After all those legal & financial tasks I’ve been talking about for the last few weeks, many of you are craving something creative.
Raise your hand if you ran into your studio partway through the series and stopped reading the articles!
No shame! I get it. This business stuff can feel confusing, overwhelming, and sometimes just plain boring.
AS AN ARTIST, YOU MIGHT JUST BE HAPPIER WHEN YOU’RE IN A CREATIVE ZONE.
That’s why I find many of my clients (and me too!) prefer spending their “business time” tweaking their website, looking for inspiration on Instagram, and dreaming up new business ideas.
And even better if they can ignore “business time” a little bit longer and spend extra precious minutes/hours/days in “art time”.
While I can’t make all the business tasks more enticing for you, I can remind you of tasks that already are creative & fun.
Today I want to talk about planning.
Businesses who plan do roughly 80% better than businesses who don’t.
I think it’s funny that artists will avoid planning things. My clients do it all the time. They tell me they don’t know what to do or don’t think planning it out is helpful. But when I make them sit down and do it, they realize planning is actually imaginative!
The trick is getting through that block of “I don’t even know what to do.”
Sometimes that means you need to research how art businesses work or talk to a more established artist or work with an art business expert like me.
And then the ideas start to come and you realize you know what an art business looks like, and more importantly, you have a good idea of what you want YOUR art business to look like.
THAT’S WHERE PLANNING BECOMES CREATIVE.
As we head (face first for most of us) into the new year, it’s a good idea to start planning the next year, or at least the first Quarter of the next year.
If you know what you want to accomplish & what you want your art business to look like, and then you map out a basic idea of how to get there, you’re much more likely to succeed than if you’re flying by the seat of your pants hoping every new strategy you encounter will be THE thing that solves your problems and gives you a successful art business. (HINT – there is no ‘THE thing’. It’s lots and lots of things, coupled with the magic of being you and being ready to operate like a business, that make a successful art business.)
Before you start planning, I want you to open your brain a bit.
Stop thinking that planning is a rigid, left-brain concept. Just like if you want to get from Florida to California (east coast US to west coast US, for my international friends) there are hundreds of paths you could take – you could fly, you could drive, you could take a train, you could take a bus… if you drive, you can take all sorts of different roads and pass through all sorts of different towns.
In the same way, if you want to get from where you are now to that beautiful vision of your successful art business, there isn’t just one way to do it. There are lots of things you could do.
I rarely tell my clients they are required to do something.
If an artist really doesn’t like something, we look at what else we could do – how else we could get to the same end result.
Hate social media? Cool. How else can you engage with people who like your art and help them get to know you? Maybe you start a blog. Maybe you email your fans frequently. Maybe you start a paper snail mail communication that your fans fall in love with because it’s so different. Or maybe you’re doing social media in a way that feels icky and you need to back up and see how else you could use the tool so that it feels yummy. Less text, more video? Facebook group instead of a page? No liking Instagram posts, only meaningfully commenting on them? (Those are all things I’ve had clients do to make social media enjoyable for them.)
So I’ve got some ideas for you today. Ways to make planning look as creative as it feels so that you get excited to start.
o get out some colorful post-it notes. Each idea gets its own post-it. Move them around to your heart’s content.
o use a whiteboard. It’s very satisfying to completely erase something that you decide against, and it’s environmentally friendly. Plus, lots of colored markers!
o spend some time meditatively painting. This will look different for everyone. Some artists are so comfortable and at-home with paint that they don’t really think while they work. So it may be meditative to work on a piece you’ve already got going. Or maybe you just need to gesso some canvases or varnish something or put down a solid base color — or paint a wall? Something about brushing paint is meditative for most people. Get into that zone and just dream about what your art business could look like. It will set you up with some great ideas.
o put all the ideas you have on scraps of paper and load them into a bowl. Draw out ideas, one at a time, and put them on the calendar in that order. Then figure out how to make that order work well and flow.
o mix business planning with art planning. Your art business can’t run without the art. And it can’t run without the business. So why not plan them both at the same time. Give yourself new artistic projects for the new year alongside new business projects.
o create a vision board. If you’re struggling to figure out what you want from your art business, it’s time to visually represent the success you want. Look for other artists, studio spaces, art supplies, dream clients, dream galleries, etc and put together a beautiful poster or Pinterest board visually describing what you want from your art business. That’s like a magic trigger for your brain to start making it happen.
o color code. This may seem simple, but it can make the process way more fun without extra effort. Just pick out a different color for each type of thing. Artistic stuff – purple. Social media – green. Website projects – blue. Customer relations – pink. etc etc. Pick the colors that feel good for you or seem to practically sing with the topic you’ve given to them.
o make it more physical. Come up with a game that gets you up and moving. Maybe you place bowls all over the room for the different months of the year and as you fill out index cards with things you want to do, you have to alternately hop, skip, and jump over to the bowl for that month. This makes you laugh, gets your brain more engaged, and gives you time to process where you’re placing the tasks/goals/projects so that your planning is more effective the first time around.
o play an association game. When you have all the big goals you want to achieve written down, then go down the list and think of all the tasks you can associate with that goal coming to life and use them as a bank to draw from when you’re creating weekly & daily plans to make that goal happen.
Sometimes this stuff still doesn’t sound fun, but I promise if you pick the one that feels the best and start in on it you’ll realize planning an art business is like a puzzle with millions of answers – just like creating your next artwork.
Got another idea to make planning more creative? Pop it in the comments so we can all try it out! I’d love more ideas!
By the way, if you’re feeling stuck with this planning thing but really want some direction because flailing around it NOT working for you – I’ve got something coming soon that’s perfect for you. It will help you design a business that makes sense for your art, your life, and you. Sign up below and you’ll be the first to hear about it: