How to Get Raving Fans for Your Business

In my last post, I talked about 2 different restaurant experiences I had during a promotional week in my my local city. As you might recall, one was a terrible experience and the other was fantastic.

While I told several people about the bad experience I had with the first restaurant, I also told just as many people (if not more) about the GOOD experience I had with the second one.

I was not motivated to talk about this business because of any sort of reward either. Spreading the word regarding the delicious meal my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed was not because I got any sort of commission, promise of free food, or anything else that directly benefited me.

I just wanted people to know because it’s an AWESOME restaurant.

Like everyone else, I like to share cool things I’ve discovered.

Which brings me to you, and your business.

Is your business awesome?

Let me answer that for you:

Of course it is! That’s why you have a business!

But you YOU really BELIEVE it’s awesome?

(Hint: you should!)

Now if you really, truly believe your business is as awesome as it is, then let me ask you this next question: Why are you so hesitant to talk about it?

The reason is probably because you don’t want to come off as that slick, sleazy salesman who will turn people off by being so promotional all of the time.

However, talking about your business doesn’t necessarily mean being sales-y.

Get Raving Fans for Your Business

This is why it’s so important to consider separating your relationship with your business from owner/maker, into #1 biggest fan.

Take some time to evaluate your business as if you were a frequent consumer of the products you make or services you provide. Isn’t it AWESOME?

Think of all the reasons you keep coming back for more. Consider all of the reasons you love your brand and how it reflects back on you every time you use it or let others in on the secret of its existence.

Don’t you just want to share this great business with the WORLD?

That’s what being a fan of a great product or service means: TELLING ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO WILL LISTEN ABOUT IT.

If you make and sell wearable product, this means rocking your own goods every time you step out your front door. And when you get those “that’s cute!” compliments, don’t just say “thanks.” Instead, respond with an enthusiastic, “I know right?!? And it goes so perfectly with t-shirts / office apparel / etc.” (Bonus points if you hand out a business card and/or get the person’s contact information.)

Because a raving fan is never hesitant to proclaim his or her love for a new favorite thing.

If you want to make it easier to talk about your business, forget for a moment that you are the owner behind the business. You need to become your own walking, talking, raving fan. Because fandom is contagious, it just needs to start with you.

 

Even Your Discount Buyers Deserve a Reason to Come Back

Even Your Discount Customers Deserve a Reason to Come Back

Once a year several restaurants in my city participate in what is known as “Restaurant Week.” Essentially, restaurants form all over the city sign up to be on a list of places offering a 3-course meal for the ticket price of $18 or $28.

This is a pretty steep discount for some of the places that sign up, but in exchange they get coverage in the local newspaper that promotes the event, and the chance to lure in several new customers who may not have ever tried them out before.

As a lover of all thing edible – I LOVE Restaurant Week.

(Seriously, I’m already counting down the days until it comes back next year.)

For this last round my husband and I were able to try out 2 different restaurants, both of which we had never been to before.

The first one had good (enough) food, but the service was TERRIBLE.

We gave ourselves what should have been plenty of time to eat before the Broadway show we had tickets to see afterwards, but weren’t counting on having to wait over 30 minutes before our waiter even bothered to take our order.

And then when he brought us our 2nd course entrees, he brought my husband THE WRONG THING.

“Well,” my husband told the waiter, “This isn’t what I ordered, but I don’t have time now so I guess I’ll just eat this.”

No apology. No additional discount. Nothing. This guy didn’t even pretend like he was the least bit sorry for the mix-up.

Granted, we were already discount customers, because of the Restaurant Week special, but STILL.

Treating your customers – even your customers with a coupon- poorly is only going to guarantee that (1) we will never go back, and (2) we will tell everyone we know about our negative experience. I can already name several people who we’ve convinced to never try the place out, based on our story alone.

Which brings me to the second restaurant we tried.

This place, I could seriously eat at every day.

The food was AMAZING. But even better: the service was FANTASTIC.

Even the owner/chef came out to give us his recommendations on which courses to choose, told us the back story of why he and his wife started the restaurant, and gave us an additional discount on a bottle of wine to enjoy with our meal.

You can be sure that I was Facebooking/Instagramming that experience in real time while we were there, and have been recommending the place to everyone we know since.

Often times, to get customers to come back for another purchase or experience with your business, you don’t need to mail them coupons, or offer a referral commission, or pass out punch cards with the promise of a freebie. Really, you only need to offer a great product, and a great experience to go with it.

 

Business Lessons From The Walking Dead

Business Lessons from the Walking Dead

The hubby and I have been on a major Walking Dead catchup-binge lately, and, as with everything that one experiences in life as an entrepreneur, I cannot help but draw connections from the show that can be applied to the business realm.

It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but a fun concept to play around with nonetheless.

Here are a few business lessons I’ve gleaned from The Walking Dead:

-> Don’t lose your soul.

Maybe it’s not at the same level of magnitude as living in post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies trying to eat your face off, but it’s hard running a business. There will be people who aren’t as trust-worthy as others, but most people are good and have the best intentions. Even when you are starving for the first sale, first profitable month, or desperately want to get a hold of a limited opportunity that many are clamoring for: remember to keep in mind that every action you take will be something that you’ll have to look back on later. You’ll want to feel proud of yourself and how you got your business to where it is, not uneasy about some of the choices you made in order for it to happen.

-> Team up.

In a world filled with the walking dead, and, not to mention, groups of not-so-savory humans, the chances of survival while going it alone are slim to none. The same can be true of running a business. What can be accomplished as an individual can be exponentially increased with a team. This might mean hiring employees, networking with fellow business owners, or outsourcing parts of your work that you aren’t as good at or don’t have as much time for.

Most of us in the handmade-realm begin as solo-preneruers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start setting things up for expansion and reaping the benefits of it now.

-> Create a solid structure.

The characters in The Walking Dead are at constant risk of being infiltrated by zombies from all sides, and at any time of day or night. This makes camping out in the middle of the woods a dangerous risk, and findings secure shelter a top priority. Beyond simply obtaining a place to sleep, they work to build up a solid structure for their community, to move beyond day-to-day survival to that of an increase in their quality of life. A solid structure of where to live, who is in charge, and what the ground rules are keeps everyone in their group safer and more prepared.

If you plan on being in business for the long-haul, that means hunkering down to ensure that there aren’t any cracks or broken windows that the “zombies” can come through. In business this might mean creating a list of e-mail address that you own (not something subject to a single social media site and its passing whims), your own branded website (instead of relying on a third-party marketplace such as Etsy or Ebay), a solid system for how you manage your time, and a high quality product that you can expand on over time.

love-walking-dead

-> Keep learning.

In order to survive and thrive in a world full of zombies and other dangerous threats, the characters in The Walking Dead have to learn plenty of new self-defense and fighting skills, along with softer skills such as farming, tracking, and teaching.

As artists, many of us just want to work on our craft. It’s why we got into this business in the first place, right? But being in business also means getting accustomed to doing things that we don’t always like. This could include marketing and selling, bookkeeping and accounting, and dealing with outside vendors. While you may eventually be able to outsource a lot of these things, you will still need to come at your business from a CEO-standpoint, and it’s always helpful to learn how to do these things before passing them on, especially when they contribute such a vital part to your business.

What are YOU hoping to learn how to do, or get better at? Tell me in the comments below!

 

5 Ways to Jump-Start Your Inspiration

Jump Start your Creative Inspiiration

Even the most brilliant among us runs out of ideas or stops “feeling” like creating once in awhile. However, when you are in the business of creativity you don’t always have the luxury of waiting around for your inspiration to come back.

You need it, and you need it now for the custom order due on Tuesday, or in time to make enough inventory for next month’s craft fair.

So, rather than stressing over your lack of motivation and drive, here are a few simple things you can do to get those creative energy juices flowing again:

1. Go for a walk, preferably out of doors and somewhere less routine.

The distraction of an out-of-place environment will allow the create part of your brain the space it needs to relax and grab onto new ideas. Coincidentally, that’s why so many people think of things in the shower or while exercising. Sometimes you need to stop deliberately trying in order for it to happen.

2. Visit an art gallery, boutique shop, or museum.

Not with the intention of copying other people’s ideas, of course, but rather to be immersed in the artistic atmosphere of creativity and the appreciation of its labors.

3. Experience a new culture.

As much as I love traveling, this doesn’t always require that you grab a ticket to the other side of the world, but it could involve eating out at an authentic restaurant, reading and learning about somewhere intriguing, or watching a documentary film on another time or place.

4. Reflect on your own experiences.

You’ve gone through a lot, and grown a lot from it. Take a quick moment to consider all of the moments in your life that you can take ideas and draw inspiration from, be they uplifting or the harder times you have overcome. Often times, expressing your triumphs and turmoils through your art is one of the best ways you can help other people who are struggling through some of the same things cope, learn, and grow along with you.

5. Put artificial limits on yourself. As I explained in this post on how to never run out of jewelry making ideas, sometimes having too many options can be overwhelming, and giving yourself a sort of “homework assignment” with artificial limits can jump start your creativity. For example, limiting your next project to only using the color blue, or assigning yourself to create a piece inspired by the last book you read. This is also why periodically signing up for challenges and competitions with a theme in your field of craft can keep things moving and keep your work fresh.

 

Your turn: share your best tips for keeping the creative ideas coming in the comments below!

 

 

10 Blogging Mistakes

As I’ve mentioned before, blogging for your business is a good idea for several reasons. It gives you the long-form space to really connect with your audience, provides a container for content you can share on social media sites such as Pinterest and Facebook, boosts your search engine optimization, and more.

10 Typical Blogging Mistakes

If you’ve resolved to start a blog this year, or would like to put more effort towards the one you’ve already got, here’s a list of 10 typical mistakes you will want to avoid:

1. You forget to do it or keep pushing it off.

This seems silly, but it happens. You don’t need to blog everyday (and you probably shouldn’t, unless you WANT to burn yourself out), but a blog that’s been sitting un-updated for several consecutive months looks abandoned and even untrustworthy. Potential customers who stumble across your old blog before they see the rest of your shop may think you aren’t even in business anymore. Plus, a stale blog starts to lose all of its search engine “juice” and likelihood of making new audience connections–of which were probably your whole reason for having a blog in the first place.

At minimum, plan on posting new content once a month. If you’re nervous about that appearing too stale, go ahead and take the dates off of your posts and refer to them as “articles” instead of “blog posts” – which give readers a lower expectation of frequency than they are used to with blogs.

2. You don’t promote your posts.

If Google analytics is telling you that your traffic numbers are low and you feel like no one except your mom is actually reading your blog, it’s probably because you aren’t promoting your posts enough, or not promoting them effectively enough. Even older posts, if their content is still relevant, can be promoted again through your social media platforms and via other marketing channels . YOU may be aware of that one great post you wrote last May, but chances are there are a lot of people who would enjoy reading it don’t.

To be more effective with your promotion efforts, entice people to click through to get the full scoop of each post. For example a tweet along these lines: “Hate household chores? Here’s a list of 10 ways to make them more fun [link],” which is far more enticing than “Today’s blog post [link]”.

3. Your blog design is a pain.

If your fonts are too small, hard to read, or a light color against a dark background, most people aren’t going to stick around long enough to absorb the awesome content you’ve conjured up. It’s simply too irritating.

Also, be sure to check to make sure your blog reads well on mobile and tablet devices, as more and more of us prefer consuming digital content with our handhelds than via our desktops monitors.

4. Yours posts don’t contain images.

If you’re a handmade seller, then you have plenty of beautiful products you can post images of in your blog posts, or, if you don’t feel that they fit with the content of a particular piece, you can always create a “quote graphic” in a photo editing program utilizing a chunk of text from your post highlighted with an image.

With social media becoming more and more visual, it’s especially important to include images so your post can be promoted through channels such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and beyond.

5. You don’t have share buttons.

Speaking of social media, it’s everybody’s preference these days to click a button and share through their favorite stream instead of( or in addition to) commenting. Without these buttons, it’s significantly less likely that your readers will be sharing your posts with their networks, reducing the reach and viral opportunity of your blog.

6. You aren’t blogging for your audience.

The main purpose of your blog is to build up a connection with your target audience. If you are sporadically changing tone, direction, and subject matter suited to widely different audiences, it can be confusing to your readers and cause them to feel unsure if your content is for them or not. For example, my audience for this blog consists of mostly handmade business owners, so I generate content and tailor my blog topics for them. The blog on my website, however, is tailored for customers interested in my jewelry and hair accessories, so the posts tend to be shorter, lighter, and more fashion-oriented.

7. Your headlines aren’t search-engine friendly.

Just like with your product titles, the headlines of your blog posts are the most important element of each post for generating search-engine traffic. That means that if you want to use something clever and mysterious (such as “Midnight Dreams” instead of “New Collection of Evening Wear Necklaces,” it helps to adjust the URL to the more search-engine-friendly title, and/or add a subtitle with the matching keywords.)

8. Your readers don’t know what to do next.

With each post, consider what action you would like your readers to take once they have finished reading it. This could be anything from sharing the post on social media, clicking over to your shop to buy something, leaving a comment, signing up for your e-mail newsletter, or reading another related post to stay on your site longer. The more obvious you can make this actions for them, the more likely they are to take it.

9. You don’t proof-read.

(Full disclosure: I’m more guilty of this than ANYONE. But I’m working on it.)

If you are on-top of your blogging schedule, then you should be able to write out a draft of an upcoming post and let it sit for a day before coming at it again with fresh eyes to check for errors and tune up your overall writing and/or included images.

10. You don’t respond to blog comments.

No, you don’t have to reply to each and every comment, particularly if you have an active blog and there are a lot of them. However, when someone asks a questions and you just let it hang there, it can sometimes look like you don’t care about your readers. Or, alternatively, if someone contributes a really helpful, thoughtful comment, it’s always nice to thank them for doing so.

If you don’t like responding to comments, or don’t like that you blog doesn’t get very many of them (except, maybe, from your mom), it’s okay to turn your comments off altogether. Nowadays people like to share blog content anyway, and forcing your audience to share as the only way they can put their two cents on the subject can even encourage more of them to do it.


Want more information on starting and running a blog for your handmade business? Then you may want to check out my e-book, Blogging for Your Craft Biz here, where you can nab it for just $8.99.

(See how I ended this post with instructions on how you can take the action I want you to take? That’s what it’s all about folks. ;-))

 

Why I Haven’t Purchased New Kitchen Laminate, Or: How to Get Customers to Buy Now

The hubby and I moved into our house almost 5 years ago now, and we still haven’t gotten the new kitchen laminate flooring we desperately need. What currently decorates the floor of what is really the centerpiece of our entire home is scratched, stained, torn, and downright hideous.

So why haven’t I bought new laminate yet?

Pushing aside the fact that I’ve been a terrible procrastinator, I’m going to shift the blame to a third party. (Because this is my blog and I get to do that.)

I haven’t bought new laminate for my kitchen floor because the store that sells the laminate I want to get is having a sale.

(Wait… what!?!)

Hear me out now. I’m not completely nuts, and neither are you.

You read that right. I haven’t made the purchase because the store is having a sale.

Just like they did last week.

And the week before that.

And the week before the week before that.

I’m just guessing here, but I’m thinking they’ll still be having a sale come next week.

And the week after that.

I’ve been driving by this place for years now and every day there is some kind of “We’re having a blowout sale!” message on the sign outside their store.

This doesn’t get me excited and motivated to shop, because they are ALWAYS HAVING A SALE.

Getting Customers to Buy NOW Instead of Later

My inner procrastinator gets to tell me, “Nah, go ahead and wait until next week.”

(And it continues to tell me this every week, of course, even after years have gone by.)

People are procrastinators. It’s ingrained into our nature.

Sometimes we don’t buy because we don’t like or want the thing you are selling.

But sometimes we don’t buy because we aren’t pushed for a reason to buy NOW instead of LATER.

Our inner procrastinator will always opt for later. Even when it’s something we really want or even need.

(Waiting until there is no food in the house before going grocery shopping is not unheard of, despite the distinct possibility of a zombie apocalypse and the chance that we could be boarded up in our house for MONTHS until we are rescued or eaten alive.)

Having a sale or offering a limited-time discount is a tried-and-true incentive to get people to stop procrastinating and finally get a jump on their purchase. However, it loses its steam when it’s something that your customers can grow to expect on a frequent basis. Even more so if it’s something that happens all the time.

So, rather than running a sale every time you want to push your audience to hit the buy button, here are a few other tactics you can try instead:

  • Offer a limited-time, free gift with purchase
  • Create a line of exclusive products, in a limited amount that only the first to buy will get dibs on
  • Offer a reward for referral sales (as in, both you AND your friend will get a free gift)
  • Offer free gift-wrapping during special holiday periods
  • Reward purchases with time-sensitive coupons for a close, follow-up purchase
  • Offer free personalization or customization, for a limited time only
  • Launch time-sensitive, seasonal lines
  • Host “secret” sales that only people in your e-mail list will know about (less damaging to your brand, but still an effective way to get rid of inventory)
  • Have a Facebook trunk sale instead of a sale on your website or Etsy shop
  • Move excess inventory to local consignment shops so it’s not sitting in your web store, tempting you to have to sale to get rid of it

Now I want to hear from YOU! What do you do to get the sales rolling in? Also, fess-up: what do you know you need to buy but are procrastinating on? I can’t possibly be the only one here!

Was your first time embarrassing too?

Was your first time embarrassing? I know mine was.

And noooo, I’m not talking about that.

(Though, admittedly, I am doing a little bit of the *wink* *wink* nudge* *nudge* thing with a post title like this one.)

(At least you get to be in on the joke.)

Screen caption image credit Monty Python

Screen caption image credit Monty Python

What I AM talking about is the first time you wrote a blog post.

Or the first time you posted up pictures of your handmade products.

Or sent out an e-mail newsletter.

Or e-mailed a magazine editor or shop owner.

Or posted on Twitter.

If even just thinking about these things makes you cringe, please know this: you are not alone.

First times are embarrassing for everyone. We can’t all expect to be amazing right from the get-go. There has to be a learning process.

Olympic gymnasts aren’t able to do triple back-flips the first time they try. Just like a professional football player wouldn’t be expected to make a touchdown without ever having played the sport before.

You have to learn how first, and the most effective way to learn is through taking action.

So if you’re lizard brain is keeping you from sending out that first e-mail newsletter, starting the blog you know you should be working on, or putting your hand-crafted goods out into the market place, maybe this post will make you feel better about it.

BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO SUCK.

But that’s okay, because we all have to suck before we can get better.

If you look at some of the first items under my sold transactions from my Etsy Shop you’ll see how terrible my images were.

(They’re still not great, but they’re getting better.)

Or if you go through the archives in my original WordPress.com blog there are some doozy posts, for sure.

(Again, they’re still not novel-worthy, but they continue to get better.)

My point is this: start.

You don’t have to be afraid you’re going to be terrible, because you can go in with the confidence that you FOR SURE are going to be. Everyone is.

Best to get the embarrassing part over with.

 

Ready to ROCK 2015? {Free Planner Download}

The year-long goal planner is back, and it’s here to help you get ready to ROCK 2015.

This planner is yours to download for free. Because you’re awesome, and I know you’ve got an awesome year ahead of you.

Click here to download your free 2015 planner.

Rock2015

This planner is meant to be printed out and filled out with an old-fashioned pen or pencil. I find it best to take a quiet moment (an hour or two if you can spare it) to go through it and chart your course for the upcoming year.

Let’s rock it!

*cue guitar music*

Planning specific goals always makes me PUMPED to take action.

I hope this makes you feel the same. But more importantly, I hope this planner gives you a kick-ass jump start on your best year ever.

Also, if you know anyone else who might be interested in snagging their own copy of this planner, please point them to this blog post.

And if you’re looking for a little more accountability, leave a comment with your goals for the year. Announcing them to the world will give you even more motivation to get going!

The Art of Selling Art: Part 3 – Discover the REAL Value of Your Products

The Art of Selling Art - Part 3

Hey there friend! Welcome to Part 3 of my mini-blogging series entitled The Art of Selling Art, in which I attempt to make you feel better about exchanging your handmade creations for cash, (and teach you how to make it happen more often.) In case you need to catch up, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Today I’m going to talk about how to assign a value to your art.

But first I’d like to talk about shopping for clothing.

(I’ll connect the dots! I promise.)

Here is the northern hemisphere autumn is sliding into winter. As the temperature decreases we inevitably become more conscious of the function our clothing serves.

We start reaching for blouses with longer sleeves leggings lined with fleece, and overcoats covered i9n faux fur for warmth.

But of course, there are still those of us who remain  fashion conscious and still want to make sure that our blouse is a flattering fit, and our fleece-lined leggings will match our booties and earrings.

Still others within the same and separate division want to ensure that the blouse and leggings are comfortable enough to wear for long hours. Some even consider whether or not the items could be realistically slept in.

Can you see how the function of something originally thought to be intended for warmth starts to evolve? It comes from a item created to cover, protect, and heat our largest organ (our skin) to something that expresses our personality, makes us feel comfortable, confident, and individualized.

A shirt isn’t just a shirt. A blouse isn’t just a blouse.

These can be items we wear to identify and define ourselves with. They are more than the sum of their basic functions.

And so is your product. It is not just a necklace, scarf, picture, mug, or whatever its original, utilitarian classification may be.

Function is only a small part of why people buy products, and often times, it isn’t even the most significant or relevant part. While function does count, it isn’t the whole picture.

Yes, it matters if the item is the right size / fit / material. But beyond that? After someone is sold on the basics, then things start getting more abstract. They want to buy something that feels specialized for them.

People will pay extra for something they perceive as unique and personal–something they can view as an extension of themselves.

When someone is looking for a new blouse, to go back to my original example, she may try to find one that not only looks fantastic on her, but that she also knows will match most of what she has in her closet. If she can locate one matching both qualifications, then it’s probably going to be okay if the cost is a little bit more than what she was expecting to pay.

She isn’t just buying a blouse. Now she is buying something that will make her feel more confident to speak up in work meetings, more comfortable running errands, and more attractive while getting herself ready in the mornings. If these are things she values, the perfect find is worth it to her.

When someone buys one of my beaded barrettes, they start off by observing the practical functionality of a quick and easy way to fix their hair.

But then it goes beyond that.

They become attracted to the intricacies of the beadwork, and start to view the piece more as a work of art than a basic clip. They feel the rich colors will compliment their variety of hair tone, and they know that the combination of both together will trigger lots of attention and compliments, making them feel more confident as they go about their day. Because my pieces are so different from any of the usual barrettes anyone can find at a depart store or chain hair salon, they feel they are purchasing something that is a direct expression of their own personality and style. They may even be buying a piece that they know they will wear almost everyday, making nearly any price tag worth it in the long run. The sense of confidence and overall work of beauty that will be shipped to them is worth so much more than the asking price, in their minds anyway, and that’s all that really matters.

I think you get the idea.

Yes, your product probably serves some kind of function, whether its to complete an outfit, decorate a wall space, serve a beverage, or be used to complete a different project. But it is so much more than that.

When communicating the features and benefits of your products, strive to demonstrate its offerings beyond its basic function. Your own confidence in your work and its value will increase as you learn and discover all of the underlying motivations of your customers, and asking for the right price will get easier.

It will always be hard to sell your own creations, but knowing and believing in the real value of what you are offering will make it lesser and lesser of a struggle.

 

Thanks for joining me for this mini blog series! If you liked what you’ve read, please share it with your other biz friends–because even the most confident-seeming among us can use the occasional boost. ;-)

The Art of Selling Art – Part 2

The Art of Selling Art Part 2

Hey there friend! Welcome to Part 2 of my mini-blogging series entitled The Art of Selling Art, in which I attempt to make you feel better about exchanging your handmade creations for cash, (and teach you how to make it happen more often.) If you miss Part 1, you can catch it here.

Today I’m going to talk about sell-outs.

Being labeled as a “sell-out” is a very real fear for a lot of talented people within the art community, and it amplifies the already existing fears we have around selling in general.

I remember back when I was in college, attending art classes, and this subject would come up from time to time.

During an in-class critique session we would all stand around a single piece of work from a student and delve into our interpretation of it. We would talk about technique, composition, visual themes, aesthetics, and the emotions emulating from the piece. We would be sure to note if the work touched on irony, philosophical judgement, and analyze how it compared to other works from the well-known masters we were currently studying in all of our art history classes.

No one ever dared to mention the question floating around in all of our minds: “Would anyone actually buy this?”

The unfortunate thing about a lot of art schools, including the one I attended, is that we were taught a lot about making art and art theory. We weren’t taught a thing about selling art. In fact, the very thought of selling art was dangerously close to the idea of selling out. And no one wants to be a sell-out.

For example, one of my classmates was a painter. He would take extremely large chunks of discarded wooden boards and paint abstract landscape-like shapes in a variety of bright colors across the entire humungous pieces.

This student would proudly proclaim that he could make a living off of painting, if he wanted to sell-out and paint medium-sized sunsets that could hang in people living rooms.

But of course he refused to do so. Instead, he would make money doing back-breaking landscaping work and other odd jobs, while continuing to paint his large brightly-colored abstract pieces in his down-time, purely for his own artistic fulfillment.

Here’s where he was mistaken: this student was assuming that just because his audience wasn’t the largest audience, he didn’t have one at all.

Please allow me to correct this lines of thinking. It needs to be stopped right here and right now.

You don’t have to completely change what it is you create in order to sell your artwork. (click to tweet this!)

Mainly it’s only a matter of finding your niche audience, the people who feel that your style speaks to them and will like what you make. Chances are, you’ll be even more successful for your ability to sell something different, and stand out from the masses all selling the same thing. It’s a mistake to think that merely because there is a lot of something selling within the marketplace (generic sunset paintings) that you need to disregard what you like to make (abstract paintings on re-purposed wood) in order to make any money at what you do. On the contrary, you simply need to find the people who also like what you make, but are unable or unwilling to make it themselves.

Your integrity as an artist is not compromised if you choose to make a living off of what you do.

You are not a sell-out if you can find buyers who want to purchase your work. Likewise, you are not a sell-out if you choose to optimize your work for the purposes of increasing your business. For example, creating prints from your larger paintings to enable your ability to sell smaller works (that, yes, could fit in someone’s living room.) This is not selling out, it is simply allowing your work to be more accessible to the audience that LOVES your work already. You are merely giving them an opportunity to share in it.

They don’t really teach you this in art school, but it is possible to be an entrepreneur and and artist at the same time. In fact, it is not only possibly, but can actually fuel the growth of your artwork and the expansion of your talent. When you no longer have to squeeze in time only when you aren’t busy working multiple day jobs just to pay the bills, you’ll be able to dedicate more time and effort into improving and expanding your chosen art form. Choosing to sell (which isn’t the same as selling out) could very well be the best decision you could make for the very sake of your art.

 

I hope that this post has helped to feel better about making money off of your creative work. Now the next step, of course, is going to be convincing other people that you work is valuable enough to pay for. I talk about that here, in part 3.