I spend a good part of my day talking art marketing with my staff and customers. It’s exciting to brainstorm strategy and create an action plan for more exposure. The doing part gets all the love – it’s flashy and social and has feedback built right in.

However, there’s a necessary step before the action that often gets overlooked – with painful results.


©2012 What Kind of Life by Lezley Davidson


Before You Make a Plan…

Goals and planning – sure… but even more important is sitting quietly in honest self-reflection to determine exactly what kind of a business life you want to create. A marketing plan executed with fire is no good if it leaves you with a business that doesn’t truly represent your best work – and create more joy and excitement towards your business.


A Sustainable Business Requires:

…a resonant framework, comfortable parameters and acceptable lifestyle conditions.

What kind of lifestyle are you willing to accept, now and as your business grows? Be clear about your budget and developing income streams. As a working artist, what kinds of income streams are you willing to consider?

  • Classes & workshops?
  • Gallery shows, fairs, conventions?
  • Commissions?
  • Teaching?
  • Private lessons?
  • Digital?
  • Online instruction?
  • Products?
  • Licensing?
  • Books?
  • Prints?
  • Studio time vs. Public time – how much of each?
  • Community work
  • Schools, boards if education, private schools
  • Public speaking?

There are a lot of options available with which to create lucrative income streams. As a working artist you’ll likely have to consider expanding your income base beyond just creating art alone. It’s better to have a close look at this before hand and develop a good idea about what streams are more likely to resonate with your skill set and bring more joy and more cash into your life and business.


Knowing What You Hate Doing is Just as Valuable as Knowing What You Love

Cut out all the options that are heavy and weigh upon you like a chore. Never build your business plan upon jobs that feel like drudgery, even if you think it’ll make you money… gobs and gobs of money. It is doomed to fail, eventually.

Money won’t keep you going when things are sucky and stressful – only joy and passion and excitement can do that.


You are a Small Business Owner

Lily Setup
nickwheeleroz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Consider also the roles you will have to fill as an entrepreneur. You are a small business owner and responsible for creating the art, marketing, finances and book-keeping, staffing, managing, inventory control, networking, invoicing, website maintenance, filing taxes… Really, every part of your business falls upon your shoulders.

Decide before hand which of those jobs you’ll be happy to shoulder and which you’d prefer to hire out. You’re the creative genius behind your business – you don’t also have to be the accountant, webmaster and chief marketing officer.

Hire a virtual assistant to help with your website and book-keeping. Hire an art marketer or buy an art marketing info product to help you with your marketing plan.


Lay the Foundation First

Making these decisions before you make your plan and jump into the action will give you the best possible foundation to launch your business to a new level.  These decisions made before hand, structure the shape of your enterprise and help focus your decision making down the road to support your best work at every stage. This kind of business is based upon your best work, your greatest joy, your most passionate choices.

Honestly, I believe we’re here to build & live our highest ideal of work & life. Daydreams are there as signposts – not some sort of “ha ha sucker – you’ll never get this” existential joke.

Never underestimate how important your joy and passion are to fueling your business success.

What do you do to keep your art business focused on your best work? What does your best work, your best day’s work involve?

Dig deeper into your Art Marketing plan with the (free)
Marketing Lab Foundations Mini-Course
Sign up to get started –

Want more tools to help grow your successful art biz?
Get in the Library for TONNES of videos, downloads & resources!
We hate spam just as much as you