Things that exist:
Customers who collect your art like a first grader collects stickers.
Sun-filled studios that practically burst with creative energy.
Supportive friends who are just the teensiest bit jealous of your awesome art career.
Things that don’t exist:
Business plans made of hope.
If you’ve been winging your art business, flying by the seat of even your best pair of pants, I bet it’s not working yet. And if you’ll get real with yourself for a moment, you might realize that it’s never going to work.
You can’t build a business on hope.
But the good news is that a business plan doesn’t have to be hard to make. Google “how to write a business plan” and you’ll groan audibly. I promise. Try it.
But your business plan doesn’t have to look like that. It just needs to include four simple things.
1. Vision. What do you want your business to look like?
The best part about this is that it isn’t set in stone. You have to write it down or it isn’t real, but you don’t have to marry it. If you decide in 6 months that you kind of hate what you’re building, it’s your business and you can change direction. But without a direction to start with, you’ll just be jogging in place.
2. Market. Who likes your art?
You might not have the answer to this one perfect yet. But write what you do know about them. A yoga aficionado is a completely different type of person than someone who loves monster truck shows. And that means they each respond to very different things. You want to choose your visual components and your copy – all things branding – with your market in mind.
3. Money. Where is it coming from?
The easiest way to figure this out is to work backwards. What do you want to make in a year? Then divide that by 12 to figure out how much you’ll need to make in a month. And then you can determine how you’ll get to that monthly number.
If you’re a painter and you need to make $2000 each month and you can only finish 20 small canvases in a month, you’ll need to price all of them at about $100. And you’ll need to sell ALL of them. Unless you find another revenue stream. So you could sell large paintings as well. Or you could sell prints, license your work, or teach classes. There are tons of other options too. Decide how you’ll make the money, at least for now, and you’ll be able to fix it if things go awry.
4. PR. How will you connect with your market?
Once you’ve dealt with #1-4, you can choose marketing strategies that support these goals and concepts in your business. If you need to connect with teenagers, you might want to be really active on social media – especially Tumblr and Instagram whose users are mostly young. If you need to connect with women in their 30s, you might want to get mentioned in Cosmopolitan, Lucky, or Elle Decor.
And that’s just about it! You just need a little roadmap. You need to have thought out the pieces of the puzzle. And you need to use these pieces to guide your business decisions so you’re never jogging in place again.