advanced planning. 

  • Non-art venue :: This might include a coffee shop, restaurant, hospital, library, or other public space. Your lead time for these venues varies based on how organized the person in charge is.
  • Art venues :: Co-op galleries, nonprofit spaces, smaller galleries, and public spaces with a defined art program may schedule their shows at least 1 year in advance.
  • Top tier galleries :: The most in-demand galleries will likely  have their shows scheduled out for 2-3 years so that their artists have plenty of time to do the work.
  • Museums :: Smaller museums may schedule shows 18-24 months out, but larger ones will look at 3 years or longer. Museums need time to write grants and raise funds, which contributes to the longer lead time.

Finding and booking venues and attracting galleries for showing your art is covered in my Art Biz Accelerator online course.

I hope this helps with your planning. Please share how you use timelines in your art business.

This article was originally posted on June 26, 2013, and has been updated with original comments intact.

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11 thoughts on “5 Timelines To Help You Plan”

  1. christine sauer

    I work on different types of art(paintings, stitched work, sculpture, etc) in a kind of spiraling process. There are many stages to working this way so I create loose timelines to complete stuff which includes time for concrete tasks that are necessary but not necessarily creative, finish work, experimentation, and so forth. But, when a short deadline/opportunity arises the timeline goes out the window and I go into overdrive to finish what’s necessary in the moment.

  2. Just in time Alyson. My head is spinning. Got a call from a gallery and he wants 10-20 pieces by August 22- Sept to promote a show in the Winter. I need a margarita.

  3. I saved this to come back to and read when I had lots of time. I’ve been slacking on my blog big time and am looking forward to reviving it. Thanks for the post timeline, this is super helpful!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Vanessa: I love seeing you here (with your pic, too!). I am glad you find this helpful.

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