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Resource for your creative business

art business, selling art, Jane Robinson

Here Are My Top Ten Tips to Hosting a Successful Workshop

art business, selling art, Jane Robinson

Last week I told you WHY you should think about hosting a workshop now here are the brass tacks of how to FILL your workshop and make people say “it was worth every penny”.

1. Design your workshop

  • What exactly are you going teach? Decide what you want to teach and plan your agenda ahead of time. Practice in order to make sure that you can accomplish what you want to within your chosen period of time.






  • What are your goals of the workshop?







  • Who do you want your workshop to reach?  How will you get them there?  How many people?







  • Is this a beginner’s workshop? Would experienced artists benefit?
  • Advertise that no experience is necessary in order to attend, but also make clear that even artists who sign up will be able to learn something new. That way you maximize the number of potential participants. A good workshop giver knows how to address a variety of skill levels and makes sure that everyone feels comfortable and accomplishes something.
  • Most art workshops work best with small groups – typically 5 – 10 participants. This assures that you will have enough time to give each attendee personal time.  It also is a good size for bonding and a relaxed environment.
  • How long of a workshop do you want to conduct? Is it enough time to adequately teach?  Most workshops are between 4 – 6 hours.
  • Is there enough time for participants to complete a painting or item?
  • Are you serving snacks? Lunch? Wine?
  • What is your budget for the workshop?
  • How about a name? Name your workshop in terms that your target participant will understand and be encouraged to sign up.  No stuffy art terms that only experienced artists would recognize or understand.
  • What will you charge? What will you include in your price?
  • Fix the minimum number of participants and the date on which the event is cancelled if the minimum is not registered
  • Will you supply all the materials or ask participants to purchase their own?


I have found that supplying the materials is the best way for encouraging non-artists to sign up.  Years ago I would sign up for a class myself purchasing everything on the supply list, spending bookoo bucks and then never pick them up again.  This dissuaded me from taking additional classes – not only from that artist but other workshops as well.  But be sure to include the cost of supplies in your workshop fee.  At the end of the workshop I hand out a supply list with the prices so they can see that I gave them a generous workshop experience. My supply list with prices from Dick Blick Art Supplies is almost $250.00!


You might consider having two separate prices for your workshop – one with supplies included and the other without, but be sure to communicate in your copy that to purchase all of the supplies on their own they expect to pay $X.


Once you have the answers to these key questions in place and a basic vision, it’s time to start reaching out and nailing down the details.

  1. Choose a venue

The primary factor in selecting a venue is likely going to be where you have affordable or free access with enough room to actually teach.

  • If possible try to hold the workshop in your studio. You are familiar with where everything is and it most likely has running water, etc.
  • If your studio cannot provide the space you will need look to local art centers to rent space. Think outside the box and consider teaching in large spaces in commercial spaces or a local college.
  • Have plenty of your own work on display for reference and discussion.
  • Try to make it as comfortable as possible. I make sure there are stools or chairs available since many people find it hard to stand on a concrete floor for hours at a time.
  • If you’re organizing a multi-day workshop, I recommend trying to have people stay overnight in the same place together, as evening free time often becomes important bonding time. Reach out to local hotels and see if they can give a discount to your participants.
  1. Choose Your Dates

I have found that offering workshops in February, March or early April work well.  People tend to have cabin fever and are looking for some creative relief.  October and November are also good months.  The only other major thing to consider is to choose dates that work for your target audience, to make sure you get the people there that you want to reach. I prefer to teach my workshops on Thursdays or Friday (all day) but I have found that participants prefer weekends (Saturdays).   Give yourself approximately six weeks to prepare and promote.

I often begin my planning by asking contacts and facebook friends which times and days they prefer.  This works to begin your marketing efforts and you will get great feedback.  You might ask if potential participants would prefer evening classes for 6 -8 weeks or a 1,2 or 3 day workshop.

  1. Recruit Great Participants

People attend artist workshops for a variety of reasons and often choose according to how the events are portrayed and what’s being offered. Many of those who sign up have little or no previous experience with art and merely want to relax, have fun and explore their creative sides. Some are even uncomfortable or intimidated around art and want to become more familiar with it. Others want to take art up as a pastime but not invest large amounts of time or effort in ongoing programs of study. Trained artists usually attend them in order to acquire new skills or learn specialized techniques outside of their areas of expertise.


While you might think the more the merrier and anyone would be a good fit for your workshop this is often not the case.  Keeping your class size small enough to give them ample room and personal attention will work in your favor, especially when offering your next workshop.  Your participants will share their experience with friends, co-workers and family and you want to exceed their expectations.

Ensuring that you deliver beyond their expectations is crucial and this begins with the “copy” or workshop description.  For example if you have someone who has never picked up a paint brush before in their life and you deliver instruction intended for a more experienced participant you will lose them within the first moments of the class.

Ensuring that you reach your target participant is crucial.  Here are a few of my recommendations for making sure you get great participants:

  • In my experience, anywhere from 5 – 10 participants can be a good size. It’s enough people to have a diversity of personalities, experience and quality discussions, but still small enough to have more intimate experiences and develop real, lasting relationships and bonds in the group.
  • Encourage friends to take the workshop together. This is a huge motivator for many since they feel more comfortable bringing a friend, sister, co-worker.  I offer a slight discount when two sign up together.  They are happy and I can reach my participant goal quicker.
  • Once you reach your participant quota, close registration. This is a great marketing move since it shows demand for your workshop.  Ask people to sign up for studio updates and you will notify them of upcoming classes/workshops.  This is also a great way to help build your mailing list.  After all if they like your style and technique enough that they want to take a workshop from you, they could possibly become future buyers of your work.
  • Advertise on the Internet and in places where artists and people who like art tend to congregate. Options include websites or newsletters of arts and artist organizations, your own collector and student email lists, word of mouth, recreation centers, arts centers, art schools, cafes, coffee shops, community galleries, performance spaces, and other online options like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Some experienced workshop givers even have their own brochures. And don’t forget senior or retirement centers. Many retirees have disposable income and are interested in exploring their creative sides.






















  1. Designate an assistant

If possible ask a friend to help you out.  While this is not crucial you find it much easier if you have an assistant.  Some of things an assistant can help you with are:

  • Keeping the coffee pot full
  • Picking up cups and glasses
  • Getting lunch out of the oven and ready to serve
  • Filling water glasses
  • Helping students washing brushes, getting supplies, etc.
  • Most importantly – taking candid photos all day. These photos are then posted to social media for brand building and awareness.  The participants love to go and see all the photos of the day.
  1. Organize the logistics

Making sure things run smoothly is an important part in setting participants up to focus on learning and creating with their fellow artists.

  • Food: I always want to provide a meal during a one day workshop. Everyone needs a break after painting for a couple of hours and sharing a meal is a way to get to know each other and bond.   By providing a wonderful hot meal with bread and olive oil and wine I am communicating to my participants that I care about them.  I want them to have a wonderful day of sensual experiences.  By serving wine it loosens up some people and they return to the studio more relaxed.  I also serve expensive chocolates as another luxury for them.
  • Travel:In your welcome letter to be sure to give good directions.  While most use GPS now there are those who live locally or need a reference point (turn left at the big red barn).  Speaking of travel be sure your drive and walkways are clear of any snow or ice.
  • Lodging: Let participants know what lodging is available nearby.  You might want to even ask a local hotel if they would give a discount for any registrant (if they are not full they are more inclined).
  1. Craft the agenda

This is an agenda of my typical one day workshops:

  • Workshop runs from 10 a.m. until 4:30
  • Participants are sent a welcome email as soon as they sign up. This correspondence also gives them directions and tells them to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  Smocks and aprons will be provided.  I tell them what I will be serving for lunch and if they prefer they can bring their own.  I add that they should bring their curiosity and sense of adventure but leave their preconceptions, fear and self-doubts home.
  • Arrival time is anytime between 9:30 – 9:45 a.m. with coffee served.
  • We gather together in the living room and do introductions and a couple of abstract composition exercises.
  • 10:15 We head to the studio
  • 10:15- 12:30 instruction and painting
  • 12:30 – 1:15 lunch with wine served
  • 1:15 – 4:15 studio painting with individual attention and feedback provided.
  • 4:15 Participants bring their completed paintings upstairs. Wine and coffee served while we gather.  One by one they stand and show off their work to Uwwwwws  and  Awwwwws from the others.  We take a group photo with all of our work
  • 5:00 p.m. Hugs and goodbyes


Less is more: the more you pack in, the more you’ll need to rush and the less participants will actually learn or feel stressed.  Cut back as much as you can so they can learn and still have plenty of time for creating, experimenting and socializing. Additional techniques can be taught in a follow up workshop.


Build in breaks: Free time, breaks, and informal socializing is key for bonding and to keep up motivation and focus.


Know that you’ll go overtime: It just happens – plan to be flexible. As you can see my workshop schedule is from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. but I plan for 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.


  1. Prepare the materials

It goes without saying that you should have plenty of supplies (brushes, paint, canvas, etc) on hand but you need to also think about extraneous items that you will need.  In my workshops this means:

  • 10 easels
  • 10 water cans/containers
  • Foam plates (disposable palette)
  • Paper towel
  • Baby diapers cut in half (to soak up watery brushes)
  • Spray bottles
  • Smocks, aprons
  • Music selection
  • Written instruction which includes:
  • Abstract composition
  • Supply list with prices (totals over $250 if they had to bring their own)
  • Article about the benefits of incorporating creativity into your life
  • An exercise in composition that we complete together as a group.
  1. Run your workshop

Have a great time, remember to breathe, and spend time getting to know the people who come – they’re who you’re building this movement with!  A few other reminders:

  • Stay energized – make sure to remain encouraging
  • Document – make sure to take photos and videos to remember the workshop.
  • I ask participants to take out their smart phones and Facebook, Tweet and Instagram for an additional small canvas or other item. Let them help you market your next workshop

Another advantage of workshops as opposed to formal courses of study is that you can make them less structured and more fun and social. Attendees will still learn, of course, but they’ll be able to do so in the relaxed and casual setting of your studio or home. So if you’re thinking about conducting a workshop for the first time, don’t forget to make it fun. This is one of the great advantages you have over more traditional and structured forms of art education when it comes to attracting participants.


Two of the most important criteria for successful workshops are that a complete method or technique be advertised and taught, and that each student comes away with a finished work of art. This gives students a feeling of mastery and accomplishment. Not only have they learned something new, but they also have “diplomas” to show for it.


  1. Follow up

After the workshop, aside from providing time for people travel home, rest, and digest the material, it’s good to build off the positive energy and momentum created in the workshop experience to continue engaging everyone.    This requires creating clear and efficient communications channels — email listserves, facebook groups, etc — and it requires modeling constructive use of those tools. When a workshop ends, no matter how tired you are, try not to disappear. Take a deserved rest, but capitalize on the moment to build momentum.

I create a video of our day spent creating (on Animoto) and send it to them via email the following day with a short thank you and appreciation for creating with them.  This video then gets posted on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, etc.

With 3 – 4 days of the workshop I then write handwritten thank you notes and offer them a 20% discount off their next workshop.  I also tell them that I will schedule a private workshop if they can find a minimum of six attendees.  This is a great approach to building your workshop schedule, your reputation and earn more income.



Throughout the experience, from start to finish of organizing a creative workshop, remain mindful of why we do this work. We are aiming to help others discover their creative nature or build upon their skills, so they may be transformed… just as we have been through our creativity.  But…by no means does this mean that we give away our time, our talent, our art supplies or our income.  Be savvy, be smart and have some moxy! 





Creatively Yours,

Jane Robinson

Selling art, Artrepreneur

The REAL Nitty Gritty of Being an Artist a.k.a. Artrepreneur

The REAL Nitty Gritty of Being an Artist ArtrepreneurSelling art, Artrepreneur


The real nitty gritty truth about selling art?  The truth is that every artist struggles with a lack of self-confidence and insecurities about their work.  Even the rich and famous celebrities we think ooze confidence admit they struggle with insecurities.  Maybe you’ve heard of a famous person who worried that everyone will find out they’re an impostor.   But the difference between the successful individual and those who limp along in life is that they’ve learned to move forward despite their fears and insecurities.


So grab a cup of Joe, a cold one or a glass of wine and I will fill you in on the secrets THEY don’t share..the real  nitty gritty.


Rule #1:  People and the world NEED your talent.  Have you ever listened to a particular musical artist because you “needed” a jolt of fun, dancing or even thoughtful meditation?  Have you bought a piece of art for your home because it just made you happy…it was visually speaking to you?  Ever since prehistoric times, man has used art to communicate and embellish their spaces.  They have created music, dance and stories for entertainment and connecting.  They have painted everyday vessels for cooking or eating.  Woven beautiful textiles to keep them warm.   Creative expression is part of who we are as humans.  Can you imagine going a period of time without music, a book, a play, television, photography, art, etc. in your life?  How long do you think you could make it?   I would wager not very long.


When you create art in any form you are contributing to an innate need that humans have to surround themselves with creativity.  You are giving yourself in service to the world just as a minister serves giving his gifts to the congregation.   Even in the world’s darkest times people turn to the arts for salvation and comfort.   Don’t apologize for your work, your contribution to the world.


Rule #2: YOU are the inspired expert.  One of the hardest things about a craft is mastering it well enough to make it look easy!  Your experience, education and talent make you an exceptional thinker.  Today the top companies in the world court creatives for employment.   Anyone can train a smart but uninspired employee to march to the status quo .  He may even be promoted due to his work ethic and “yes” man habits.  But they can never, never, never make him think as a creative.  Companies now recognize that they have enough yes men and women and doing business as usual is hurting the bottom line.  They need a creative thinker.


Whether or not you work in a day job, your creative talents make it look easy…until they try.  I have overheard people say things like “my child could paint that”  until they try it. Then when confronted with an empty white canvas, paints and a brush they become paralyzed.  Our talents make it look easy but none of us woke up painting like Matisse, playing the guitar like Eric Clapton or dancing the lead in Swan Creek.  It took years of learning, education and practice to make it look easy.  Look back at your early work.   Do you cringe?  I do.  The years of time spent in the studio, study, practice and education make me the artist I am today.  Through trial and error, introspection and the pursuit of my own unique style I have learned distinctive  techniques and honed my painting skills.  Own your expertise.


Rule #3:  Your Artistic Passion Separates You From the Indifferent Majority

“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

-Nelson Mandela


“It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.”

-T. S. Eliot

The indifferent majority. We have all heard misery loves company. The highly uninspired look for others who are uninspired and who can validate how they feel and make them feel better about themselves, knowing they aren’t the only ones. They want to bring people to their pity party.  But the indifferent majority can also look like the status quo – the people who can appear happy, successful and even somewhat interesting but they are walking through life with a dim glow of their soul candle – not the burning brightly flame of passion.   They are afraid to take a stand on an issue, do the painful elements of relationships and dress, talk, vacation, live just like the others in their herd.


Have you ever gone to a restaurant, listened to a band, or shopped at a store just to support someone you know or a cause?  When you communicate your passion effectively you will attract like-minded people and opportunities. People want to support the passion, feel like they are the insider, be part of the cool kids or make a difference in the world.  Allow them to be in your circle of passion. Cultivate them into fans, collectors, supporters of your passion.  Through these relationships you never know what opportunities will present themselves.


Go out of your way to make them know you appreciate them.  Of course passion is never enough…you must do the work.  We all know passionate people with no talent or talented people who never take action but…with passion, talent and action you will outshine any dull flame.


Watch Ted Talk Simon Sinek: Simon Sinek shares how great leaders inspire others to take action.



Rule #4:   Honor your talent.


We have all been approached by the never-ending requests for “free” art/gigs/services in exchange for “good promotion”.  Be wary, wary careful (in the voice of Bugs Bunny).  We can expect that others will not honor our talents but we do not it can chip away at our self worth, our reputation and especially our wallets.    By setting guidelines for donations you can feel good about supporting causes you believe in and hopefully gain some recognition for your work.


To combat the endless requests for my work I set up guidelines for donations on my website and now direct all request to my site.



The following is the language I use:


I believe in giving back to my community.  Over the past several years I have donated artwork, time and services totaling over $30,000.


Although there are many worthy causes I cannot commit to all due to the numerous requests I receive.  If you feel that my work would benefit your fundraising event and would like to be considered for a donation, please submit the following information (via email or the contact form above):

  • Name of your organization
  • Tax I.D./EIN
  • Details of event
  • How you  will promote me and/or my work

Thank you for considering my work for your charitable organization’s work.



The bottom line:  Never devalue your time, talent and work – it will work against you.  Rarely do I even receive a tax receipt without asking and the “publicity” is nil.   I still support causes dear to my heart but give without expecting a return.



Rule #5:  By boosting your biz skills you are seen as a professional.


If you love to create your artform but are not necessarily interested in selling it,  that’s O.K.  But IF you wish to earn some form of income from your work and talent… well you are an entrepreneur.  By learning and incorporating good business practices not only will you sell more work but you will raise your reputation and be viewed as a “professional”.   By working to improve your business skills are already ahead of the pack since most artists will not commit to becoming a professional or building their business.  The truth is they just don’t have enough gumption, moxy or perseverance to achieve their goals  dreams.   I say dreams because without a plan to achieve their goals they ARE just dreams.

Rule #6:  Earning money from your creativity is an exchange of energy…nothing more.


If there is a part of you that feels that earning money from your art-form is bit sleazy or underserved…STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!   You are providing the world with a valuable product, gift or service.  One that they are unable to produce themselves.   This is exactly why my iTunes account is often deducting my hard-earning money from my bank account.   I cannot play the trumpet like Chris Botti or sing like Aretha Franklin so I gladly fork over my money to listen to them.   Selling art is just like that example.   People will gladly pay you for your sculpture, painting, pottery, knitwear, etc. because they cannot create it themselves (or have no desire).


They expend a certain amount of time and energy to earn their dollar, you expend a certain amount of time and energy to create your work.   When you agree to trade this energy currency – it is a win/win situation.  Never feel bad about this exchange.


Rule #7: Your passion separates you from the indifferent majority

Here’s the deal. Everyone struggles with insecurities around their worth – even those who appear to be the most confident. They’ve learned to move ahead anyway – and so can you.

It’s less about how ready you feel – because you’ll never really feel ready. It’s more about your preparation, the reaction your work is getting from people, and your results.

The good news is you can learn the same lessons the pros did, the ones that got them where they are today.

Pull up a chair and I’ll let you in on the secrets…

12 Truths That Will Set You Free

(Or at least free you to earn more cash…)

  1. Your Beliefs Are Your Biggest Obstacle to Earning More

Yes, it’s true.

It’s not the economy. Even in down economies there are people who thrive and grow. You can be one of those who prosper instead of suffer.

It’s also not the market, because you can position yourself in a way to make competition much less relevant.

As long as you’re producing good work, the thing that really determines how much you will earn is your beliefs about your worth and your work’s value.

If you have a great product or service, and you’re delivering more than what your fans and customers expect, then your work is valuable and people will pay good money for it.

Where many artists stumble is in communicating that value to the right people so that they must have what you offer. That’s what translates into sales.

Writers, your value might be in telling captivating stories with powerful characters that readers can’t put down. Jewelry makers help their customers express themselves with uniqueness and style. Musicians bring the all-night dance party.

The bottom line – You can’t change much about your environment, but you can determine your personal economic situation. Believe it, and find role models here.

  1. The World Needs Art, and it Needs YOUR Art

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

Have you ever gone to a movie, concert, or play just to forget about life for a while? Have you bought a wall hanging because it stirred some emotion in you? Hung a photo because of the fun memories?

Then you know firsthand why people need creative work.

We find evidence of art and music in pre-historic times, and people have turned to art for comfort during some of mankind’s darkest times.

Creative expression is part of who we are as human beings. It’s one of our most basic drives. We can’t separate ourselves from it for long even if we try – and if we did succeed, life would be pretty dull, if not downright unhealthy.

Music, writing, and photography can all be ethereal, spiritual experiences, but they affect us and the world around us in very concrete ways as well.

I wrote about this in my “Rebel Artist’s Manifesto” (which you can grab here if you don’t have it yet).

Here are just a few of the ways you change the world around you with your work:

  • You help a fan get in touch with feelings or emotions they can’t quite express or understand,
  • You help people to deal with the tough times in life or see the beauty around them,
  • You leave a foundation for future generations to build on, because the people you inspire will share the gift you gave them.

The bottom line – Art matters to the world, and YOUR work matters very much to the world around YOU. (Tweet Me)

  1. Your Education Is More Valuable Than You Realize

Some people think that training in creative fields is “soft” or somehow less valuable than education in other disciplines. You may even believe that yourself on some level.

If you think that a degree in performance gives you fewer bragging rights than a degree in engineering, this is for you. (The same applies if your education was less formal.)

People label jobs or studies soft when they don’t appear (from the outside) to be solid or rigorous. They think lessons are airy-fairy and require little effort. Was this your experience? I bet not.

One of the hardest things about a craft is mastering it well enough to make it look easy!

Despite what many believe, your well-rounded education is far from useless in the real world – as a matter of fact, your life skills are actually some of the most critical to success in any field.

Think beyond just learning how to dance or to hold a chisel or a guitar. You’ve probably had to learn to play well with your peers, to cooperate to make events successful, to scramble when time or resources were short, to sell event tickets to strangers, to learn to be a good community citizen, to lead when no one else wanted to, and to network and build relationships, just as a start.

Many people never get off the starting line. They claim they are tone deaf or rhythm challenged. They can’t see the difference between lilac and lavender colors. They can’t distinguish finish textures or plan and build stage sets – and they get frustrated simply having an instructor attempt to show them.

Google “leadership” and “creativity” sometime. You’ll see it’s a hot topic. Theskills that you’ve learned through art study are the exact ones that are most highly sought after and needed today, in every field: imagination, tenacity, adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, communication, planning, decision-making, leadership and more.

So if business and industry are falling over themselves to attract people with the capabilities you have, don’t you think your education increases your worth in your own endeavors?

All learning is important and it all adds to your arsenal to help you succeed.

The bottom line – Don’t underestimate or take for granted the value of your years of preparation. The journey matters. It’s professional training and your knowledge is relevant and valuable in many areas of your business as well as your art.

  1. You Are a Specialist

Do you have a studio? A spare bedroom filled with equipment, books, videos, and supplies? What about that basement or garage that may or may not be well-organized and sorted?

You’ve spent heard-earned money on gear and equipment and taken time and effort to learn how to use them. This is expertise you may take for granted, but your skills put you far ahead of the beginners and amateurs.

Have you ever tried to use a microphone? It’s weird. You have to get a lot closer to it than you think. Your voice sounds strange to you. You may forget you’re speaking into it, move away, and suddenly hear people yelling that they can’t hear you.

You can probably think of your own examples. Some, as in the case of musicians learning to use a microphone, are just the price you pay to be competent. Other software and equipment can take years to learn and master before you start to get the professional results you want.

What gear and tools have you acquired and learned to use? Which ones have you outgrown as your skills increased? Can you/do you share what you’ve learned with others?

The bottom line – You might take your skills for granted, but someone, somewhere, is probably sitting in a classroom paying good money to learn what you know.

  1. Your Dedication to Excellence Over the Long Haul Sets You Apart From the Amateurs

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” – James Whistler

Remember the first short story you ever wrote or your debut performance for someone other than family? Think about how far you’ve come.

You probably set modest goals when you started out. You thought, “I’ll be happy if I can just sell a print,” “I’d love to be able to perform in that show,” or “I’d be thrilled to have my work accepted there.”

How many of these dreams have you already reached and surpassed?

How many of your peers quit long ago?

Still, years of experience – and even the often-cited 10,000 hours of practice – are important, but they don’t guarantee mastery. For that, you need to stay open to your fans’ feedback, keep up with new developments in your field, and be open to constant learning from master teachers while honing your craft.

Hours and hours of practice are necessary for great performance, but not sufficient. How experts in any domain pay attention while practicing makes a crucial difference. For instance, in his much-cited study of violinists — the one that showed the top tier had practiced more than 10,000 hours — Ericsson found the experts did so with full concentration on improving a particular aspect of their performance that a master teacher identified.

The bottom line – Stay committed and never stop learning and honing your craft. When people are “freaking out” about your work (a phrase borrowed from Derek Sivers), you’ve achieved something major – and it will pay off.

  1. Your Passion Separates You From the Indifferent Majority

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

And according to Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Have you ever bought a trinket you didn’t need, or baked goods with calories you didn’t really want to ingest, just because you wanted to support a favorite person or cause?

Excitement is contagious. When you love what you do, you attract all sorts of like-minded people – fans, customers, clients, partners, and decision-makers. You also attract opportunities.

People need to feel like they are part of something important. They want to belong to an exclusive club, to support an up-and-coming talent, or to know that they’re making a difference in the world through supporting a cause.

Of course, passion alone isn’t enough to attract paying customers. We all know artists whose excitement about their own masterpieces far outshines the public’s reaction to them.

But – when obvious passion is coupled with great work? Suddenly it’s a different story.

Now you’ll see results you can take to the bank.

When you go out of your way to deliver exceptional experiences and amazing products to your fans, they notice. You encourage long-term loyalty, referrals, repeat business – all of which mean greater income (if you harness them correctly).

In the same way, when you are vocal about what you stand for, you attract others with similar interests who want to support you because they believe in your mission.

The bottom line – When you show how much you care about your work, your craft, and causes that are important to you, you become magnetic both to money and to like-minded souls.

  1. Be Strategic and Cautious About Giving Your Work and Time Away for Free

The best reason to give away your valuable creations is to encourage and to thank people for signing up for your email list.

Otherwise, there is a time and place for doing free work – maybe when you are just starting out, for example, or occasionally to support a charity or fundraising cause.

It’s a touchy subject.

You don’t want to appear rude or uncaring when you’re approached by well-meaning fundraisers, but dammit, how are you supposed to make a living?

You may have a Fear Of Missing Out when it comes to participating in big events, but you’ve also noticed that many promises of “exposure” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. [People die from exposure, after all.   ]

There are many disadvantages to working for free:

  • You absorb the financial hit,
  • Your other work may be devalued,
  • The industry as a whole is devalued (so it hurts other artists as well),
  • Consumers and venues start to expect it.

The bottom line – Decide ahead of time how much you will donate to causes each year. Set a fundraising rate, or prepare counteroffers in advance so that you can propose other options that will not devalue your work.

  1. Your Experience Gives You the Key to Peoples’ Hearts

Paid or unpaid, experience is how seasoned you are when it comes to putting your work out in front of people, getting real-time positive reactions, and gathering a loyal following.

Artists hold a unique position in society. We’re looked up to, watched, admired, envied, quoted, emulated, and sometimes even stalked by paparazzi.

We have the ability to touch people deeply, inspire them, and change our corners of the world with strong messages , engaging entertainment, and emotional pleas.

We all learn something from experience. Depending on how you interpret your experiences, they can teach you good habits or bad ones. But the most valuable lessons you can glean from experience are 1) what people love and respond to about what you do, and 2) grace under pressure when things go wrong.

The more you produce and share your work in public, the more confidence and flexibility you’ll have. You’ll learn what your fans like and respond to. You’ll adjust your direction to give them more of what they love while still being true to yourself.

This process is what ultimately creates raving fans who want to buy everything you sell.

(Take care, though, that you don’t cling too much to past experience while the world changes around you. You don’t want to be the 80’s hair band constantly reminiscing about the glory days of 30 years ago. )

The bottom line – If your experience has helped you perfect your craft, give your people what they want, create loyal customers, and hands you the tools to adapt as times change, you are light years ahead of many others.

  1. Creative Thinkers Have a Natural Advantage When it Comes to Making Money

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

If you’re good at connecting seemingly unrelated dots in your creative work, you probably do it in all aspects of your life. You can look at situations at a high level and fit the various puzzle pieces together, coming up with unique solutions that others can’t.

Have you ever noticed that entrepreneurs often start more than one business? That many artists have money coming in from different sources – in other words, they have multiple income streams?

Corporations and investors know the advantages of diversification. Smart creative entrepreneurs follow their lead.

The days when an industry person could come in and “save” you with a publishing or recording deal just because you are amazing are long gone. The deals still exist, but they go to artists who have already grown substantial followings on their own.

It can take a long time to build income traction from your work. Rather than relying only on sales of one type of product, or on trading time for dollars, think of ways you can diversify. Consider 2 or 3 mini-ventures that can all add to your bottom line, and create pricing tiers and packages so that you have high-end and entry-level level offerings for your fans.

The bottom line – your willingness to think creatively about making money is critical to your success. Do whatever it takes for a while to meet your income objectives while still doing your art. Protect yourself from the risks of relying completely on one income source.

  1. When You Boost Your Business Savvy, You Become Unstoppable

If you’re an artist, you’re an entrepreneur. You offer unique and interesting stuff to people who exchange money, time, or email addresses for the experience and memories you give them.

It’s Business 101.

And the cool thing is that the basics aren’t hard to learn – but they will set you apart from your competition and position you for success in the long haul.

Many artists never start because they think they don’t have business skills or are afraid to learn them. But the business side isn’t yucky or sleazy – it’s your key to a great living. It can be as fun and creative as making your art – with the added bonus of putting money in your wallet.

Have you made some money? Can you handle at least the basics of selling, scheduling, and prioritizing? Are you learning to view social media as communication and relationship building? If you said yes, you’ve got a good start.

On the other hand, if you know you’re bad at bookkeeping for example, you should probably hire that out. But you might find to your surprise that you really enjoy marketing, once you understand what it’s all about.

The bottom line – if you can accept that you’re an entrepreneur and embrace the business side as just another outlet for your creativity, you’re already well on your way.

  1. Your Membership in the Creative Community Advances Your Field and Your Value

Do you support other artists in your town or in online groups or forums? Do you collaborate, share, and promote their work as well as your own? Do you teach, mentor, and encourage young people?

Art endures and progresses because of community cooperation. The members support and help each other, teach the new generation, and give back to society. Participating in this process – even in some aspects of it – is the mark of a professional. It benefits you personally and it benefits your peers.

Your involvement doesn’t have to extend to formal teaching, but it could. You could write articles, produce instructional videos, or teach classes. You might help friends with referrals and connections. Or you could be an inspiration to others simply because you are doing your thing and getting your work out there. It all matters.

Professionals care about their creative callings and want to see their fields advance, not die out.

The bottom line – Your role is important and valuable, even if it starts as a small one. Perception is important. Position yourself as a pro in your community and bolster your earning potential.

  1. You Deserve Financial Reward for the Good You Do in the World

Money is an emotionally charged issue. Many creatives – deep down – feel they don’t deserve to make a lot of money or that there is something wrong with wanting money. They fear that accepting payment for their work might cheapen it or make them “sell-outs”.

People buy from you because your work touches them deeply and makes their lives a little better. They buy because of the satisfaction they feel when supporting someone they believe in (you).

Remember that your fans need to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. When you offer options that allow people to pay you well, you are letting them show that they like you and support you and your work. You’re letting them be part of your team.

Making money is definitely not at odds with living a fully creative life – in fact, you need money in order to do so.

Think about it. What could you do for your family if you were making good money? What would your lifestyle be like? How could you help the community? Which charities would you support?

The bottom line – Your goals are all good things. Wouldn’t you rather be able to choose how you spend the money that comes your way than to have someone else make that decision because it went to them?

It’s Time to Start Earning

Whatever your goals are as an artist, recognizing these twelve truths will help you to earn more from your work. You’ll be more aware of the fears and doubts that are holding you back and finally be able to move past them.

Your confidence will increase as you adopt each of these ideas and see the benefits – and success breeds more success.

You’ve already got the tools. Your ability to think creatively and your many skills and abilities put you in a perfect position to excel as an entrepreneur.

Business isn’t rocket science.

It can be tough, and it will require you to stretch – but it’s definitely within your reach.

You’ve got your time on the planet. You can spend it dreaming or you can start making those dreams your reality.

Are you ready to get started?

art business, selling art, Jane Robinson

Your Business as the Third Place

There’s a theory that all of us humans need a third place. Our first place is our home (and those we love, second place is work or school and third used to church or community setting such as a barber shop or neighbor pub (think Cheers). When Starbucks opened they marketed themselves as the “third place”.
The term was invented by Ray Oldenburg, a sociology professor at the University of West Florida, who explored the idea in his 1989 book “The Great Good Place.” In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place. So what the heck builds a third place and what does it looks like?Third places are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.

Art Business, selling art, Jane Robinon
Some of the characteristics of a third place are:
⦁ They must be easily accessible
⦁ They must be free or reasonably affordable
⦁ Conversation is the main activity
⦁ They must be comfortable
⦁ People must feel accepted socially level (not exclusive or snobby)
⦁ There should a good number of people there on a regular basis
⦁ You should be able to find old friends and meet new friends

art business, selling art, Jane Robinson
Now people argue that chatrooms, Dungeons and Dragon gamers, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites have become our third place of choice. Bloggers, individuals and businesses have taken notice and try hard to become a “third place”. The more social interaction they receive such as comments, sharing, likes, etc. they believe they are building community and…they are in a sense. They do meet the characteristics listed above BUT they do not build community in the flesh and bones world called “life”.

When attempting to build your creative business does building a “third place” make sense? If you are building a brick and mortar retail or studio space how can you implement elements to build a third place? How about setting up a sitting area with comfortable chairs, a coffee bar and music? You could offer book discussion or lecture series in the area of your expertise and business. Consider offering classes in your space and host the events like you are inviting your best friends to your home. Use staging with flowers, music, candles or other items that give your space a personal touch.
Building a business online? This “virtual” space is a bit harder to become a third place but you can work to build community and interaction. First you must provide valuable information to your viewers and build trust. By giving away your knowledge and expertise your viewers will begin to trust and engage. Offer free shipping, discounts and insider tips to those who “follow” you or sign up for your weekly newsletter. Create a Meetup group for those in your local region where you meet regularly built upon a common interest. It might be for knitters, musicians, painters, potters, writers or even for those you enjoy the arts. You create the group online and engage with your members but you meet in person.
Thoughts? Ideas how creatives might build a third place?

How to price art

The Art of Pricing Art

How to price art

The task of pricing your creative work is never easy. Especially when you have devoted years of honing your skill AND your soul invested.

It is not like you built a widget and can then calculate materials X time = cost.  Man hours X cost = wholesale  and wholesale X 2 = retail.  Art pricing

After all it took you all of your life to this point to be able to create that piece of genius you are  now offering  to the public.    When the public asks you how long did it take you to paint/write/knit/design/cook that?   The answer of course is “All of my life”.   I fantasize about playing a guitar or piano like my heroes can but I have no illusion  that I could pick up the guitar and play like Eric Clapton.   Also, the public has never  seen the hundreds of paintings that have never seen the light of day.   They have no idea of the thousands of dollars  I have spent on supplies or hundreds if not thousands of hours I have committed to my craft.   So how in the hell do we properly price our creativity?


This first short piece comes from a custom furniture maker named C. H. Becksvoort who often gets asked why his prices are “high.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Visitors to my shop & showroom sometimes ask why my prices are so “dear.” There are several responses, and the list keeps growing: 1) When you invest in my furniture, you are buying 2-6 weeks of my life. 2) You are availing yourself of five decades of experience in joinery, wood technology, restoration, and design. 3) You are investing in a green product, made of sustainably harvested wood from Kane Hardwoods (in operation since 1858); a product that will outlast the next generation. 4) Buying quality once is always cheaper than buying cheap, and having to replace it 4 or 5 times. Most of what you see at big box stores will be in the land-fill within 5 years. You are supporting the local economy, handmade in the U.S. A. 5) Each of my works are built by me, from raw stock, one at a time, to suit your specific requirements. No two pieces I have ever made are exactly the same. The hand of the maker is always in evidence. Most folks think that “custom” means getting the body color, engine size and audio system you desire, not realizing that your “custom” vehicle is one of at least 3,000 just like it on the road.

From years of restoring furniture for the last Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, ME, my motto has always been, “Not how cheap can I make it, rather, how good can I make it.” C. H. Becksvoort © 2012

Pricing our work is a murky topic but here are some things to consider when pricing your creativity.

  • Keep good records of your expenses.  You need to know how much it really costs you to create your work and sell it.  This includes your supplies, your time, office, marketing, travel, internet, postage, shipping, accounting, rent, utilities and more.
  • Don’t price your work on the cuff.  Have prices set before someone asks.  This can lead to pricing emotionally or based upon your current economic state.  Plus customers don’t want to feel that you are pulling a number from the air.  They will worry that they are over paying  or if it is too low that your work is less valuable.
  • Set prices that you can live with.  When in doubt err on the high side.  Pricing on the low side communicates that you are not confident in your skills and value.  On the other hand an emerging artist who prices their work in the tens of thousands is just plain nuts.  After totaling your costs and taking into consideration your career thus far and past pricing, set a price you will be happy to receive.  My philosophy is that I want to sell more work so I can create more.  I don’t want to sit on a stack of paintings because it is beyond my client’s reach.   I review my pricing annually and adjust up when justified.  I never lower my prices since this is a disservice to my previous clients and collectors.   Consider increasing your prices when you have consistently at your current price point for a minimum of six months to one year.
  • Don’t try to live on minimum wage.  Pay yourself a fair and equitable wage.  The United States of Labor Occupational Labor Statistics lists the mean hourly wage of Fine Artists as $23.22.  You are a professional.  Treat yourself as one.
  • Do some research.  Visit galleries, studios, exhibitions, art fairs, etc. to get an idea of what others with comparable talent and experience are charging.  Now with the invention of the internet you can most of your research online.
  • Pricing is geographically consistent.  Never mark up or down your work based upon where you selling it.  Consistent pricing is the sign of a professional and one who is planning for the future.  If your collectors learn that you price based they geography or gallery exhibition they will look elsewhere.  Wouldn’t you?
  • Defend your prices.  If a gallery or prospective buyer challenges your prices be ready to defend how you reached your prices.  Materials, overhead, experience and past sales.  This is another good reason to keep good records.
  • Consider some wiggle room.  If you are selling at an art fair or studio sale you might consider putting in some wriggle room for negotiation.  I expect prospective buyers to ask for “my best price” on a particular painting they are interested in.   When this happens I give them a discounted price but I had already planned for that question.   I often tell buyers I will pay their sales tax or take 10% off.  Increase your prices slightly to accommodation some negotiation.

We have all looked at a piece of art, heard a popular song, read a best seller and thought to ourselves “REALLY?”  Is this really worth all the money and attention it is receiving.  Remember art is in the eye of the beholder.  For some they will believe your work is overpriced, others will consider it a bargain.   Your prices need not be set in stone.  Move them up or down based upon your sales, feedback and popularity.

How do you price your creative work or skills?  By the size?  The hours invested?  Past sales?

Jane Robinson Art

My Top Ten Tips For Participating In An Art Fair

Jane Robinson Art

One of the main ways that many artists make money from selling their art work is by participating in art fairs. Most artists understand that there is a dual and equal purpose to these fairs – exposure and selling.

Art fairs can be very lucrative but can also be very costly.   Every artist has experienced at one time or another an art fair where they either just made their costs or even lost money. I even participated in one where I lost money and the hotel had bed bugs. Uggggg!  This is very discouraging after working all weekend and then you have the long drive home (and maybe your day job the following day). Nonetheless if you prepare yourself mentally, physically and know what to expect you can have a positive experience. Here are my top ten tips to get most out your first art fair:

1. Research.  Years ago art fairs were located in Artsy towns, tourist destinations or Ann Arbor, MI but now every town joined the bandwagon hoping to attract tourists, visitors and artists. They have a variety of names from the straight forward “Art Fair” to “Arts & Craft fair”, “Wine and Art Fair”, “Outsiders Art Fair”, “Art Basel” and so on. Many are nothing more than a neighbor street party that they decided to add artists in hopes of making more money.   I made the mistake of participating in one of this events in Chicago so on the second day I packed up and ditched out.  So how do you determine if an art fair is appropriate for you?   If you are new to the art fair scene it will be different than if you are an art fair veteran.   Your first art fair should be a somewhat local show. This will give you the needed experience of setting up, meeting the public, networking with other artists, honing your skills for selling for your work and getting that ever so important “booth photo”. But if you have a couple under your belt and you want to broaden your market and geography here are a couple of tips. Websites like Art Fair Insiders http://www.artfairinsiders.com provides a plethora of information about the art fair circuit. The forums have thousands of artists reporting their experiences at various shows, tips and recommendations. Art Fair Calendar http://www.artfaircalendar.com also provides some good information.   I usually google “artist reviews” for a specific show and learn what others have said who previously exhibited. Artists are your best and most honest source for judging a show.   But also keep in mind that if one particular artist did not sell well at a show this might not be case for you. You might want to dig deeper and visit the artist websites to check out their work and price points. Maybe their prices are too high for the location or their work is subpar. Additionally usually first year art fairs have difficulty attracting the crowds needed to make real money.   So do some research and try your hand. Each experience will help prepare you for the next one.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.   Weeks prior to the art fair contact your mailing list and tell them you will be participating in the “Artapalooza Art Fair”. Perhaps offer them an incentive to stop by or purchase. Be sure to have your hotel reservations made. One week prior: select the work you will be taking, organize your supplies and purchase what you need (i.e. zipties), check your equipment (tent, walls, credit card equipment – i.e. Square or smart phone), driving directions. Day before: pack your car and double check your supplies, get to bed early. Day of: Get an early start to arrive for set up early. It is easiest to unload and park when you are early. When possible go the day before for early set up or stay the night nearby.

3. Be sure to have the ability to accept credit cards. If you cannot accept credit cards you are certain to miss the majority of your sales. Think about it. How often do you carry wads of cash on you nowadays? Additionally a lot of art sales are spontaneous, impulse buys. They did not plan to spend $600 on a painting/sculpture/fountain that day BUT when they connected with the piece and you, they HAD to have it. With the invention of the smartphone all you need is an app and whala you are taking credit cards. A lot of artists use the “Square” and the benefits are that there are no monthly fees but they do take a higher percentage of the sale. However do bring enough cash to make change.   Some customers will offer you cash asking for a discount. By all means I recommend giving a discount and closing the sale. You will not be charged any fees so all of the money is then income. The customer is happy and your wallet is happy… a win/win.

4. Design your space thoughtfully. When thinking of booth design try for “gallery”. Keep it open with easy viewing.   Attendees are reluctant to walk into a closed off booth or one with a maze of walls. While it might seem to make sense to create more wall space for displaying your work if the attendee is reluctant to enter you are diminishing your chances for a sale. White tents might seem boring but it is the best color to show off your work. I once painted the top of my tent and while it got lots of positive comments, with the sun shining, it cast hues on my artwork. Have an access space to the back so you can sit for a minute when it slows down and you can store excess work behind your tent. Don’t try to crowd every spot with your work.   Crowded translates to messy and flea market. Have adequate and professional signage. Place your “sales” table out of the way of attendees. Some people are even hesitate to enter if you are sitting in the front. Keep your booth neat and tidy. Dispose of any garbage. If it is an indoor show have it adequately lit. Booths can look dim and cave-like inside and if your neighbor has a well-lit booth by comparison yours will appear dark.

5. Have a variety of price points. This does not mean you need to create subpar products or “crafty” items for $50.00 but by offering a variety of price points you have the potential to reach many more customers. You might offer prints of your originals, notecards, smaller canvases, etc.   Even though I think this is good idea, personally I only offer originals.   I want the collector to know they are buying a “one of a kind” and this makes the artwork more desirable. Of course for photographers and for others this would not make sense. I do offer a variety of canvas sizes ranging from 2’ X 2’ to 4’ X 6’. Occasionally I have added one of a kind hand painted pillows for around $50.00. Think about your art form and how you could create a variety of price points.

6. Capture attendees contact information for collector cultivation.

Most artist put out a guest book and ask people to sign – giving their home address and/or email address. When I first began art fairs I did this and people were happy to provide the information but recently this has more of a challenge. People are more reluctant to give their email address due to the barrage of emails in their inboxes. I now offer a chance to win a free original painting or another original art piece. People gladly provide their information and it becomes a win/win. I can then send this list of people any news about upcoming exhibits, classes, workshops or specials. When I return to that area for another art fair I notify them and offer a discount (perhaps pay their sales tax or give a % deduction) if they mention the email or some designated word.

7. Equipment. An entire chapter (or five) could be dedicated to art fair equipment but I have found a wonderful site where another art fair veteran has already put it all together. Visit http://wildfacesgallery.squidoo.com/Art-Fair-Equipment-And-Essentials and get a comprehensive guide to art fair essentials. A great site to find used art fair equipment is Art Fair Insiders http://www.artfairinsiders.com/ This site has a great classified section to find anything you might need. I bought some used Propanels on this site for about one half of what a new set would cost.

8. Photographing your work. When I first began submitting work for juried shows and exhibitions, slides were required (yes, those things where a slice of film was mounted in a cardboard frame- ha ha). Nowadays you have a great advantage with the invention of digital cameras but you must still know how to take good photos of work. You don’t need any fancy equipment other than a decent digital camera. Then take your work outside on a sunny day (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and hang your paintings on a shady wall. With free photo editors online you then crop the image, resize and even change the contrast, etc. For 3D work be sure set it against a plain white background or build a photo box for smaller items. I used to hire a professional to photograph my work and spent thousands of dollars over the years. Now I can photograph the work myself (even in the dead of winter) as soon as the paint dries and upload to my site.

9. Entering juried shows. There are several factors will assure that you get into quality shows. The first is good work. Then good quality images of your work and a booth. Then you need to find the shows that will attract your ideal collectors (see tip #1). When you have identified the shows that you wish to participant in, Zapplication is the premier and most widely used site to submit your application. ZAPP® enables individual artists to apply online to multiple art shows through one central website, ZAPPlication.org. The online application process also allows artists to directly upload digital images of their artwork for jury review. The result is that all artwork in the system is in a consistent, high-quality, digital format. The digital images are presented to the jurors of each show and the system allows them to score online. If you are not accepted into a particular show it can be a variety of reasons including the jurors own prejudices and preferences, too many artists in your genre, booth design etc. but try not to get too discouraged…it happens to all of us. Try again next year. By being persistent they will see that you are serious and determined.

10. Have fun. Even the worst show can be a pleasurable event if you keep your spirits upbeat. Talk with other artists, ask them what shows they recommend, practice your “elevator pitch” with attendees, practice talking about your work and keep hydrated. At the end of the day if you have made good contacts, met the organizer (and be sure to thank them), laughed with your booth neighbors and saw some amazing art – it could be considered a success…regardless of your sales. After all no one wants to see (or hear) a grumbling or cranky artist. Plus you never know what might come from the contacts you made and possible future sales.


Are you an art fair veteran?  Any tips or suggestions you would add?

Unique Sellling Proposition

Are You Allowing People to Price Shop Your Creativity? Here’s the Secret Sauce to Stop

Unique Sellling PropositionWhat is the number one reason artrepreneurs aren’t selling their creativity, products and/or services for what they are worth?  They are allowing people to price shop.  You know how this is done – you need an X and you begin searching the web for the best X at the best price, often finding the best price from a big box store, chain store, eBay or something similar.  You know that you cannot compete with sweatshop or discount prices – after all you are creating one of kind, original, specialized, absolutely astounding work and services.

So how do you change this and charge what you are worth?  You MUST infuse your personality into all of your copywriting, branding, language and stand out in the crowd.  Otherwise you are allowing them to price shop for the lowest price piece of art, cheapest chef, photographer, health coach, etcetera and you cannot win.   You will continue to pour your heart out into your creative act but then it sits there never finding your audience, your ideal client or collector. You might make a sale occasionally but then you are hopping on the feast or famine rollercoaster and you want to get off that ride.  Remember you have only approximately 3 -7 seconds to capture someone’s attention once they land on your webpage.  If they happen to find you, despite all the clamor on the World Wide Web, are you losing them before they can see your brilliance?    Remember they want to you to be “the one”.  They are searching for your talents, surfing the web and they are desperate to find that perfect coach, artwork, photographer.  They want you to be “the one”.  If you sound and look like everyone else out there, you will attract the price-shoppers and bargain hunters.  These clients are the ones that make you want to claw your eyes out.  Why not build your own audience with people who “get” you and pay what your creativity is worth?

You have heard of USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and how you must clearly define your USP.  But exactly how you do that is still a mystery.  Chances are you have a product or service that hundreds of thousands (or millions) are already providing so you must differentiate yourself among your competitors.  You want to reek uniqueness.   How you accomplish this is to infuse your distinctive personality into your marketing, website, branding and everything you do.  For example if you love vintage aprons and David Bowie, be sure to write this into your copy.  Maybe Photoshop a vintage apron on a photo of Ziggy Stardust and have Ziggy answer the FAQ’s.  Love exotic cultures?  Write stories about fictional people in different places in the world who love to wear your handmade jewelry, passing it along to another person in another country – telling the next part of the story.  Love cowboy boots?   Take photos of cowboy boots and attach them to the back of your paintings, naming your work “Slim Pickens”,  “Zeke Maverick”, “Hoss”, etcetera.    Love rap music?  Make short videos about your inspiration and work in the form of rap.

Already I am smiling inside thinking about discovering an artist (in any media or discipline) who would present their work (and themselves) in this open, straightforward, fun manner.  I already like you and am more likely to pay attention.   But what else can you do to attract the sale?   What can you provide that your competitors are not?  As a person who has purchased numerous pieces of original art, one-of-a-kind clothing, jewelry, commissioned art and personal coaching services, the ones that have stood out are the ones who took a personal interest in me, before and after the sale.   They might have offered free shipping; personal delivery if within a 60 mile radius, told me a personal story about the piece, sent a handwritten thank you note or gave me something special and unexpected to remind me of them long after the sale.  The ones who did not share their story offer something unique or say thank you afterwards are easily forgotten.   A happy client will gladly tell their friends about this great artist who did xy&z and one good word of mouth promotion is worth 200 television ads.  Retaining happy returning clients are much easier (and cheaper) to sell to than acquiring new ones.

So what’s your unique selling proposition?   What makes you and your work stand out?  How do you determine your unique selling proposition?  Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Write down all the good and quirky traits about yourself (carry a notepad with you and capture ideas).
  • Write done all of your interests (golf, jazz music, Mexican cooking).
  • What are some areas you excel in?
  • Ask your friends, family and past customers what traits come to mind when they think of you and your work.
  • Investigate your competition and identity what are they doing right.  Wrong. How can you differentiate yourself from them?
  • Any particular colors, symbols, etc come to mind when people see your work or think of you?
  • How could offer outstanding customer service?
  • If everyone is zigging how can you zag?

Just writing this post has sparked so many ideas that I can incorporate into my art site.   As I incorporate them into my branding I will share them.  What unique personality trait can you integrate into your creative business?  Please share them here so we can all learn from each other.   Now go and create something absofrickin wonderful today!

Passion & Business Sense = Success

jane robinson, creative businessIf you are an early-stage creative entrepreneur I’m sure the one concern you have is how in the world you are going to build a successful and profitable business while engaging and staying true to your creativity.  Your creativity and your business is the highest expression of who you are.  Build a business based on your passion. If you don’t you won’t survive.  It’s hard work and don’t let some snake oil salesman tell you anything different.  Your passion comes from your core – the white hot part of the flame.  It is this kind of passion and hunger that will make you preserve even when you are discouraged. You have probably thought of giving up but then know deep down that you MUST continue to create and be true to yourself.  As the reggae artist Bobby McFerrin says “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” as you design your business.

I must warn you ahead of time that building your creative business will be hard work but worth every bead of sweat when you are living the life you were designed to live.  Many will begin and abandon their dream, others will limp along for years never fully committing to their dream and others will just plain procrastinate never getting any wind in their sails. Let’s get something straight right now.  You need money to create your art form (whatever that looks like).  You need money to live.   Money is an exchange of energy and you deserve to be compensated for your energy.   And the way to earn money is to understand that you ARE the CEO of your life, your creativity and your creative business.

Most every creative person I know either struggles to live their fully inspired life because of discouragement or because they lacked knowing what to do after they stepped out of their studio (or dance class, yoga studio, kitchen, writers club, band rehearsal, etc.).   I happen to know hundreds of creative people who are not earning what they are worth.   Why?  One, because they don’t recognize that they are the CEO of their company and two, because they somehow feel undeserving to earn money from their talents and skills.

Passion & business sense = Success

Share what you are struggling with to build your creative business or how you overcame the inevitable challenges.  Hey, I know you rock but leave a comment and everyone else will to!

Hot ideas to build your creative business income

  • The Internet offers creative entrepreneurs enormous potential to create multiple streams of income  online. And a creative entrepreneur you have an advantage. You can already envision things that are not yet created. When you sit down to create your art form, whether it is music, poetry, writing, painting, sewing, gardening, etc., you begin with only your imagine to produce a wonderful, new, unique product…your creativity. Here are a few creative business ideas:
    Voice over services
     Handmade invitations and announcement businesscreative business, indie biz, artrepreneur, creativity
     Handmade soaps
     Personalized children’s books
     Write personal biographies
     Handmade papers
     Custom quilts
     Graphic design
     Cooking classes
     Secret supper club
     Health coaching
     Fitness coach
     Business coach
     Recording studio
     Storytelling
     Handmade candles
     Jewelry
     Custom handmade drapes
     Custom landscaping
     Music studio and lessons
     Video production
     Art gallery
     Stained glass
     Pregnancy Yoga studio
     Meditation studio
     Stock photography
     Interior design
     Color consultant
     Art rental/leasing
     Fashion, clothing design
     Personal fashion consultant
     Endless possibilities

With the invention of the internet reaching your clients is now worldwide and not limited to your geography. I hear from some creative people that they feel lost in world of the gazillion artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs on the web but the reality is that the web has opened up unlimited opportunities for you and you must embrace it. If you Google the term “online multiple income” many sites will advise you to create a Google AdSense account or sell links on your website BUT be careful. This is might not be the right venue for creative entrepreneurs since it makes your site look too concerned about earning income than offering your clients something of value for THEM. Additionally, until you have a respectable amount of traffic you will earn any money. When you have built a consistent audience and web presence this can earn some income. As this point you must begin to focus on your client, their desires, their needs and what you can offer THEM. It is not about you. So with this in mind and the strategies listed begin to brainstorm how you can offer value to your client while earning
income. Not the other way around.

1. The most common way visual artists make money online, other than from their own website, is selling prints or giclees of their work on other websites.
Below are a few options for you to consider but by no way is this exhaustive. But beware there are many unscrupulous sites that will charge you a fee in
exchange for showing your work. Some of these are legitimate but many promise wonderful results and only fatten their own wallets. The bottom line is that you must do your homework. When I am offered an “opportunity” to exhibit through an online invitation, I research the participating artists, reach out to them and ask about their experience, sales, etc. Often I learn that the promises don’t live to the reality. (See Beware the Snakeoil Salesmen).
A few of the legitimate art print sites are:
 www.FineArtAmerica.com
 www.Art.com
 www.ArtSpan.com
 www.Imagekind.com
2. Another great way to sell your creative product is on Etsy. Etsy is an ecommerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and
craft supplies. These items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, food, bath and beauty products, quilts, knick-knacks, and
toys. Many individuals also sell craft supplies such as beads, wire, and jewelry making tools. All vintage items must be at least 20 years old. The site follows
in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee of $0.20. Their competitor is eBay but when I
research artwork selling most don’t seem to sell or the bids are incredibly low. This doesn’t mean you should completely discount this idea but research your
niche and product. Some people have made a great deal of money on eBay selling artwork or their creative product. Here is a great link to learn more
about selling on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2012/the-sellerhandbook/
3. Online galleries that sell your original art. A few of the most successful online galleries are:
Artful Home: Artful Home is the source for contemporary art, blown glass, fine furniture, and art jewelry and apparel, all made by hand and shipped
from artists’ studios. http://www.ArtfulHome.com
Ugallery: Ugallery.com is a curated online art gallery for the nation’s top mid-career and emerging artists. Present your original artwork to art
enthusiasts around the world. In addition to showing art online, they showcase artists’ work at the top emerging art fairs. It is free to sign up and display your original fine art for sale, and they pay for and arrange the packaging and shipping of your artwork once it is sold.
Art Span: Founded in 1999, Artspan is a major contemporary art destination and leading provider of premium artist websites. Artspan members are professional artists and artisans, whose sites show only original work and prints. The ease of using Artspan.com’s search functions, combined with the quality of unique work, has made Artspan.com a preferred destination for collectors, consultants and designers, as well as anyone interested in the world of contemporary art.  http://www.ArtSpan.com

Besides selling your products (painting, sculptures, pottery, cds, books, etc.) there are other ways to earn income. Sell your knowledge. You might create
courses in creative writing, how to paint landscapes, healthy living, landscaping plans or any creative business. You have the skills and knowledge that many
others are searching the web for. Create courses and offer them to people all over the world. Teach your creativity.

Art Licensing: What is art licensing? Think about the all the art images you see daily on products, greeting cards, wine labels, coasters, calendars, boxes, gifts,
home décor products. They all begin with an artist’s image. They then enter a contract with an artist to use their image on the product and pay the artist a
royalty for every item sold. This can be a great income producer and bring a recurring income to you. Think Thomas Kincaid – the king of art licensing. A few
great sites to learn more about art licensing are:
1. www.TaraReeddesigns.com
2. www.artsyshark.com
3. www.theabundantartist.com
4. www.MariaBrophy.com
5. www.artlicensing.com
6. www.porterfieldsfineart.com

I know you have thought of creative ways to build an income from your creativity.  What ideas to you have or what are doing to earn income that your clients are saying “this is worth every penny”?   Share below so we can all learn from each other.

The secret to achieving success in your creative boutique

Are you a visionary?   Can you see a clear destination when imagining and planning your creative business?  As a creative person you have the ability to envision something not yet birthed or the growth of something not yet matured but do you have the ability to map out the vision of your business? AND formulate a plan to achieve your vision?  Most businesses and business leaders/owners cannot call themselves visionaries.  They plug-in a traditional and proven model and then plug along in the day-to-day operations until either they give up or retire.creative business, indie biz


To become a creative visionary you must not only “see” the vision for the future of your business but formulate a plan on to achieve this dream.  A visionary then inspires his/her team and keeps them motivated to achieve this goal.  But what if you are sole owner, operator, creator, book-keeper, shipper, marketer and bottle washer?  How can you maintain your vision?  The truth is that is not easy and there will be times when you lose your way.  How do you maintain your vision while keeping inspired?


For creative entrepreneurs you must first hold onto and engage in your creative passion.  If you are a musician – play your instrument, a writer – write, dancer – dance, painter – paint, chef – cook, blogger – blog.  By engaging in your creative pursuit you will rekindle your desire and your passion.  Once you have refilled your well then you can work towards fulfilling your vision.  But it is action that is the most important element of achieving your success.  Whenever a vision is followed by action, the vision can be turned into reality.

The secret?  Action. Most creatives can envision their ideas but many never follow through with action.  You will NOT achieve your dreams without action.  Before any action can be turned into reality, a great deal of discipline is necessary. Discipline requires that you follow through with your purpose and direction, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks. This is one-act that will separate you from your peers. Visionary leaders know that if they differentiate their businesses from the competition, they can expect fast business growth. Determine what your company’s strength is and differentiate yourself using it then… MAKE A PLAN AND PUT IT INTO ACTION.

1)    Create your business vision.  What will your business create and/or provide to others?

2)    How will you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

3)    Map out your action steps to achieve this vision.

  • What do you need to do to set up the business side of your vision?  Put credit card options in place, automated phone services, bank accounts, book-keeping, licensing, sales tax i.d., etc.
  • Create a marketing plan.  How are you going to tell the world about your business?  Make a detailed calendar of marketing actions and follow through.
  • Network.  Who do you need to connect with to achieve success?  Can you establish a relationship with someone else who can promote your business and/or endorse your products and services?
  • Create a team.  Even if you cannot afford to hire people yet, put in place a team of supportive professionals and friends who can give encouragement, feedback and honest assessments or useful criticism.  You cannot maintain momentum without support in some form.  You can do the same for them.
  • Create an organization system to help save time and maintain good records.
  • Create and maintain a good mailing list of clients.
  • Identify your “boutique” offerings and over deliver to your customers.

artrepreneur, jane robinson, moxy marketplace, art epicurean, marketing, creativity, creative businessThese just a few tactics you will need to employ.  I know you can think of other action steps so please share with the other readers so we can all learn from each other.

Is your website hearing crickets?

jane robinson, business strategy, marketing, creative business

In fact it feels as the road has been closed and you are facing backwards.

Most people are excited the day they tell their web designer to push the publish button.  Whala!  You wait for your inbox to be full of contact forms and inquiries about your work, your services, location, etc…. but it is so quiet you can hear the crickets. According to Roy of Techlogon.com, a United Kingdom company named Netcraft reported as of September 2012 that there are about 620 million websites in the world today. Ouch!  How in the world would anyone ever find you?   The good news is that  the number of websites that are really working are 190 million or 30.65% of the total number of websites. Wowie that is still an incredible number of sites and it is increasing daily.

So how in the world do you create a site that people will find – not just your Mama and the friends you ask to check it out?  By now you have all heard of keywords, search engine optimization and using social media to drive traffic to your site.  Many creative business solopreneurs lament that they don’t have the time to commit to all this web work – after all they want to be in the studio, creating new music, new art, dance, books or wonderful recipes.   I don’t blame you – I do too!

The hard, straight-talking truth is IF you want to earn income and build your creative business you MUST use the web.  In today’s world you will be left behind, buried in the  desert if you don’t take advantage of all that the web can do for you and your business.  So how do you take advantage of the web and still find  time for your creative spirit?  Here are some tips:

  • Create a schedule for your week.  I paint every Friday – all day if I can.  Photograph the work on Saturday.  Use Sunday to upload to my computer, website, art sites, blogs, linked in, facebook, pinterest.
  • Use Hubspot: HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing software that helps businesses generate inbound leads through SEO, blogging, social media, marketing automation, and marketing analytics. This software provides marketers all of the tools needed to drive more traffic, convert more website visitors to leads, and turn those leads into sales.
  • Start a blog on your site.  The web analytics crawl the web looking for new content.  The more content you provide the more your website is updated and higher ranking you will have on search engines.  Blogs are perfect way to keep your site updated and fresh and connect  with your visitors.
  • Use the web to research and learn how to build your traffic.  There are thousands of free resources that will explain how  build traffic.
  • Take advantage of “tags” and tag all of your images, links, etc.
  • Use Alexa ranking tools:Alexa is the Web Information Company. Since their founding in 1996 they’ve been committed to providing free website analytics for all websites. Today, millions of people from across the globe visit Alexa.com each month to access our web analytics and other services.Alexa is perhaps best known for the Alexa Rank – a website ranking system which tracks over 30 million websites worldwide. The Alexa Rank and other metrics allow site owners to benchmark their sites and give consumers, marketers and advertisers metrics to evaluate websites for media buying, partnerships, and other business opportunities. Alexa’s traffic estimates are based on a diverse sample of millions of worldwide internet users using thousands of different types of toolbars and add-ons for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Alexa helps small and medium-sized businesses succeed on the web. Their tools help web site owners benchmark their site’s performance against their competitors, generate more traffic, and optimize their websites.
  • Use google keyword trends and keyword search to find out what keywords you can employ to build traffic to your site.  Use these words in your titles, pages, tags, etc.
  • Create articles for Digg, Squido, Ezines and others and link to your site.
  • Post on other’s sites and when you sign in there is usually an option to leave your web link.
  • See the previous post about using Pinterest http://artepicurean.com/2013/06/14/are-you-pinning-if-not-you-are-losing-out/

The bottom line is using these tools to “share” your knowledge, your work, your personality and allow others to connect with you.  Don’t feel that you are chasing them and trying to convince them to buy your work, your services, etc., just share and the “right” people will “get you” and support you. If you don’t share – they can’t find out.  That is fine if you don’t want them to – keep creating and give to your family and friends.

Look as this as  a way to “share” – just learn to be smart about “sharing” and bring the benefits to your  hard work.  The most important part of building web traffic is….be creative.  Can you make a creative video and share?   Tell stories about your creativity and experiences?  Do something out of box?  Here is a link to a discussion I started on linkedin asking others what are  creative ways to promote their work  http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=2768233&type=member&item=234158073&qid=7e298dc7-267c-46f2-88ec-124cd5e85128&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-ttl   Join some linked in groups in your profession and ask the same question.  This question already has 100 responses.

Find out how you best like to share and then just begin.  I like Pinterest and keeping my site fresh with content.  How about you?  Share your strategies so we can all learn from each other.  Keep creating and live your life as art.