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Tips for being a working artist

The quest towards becoming a self-employed artist, or self-employed in any business, can fall into two categories: very excited or frankly scared. After nearly two months of attempting gainful self-employment, I can honestly say I’ve felt both extremes. (With the occasional fit of panic thrown in.) I’ve kept track of what I’ve learned from it, and thought it might be helpful for others who are thinking about focusing on making their art a viable source of income.

  1. Schedule your time. I know, I know — flexibility is one of main reasons I quit my day job. But, while I consistently manage to make work every day, sometimes it’s only for an hour or two. As you might know, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted. (Ahem — are you reading this while you should be making work??) It helps to schedule out some blocks of time just to make. For me, mornings are my best time, when I feel good and feel inspired to make. Afternoons can then be spent on errands or exercise or fixing up the website.
  2. Listen, ask, and listen some more. Do I know exactly what I’m doing? Heck no. Do I know more than when I started? Heck yeah. And that happened with good ol’ fashioned learning. I started by listening to audio books about startups on YouTube, read informative posts from select businesses on Facebook, and eventually moved to podcasts, specifically ones geared towards artists. From these I’ve gleaned invaluable tips, hints, and ideas about self-promotion, staying motivated, and promoting my business. All for free, by the way. Another great source of help has been to brainstorm with a trusted friend, having her look at my website and Instagram and my artwork, asking: what works? What can I improve? What would you actually buy from me?
  3. Give it a chance. You’ve read all the blogs, newsletters, and Facebook posts about startup businesses, and applied it all, but nothing’s happened. I know the feeling all too well. But you can’t learn what works (or doesn’t) unless you give it a couple of weeks. For example, my Instagram continues to grow steadily because I learned rather quickly to add a lot of popular tags, even though I felt awkward and egotistical. That’s how you get people to look at your work, though!

I’m 100% certain I’ll have more tips to share by next month. In the meantime, feel free to share what helps you focus on your art business. I’m always looking for more! What invaluable trick have you learned?

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