Whether you tap away writing stories on your laptop or splash paint on a canvas, there’s a good chance you’ve felt pressure to believe that if you want to be taken seriously as an artist, you can’t want to make money. It’s time to let go of the idea that wanting to earn a living wage as an artist is somehow selling out. If you want to build a sustainable life for yourself as a creative, you must become an entrepreneur for your art.
For too long, organizations and other members of the community have relied on artists to provide their skills without compensation. But, the moment has come to take a stand. It’s possible to adequately support yourself making art but to pay the rent and keep the lights on, you need a plan for how you will promote your work and turn a profit.
Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to become an entrepreneur for your art. Social media, websites, and membership platforms like Patreon are valuable business tools that will help you develop profitable business funnels so that you can make a living making art. The first step to becoming an entrepreneur for your art is adopting the right mindset.
Why Artists Need an Entrepreneurial Mindset
In an ideal world, patrons would line up outside your studio or thoughtfully-decorated workspace to experience your latest poem, photograph, or sculpture. You’d never need to seek them out because they’d always be waiting and willing to pay for your work. It’s a lovely fantasy, but as any entrepreneur will tell you: if you want to sell your product or idea, you need to have a proactive strategy for getting noticed in the marketplace.
Remember, just because you’re selling that doesn’t mean you’re selling out. Learning basic business skills and approaching your work like an entrepreneur won’t diminish your art in any way. In fact, embracing an entrepreneurial mindset will help to ensure that your art gets in front of the people who will appreciate it the most.
Entrepreneurs can talk at length about the importance of determining your mission, brand, and identity. Since you’re a creative, think about this step as defining your signature style. You need to be able to articulate what exactly it is that you do and how it is that you do it. Having a signature style is essential for determining your audience. You can’t market your art to your people until you know who your people are.
When you commit to becoming an entrepreneur for your art, identifying your audience is one of the first items you should address. Similar to how a business owner conceives an ideal client, you should be able to clearly picture your ideal patron. Make a point of regularly re-evaluating your audience to stay up to date with demand and get a clear sense of how to price your work.
How to Start Being an Entrepreneur for Your Art
One of the most costly mistakes artists make is failing to recognize the value of their own work, literally and figuratively. This generally goes one of two ways: creatives either overestimate the value of their art or undervalue it. If you want to start being an entrepreneur for your art, you must understand the importance of pricing so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to sell your work and make a profit. Take the time to assess costs and talk to other creatives in your field for advice on recommended markup.
Once you’ve conducted your market research and established accurate pricing, you need to formulate a plan for how you will get your art to market. Entrepreneurs know that without the right marketing strategies even the best ideas or products are doomed to fail. Fortunately, a solid marketing plan doesn’t need to be complicated, and implementing it will still leave you plenty of time to devote to your craft.
Almost as important as the killer marketing plan itself is where you’ll devise it. You’ll feel more entrepreneurial if you have a clean, uncluttered office space that’s separate from your studio space. Having the two spaces is essential for managing the two halves of your business. Each space should speak to the task that you perform there. Not only will having the proper environment inspire creativity and help to keep you organized, but your surroundings play a vital role in your overall mental health.
Get a Web Presence
In addition to a devoted office space for business tasks, every creative should have a website to display descriptions of their work and, if applicable, high-resolution photographs of their art. Furthermore, your website is an opportunity to cut out the middleman and allow people to buy directly from you. It should also include an artist statement (the perfect place for describing your signature style) as well as links to contact information for how to get in touch or book a gallery show. You might also want to consider email signup so you have a way to contact interested patrons when you have news to share or something to sell.
Investing in online advertising and optimizing your website for search engines can increase your reach and attract potential patrons. Another way to build an audience is using social media. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are valuable tools for promoting your work as well as cultivating a community around your art. When you make an effort to connect with your audience on a personal level, they’re more likely to become devoted fans and, ultimately, buy from you.
More Ways to Make a Living Making Art
Buying your art isn’t the only way your most devoted fans can support you. Many creatives earn a monthly income via platforms like Patreon. Founded in 2013, Patreon is a membership platform that provides the framework for artists to collect donations from their audience. In exchange for rewards and perks such as early access and exclusive content, subscribers pay a membership fee. For example, giving patrons a behind-the-scenes look at your home office could help fund your next big project.
With over 3 million monthly active patrons, it’s easy to see why Patreon is so popular among podcasters, writers, and YouTubers. Other platforms that make it easy for your audience to financially support you include Kickstarter, PayPal, and OnlyFans. Across these platforms, the most successful creatives have an engaged following and consistently promote their donation platform of choice to their audience. As with selling a product, you will need an entrepreneurial approach to make one of these platforms a profitable income stream.
From earning money on a platform such as Patreon to accurately pricing your work, becoming an entrepreneur for your art is essential if you want to live a creative life and support yourself from it. Committing to earning a living from your art will require courage, but remember, there is no shame in wanting to be paid (and paid fairly) for your work. With the right marketing plan in place, you can make a living making art.
This guest post was authored by Ainsley Lawrence
Ainsley is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.